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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Original Trilogy

So I've been having a craving for some classic Star Wars of late, and one of the features I've been looking forward to on my new TV was the ability to correctly stretch the squished and crippled content of the Star Wars original trilogy DVD's to actually use the screen correctly. So after rocking out with Tim and Sherri on Rock Band for awhile, J and I settled into our couch, dimmed the lights, and I got ready to enjoy some of my favorite movies, on as close to a big screen experience as I can get.

I watched Han shoot first. I watched the Falcon blast out of Mos Eisley and jump into hyperspace.

And then I turned things off and went to bed.

The problem is, the original trilogy discs Lucas finally released are crippled. Instead of working off of the remastered bits they created for the "Special Edition" releases, someone just took the Laser Disc releases, and transferred them to DVD. Now, I own the Laser Discs. Before the DVD's finally came out, the Laser Disc release was pretty much the only way to get the classic trilogy at halfway decent quality without any of Lucas's later edits. The problem is, the Laser Disc release was designed for standard definition screens. So you've got the movie, letterboxed. And that's what you get on the DVD's as well. So when displayed on a 60" HD screen, the image is first stretched horizontally into the new aspect ratio, and then I used the TV to stretch it vertically so that it was actually displayed correctly. This led to two problems. First, any subtitles more than two lines long were clipped. So although I know the conversation between Han and Greedo by heart, I had to rely on that memory during that scene. Second, the low definition image has been stretched so much, and then displayed on such a scale, that you see jagged edges all over the place. Having played part of the Special Edition disc to test my setup the other day, the difference was glaring.

As soon as I found myself tempted to watch the Special Edition, I gave up. Guess next time I feel like watching something epic, I'll go with Lord of the Rings. Thanks, Lucas...

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