A Guide to the Many Home Media Releases of ‘Star Wars’

In the days leading up to Star Wars Day, a mysterious message appeared on the official Star Wars site: “On May 4th, all will be revealed…” Clicking through this message led to a timer counting down to 6am on May 4th. Naturally, the megafans bombarded the site at 6am, which caused not only it, but also the Fox Movies site, to crash dramatically. Once the servers went back up, the news was somewhat underwhelming: In September of 2011, the two trilogies will be released on Blu-Ray (which we already knew), and hey look, here’s a video to watch with some exclusive imagery to tide you over til then! Whoopie!

Without getting into the whole Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate (I’ll save that for another day…), have you ever watched the original Star Trek in high def? Because I have. And believe you me, that show was not meant to be seen in high def. There’s nothing that will kill the magic quite like being able to see EXACTLY how much plywood the Enterprise is made out of. I imagine that watching the original trilogy on Blu-Ray will be a similar experience. But that said, I would also probably be more excited about a new Star Wars release if there hadn’t been SO MANY DIFFERENT RELEASES ALREADY. Not familiar with all of them? Have no fear! Here is your handy guide to the many, many home media releases of Star Wars:

1) The Original Home Video Release
In the 1980s and 90s, the original trilogy saw various releases on VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc. Isn’t 80s technology amusing?

2) The Special Edition
In 1997, George Lucas spent $10 million reworking the original trilogy. Since this edition was released in cinemas, it was admittedly pretty exciting to those of us who hadn’t been alive the first time around and had hitherto only seen the films on tiny, tiny television screens; however, it was also pretty controversial, because this is when Lucas began his grand tradition of changing things people knew and loved. For example, Han apparently didn’t shoot first, even though we all thought he had for years.

3) The Prequel Trilogy
Starting with The Phantom Menace in 2000, the prequels began their first run of home releases. The Phantom Menace was initially only released on VHS, but there were two separate editions: The regular one with the ends chopped off to make the picture fit your television screen, and the widescreen Collector’s Edition. It came out on DVD in 2001, and thereafter, each of the prequel’s first home release came in both VHS and DVD. Lucas continued to edit the films for their DVD releases, so none of them are technically the original theatrical versions.

You can reach this post's author, Lucia Peters, on twitter.
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