11 January, 2017

Another New Hope: A simple guide to the different versions of the first Star Wars film

Many people know that there are multiple versions of George Lucas’ first Star Wars movie, but how many are there and how different are they? Well…there’s lots. Dive into the OriginalTrilogy.com forums and you will find pictures of slight end credit variations. Then there are home video releases which are a different experience to a theatrical one due to technical limitations as well as the fact they may be pan-and-scan editions. Laserdisc releases may be time-compressed and PAL region releases have PAL speedup. There’s even a narrated logo. One release may be identical to another but with slight colour variations or a different level of noise reduction applied. There can be changes in subtitle placement and font, plus there have been releases with technical errors. Factor in foreign-language dubs and there’s been a lot of different versions over the years.

Maybe one day I’ll work it out. The more likely scenario is that the posters on OriginalTrilogy.com will and I’ll stick up a link saying “hey look at this”. In any case, it seems likely that anyone asking how many versions are there of the first Star Wars film is not expecting these variations to be included in the tally. This guide then ignores things like that, focusing on just the English language releases and not counting home video releases as a new version of the film unless they did add something.

This is not a full list of every alteration ever made, but it should provide a guide to how each version differs from the others and when certain changes were made (and reverted in some cases).

1977 Stereo Theatrical  Releases

There were a couple of stereo options for Star Wars’ initial USA theatrical release. Two-track stereo was available on 35mm prints whilst 70mm prints boasted a six-track Dolby stereo mix. Whilst there may be different emphasis on certain effects, greater bass and dynamic range in the six-track, content-wise the mixes sound the same (no alternate dialogue here). The six-track was created first and then the two-track was derived from it.

In J.W. Rinzler’s The Making of Star Wars book, sound designer Ben Burtt says that whilst they were not completely happy with the mix there was no time to make changes, commenting “they were all too afraid to mess with it, ‘cause the deadline was so close-the whole system with the Dolby was kind of an experiment, and they didn’t want me to tamper with it.”

1977 Mono Theatrical Release

The monaural mix arrived a little later for the film’s general release and the extra time was used to make some changes. Ben Burtt (again in The Making of Star Wars) says “George, [editor] Paul Hirsch, and I and everyone in the crew sat down and made a list of the things we didn’t like in the stereo mix. Then we tried to achieve every one of those things on the mono”. Lucas himself adds “We were locked in this little room, but it was important because monaural was what most people were going to hear”.

Changes in the audio include alternate/additional sound effects and a different voice for Aunt Beru. There was some changed/additional dialogue too:

- When searching for the droids in Mos Eisley, a Stormtrooper says “All right, check that side of the street. It’s secure. Move on to the next one”. Previously the line was “All right, check this side of the street. The door’s locked? Move on to the next one”.

- As Artoo is making the location of the tractor beam control appear on a monitor, there’s an additional line from Threepio: “The tractor beam is coupled to the main reactor in seven locations. A power loss at one of the terminals will allow the ship to leave”.

- There’s the addition of a "Governor Tarkin" before the Grand Moff is informed “we have an emergency alert in detention block AA-twenty-three”.

- When Han and Chewie are running from some Stormtroopers, before the blast doors close (and cause a trooper to shout “Open the blast doors! Open the blast doors!”) one of them (in retrospect, a twonk) issues an instruction to “close the blast doors!”.

- During the Death Star battle Luke says “Blast it! Wedge, where are you?”. Previously he said “Blast it! Biggs, where are you?”.

Some of these changes could also be heard in The Story of Star Wars (an abridged audio version of the story) and the script included with 1979’s The Art of Star Wars book uses the mono mix’s altered dialogue.

1981 Theatrical Re-releases

Something else the script with The Art of Star Wars included was a new longer title, numbering the film “Episode IV: A New Hope”. When The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980 it was identified on-screen as “Episode V”.

Star Wars received a theatrical re-release the following year and its opening crawl was updated to include the episode number and title.

