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Which version of the Original Trilogy to watch?

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Hello,

I’m a newbie when it comes to watching the original trilogy as they were mean to be, I apologize for not knowing 😃

So I wanted to watch the trilogy as it was meant to be watched and soon I went into a deep rabbit hole and I need help! I found so many versions, 4k77, 4k83 (and 4k80), despecialized, grindhouse, sliver screen edition, gout, Puggo Grande and so on! even a fan edit!

Now I don’t know the differences between them and don’t know what to watch or even if there is a best version. I know this is a lot to ask but can someone explain the various differences and which do you recommend?

Thanks a lot

PS: I’m sorry if this was already asked!

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I would suggest 4K77 and 4K83 for SW and ROTJ. Highest resolution (whether at 4K or 1080p) that the OUT is available in, and they are authentic scans of original 35mm prints — not a single frame has been altered, as they all come from long before the SE ever existed. You know you’re seeing it as close to the original theatrical experience as possible when you watch them.

That said, they do have a decent amount of grain (especially 4K77) which may bother some people. There are versions with the grain digitally reduced (DNR), though. Empire (4K80) is not finished yet however, so if you want consistency across the trilogy you may still want to look at Despecialized.

Other advantage to Despecialized is that most of it is sourced from the Blu-ray, which means that it is closer to the original camera negative — it is therefore in some respects clearer and cleaner with less generation loss compared to film prints. However, it is currently stuck at 720p, parts of it are sourced from the GOUT which had to be upscaled, some of the digitally recomposited shots from the Special Edition remain, and the Blu-ray itself has a host of problems that had to be corrected as well as possible (not the least of which is color). The result is a stitched together product that is very well done but might bother purists in some ways. Still, for Empire at least it’s the best option. The only complete 35mm scan of Empire that’s been released is the unrestored Grindhouse, which is interesting from a historical perspective but rough to actually watch due to all kinds of issues with damage, color, and noise.

Puggo versions are sourced from 16mm, and they are likewise interesting historically but not what I would choose as my main version of the trilogy.

The GOUT is an early 90s Laserdisc master that was unceremoniously slapped onto DVD. It looks only marginally better than actual Laserdiscs, if that, and is not even anamorphic for widescreen TV. Which was standard even back in 2006 when it was released. Definitely not worth your money tracking down in this day and age IMO. In fact I actually prefer the older Laserdiscs from the 80s and early 90s (before the “THX Certified” releases), such as the Japanese Special Collection, because I like their color better. I wouldn’t bother dealing with actual Laserdiscs either with so many options today, but some of the nice rips available might be worth a look — especially if you’re nostalgic for the colors and feel of Star Wars from the 80s/early 90s.

Silver Screen Edition is a scan of a different print of SW that predates 4K77 and has essentially been superseded by it I believe.

There’s also always the option of the various Special Editions, of course, but for me that’s unacceptable except maybe for Empire, which was the least butchered and only has one change (“Bring my shuttle”) that really bothers me. The new 4K scans on Disney Plus have great detail and color, so you might consider that for Empire at least if you likewise aren’t too bothered by its changes. Until 4K80 is out I just might put up with it myself. And some people have made “semi-specialized” fan edits that retain only the SE changes they like. You might look into those too if there are things about the SE you prefer.

That about covers it I think.

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I’d say 4K77 and 4K83 are your best way to re-create what it would have looked like in the theatre, aside from color issues. 4K77 is a bit of a rough ride, but 4K83 looks very good.

Despecialized is more like what a respectful official Blu-ray release would have looked like. Because it’s based on scans of negatives rather than projection prints, it’s a little cleaner, has better contrast, and has a lot more fine detail (yes, the 720p DeEd has more fine detail than a 4K print scan – it’s all due to the sources). It also has much better colors IMO, although that could change as more color adjustments to 4Kxx come out. The downside is that DeEd is based on multiple sources, including special editions. However, I’d be hard-pressed to identify any “seams” in ROTJ DeEd, I’d have to look very carefully to see them in ESB, and Star Wars is, well, simply not as good as the other two.

I still personally prefer DeEd for all three films, mostly because what I’m looking for is something like a Blu-ray that I’d buy in a store, not what I’d see sitting in a movie theatre in the 80’s.

I’d categorize all the rest as “special interest”. I love me some Puggo, but I can’t say I’d recommend it very broadly without reservations.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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It really depends on how much of a purist you are.

If I’m going to watch the originals, I still prefer the Despecialized Editions. They may be stuck at 720p, but for the most part they look cleaner and sharper than 4K77 and 4K83 because they’re sourced primarily from the original negatives. These are reconstructions though, and occasionally seams can be seen, particularly when Harmy had to rely on upscaled Laserdisc-quality footage. When Harmy eventually creates new versions using 4k sources, they will arguably be the definitive way to watch the OOT, but that’s a ways off.

If you want to see versions of these movies that are completely untampered with, 4k77 and 4k83 are the way to go, since they are actual scans of original film prints, with no SE sourced footage. They do look a little “rougher” and less finely detailed, but not moreso than the films would have looked during their theatrical run.

