For those of you who don’t know Star Wars: Despecialized is an ongoing project by a group of dedicated fans to take the original trilogy of Star Wars and simultaneously remove all the changes and updates and additions and removals made to the movies over the years and to upgrade that audio and video to current, high definition. It’s crazy impressive and it sounds like a lot of work. What you probably don’t realize is that it’s not a lot of work, it’s a metric shit load of work.
You probably don’t realize just how many additions and changes have been made over the years (spoiler: almost every release since the late 1990s has had changes. This featurette for the project takes us through how they put the despecialized edition together from a multitude of sources, picking and choosing the the best versions of the image from basically every version of the film released to date. Let’s watch:
Since we’ll never see the original unaltered version released because of reasons (conflicting rights issues, George Lucas’s creative vision) this project is as close as we’re ever going to get. It’s amazing that basiaclly every version of the film out there has some flaw, whether it’s additions or just bad video transfer.
It’s also fascinating to me how many versions of the film they pulled from to make changes, how they composited together even just parts of frames to create the best possible version of each scene they could, and of course to realize just how many versions of the film are out there.
I can’t fathom the amount of energy that these dedicated fans have put into this project (well, I can, it’s just daunting) but I sure a glad they’ve done it. The end result is technically illegal (please correct me if I’m wrong) but it’s also gorgeous and it’s pretty cool to see the version I remember from when I was a kid (or as close to it as possible).