Aside from the new episode number/title (and a slightly reformatted opening crawl) these re-releases were the same as before. The stereo version was used for initial home video releases (VHS, Betamax, CED, Laserdisc, VHD) and whilst the mono mix has never appeared on home video, it was used for some TV broadcasts of the film.

1985 Home Video 

Although not a major update, a new audio mix was produced for home video in 1985. Despite the alterations and additions that had been made for the mono mix, the content of the 1985 mix was similar to the stereo version. Some reports mention improved stereo effects, but the only noticeable difference over the previous stereo version is that it includes Threepio’s tractor beam line from the mono mix.

It first appeared in the USA on VHS and would be used for the various VHS and Laserdisc releases until 1993. Other places may have got the audio mix later; it appears it didn’t turn up in the UK until 1991.

1993 Definitive Edition
New decade, new sound mix. Produced for the Definitive Collection LaserDisc set, Threepio’s tractor beam line has been taken out again. Said to be a downmix of the six-track version, dialogue-wise this is identical to the first stereo mixes. There are however a number of additional sound effects added to the mix. Some of these previously featured in the mono mix, but others are new.

This edition of the film would be used for VHS and LaserDisc releases until the arrival of the Special Edition, with the 1995 release being promoted as the “last chance to own the original version of Star Wars”.

1997 Special Edition
Previous alterations to the film could easily have gone unnoticed, but that would not be the case with 1997’s  Special Edition. Back in theatres (along with its two sequels) for the twentieth anniversary, this updated version featured additional scenes and new special effects. Audio-wise it should be noted that Threepio’s tractor beam line returned as did “close the blast doors!” from the mono mix. There was also an additional “He’s on your tail” during the Death Star battle.

The big changes, however, were visual. There’s a new scene with Jabba the Hutt and Han, whilst later on Luke now has a brief conversation with Biggs before the Death Star battle.

There are additional shots in the film such as in Mos Eisley and of recently arrived on Tatooine Stormtroopers searching for the droids, whilst other shots have CGI additions and some effects work has been redone. There are far too  many changes to detail in a guide that’s trying to be brief, but a few examples are shown below:
Of course, this is also the version of the film that altered “The Greedo Scene” to make the bounty hunter fire a shot at Han. Additional tweaks to this confrontation would be made in subsequent versions of the film as detailed here.

The Special Edition received a home video release on VHS, LaserDisc and Video CD.

2004 DVD
Although the format arrived in the 1990s, the Star Wars Trilogy would not be released on DVD until 2004. People expected the Special Editions, but that would not be the case as the films had received further updates for this boxset release.

As far as the first film is concerned there are a few small visual updates such as these:

A bigger update was Jabba the Hutt, whose CG model was redone to make him look closer to his appearance in Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace.

This version of the film features an odd colouring error during Luke’s training aboard the Millennium Falcon. At one point his Lightsaber appears very green.

There were some audio changes too with the “He’s on your tail” line that had been added to the Special Edition removed. There was a new Krayt Dragon sound effect for when Obi-Wan scares off the Sand People and a couple of dialogue additions as well:

- Aboard the Sandcrawler Threepio announces “We’ve stopped” before his “Wake up! Wake up!” line to Artoo.

- On the Death Star, after searching the Millennium Falcon, a Stormtrooper says “There’s no one here”.

Another notable audio change was the music as the rebels start their attack on the Death Star which is now buried deep beneath the sound effects. It seemed like an error but Lucasfilm issued a statement to various websites insisting “any changes that you hear on the all-new Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX tracks on the Star Wars Trilogy DVD set are deliberate creative decisions. We can confirm that there are no technical glitches as has been reported.”

2006 “Original Theatrical Version” DVD
The 2004 editions of the films were released again in 2006 and whilst a boxset was available from some retailers, this was the first time the original trilogy films were available to buy individually on DVD. As an incentive for people to repurchase the films, each of them came with a “Bonus Disc” featuring the original theatrical version of the film.

Sort of.

These theatrical versions were created from the masters used for 1993’s Definitive Collection Laserdisc set, which in the case of A New Hope contains some changes. However, this wasn’t a simple DVD release of the 1993 version either as the original version of the opening crawl was restored (making its first appearance on home video).  So whilst there isn’t actually anything new here, adding the 1977 crawl to the 1993 edition created a new version of the film.

