As some of you may know, prior to the official release of the Star Wars DVD, I got hold of an advanced copy and found numerous errors related to the mix on the film now known as “Episode IV - A New Hope”. My very first findings on this disc can be found here. That post is about music this is missing from the DVD. I was later able to provide proof that this cue was missing, though some people chose to debate over that. Click that link and hear for yourself.
Going by memory, and then double checking myself, I wrote up this list of changes between the original mix and the all new mix heard on the DVD. As you can see, there are quite a few alterations done to this film beyond all of the apparent visual changes. I then further scrutinized the new mix and posted some more sound clips demonstrating flaws. They can be found here and here. Keep in mind, I did all of this before the disc was even released and while being criticized for being too nit picky. Some people would go on to say I don’t even like Star Wars, a ridiculous claim. I love Star Wars, I don’t like what it’s become.
Getting back to the sound issues on this disc, while doing another spot check during a scene (the fight with the TIE fighters) I noticed something that could not be intentional. I was watching the scene in 5.1 surround sound and I noticed some wierd placement of the instruments in the surround channels. Growing up listening to classical and soundtrack albums, I know aabout instrument placement, and what I was hearing was wrong. Violins should be heard on the left. They were coming from the front left, which is correct, but also from the back right, which is totally incorrect. For a moment I thought it was a wiring issue in my home theater, but the sound effects all matched the on-screen placement and a quick pink noise check confirmed this. This was no wiring issue. This was a mistake, plain and simple! I started writing about this error wherever I could. I was hoping that someone at Fox or Lucasfilm would confirm the mistake and possibly re-issue the set with corrected audio. The news even made it to the Internet Movie Database.
The website The Digital Bits posted all of my findings but, but did not give me any credit. They were able to get a statement from Lucasfilm, the day before this disc was released. Here it is in full:
“We are always impressed with how closely fans listen to the many different sound mixes we have made for the Star Wars movies over the years. It is flattering to know that, indeed, the audience is listening. Consequently, each mix comes out differently and 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 reported.”
After that, The Digital Bits stopped returning my e-mails and I still don’t have any credit at their site or even a special thanks in their Star Wars review, even though all of the findings there were put into their revised review well after I initially posted all of my notes and samples. The dates in my posts don’t lie. Neither do the e-mails I have saved.
As you can see, I think the current DVD is a mess and a disgrace to the name Star Wars. Recently I was sent a DVD. A DVD that everyone should have. The DVD that should have been released in the first place. This DVD includes the sparkling new 16x9 picture transfer made for the 2004 DVDs. It also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but not the error filled mix found on the current DVD. Instead, this soundtrack is the 1997 remix heard theatrically in 1997 when the film was rereleased for it’s 20th anniversary. It’s single layer and the sync is perfect. I’ve offered to give a copy to Rikter Blacksvn, he just wanted to know if there is any interest in this. I realize this isn’t the original version of the film but a correct sounding version of this movie should be in every Star Wars fans collection.
So, is anyone interested in this?
Well at least the reversed surround channels have been addressed.