Welcome to today’s installment of Cool Tool Tuesdays, where I feature a favorite item from my life and spotlight it so that others who are not familiar with the product may also benefit from it. A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, hardware, material, or website that I have personally tried and love.
Do you have any questions about today’s cool tool? Would you like an item featured in the future? Please leave a comment to this post, or send me a message via my contact form. Enjoy!
As with most Star Wars fans, I hate the various modifications that has been made to the original trilogy and I openly voice my opinion on the matter.
And unless you own the trilogy, in its unedited and original form (often in Laserdisc or VHS format), it can be difficult to relive the untainted masterpiece.
(Just in case you are wondering, I did once own Star Wars episodes IV-VI in VHS format. But it disappeared from my parents’ home while I was away at college. My parents swear they did not touch it, so we can only surmise that a visitor “borrowed” it. I consider this one of the saddest losses of my life.)
There’s also the fact that technology has changed tremendously since 1977, when Episode IV was released. I don’t even know anyone who owns a VHS player anymore — how can we continue to enjoy the authentic version and ensure that future generations will have access to it too?
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Or, in this case, where there is Star Wars, there will be a devoted following of über geeks with tons of time and resources to spare. (Or at least lend for this good cause.)
A very dedicated fan who goes by the name “Harmy” at The Original Trilogy forums has painstakingly put together a very high quality cut of the entire trilogy, utilizing a wide variety of video sources as well as custom mattes. The result: nearly identical versions of the original theatrical releases of Episodes IV-VI in HD format!
Right now, Harmy’s Despecialized Editions are the best restorations of the original trilogy by far. Because it is a fan preservation, it does not technically infringe on copyright laws…but this also means that it cannot be bought or sold. What you can do is download the trilogy and enjoy it from your computer, or burn it onto a disc and enjoy it on your television.
Heck, it even comes with cover art for Blu-ray cases — you can print those out and geek out even more!
You can learn more about the “despecialized” version of each film at the following threads in The Original Trilogy forums:
Screened.com also featured a special, behind-the-scenes article on Harmy and his project here. It’s worth reading as it tells the tales of fandom, dedication, and “rare examples of Internet dissatisfaction leading to something genuinely amazing and productive.”
Finding the actual download links to the movies can be a bit of a pain, but they can certainly be found if you know where to look. (And if you’re really having trouble, just let me know and I’ll help you out.)
Harmy says that the “despecialized project” is not quite over yet. An obvious perfectionist, he still sees minor glitches, and wants to work on certain scenes such as the Ben vs. Vader lightsaber duel, or the original hologram of Leia, both of which were recomposited in later edits of the film and given a very different look in the process.
We will certainly be waiting for the newer — ironic when you consider that the goal is to go back to the original — release of Harmy’s Despecialized Editions with great anticipation. But in the meantime, geeks everywhere thank this 23-year-old student for all his hard work.
Ever since MegaUpload has been shut down in addition to many torrent sites, it has become increasingly harder to find these movies for download. If you are having trouble, please shoot me a message via my contact form and I will send you instructions.
I believe that the latest version of the Despecialized movies is 2.1. Unfortunately, I only have the original versions, so if you are looking for the most updated, I’m sorry to say that I can’t help you. REPEAT: I do NOT have the 2.1, nor do I know where to get them.
I have located the 2.1 version and am currently in process of obtaining it. (The download is divided into 41 different files, hosted on a server that only allows one download at a time, so it’s taking a while.) I will post an update once I am done downloading and compiling — I hope that I can provide an easier way to download this latest version as I did with the first. If you wish, you can message me and I will let you know once I am done.
I was able to obtain version 2.1 of Episode IV. (As far as I can tell, Harmy has yet to release subsequent versions of Episodes V or VI. Please correct me if I’m wrong.) Please shoot me a message and I’ll send you instructions on how you can get it.
I’ve been getting too many requests and, as a result, my servers have been overloaded. I’m sorry to say that I can no longer provide anyone direct links to the movies. However, if you contact me, I can tell you how I got the movies.