After these individual releases of the three films disappeared from shops they were repackaged in a slimline Star Wars Trilogy boxset that was released in 2008.

2011 Blu-Ray
Released on Blu-Ray, “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” packaged Episodes I-VI together for the first time (although separate trilogy sets were also available) and George Lucas took this opportunity to make some more alterations to the films.

For Episode IV a couple of changes fixed problems with the 2004 edition of the film. The music as the rebels start their attack on the Death Star was restored to prominence and the shot with Luke’s very green lightsaber was changed to make the blade blue.

Additional changes were made too, such as colouring the lid of Threepio and Artoo’s escape pod grey in most shots on Tatooine (having been blue in all previous versions of the film) and there was extra cover added to the spot where Artoo hides from the Tusken Raiders.

A shot during the Millennium Falcon’s battle with the TIE Fighters was also updated. All previous versions of the film had a portion of the image missing, although this was not particularly noticeable against the black of space. It was finally fixed for this release.

On the audio side of things, Obi-Wan’s Krayt Dragon call was changed again, sounding quite different to both the 1977 and 2004 versions. A line of Aunt Beru’s was slightly changed to “Luke, tell your Uncle that if he gets a translator to be sure it speaks Bocce”, having previously lacked the “your” part of  “tell your Uncle”.

This version of the film has been rereleased a few times on Blu-Ray and has also been released on DVD and Digital.

2019 4K Home Video

George Lucas would sell Lucasfilm to the Walt Disney Company in 2012, but prior to that further work was done to A New Hope for future 4K home video releases. This, however, would not be seen until 2019 when Disney launched their streaming service Disney+.

It featured a number of small visual tweaks, including an alternate fix to the TIE Fighter shot with some of the image missing. This time the image is shifted right, with the left part of the shot extended.

More noticeably, the Greedo scene now features an untranslated line of dialogue from Greedo (and a brief shot of him) right before his shootout with Han and the two now fire at the same time.

This version of the film was also released on Digital, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray and DVD.

Please note that images are used to illustrate when changes were made and are not necessarily sourced from the indicated version; it’s not like I have a 1977 print lying around. Although home video release formats have been noted (where applicable) for the different versions, I have not included Derran’s Super 8 release as without owning a copy it is unclear which audio mix it used.

Last Updated: 20/4/20 -  added additional formats for 2019 edition.

05 December, 2016

Super Mario Land remake (Wii U Super Mario Maker)

I booted up Super Mario Maker on my Wii U the other day and found myself baffled by the fact I never got around to finishing my Super Mario Land remake. It’s something I started quite soon after Mario Maker came out; my initial version of level 1-1 (which is still online) has an upload date of 15/9/15. Originally I was just going to remake the first level, but then I thought of doing 1-3 as well and if I was doing that I might as well do 1-2 and I had an idea for 2-3, so why not do the first two worlds…

People seemed to like them and eventually I decided I might as well remake the whole game. I put them out fairly regularly and by the time I got to 4-2 (in November, 2015) checkpoints had been added in an update, so I updated all the previous levels with checkpoints and started on the final level. By which I mean I picked a template, saved the file… and then forgot about it for over a year.

Well I’ve finished it now, so here is a list of the Course ID codes for all the levels. Clicking the code will take you to the relevant page on the Super Mario Maker bookmark site if you’d rather do that than enter the codes manually.

























28 October, 2015

Now is a good chance to get your money back from Pix'n Love Publishing

Ah... Pix'n Love Publishing. They've produced some great video game-related books, but unfortunately they've also taken money from people and then never delivered the goods. And then they ignored everyone who asked questions and requested their money back.

Someone has written a more detailed history here, but chances are if you're reading a blog post suggesting there may be a way to get your money back, you know all about that anyway.

Basically if you're looking to get a response from them, try this...

That comment comes at the end of this update on a Kickstarter for a English translation of the book 'Eric Chahi: Welcome to Another World' (to be published by Pix'n Love).

