Previously I thought that all that was going to be different in this set, other than the High Def transfer was that Episode I was going to have an all-CG Yoda. At least I had no reason to expect anything else. Turns out there were quite a few more changes...
The release date was September 16th, 2011 (for $73 on average). [Edit: According to Amazon, the "Saga" set is $90 new, $69 used, plus S&H. OT & PT sets are $40 new, $28 and $30 used respectively, plus S&H. 12/31/11]
Prior to this changes were leaked out (and have been confirmed).
We know for a fact that this set will NOT include any previously released editions of the Star Wars movies (except Episodes II and III... with each have only one
tiny minor change each... in fact Episode III on BD is identical to the theatrical version since it restores the "wipe" transition towards the end that was altered in the 2005
Some of the changes appear to be fixed mistakes from the 2004 editions, oddly enough.
This youtube channel documents many of the changes.
I guess you could consider these spoilers...
This will be updated as we get more info. For the record, I won't be buying this set, but I might rent it later (I do now have a PC that has a blu-ray drive). I just know Lucas will double-dip this one and since the theatrical trilogy won't be included this time, I can afford to wait and save my money.
(videos are spread throughout these two channels)
(please note, there are a lot of joke videos out there, some are pretty funny, but let's stick to the ones that are at least somewhat confirmed; some of this is out of order)
A jumpcut of R2D2 starting to move (near the escape pod shaft) has been smoothed out.
After the droids land on Tatooine, the escape pod lid (or parachute as I once thought of it) was always blue, but now it has been changed to a darker gray in several shots (but remains blue in others).
Aunt Beru's line to Luke as he's going off to the droid sale is different. She now says "remind YOUR Uncle" instead of "remind Uncle" and there's a bit of a modulation/echo effect added (thanks DVDactive).
Several CGI rocks have been added to partially obscure R2D2 when he's hiding from the sandpeople. It makes you wonder how he was able to get back in there (and later, the rocks are suddenly gone, after he leaves the shelter).
Obi-Wan's "Yell" that scares away the Tusken raiders after they knock Luke out has changed, again. Now it's some kind of weird scream and echoing effects, instead of the birdlike whoop from 2004 (or the original modified Dewback growl).
Han & Greedo still
exchange gunfire (remember in '77, only Han ever fired in the scene! We just saw an explosion and Greedo slumps over), but it happens even quicker than before (looks like he just sped up the 2004 version).
Luke's saber in the far shot on the Falcon (training with the remote) is changed back to blue (or more of a minty turquoise, instead of the bright green it was in 2004; for reference in 1997 it was a very light green, and in 1992 it was almost white).
During the TIE attack on the Falcon, we see a fighter head on getting shot at by the cannons, and originally on the right side of the screen there was a black bar (like it was cropped more on that side). The starfield and laser blast have been extended to cover the empty space. Like the wampa arm, this is another one of those I never really noticed before. Looking at a still frame, it looks like they did a pretty haphazard job, but it goes by pretty fast.
Also, the garbage matte boxes around the TIEs that attack are digitally removed.
When Vader and his TIE wingmen fly off towards the left side of the screen, you can see some graphical garbage at the bottom of the screen that appeared in 2004. This has been removed (the infamous "humdinger" glitch).
In the shot of an X-Wing flying through the explosion of a TIE fighter, the blast is colorless instead of the usual red/orange (though this may have first appeared in 2004).
The Death Star explosion still looks colorless (compared to 1977 or 1997), but the weird blue halo artifact that first appeared in 2004 has been removed.
The shot where the wampa "arm" comes out and chokes the Taun Taun, swats at Luke etc. had a frame or two where you could see the edge of the puppeteer's sleeve. This has been painted out (though there's still a little black thing in the far left-hand corner)
More reflections have been added to the shot of the Cloud Cars flying by the Cloud City window (where you can see Leia inside).
