In 1993, George Lucas presented the complete Star Wars Trilogy available for the first time as a
set. The films were remastered using the latest technology and then transferred and replicated under
the control of the THX LaserDisc program.|
The initial release was a mammoth box set, with each film spread over three discs in Standard Play, with the final side of each film including behind-the-scenes footage and making of materials for the trilogy. The results turned out to be mixed as there were immediately problems identified. A list of identified 'flaws' was developed by fans unhappy with the quality of the set and made available over the internet. These 'flaws' ranged from printing errors in the 16-page booklet and weak closed captions signals to artifacts in the video transfer. The first actual error was a mastering flaw on side 3 of The Empire Strikes Back where the first seven seconds of the side were missing. Fox was quick to acknowledge the problem, and a corrected discs was made available through their LaserDisc distributor - Image Entertainment.
The next real problem with this nine-disc set was a manufacturing problem. Mitsubishi Plastics in Japan had been used to replicate the set - and at the time of replication, Mitsubishi was having a problem with the discs failing after a period of time. Again, Image Entertainment commissioned a repressing of all sides and offered individual disc replacements to owners of the set.
This same set was updated and released twice in Japan. Each of the versions is slightly different from the other. All Japanese copies of the set were pressed by Pioneer LDC, Inc. Individual differences in the sets are noted on each of the respective pages.
The Trilogy was re-released on LaserDisc, using the same THX certified transfer and replication program, but this time in Extended Play CLV. Noted Film critic Leonard Maltin conducted an interview with George Lucas which was edited and divided into three parts and spread onto the end of each film. To get the complete interview, you had to buy all three films. In Japan, the films were available separately, as well as in a "Collector's Set", which included a bonus discs with a "Making of" program.
In 1997, Special Editions of each film were produced and issued on LaserDisc. The set was available in the US only as a box set, with 25 minutes of supplemental material. The Japanese version was available in a box set as well, with the same supplements - and also as individual films. The change is that rather than single supplemental program presented at the end as in the US release, the sections pertaining to each film are built into it's own featurette presented at the end of each film.
The final version of Trilogy to be released on LaserDisc was in November 2000, which served as a companion set to the release of The Phantom Menace. Like Episode I, this set was limited to Japan and contains the Special Editions of each film, without any of the previous supplements. What we do get however, is a "behind-the-scenes" look at the production of Episode II. This 11 minute segment proceeds "Episode IV". In addition, the artwork of each sleeve is 'updated' into the now standard Episodic display that was begun with Episode I.
In 2004, Lucas revisited the Trilogy, which has now dropped the moniker Special Edition. He has further tweaked all three films to correct some (but not all) of the inconstancies which are present between the 'second' trilogy and the first. This tweaked version is the first release of the Trilogy on DVD. Many suspect that Lucas will 'adjust' this trilogy a final time when the third (and allegedly final) film Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is issued on Video in 2006.
Updated: September 25, 2004
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