I sent off an e-mail and actually got a response, followed shortly by a refund for the Gunpei Yokoi book that never materialised (although apparently it is now scheduled for the first half of 2016). So if you're looking for your money back on a book that never happened (or you never received your copy of one of the ones that did), the above e-mail address is the one to try.

I hope that this is the start of a new Pix'n Love, one that will release the books it says it will and not just take the money and then go into hiding (they only owed me for one book, but others had handed over much more). The worry is that this is just temporary and once there is no longer a Kickstarter for people to comment on (should they get no response), they'll just go back to ignoring everyone. Hopefully I'm wrong about that, but just in case, be advised that the Kickstarter ends in the morning on 20th November, 2015.


04 June, 2014

A Quick Guide to the UK Hero Turtles VHS Tapes

In 2009 the lengthily titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Original Series – 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition was released on DVD in the UK (I guess “Seasons 1 and 2” wasn't fancy enough). When the first TMNT TV show originally aired in the UK it had been edited, most obviously with the use of the (slightly) different title: Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Whilst the DVD set featured the episodes uncut for the first time, it was not the first time the show had received a home video release.  In the 1990’s Abbey Home Entertainment (mostly using the Tempo Video label) released a number of VHS tapes of the “Hero” version. Typically two episodes per tape, they covered a large chunk of the first three seasons with some episodes from the fourth as well.

The episodes were not always as aired. The tapes tended to have just the one intro sequence and set of closing credits but more interestingly a look at the BBFC site reveals that some of the episodes received further edits. It seems that the distributor wanted a U certificate (Universal – Suitable for All) for the tapes but in order to receive this from the BBFC sometimes cuts were required. Unless off-air recordings surface to compare, no further details are available, but any episodes that received further cuts are noted in the list below.

There are twenty two tapes in all and their placement in the list is based on a rough episode order. In some cases episodes saw multiple releases. In total forty-four episodes and one special saw a VHS release in the UK.

VHS01How It All Began
Cat No. 99032

[SP] How It All Began To obtain a U certificate cuts of 32 seconds were required.

A 50-minute special that begins as a clip-show summarising some of the events of the first season before filling out the runtime with abridged versions of season two episodes [6] Return of the Shredder, [7] The Incredible Shrinking Turtles, [8] It Came from Beneath the Sewers and [9] The Mean Machines.
The footage covering the first season is taken from another clip-show episode: Blast from the Past from the third season.

VHS02The Case of the Killer Pizzas
Cat No. 99012

[11] The Case of the Killer Pizzas To obtain a U certificate cuts of 3 seconds were required.
[12] Enter the Fly To obtain a U certificate cuts of 3 seconds were required.

VHS03Invasion of the Punk Frogs
Cat No. 99022

[13] Invasion of the Punk Frogs
[15] New York’s Shiniest To obtain a U certificate cuts of 2 seconds were required.

VHS04Return of the Technodrome
Cat No. 99042

[18] Return of the Technodrome To obtain a U certificate cuts of 33 seconds were required.
[17] The Catwoman from Channel Six

VHS05Attack of the 50-Foot Irma
Cat No. 99132

[21] Attack of the 50-Foot Irma
[20] Turtles on Trial To obtain a U certificate cuts of 8 seconds were required.

VHS06Green With Jealousy
Cat No. 99112

[39] Green with Jealousy
[23] Sky Turtles
[22] The Maltese Hamster

Part of the “Tempo Special Edition range [that] features an extra long running time”. In this case that means “AN AWESOME EXTRA ADVENTURE FREE!”

VHS07The Fifth Turtle
Cat No. 99052

[26] The Fifth Turtle
[27] Enter the Rat King

VHS08Attack of Big Macc
Cat No. 99062

[30] Attack of Big Macc
[28] Turtles at the Earth’s Core

VHS09April Fool
Cat No. 99092

[29] April Fool
[35] Turtles, Turtles Everywhere

VHS1020,000 Leaks Under the Sea
Cat No. EUKV 2010

[32] 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea

VHS11The Very Best of the Turtles
Cat No. NVT 12946

[6] Return of the Shredder To obtain a U certificate cuts of 13 seconds were required.
[32] 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea
[33] Take Me to Your Leader
[34] The Four Musketurtles

Includes the previously released 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea. An abridged version of Return of the Shredder was previously included as part of the How It All Began special.

