The original Star Wars trilogy is among cinema’s greatest achievements. From 1977 to 1983, the beloved and acclaimed sci-fi classics centre on the Galactic Civil War between the Rebel Alliance and the tyrannical Galactic Empire, alongside the story of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and his quest to become a Jedi. They’re films that need no introduction, because I’ve never met a single person in my life who isn’t at least familiar on a surface level with the films. Followed by prequel and sequel trilogies in the years that followed – ultimately creating the 9-film Skywalker Saga – Star Wars is an epic pop-culture phenomenon.
Last Summer, the original trilogy made its debut on the 4K UHD format with surprisingly little fanfare. Despite being ranked among the finest films ever made, their release on the premium home entertainment format was met with derision due to the fact the discs only include the so-called ‘Special Edition’ cuts of the film, that feature various additions and changes to the films that remain controversial to the more passionate fans to this day. But my relationship with Star Wars is not strong enough for that to be an issue for me. I love the films, don’t get me wrong – but I’m not about to dismiss the opportunity to experience them in glorious 4K UHD just because George Lucas made some changes to his own work. Granted, the revisionism could be taken as offensive to the other crew members that worked so hard – updating the special effects, for example, could be perceived as negating the work the team put into them back in the 1970s – but the updates to the films are largely inoffensive. I would even go so far as to say that, controversially, I actually find some of them to be a welcome improvement.
Ultimately, though, the selling point of these 4K releases is – surprise surprise – the fact they are in 4K. The films look and sound stunning. With the exception of the later additions to the films of course, they look fresh out of the cinema in the late 70s and early 80s, and it’s a sight to behold for fans and newcomers alike. Experiencing the films in this format is like seeing them for the first time all over again, breathing new life into their iconic legacy and offering the definitive experience of the films in their current state for generations to come. While the inclusion of the original theatrical editions of the films would certainly have been nice, it’s not a deal-breaker. There’s still a lot to love about these discs that present the celebrated films in the finest quality imaginable, with a bonus disc in each part of the trilogy offering fascinating insight into their productions and far-reaching legacies.
So, for those among you who have dismissed the original Star Wars trilogy in 4K, I urge you to reconsider. If you’re someone who has been avoiding the Special Editions of the films for years or perhaps even never touched them, you’ll be surprised by just how inoffensive the revisions are. These releases are utterly gorgeous, and deserve a special place in every collection.
Every STAR WARS film is available now on Disney+, DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD from Walt Disney Home Entertainment