A Rebel Restoring The Empire: A "Star Wars" Super-Fan Updates The Classic Films To Original Form

Are you getting excited for the new "Star Wars" film, "The Force Awakens"?  If you're not, are you just worried that it might be as bad as the prequel trilogy that did little justice to the world-famous source material, or perhaps as unpleasant as the poorly-conceived updates made to the originals?  Well, despite George Lucas's culture-crushing chaos, he's taken his hands off of the new movie, and as for the other, original ones that he messed with, they have been forcefully fixed...

It surrounds us, and protects us, and binds the (original, un-fucked-with) galaxy together.
(Image courtesy wired.com.)

According to ABC Australia, "Star Wars" super-fan Petr Harmy has taken it upon himself to redact the changes that Lucas wrought onto his original trilogy, which was re-released in cinemas in 1997.  Replete with unnecessary party scenes, random new creatures and critters, storyline changes (including the infamous "Han shot at Greedo first" issue), and other dubs that proved to be flubs, the new-but-not-improved series also replaced major characters such as Anakin Skywalker (originally portrayed in his older form by Sebastian Shaw, but digitally updated with actor Hayden Christiansen in modern versions.)

We love Han MORE for his quick-draw...dammit, Lucas.

Creator George Lucas, in a 1988 statement to the U.S. Congress regarding the alteration of classic films, expressly said that "our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten".  He went on to note, "People who alter or destroy works of art and our cultural heritage for profit or as an exercise of power are barbarians."

Whoops.  Lucas later covered his tracks in 2004 and claimed, "I'm sorry you saw half a completed film and fell in love with it. But I want it to be the way I want it to be."  But the damage had been done, and thus the original three films, beloved by generations, were never updated into modern formats.

Lucas's full vision was titled, "Star Wars:  An Excellent Adventure."
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)

This has made for an arduous quest for Harmy, who has sourced 35 mm film, a 1993 DVD master, a special-edition Blu-Ray, and other obscure high-def versions of the original movies so that they might be spliced and reassembled, frame by careful frame, into the classic that we all know was wonderful just as it was.

Harmy, a 27-year-old Czech native who had been enraptured by the "special edition" films as a child, eventually saw the original versions, and preferred them to the sadly-souped-up newer releases.  He made it his mission to keep things classic, saying, "I wanted to be able to show people who haven't seen Star Wars yet, like my little brother or my girlfriend, the original Oscar-winning version but I didn't want to have to show it to them in bad quality."

Harmy and friends' work was so thorough, one can even download cover art
for the"Despecialized Edition" reworkings.
(Image courtesy geekinheels.com.)

The Oscar win, incidentally, had been for the original film's practical special effects - NOT for anything done digitally.  The creatively complex costumes, alien appendages, and other original elements had been more than enough to wow the Oscar committee into a win.  As Harmy notes, "The original visual effects in Star Wars were completely groundbreaking at the time and trying to suppress the original versions is, in my opinion, an act of cultural vandalism."

Some of Harmy's changes are subtle, such as widening of frame crops, color corrections, or the removing of CGI effects from background sets.  Others are more flagrant, such as audio restorations of original dialogue (or lack thereof, like the removal of Vader's unnecessary wail of "Noooo" as - spoilers - Luke kills the Emperor.)  Weird and seemingly random changes (like the removal of older Anakin Skywalker's eyebrows when Luke removes his helmet) are counteracted before you even knew they offended you.

Even Lucas's own updates were not consistent.
But they were no match for a good blaster...or editing program...at Harmy's side.
(Image courtesy thestarwarstrilogy.com.)

With the aid of other fans online, Harmy has managed to complete a "Despecialized" edition (available only in torrent form) for all three films: "A New Hope", "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return Of The Jedi."  His labors, while unauthorized (and by his own admission, incomplete until proper sources can make the originals available for remastery) have not gone fruitless...in addition to delighting untold numbers of the original films' fans, Harmy has obtained a job working on film restoration and preservation for Ultraflix.

If there's a bright center to this story's universe, he's on the planet that it's closest to.

The galazy may be far, far away, but it's always near to fans' hearts.
(Image courtesy overmental.com.)


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