When Chewbacca is rescuing Threepio's parts from the conveyor belt (and the Ughnaughts) on Cloud City, the formerly blue fiery interior of the "furnace" has been replaced with an orange one and some new yellow sparks and smoke.
Sabers appear unchanged from the 2004 edition.
The door to Jabba's palace has been digitally modified to appear more massive and have a zoom in shot, for when we see the droids approach it. This creates a continuity error later on, but in the opening shots the door looks HUGE.
Sebulba (Dug from Episode I) walks into Jabba's throne room.
Han thawing out of the Carbonite is different. The "melting" effect appears more uniform like a dissolve, with brighter rays of light added peaking out from the "vaporizing" portions. Also the "imprint" left behind by Han's body in the melted carbonite now has a reddish hue, where before it was gray (and rays of light peak out as he falls to the floor).
The shot of Han "accidentally" hitting Boba Fett's backpack to send him flying into the side of the skiff uses an alternate take.
In the scene where Wicket the Ewok meets Princess Leia and shares a snack, he blinks his big eyes (CG enhancement of the mask).
The baby ewoks which appear in various scenes blink.
When R2D2 is hit by laser fire during the ground battle, his parts go haywire as before but with new digital tweaks. A cable next to him was removed, and several new attachments were added and/or animated. An appendage that was leaking water has been completely removed, and now steam shoots out of his holographic projector nozzle.
When the rebels say "Fighters... coming in" near the beginning of the space battle (when the trap is sprung) supposedly there are more TIE fighters added to the shot. I would have to compare them side by side, as I can't really tell in the quick shot.
The saber clash in front of the Emperor's face that was goofed up in the 2004 edition has been fixed, back to how it always looked (with bright white cores to both blades instead of two pastel blocks intersecting).
The "Emperor's slugs" have been digitally blended in this shot (at least), fixing a visual oddity that's been there since 1983.
Vader groans out a "Nooo." and then (more like Episode III) "NOoooOOOOO!!" (Naaaawwwoooo) when he turns and grabs the Emperor to throw him down the shaft.
Episode I TPM:
The movie is a brand new transfer, which is framed differently than the DVD edition (which was slightly cropped on all sides). The colors look somewhat different as well (not sure if they're better or worse, but different than the DVD). A few shots are darker than before and so lose detail (like when the two Jedi are talking by the balcony).
The shot of the Neimoidians looking at the Droidekas pursuing the Jedi (on their viewscreen) uses a different take, which is zoomed out and the screen is more obviously a digital projection.
There was a quick shot where the two-headed announcer had one of his hands clipping through his own clothing making it look fake. This was fixed.
Obviously, Yoda is replaced entirely with CG, looking like he does in Episode III.
Suddenly the movie has a blue-tint throughout. Ugh.
In the original theatrical version, the screen did a wipe transitioning from Obi-Wan looking concerned as Threepio drives the ship away from Mustafar to Anakin's robotic hand clawing its way up the sandy ground from the lava pool. The DVD edition in 2005 turned this into a straight cut. The Blu-Ray restores it back to the theatrical version.
And now (something I'm actually more interested in than George's endless tinkering):
Confirmed DELETED SCENES.
The Deleted Scenes are on a separate disc from the movies (so far only available with the more expensive "saga" set that contains both trilogies) and are not "cleaned up." These are definitely not "HD quality" and are much more worn, faded and dirty than the rest of the movie footage (it has that same "look" as the vintage gag reel/easter egg material from 2004, if you remember). However this is the best looking we've ever seen them. Prior to this many scenes were known about only from very short clips or stills. Sometimes we had less audio than we do now. Just to be clarify, there is no option on this BD set to view these scenes reincorporated into the main film footage.
As Luke & Biggs are talking before the battle of Yavin, Red leader's dialog in full
(there's a damaged film "wipe" partway through, which was replaced by a "guy walking past carrying some stuff" in the Special Edition in 1997). He says "I met your father once when I was just a boy. If you have half the skill he had, you'll do all right." (in the SE, he just says "you'll do all right").
