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An Update to The Star Wars Saga Blu-rays

By: Ben Gourlay | Editorials in HT & Movies | Posted: May 19, 2011 3:16 pm



Multiple 5.1 mixes have been created for the original Star Was Trilogy over the years, each with minor differences in sound effects and in some instances, dialogue. Errors were introduced in the 2004 5.1 mixes, including issues with the soundtrack volume and flipped music channels which affected A New Hope. Due to vocal complaints, it is likely these will be rectified, hopefully without introducing other issues. It is now confirmed that each film will feature a DTS HD Master Audio track, with 6.1 channels. This suggests that no major work has been performed to the audio tracks, porting out the previous Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (flagged) track to a discreet DTS 6.1 mix. If true, this is somewhat disappointing.


It's curious that LucasFilm have dumped its long collaboration with Dolby Laboratories and embraced the Twentieth Century Fox policy of DTS encoding on its Blu-ray releases. Reading between the lines, this probably suggests that Fox is footing the bill to produce the release.


It's been rumoured for some years that Lucas would take the opportunity to add elements of soundtrack cues including 'The Imperial March' to A New Hope, but I suspect this will not eventuate.




Extra Features


The LucasFilm press release distributed last week sheds more light on the collection of extra features the set will include.


Each film will include two audio commentaries. The prequel films will include the original DVD scene-specific commentary tracks for each film, along with a newly produced commentary cobbled together from archival interviews. The original trilogy films will also feature the original DVD scene-specific commentaries, alongside the cobbled together audio commentaries produced from archival interviews which originally featured on the laserdisc releases.


The 9th bonus features disc exclusive to the Complete Saga release features a mix of vintage and newly produced content. The C-3P0 and R2-D2 hosted The Making of Star Wars documentary is a classic, with some good on set material, but also a nice insight into the cultural zeitgeist of 1977 which shows the emerging force of the movie, which was just turning into an empire. The Empire Strikes SPFX special is a Mark Hamill hosted, hour long feature on the complexities of filming in locations such as Norway and the logistics of the cutting edge model work. Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi features an extensive look at the latex monster makeup for the final film.


Two other featurettes look at the CG recreation of the Dewbacks for the special edition release of A New Hope and the Star Wars Tech featurette produced for the 30th Anniversary takes a look at the technology of the Star Wars through the prism of the real world.


Three newly produced featurettes (which I've not seen) close off that disc. Star Warriors takes a look at the 501st Legion; a worldwide club for people who like to dress up as Star Wars characters. A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later was produced for the 30th Anniversary of the first sequel, and is memorable for one of the last on-camera interviews with Director Irvin Kershner who died late last year. Star Wars Spoofs rounds up many Star Wars references from pop culture, including Family Guy, The Simpsons and even includes the music video to Weird Al Yankovic's 1999 song The Saga Begins.


The new press release makes mention of Deleted, extended and alternate scenes. While specifics have yet to be revealed, likely candidates will include the original opening of A New Hope with Luke and his friends on Tatooine, and a later catch-up with Luke and his friend Biggs, the original Cantina scene (filled with bargain basement monsters), Wampa scenes from The Empire Strikes Back and the sandstorm sequence from Return of the Jedi are all likely to appear. George Lucas publicly screened one scene which will be part of the set last year; Luke constructing his Lightsabre in a Tatooine cave from Return of the Jedi. The scene was never confirmed to have been filmed, showing the Star Wars juggernaut can still keep some secrets.


Dating previously to the DVD release, LucasFilm eagerly undertook digitisation of assets from the films, including original concept artwork, set designs and behind the scenes photography; works that can never be replaced. Whilst many of these have found their way to book releases including J.W. Rinzlers' epic tomes 'The Making of Star Wars' and 'The Making of the Empire Strikes Back', there is a lot that's still never been seen and I fully expect the LucasFilm archives to be mined once again for use in documentaries and photo galleries. It's now confirmed that extensive galleries will be included on the original trilogy extra features disc, which will likely include many of these assets.




Playing the waiting game


Whilst work on the Blu-ray has been ongoing at LucasFilm for some years (dating back to 2009), there is still some five months before the collection will see the light of day. The next opportunity for more specifics to be revealed about the Blu-ray will likely be the San Diego Comic Con at the end of July. Hopefully this will shed some additional light on any further changes to the films and more concrete details on the remaining two extra feature discs.


As always, Lucas knows how much to feed the fans so they are always wanting a little bit more.


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