VHS12Cowabunga Shredhead
Cat No. 99102

[36] Cowabunga Shredhead
[38] Camera Bugged To obtain a U certificate cuts of 3 seconds were required.

VHS13Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers
Cat No. 94602

[37] Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers

VHS14Corporate Raiders from Dimension X
Cat No. 99122

[43] Corporate Raiders from Dimension X
[61] Shredderville

VHS15Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady
Cat No. 99192

[45] Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady
[46] Beware the Lotus

VHS16 The Biggest Ever Video
Cat No. 96462

[51] The Case of the Hot Kimono
[47] Blast from the Past To obtain a U certificate cuts of 2 seconds were required.
[48] Leatherhead: Terror of the Swamp
[50] Usagi Yojimbo
[52] Usagi Come Home To obtain a U certificate cuts of 2 seconds were required.
[34] The Four Musketurtles
[33] Take Me to Your Leader
[32] 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea
[6] Return of the Shredder To obtain a U certificate cuts of 13 seconds were required.

Includes five previously unreleased episodes followed by the complete contents of the Very Best of the Turtles tape (so a third release for 20,000 Leaks Under the Sea) but with the episode order reversed.

VHS17The Biggest Ever Saturday Morning Heroes
Cat No. 96782

[63] The Big Rip Off

Tape of episodes from various shows, including one Hero Turtles episode.

VHS18The Biggest Ever Saturday Morning Picture Show
Cat No. 96612

[64] The Big Break In
[65] The Big Blow Out

Tape of episodes from various shows, including two Hero Turtles episodes.

VHS19Sewer Heroes Series: Raphael Meets His Match
Cat No. 99182

[82] Raphael Meets His Match
[80] Raphael Knocks ‘em Dead To obtain a U certificate cuts of 5 seconds were required.

VHS20Sewer Heroes Series: Leonardo Lightens Up
Cat No. 99152

[84] Leonardo Lightens Up
[98] Leonardo versus Tempestra

VHS21Sewer Heroes Series: Donatello’s Degree
Cat No. 99162

[96] Donatello’s Degree
[88] Donatello Makes Time

VHS22Sewer Heroes Series: Michaelangelo Meets Bugman
Cat No. 99172

[92] Michaelangelo Meets Bugman
[94] What’s Michaelangelo Good For?

Although it IS the episode on the tape, there’s no BBFC record for Michaelangelo Meets Bugman. It seems the similarly-named Michaelangelo Meets Bugman Again[dead link: see below] was mistakenly submitted in its place. Whoops.

################(26TH MARCH 2022 UPDATE)################
Additional rated episodes
In 2020 the BBFC redesigned its website and irritatingly a lot of information was lost and search options were reduced. Gone was information on multiple submissions of the same film/TV episode as well as anything refused a certificate. Information on cuts was also reduced, now simply noting "a version of this work was cut".

Strangely almost all of the Hero Turtles information was removed. Of the episodes released, only the How it All Began special has a listing. Curiously, following the website redesign, some other listings appeared for episodes that were rated, but apparently never released. The episodes are:

[7]  The Incredible Shrinking Turtles
[8]  It Came From Beneath The Sewers A version of this work was cut.
[9]  The Mean Machine [sic]
[10] Curse of the Evil Eye A version of this work was cut.
[14] Splinter No More A version of this work was cut.
[16] Teenagers From Dimension X
[44] Pizza By The Shred

The first five of these episodes were classified 1st July 1990, just over a month before the How It All Began special (6th August 1990) was rated. That special incorporates cutdown versions of the first three of those episodes and might be why the longer versions went unreleased as well as Curse of the Evil Eye which concludes the arc.

###############END UPDATE################

Finally here are two “Hero Turtles” opening sequences for your viewing pleasure: