Star Wars-Episode IV: A New Hope: Limited Edition (1977)

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Released 12-Sep-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-With George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt & Dennis Muren
DVD Plus-Original Theatrical Version
Trailer-Lego Star Wars 11
Game-PC Game Demo
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1977
Running Time 235:46
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:12)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By George Lucas
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Mark Hamill
Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher
Peter Cushing
Alec Guinness
Anthony Daniels
Kenny Baker
Peter Mayhew
David Prowse
James Earl Jones
Phil Brown
Shelagh Fraser
Jack Purvis
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $24.95 Music John Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking Yes, by an alien in the cantina
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Lego Star Wars ads!
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

I reviewed the first release of this film on DVD some little while back. At the time, I felt bitter that the only version available was a multiply-revised version, but it was still better than nothing, but our only option, because the gentle folks at LucasFilm told us that the original was lost forever. Now there's a special limited edition release that includes the original version...

I won't go over the plot again please refer to my previous review if you haven't seen this film before.

This limited edition includes the same disc as the previous release, together with a bonus disc containing the original version of the film. I was delighted when I heard this. Then I heard that the bonus disc was 4:3, which made it sound like they had put a pan-and-scan version onto DVD. That sounded like worse than nothing. It turns out that the truth is in between. The bonus disc is not 16x9 enhanced; it's what is sometimes called a 4:3 transfer; but it is widescreen, not pan-and-scan. Additionally, the sound is only Dolby Digital 2.0, not 5.1. You could argue that Dolby 2.0 surround-encoded is appropriate, given that the original release of Star Wars included Dolby surround encoded sound (the original system called Dolby Stereo).

The most credible explanation I've heard is that the transfer used for this disc is one originally made for laser disc. That would explain the 4:3 transfer and Dolby 2.0 sound. It might even justify the claims that the originals were "lost".

I do fear that LucasFilm will find a better quality transfer of the original version one day. Remember, this is the company that brought out quite a few releases of these films on VHS.

So, do I suggest you get this? Well, yes, I do. For a start, you need this disc so you can see that Han Solo did indeed shoot first (in fact, Greedo doesn't get to fire at all). Moreover, this is the original version of the movie, the version that changed the world of science fiction movies. This is an important piece of cinema history. And we can't be sure that there will be another release of the original movie. Besides, these discs are really quite inexpensive.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

The bonus DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, but it is NOT 16x9 enhanced. That's the original and expected aspect ratio, and it's a shame it isn't 16x9 enhanced. The result is that almost half of the frame is black, and the image is unavoidably low resolution there just aren't enough pixels. That's the worst of the bad news.

You can watch this movie on a 16:9 screen in two ways: either show it in a 4:3 frame inside the 16:9 frame (that means wide black bars on both sides as well as top and bottom), or blow it up to fill the width of the screen (most 16:9 screens have some kind of "magnify" option). The former means the image is quite small (a postage stamp in the middle of the screen), but looks relatively sharp. The latter means that the image is as large as it would be if the image were 16x9 enhanced, but it looks blurry. I guess you can get eye-strain from watching the tiny picture, or eye-strain from watching the blurry picture how's that for a choice? I chose to watch it small, because the blurry version was very ugly on my equipment.

The picture is free from excessive edge enhancement, which is very important. It is not very sharp, but it's reasonably clear (it looks OK as a postage stamp). It is quite visibly not as good as the newer version that was released earlier (there's a confused sentence!). There is no visible film grain (it's lost in the low resolution). There's no low-level noise.

Colour is, again, not as good as the revised version. There are several (famous) reasons for this, one of which was the poor quality film-stock available at the time, and it's well-known that one of the major reasons for the revised versions was the colour. Even so, colour is not too bad, and there's more shadow detail than I expected.

There are film artefacts. Not a lot, and not especially bad ones, but there are a few, most noticeably on star fields. Perhaps the single most noticeable artefact, however, is a white splotch at 71:04 during a meeting in the Death Star's conference room.

There is some aliasing, more than in the newer version, but not too bad. Aliasing is most obvious on the sides of the land speeder, but it's also visible on the object in the middle of the Death Star conference table (maybe it's a conference telephone?). There are no MPEG artefacts.

There are subtitles in five languages, including English for the Hearing Impaired; interestingly, these are the exact same languages as on the other disc (Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish we get the Scandinavian master again). I only watched the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles. They are word-for-word accurate. The subtitles are well-timed, and easy to read, but they are placed below the 2.35:1 frame. I am not sure whether the subtitles will be completely visible if you expand the 4:3 frame up to fill a 16:9 frame, something to keep in mind if you depend on the subtitles. Still, if you are watching on a 4:3 screen, this is a good thing.

The disc is single sided, dual layer, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 58:12, and it's fairly noticeable, but we have seen far worse.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

There is just one audio track, in English. It is provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround encoding. I listened to it!

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. I noted the same tiny flaws as in the other release, making it seem likely that they are attributable to the original sound.

The score, from John Williams, is excellent, and sounds fine, even confined to the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

This film was the one that sold people on the use of surround sound. As such, it cries out for a 5.1 soundtrack, complete with an active subwoofer. No such luck; your subwoofer will only react to sound redirected by the bass management in your amplifier. The surround encoding on the 2.0 soundtrack on this disc does provide some limited surround effects, but they pale in comparison to the Dolby Digital EX sound on the newer version. Still, I guess it is an authentic reproduction of the original sound (to some extent, anyway; the Dolby Stereo used in cinemas is a bit more sophisticated than Dolby Surround used in home cinemas).

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

This disc has as its only extras two pieces of advertising. That's a bit rude!

Menu

The menus are simple, but effective, with background sound.

PC demo

If you put this disc into a PC you have the option of a game demo of a Lego Star Wars II game.

Trailer (2:01)

Nope, not the trailer for this film. No, this is the trailer for the Lego Star Wars II game.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 release of this title sounds like it is essentially identical to ours, except that it is NTSC instead of PAL. They do get a choice that we don't however: they can choose between a widescreen version (like ours) or a full-screen version. That is a little deceptive, though. It turns out that their full-screen version includes the full-screen version of the recent release (the disc that was released in the trilogy box set), but the same (wide-screen, NOT 16x9 enhanced) version of the original movie.

Given that the biggest flaw in this disc is the low resolution of the image, I have to say that I'd rather have the PAL version. At the same time, I've not seen the R1, so I cannot be certain that the R4 is better. One thing worth noting is that our release is rather cheaper than the R1...

Summary

The movie we were told was gone forever, that we'd never see again. It's back, but not in very good condition. Still worth getting for historical reasons, though.

The video quality is not good enough. We're told this is a laserdisc transfer, and that's easy to believe.

The audio quality is adequate. It's only Dolby Digital 2.0.

The only extras are advertising for a game, and I resent that. Couldn't they at least have dug up the original trailer?

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
Michael D's Region 4 DVD Info Page - chaossphere

Comments (Add)
Liar Liar - richie007au (don't read it. my bio is dangerous to your health)
They could have used the Special Edition footage for 90% of the movie - grug (there is no bio.)
The original footage isn't THAT bad -- view the comparisons here - SJ2571
Scandinavian masters - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
RE: Scandinavian masters - Tuttle
re Liar Liar - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
re: Scandinavian masters - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
re: Scandinavian masters - Anonymous
More re: Scandinavian masters - Tuttle
American Cinematographer (02/97) - richie007au (don't read it. my bio is dangerous to your health)
Yet more re: Scandinavian masters - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)