Further details on the hungarian Star Wars dubs:
Star Wars got released in theaters in Hungary in 1979, with subtitles. That was a somewhat liberal translation (where Chewbacca was called Harah). There was only one film distribution company in Hungary back then, and they were surely aware of the success of the film (it was released as a two-part feature with a short break after (I think) the third reel, so they could charge double fee). Since I was born in 1979 I wasn't there when the original theatrical run happened, but I actually saw a print from that releaase in around 1990 in a theatre that plays mostly classic films. They even had the break intact, haha.
Empire got released in 1982, and there was sort of a marketing campaign around it, which was very unusual back then: there was a cheap black&white booklet you could pick up at theaters, and a hungarian-made comic book version. Also, they made a hungarian dub, so TESB was the first Star Wars-film dubbed.
On Christmas evening 1984 the state television showed Star Wars (for public request, no less) with a dub made for this occasion. IMHO this is the best hungarian dub any SW film ever got. There weren't many VHS recorders in Hungary back then, so most fans made audio-only recordings of it. Also, this was the last time a hungarian TV channel showed any SW movie for almost 10 years. I heard rumors about a showing some years later on a regional channel, not sure if it was only SW or the whole trilogy, but it was allegedly the first dub. So, no TV showings for Empire or Jedi, not until the first hungarian commercional TV channels started in the 90s. I'm not sure if there were any showings of the trilogy before the Special Edition, but I guess if there were, they used the 2nd dubs, not the first ones.
Also in 1984, Jedi showed up in theaters, again with subtitles only. I saw it but sadly can't remember much about it.
There were privately traded versions on VHS with home-made narration. I don't know about SW but I remember seeing Empire this way at my friends place, and also Jedi had such a version, which is now available as a torrent (watching it today is a funny experience).
In 1993 Guild Home Video relased the trilogy on VHS for rental distribution. Since Jedi didn't have a dub at that point, they made one. This was shortly after Hungary became a republic. After the change, some of the crew of the state-owned studio started privately hold studios, one of which being the studio that made the dub for Jedi. Surely they were professionals, so I guess it came out so badly because it was a rush job. (Actually, this time was the start of a decline in artistic quality in hungarian dubs -- not just SW dubs :).)
(According to the hungarian SW Club's site, this first VHS set came out in 1993 but I have a vague recollection seeing them a couple of years earlier, maybe as early as 1989. At least one of the club's members agree with me on this. IMO that site is a reliable source of info, so I tend to believe that my memories are faulty on this, but… who knows. I just tried to find the scans of the tapes' covers on the club's site, but currently it's not availabe.)
I had home-made copies of SW and Empire with the first dubs, and I think back then many fans had them as well. (I couldn't get Jedi for some reason.) Other sources of SW VHS goodness were german satelite channels like Sat1 and Pro7. I remember at one point I had the whole trilogy in german on VHS - recorded by a friend because we didn't have a receiver.
Hungarian fans got the first retail VHS set in 1995, this was the "One last time" THX thing. For this, each film got a new dub with almost perfect consistency in VAs (the first dubs had mostly different VAs between each film). As I wrote earlier, Jedi also received a new translation at this point, made by the guy who translated the first two films in the 80s.
When the SE came out in 1997, they made another round of dubs, mostly with the same VAs as in 1995, and this was a theatrical quality dub in 5.1 or surround or whatever. Some theaters showed the films dubbed, and some with the original english audio and subtitles. These dub versions appeared on subsequent TV showings and the BD set as well (with some sweatening: TESB Vader & Emperor talk is extended, but I think Vader doesn't scream "Noooo" at the end of Jedi).
In 2006 InterCom, the hungarian distributor of Fox tried to convince Lucasfilm to allow them to release the GOUT with the original dubs in Hungary, but they failed, so they passed on the GOUT eventually. The DVD trilogy in 2004 came out without hungarian soundtracks either (as well as the DVDs of EpI and II), so the BDs are the first digital release of the Trilogy that have hungarian audio on them.
So, in terms of official home releases:
- 1st round of dubs: 1993 rental VHS set
- 2nd round of dubs: 1995 retail VHS set
- 3rd round of dubs: 1997 SE VHS & 2011 BD set
Chewie was called Harah only in the 1979 theatrical subtitles of SW. The Ewoks were not dubbed in the first Jedi dub, but C-3PO's alien language parts (with the Ewoks and at the gate of Jabba's palace) were replaced with some random babbling which sounds very stupid. (In the later two dubs they tried to use the same alien words as the english track.) As for different versions cannibalizing each other, I don't know exactly what that means, each dub is a completely different recording.
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Actually, Jedi's first dub isn't that bad, but it has many low points. The translation feels very raw, could use some refinement. Most of the VAs are very good for their part but some (especially C-3PO) just aren't. And some minor parts weren't voiced by real actors, resulting in some lines spoken by random pilots and soldiers sounding very flat and un-dramatic. Since Jedi is the film that could use the most "help" IMO, this is most unfortunate.
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CatBus & Harmy: both the 1st & 2nd round of dubs were cleaned up and synched to the GOUT multiple times. There are at least two different releases that have them, both from the same sources, with a 3rd version in the works.
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One last addition: in 2005, I attended the midnight premiere of RotS which was organized by the Hungarian SW Fan Club in a multiplex in Budapest. The film started playing on multiple screens at midnight, and accidentally I ended up ín the room that was "designated" to the hardcore fans, where the film was shown in english with subtitles. Also there was a short speech at the beginning by a club's leader and the trailers for TPM and AotC. And, as a special "treat", just before the film started, they played a hungarian-made abstract animated short that was originally played with Star Wars back in 1979. It had nothing to do with SW itself, or maybe there was some symbolic/reflective link, but the main thing is that it looked very good & not faded at all. I can't state that it was chopped off of a 1979 print but still...
Sorry for the long post & the off-topic ending.