View Full Version : Star Wars on DVD

09-23-2004, 12:03 AM
It is a pleasure and a joy to be able to watch with enthusiasm these classic science fiction adventures once more. The clarity and fidelity are superb and the DVD supplement is filled with many “gee, I didn’t know that...” moments.

There is something, however, I want to get off my chest. When it shows on the DVD the front of Sid Grauman’s theater in Hollywood, that was not what opening day was like. I should know. I was there.

It was about 6 a.m., early Wednesday morning. I got a call from my good friend, Rick Sanford. He told me to skip work today. He knew I started my shift at 7. He told me there was going to be something special happening and he wanted me to go to it. He said there was a premiere at the Chinese on Hollywood Boulevard at 10 a.m., the word of mouth was that it was going to be spectacular. Now this was a Wednesday. Movies just didn’t open on a Wednesday. They opened on a Friday.
So, I called off and took a bus up Sunset to La Brea, and walked the remaining blocks to Hollywood Boulevard. There was no crowd waiting outside. There was only Rick, waiting in the front section, where all the footprints of the stars are lodged into the cement, a brilliant advertising gimmick. We went inside (Rick and I seldom paid for these things. He always “knew” somebody) and there was already about one third of the seats filled.

The inside of the Chinese is a grand place. I’ve never been in Radio City but I can imagine they are very similar. It is more like a theater than a cinema. There is a huge stage with a wide proscenium. I don’t know what the house seats but it is very large. I had been inside the theater before and had actually seen the film, “Car Wash” just a few weeks earlier. Prior to the start of the film, they showed a preview to “Car Wash”. The trailer was scratched, faded, and very small. The curtain parted just enough to show the practically square picture.

“That’s odd,” I thought. “Why did they do that?” I wondered. We were about to find out.

Rick didn’t say a word. The curtain closed and I thought I heard the orchestra in the pit. Remember, this was the first time any of us had heard Dolby Stereo in optical. It was the Fox fanfare. Rick whispered to me, “This is the first time they’ve used the fanfare since the film ‘Caprice’ in 1966!” The curtain opened, and opened, until this huge screen filled the entire stage. I’d never seen anything like it. Then everything got quiet...

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away...”

BLAM! Everyone jumped to their feet, and began to applaud. They applauded right through the opening of the film! Rick leaned over to me and said, “You realize, we’re applauding a screen. There’s nobody here that cares!” But Rick was wrong. In the back of the theater, there were people who cared. By the time the credits came up, people were cheering and applauding even harder. I’d never seen a reaction to something so strong in my life. We ran out of the theater and called everyone we knew. By mid-afternoon, the lines snaked around the block. By the end of the week, they were running the prints 24 hours a day. It played at the Chinese for more than a year! People bragged at how many times they saw it. Rick saw it over 60 times. I saw it 26 times that year.

Two months later, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” premiered on Sunset at the Cinerama Dome, but by then the Star Wars momentum was too much. Spielberg’s brilliant work was eclipsed by the comic book tale of adventure. Lucas had proved the naysayers wrong by making a film that brought fun and excitement back to the movies. John Williams double album was the first movie soundtrack to break all records, and was sold out all over town. It was great being in Los Angeles during that time. Everyone was riding a cloud of overwhelming joy that summer. Just two years later, HIV would rear its ugly head in America. But the summer of ‘77, was one I will remember to the end of my days. To have witnessed something so special on that Wednesday in May I owe to my friend, Rick Sanford, who passed away two decades later of AIDS. Rick loved the movies and his friends. I was proud to have been one of them.

09-23-2004, 06:38 PM
Yeah its nice that the films are on DVD, but George Lucas can choke on a dick for not releasing the original versions. He needs to lay off of the films, and stop altering. It is not right, let them be. They were perfect to begin with, they don't need cartoonish modern effects. He is a bastard, and I for one will not spend any more money on "New editions". Fuck him and his special edition Star Wars.

09-24-2004, 11:35 PM
Just watched the new version Star Wars. Not only were all the changes totally unnecessary, but in some case downright distracting. I hate what he did with the scene when they enter Mos Eisley. Tons of obviously CGI creatures added and the jedi mind trick scene is spoiled by the distracting creatures flying around.

It doesn't really matter to me, though it's annoying that he didn't release the original versions on DVD. I have my LDs which I will copy to DVD as soon as I get the chance.

I do think it's sad that there are generations that will never know the original Star Wars. I'll watch the other two new versions just out curiosity and the special features, but then I think I will retire this new box set and stick with the originals. It's a shame, because the audio and visual quality is excellent...I would have loved an upgrade. Though it seems like the bass was a little over the top in some scenes. Like when R2D2 fell over in the desert! I was watching on my housemates system and not mine which is a little better (he's got the better TV).

09-25-2004, 11:50 PM
Originally posted by SinjinSB
It doesn't really matter to me, though it's annoying that he didn't release the original versions on DVD. I have my LDs which I will copy to DVD as soon as I get the chance.

Hey man, I'd pay you to make me Original Trilogy DVDs!

09-26-2004, 12:12 AM
Originally posted by HorseradishTree

Hey man, I'd pay you to make me Original Trilogy DVDs!

I would never take money for something like that. I'd offer to do it for you, but who knows when I'll get to it. I haven't even done it for myself yet (and I've had my recorder about 7 months), much yet the rest of my family and friends want them. And you got to figure 6+ hours for every set I make. It wouldn't be so bad, but those 6+ hours per set is also 6+ hours of not being able to watch anything else. If I ever happen to get caught up on all my recording for me, I might be willing to offer my services to others. But with my lack of free time, who knows when that'll be.

Sorry I can't be more promising. Though actually, if I ever get a DVD burner for my computer, I could crank out copies much faster, because I'd only have to do it from the original LDs once, then I could use my computer (not sure how fast DVDs burn on the computer, but it's gotta be faster than 1X). So maybe all hope isn't lost.

09-27-2004, 11:42 AM
A tempest in a teapot. The changes are done. If you go back and look at the 70mm prints of the original, some of the effects look downright silly. I couldn't disagree more that the changes distract. I was there. I saw it in 70. By today's standards, it would look very cheesy. If I were a filmmaker that could improve on my work, I'd do it. However, that said, if you watch the entire trilogy, Lucas didn't stop with just adding CGI shots, he actually altered the story. There were major changes made to the second film (the Vader to Emperor scene had dialogue changes as well as visual changes) and the ending of the third film (that's actually number six) will surly be controversial. I for one, was taken aback by the change. I won't mention it. I don't worhip Lucas but I still admire the man. He did what most of us didn't... he made his movie... the one he always wanted. It doesn't matter if we don't like it or not. He's laughing (along with Mel "hot poker in your face" Gibson) all the way to the bank. That kind of success doesn't come from making a bad product.

09-27-2004, 06:12 PM
Of course the effects are less than great; they're from the 70s. But I don't think one should update their films merely so that they can look up to par with the current line of flicks (which the SE trilogy doesn't anyway). Star Wars is perfect in its original form.