Actually it's more than surprising, it's infuriating. How much effort can it take to make it anamorphic? Hardly any, surely. Yet the amount of detail in a non-anamorphic picture is significantly lower than in the anamorphic picture found on most DVDs these days.
I would say that the picture has been cleaned up to an extent, but there is still a little dirt there - although not as much as some recently released blockbuster DVDs I have seen. I have provided comparison screen grabs (original version at the top, processed special edition underneath) to illustrate the presence of grain and muted colours in the original version. Detail is also lost in some particularly light or dark areas. The special edition is rich and vibrant in comparison with more detail evident, but let's not forget that the SE has an exceptional transfer. Importantly neither version has significant edge enhancement and this alone brings the picture quality of the original version up a notch in comparison to most modern DVD releases. In fact when viewed in isolation, the original version of Star Wars is still very watchable. Only the fact that it's non-anamorphic brings the score down.
What we have in this latest release, then, is George Lucas seemingly giving the hard core fans what they want. For years now, they have been demanding the original versions of the movies. On the whole I like the changes George made to the special editions. Most of them are so subtle that you wouldn't really notice. The odd sound effect here. The odd altered cut and effect there. But the 'Greedo shoots first' cantina alteration is just terrible.
How lovely, then to sit through the original version with Greedo getting unceremoniously blasted by Han. I have no doubt that real Star Wars fans are going to enjoy watching the original versions on DVD just as much as I did.
It's obvious that this Limited Edition has been released to appeal to hard-core fans and to promote Lego Star Wars II. However, the non-anamorphic picture of the original version is a real let down and I'm convinced it's been a deliberate move to leave scope to sell us the anamorphic version rumoured for release next year.
While the special edition has reference quality picture and sound, the overall score is marked down because of the non-anamorphic nature of the original version - which is the whole point of this DVD.
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