Luke looking up at the "battle" with his macrobinoculars and seeing Treadwell "break down" before he heads off to Toschi station. This scene has been publicly available since 1998 (Behind the Magic) but a clip shown appears in color instead of sepia that the BTM clip had faded to (it also lacked sound, unknown if the sound is restored, it should be pointed out that the fan copies out there which have sound simply spliced in the sound from the Radio Drama, which has Mark Hamill's voice). Some special effects of the battle in the sky may have been added since '76 when it was shot, but in any case, it looks great.
Right after this scene is a shot of an old woman yelling (in the screenplay, the landspeeder zips by her and she reacts as any annoyed pedestrian would at a reckless driver).
Then we get the familiar Luke & Biggs scenes at Tosche (Toschi?) Station we've all watched since '98 but in far better audio and video quality than we've ever seen them.
Some rear projection footage of Luke talking with Threepio as he drives the landspeeder off in search of R2D2. The scene cuts off. It's cool to hear Anthony Daniels without his voice filters.
The faded-to-black-and-white alternate cantina scene (with spaces of silence and no dubbed voices or added SFX other than some squibs and the lightsaber physical prop) that we've been enjoying since '98 is back in all its glory. I swear there were some shots in color of "Jenny" but not in any of the clips I've yet scene.
Quick shot of a dwarf guy running from an unseen creature on stilt legs is seen (this exact footage was featured in the infamous '78 Holiday Special). This segues into the scene of the sandtroopers moving their search for the droids across the alleyway (and ends with a crewmember pulling out the clapperboard).
The scene of Vader talking with Chief Bast about strategic issues with the rebels in a hallway is back, with the original audio (the Star Wars Holiday Special reused this footage but dubbed it to fit in with the tv special's plot).
General Veers dies! Yes, in this version, before he shoots the shield generator (I think), a snowspeeder plows into the head of his AT-AT, decapitating it and downing the vehicle. This scene is a mixture of black & white footage and hand-drawn animation.
Yoda's additional training. I remember this scene from the Marvel comics series based on the movie. Yoda tosses a silver bar into the air and Luke slashes at it with his saber (but misses). The actual scene is done in several takes, with no special effects (other than the bar being pulled by a fishing line, and then it's missing in the rest of the scene, presumably to be added in post). Parts of it are black & white and there's no dialogue yet.
Lobot's capture. I didn't realize this, but Lobot (the bald guy working for Lando who has the wrap-around speakers on his head) gets captured! After Lando signals him when he finally takes his opportunity against Vader's men, Lobot evades the Stormtroopers for awhile but then gets grabbed and taken into custody. So I guess the other guys came through though! A bit anticlimactic.
Leia cares for Luke. A rather extended sequence of Leia tending to Luke's injury in that little medical station on the Falcon. She fills Luke in on what's just happened, mentions Boba Fett by name (he's otherwise only referred to as "bounty hunter" in ESB).
Han makes repairs. Another sequence of Han bent over some big pipes in the Falcon doing repairs, and Leia fumbling around. A lot of off-screen cues from Kershner (sounds like him anyway). Alternate/extended kiss scene (b&w) for Han & Leia with a bit more dialogue. After he initially kisses her, she kisses him back before Threepio interrupts.
Shot of a wampa moving through the tunnel far off as Echo base is in chaos. This is just before or after Threepio rips the "danger" sign off the wampa room (mentioned in the script and seen briefly in the ESB trailer on the 2004 "Bonus Materials" disc, but only a second or two).
There are actually several "new" cut Wampa scenes. There's an extended version of Leia and Han's argument in the south passages on Echo Base. There's another version of this banter scene where the camera pans to a wall and we see a transparent piece of ice with a wampa claw tapping against the ice.
