It is great to see at long last the original versions of the Star Wars films finally out on dvd. At long last you can enjoy the original film minus CGI on DVD. However, not so good is the fact that this version has been pulled from the earlier laser disc release and is in Dolby 2.0 sound instead of Dolby 5.1. I frankly struggle to understand why Lucasfilm did not use a 35mm or 70mm print for the transfer and create a full digital soundtrack instead of the 2 channel one on this DVD release. Therefore, 4 stars instead of 5.
Anyway that said, lets go onto the main review itself:
I saw Star Wars in the cinema on its original release in 1977 and I was not slow to buy a ticket for an encore. The sheer experience of that film was exhilerating at a time when movie SFX were still a fair distance away from the quality we know and expect today. Few cinemas had stereo sound then because Dolby Stereo was in its infancy, and to actually be in a cinema so equipped at that time was a rarity. If you were really lucky, in addition to Dolby stereo, it might have a 70mm facility which would give you an enhanced picture, plus a 6 channel stereo split instead of the normal 4 channel of standard Dolby. Nowadays digital stereo in the cinema and home makes that sort of differentiating pretty irrelevent.
Seeing Star Wars in stereo and with its incredible effects really was an experience . After that sound and SFX were never going to be the same, and neither have looked back since.
Only just behind The Empire Strikes Back in terms of enjoyability sits Star Wars itself. The film remains one of those viewing experiences which just remains in your mind as a milestone. What effects, what imagination, the ability to lift you out of every day life and take you to a galaxy, far, far away. Who can forget seeing that opening shot of the huge Star Destroyer bearing down on Princess Leia's fleeing vessel?
No audiences had seen spaceships of those looks and dimensions on the big screen before...
The seedier side of intergalactic life is brilliantly realised in the depiction of THAT bar on the desert planet of Tatooine.
Of course you have that unforgettable sequence at the end of the film where a horde of tiny X Wing fighters take on the behemoth that is the Empire's Death Star.
Aside from the main characters you have great supporting roles. Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi is superb. As is Peter Cushing as the ruthless Governor Tarkin, commanding the Death Star.
To sum up then, it is good to finally be able to enjoy the original look to the film on DVD. Come on though Lucasfilm, release a special edition of these originals in full Anamorphic picture, complete with a 5.1 soundtrack. Now that really would be a genuine re-release of the original film. This version is simply not the complete ticket.