Several shorter shots of a Wampa (or two?) crashing through a snow wall, rebel troopers running at the (offscreen) monster and getting thrown back, firing their guns, and the snow monster itself in all its B-movie glory. It's quite hilarious by today's standards, but quite cool to see. Most of this stuff was cut because they thought the monster looked too fake and the guy in the costume was really awkward and blind with those stilts and long arms in the suit. One of the beasts is finally killed by the rebels, while the other is (we presume) trapped in the wampa pen we all knew about from still photos and vintage ESB trailers (and we get a nice looking version of the scene of Threepio ripping the "danger" sign off the wampa pen).
Later the Snowtroopers storm into the base with Vader, one of them opens the door to the "wampa pen" and gets pulled inside by a long furry arm, and the next guy closes the door and listens. Pretty cool.
A longer scene of Luke healing from the bacta (and what sounds like director Irvin Kershner off camera announcing that Luke is okay) is featured.
Luke and Leia have some dialogue after he's out of the bacta resting up and they go in for a passionate kiss (which is broken up before their lips touch by Threepio and then Han comes in to deliver his "pull the ears off a gundark" lines, from a different camera angle).
Pilots. LOTS of material of new pilots (looks like an audition reel, as they say the same lines virtually). An actor is sitting in a cockpit that is shaking and a radio voice off camera prompts them to say various lines ("there's a heavy fire zone down there" "if you pick one up watch him" "I'm hit" etc). One of the pilots we see in the actual battle was overdubbed and is actually female! There's also an older woman and a guy in a Mon Calamari suit (who speaks english) as well as Nien Numb (or an alien just like him) speaking english. They have a bit of fun with the Mon Calamari guy too. The human pilot sequences are all in black & white.
Falcon gunners! This sequence is kinda cool. Various shots of guys with guns and equipment running around the Falcon corridors, fixing things, putting out fires (without full extinguisher effects). Nien Numb (or same alien species) dodging an explosion in the corridors. Footage of various human rebels manning the turrets and going through the combat motions just like Luke & Han do in ANH.
General Madine. General Madine (stoic guy with hair helmet and fuzzy beard) sits on a bridge similar to Ackbar's, surrounded by his human crew. He issues orders similar to Ackbar's about hyperspace and wishing the force to be with them. Color with offscreen cues.
The infamous "finishing touches on the lightsaber" scene with Luke wearing a hood that obscures everything but his chin and nose (leading many to suspect this wasn't actual 1983 footage, since it would have been easy to fake) that was the first part released. Vader is sitting in his meditation chamber on the Executor and says "Luke.... Luke, join me on the dark side of the force, it is the only way." Meanwhile, on Tatooine, Luke is in a cave, tightens something on the saber and then ignites it. We see the droids sitting outside the cave. The rest of the clip segues seamlessly into the opening part of ROTJ we're familiar with, of the droids heading towards Jabba's palace.
Han, Leia and the rebels are having a shootout with stormtroopers inside the corridors of the inside of the Endor bunker. This was meant to be right before they burst in and take over the officer stations. The troopers get wiped out. Later when the rebels get captured, Han questions being called "scum" by the Imperial officer.
The "sand storm" scene after they leave Jabba's is in there, and it's much longer than the literally 1 second long clip (and photos) we'd seen before. The party of heroes wear cloaks and goggles making their way to the falcon in the blowing sand and have some dialogue (which is extremely difficult to make out with all the wind machines going). It also looks like Luke rubs some goop on his injured robot hand (a possible continuity glitch if this scene were left in because it's still damaged and open in the scene on the cockpit on his way to Dagobah). It doesn't take, and he gets into his X-wing to leave.
Moff Jejerod (flanked by some red guards) tries to stop Vader from going into the Emperor's chambers and gets choked by Vader (who isn't dubbed by JEJ yet in this scene). Later we see clips of him talking with his crewmen about the Emperor's orders to blow up the Endor moon (even with their men still on it) if the rebels start to win. More dialogue with his men and finally the order is given and he stares into a (black, since no SFX finished) viewscreen.
Also, just for fun, I found this page which contains a lot of info on PREVIOUS changes to the films (mostly the 1997/2004 changes): http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/top...s/topic/11927/