As for fanedits, I think there are two for the OT worth pointing out: adywan’s Star Wars Revisited and Hal9000’s custom special editions. These edits are primarily for people who admired what the SEs were trying to do, but disagree with some of the actual decisions that were made. Hal9000’s edits are basically hybridizations of the original and SE versions of the films and revert some of the more controversial changes. Currently ANH and ESB are available in full quality and ROTJ is available as a workprint. The Revisited edits are much more ambitious and essentially seek to update the films’ visual effects across the board to a more modern standard, as well as fix various continuity errors. Currently ESB is available in HD quality, and ANH is available in DVD quality only. An HD version of A New Hope is forthcoming, as well as an edit of ROTJ.

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Despecialized are clearly made from multiple sources. It feels spliced together. I prefer 4k77 or 4k83 or even GOUT (on a large TV).

“It is only through interaction, through decision and choice, through confrontation, physical or mental, that the Force can grow within you.”
-Kreia, Jedi Master and Sith Lord

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thank you so much for the info, you rock!

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Density said:

I would suggest 4K77 and 4K83 for SW and ROTJ. Highest resolution (whether at 4K or 1080p) that the OUT is available in, and they are authentic scans of original 35mm prints — not a single frame has been altered, as they all come from long before the SE ever existed. You know you’re seeing it as close to the original theatrical experience as possible when you watch them.

That said, they do have a decent amount of grain (especially 4K77) which may bother some people. There are versions with the grain digitally reduced (DNR), though. Empire (4K80) is not finished yet however, so if you want consistency across the trilogy you may still want to look at Despecialized.

Other advantage to Despecialized is that most of it is sourced from the Blu-ray, which means that it is closer to the original camera negative — it is therefore in some respects clearer and cleaner with less generation loss compared to film prints. However, it is currently stuck at 720p, parts of it are sourced from the GOUT which had to be upscaled, some of the digitally recomposited shots from the Special Edition remain, and the Blu-ray itself has a host of problems that had to be corrected as well as possible (not the least of which is color). The result is a stitched together product that is very well done but might bother purists in some ways. Still, for Empire at least it’s the best option. The only complete 35mm scan of Empire that’s been released is the unrestored Grindhouse, which is interesting from a historical perspective but rough to actually watch due to all kinds of issues with damage, color, and noise.

Puggo versions are sourced from 16mm, and they are likewise interesting historically but not what I would choose as my main version of the trilogy.

The GOUT is an early 90s Laserdisc master that was unceremoniously slapped onto DVD. It looks only marginally better than actual Laserdiscs, if that, and is not even anamorphic for widescreen TV. Which was standard even back in 2006 when it was released. Definitely not worth your money tracking down in this day and age IMO. In fact I actually prefer the older Laserdiscs from the 80s and early 90s (before the “THX Certified” releases), such as the Japanese Special Collection, because I like their color better. I wouldn’t bother dealing with actual Laserdiscs either with so many options today, but some of the nice rips available might be worth a look — especially if you’re nostalgic for the colors and feel of Star Wars from the 80s/early 90s.

Silver Screen Edition is a scan of a different print of SW that predates 4K77 and has essentially been superseded by it I believe.

There’s also always the option of the various Special Editions, of course, but for me that’s unacceptable except maybe for Empire, which was the least butchered and only has one change (“Bring my shuttle”) that really bothers me. The new 4K scans on Disney Plus have great detail and color, so you might consider that for Empire at least if you likewise aren’t too bothered by its changes. Until 4K80 is out I just might put up with it myself. And some people have made “semi-specialized” fan edits that retain only the SE changes they like. You might look into those too if there are things about the SE you prefer.

That about covers it I think.

Doesn’t 4K77 use a few frames from the 1997 SE? And Empire had changes such as making rooms be outside and replacing the Emperor with McDiarmid…

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A very helpful thread for forum newcomers such as myself who have found it difficult to know what is what in the sea of all these different cuts, versions, preservation projects.
I will add that while the 4K project versions are the most accurate to the originals currently out there, they all have crushed blacks when compared with the blu-rays or Harmy’s Editions. Correct me if I am wrong on this, but that is what I have seen in all the versions so far. So, just consider that u will be losing quite some detail in the dark areas/scenes in the 4K versions. Still, very nice to watch, I love the grain too.

“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.”

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Vladimon said:

A very helpful thread for forum newcomers such as myself who have found it difficult to know is what in the sea of all these different cuts, versions, preservation projects.
I will add that while the 4K project versions are the most accurate to the originals currently out there, they all have crushed blacks when compared with the blu-rays or Harmy’s Editions. Correct me if I am wrong on this, but that is what I have seen in all the versions so far. So, just consider that u will be losing quite some detail in the dark areas/scenes in the 4K versions. Still, very nice to watch, I love the grain too.

It is not your imagination. That’s a normal by-product of the optical duplication process – each generation of duplication (negative -> … -> interpositive -> … -> projection print) reduces fine detail, adds grain, and boosts contrast. That’s just how it works. By the time you get to a projection print, there are multiple layers of grain, a substantial loss in detail, and you get clipped whites/blacks. But that’s the “theatrical look” – it’s what film actually looks like projected in a theatre. So if that’s what you want, then 4K77 and 4K83 have you covered. But in these days of Blu-rays and digital projection, people often have a preference for that less-contrasty, more detailed look.

Since the Blu-rays (and thus Despecialized) are based on elements further up the duplication chain, they have more fine detail, less grain (even without taking into account DNR), and less severe contrast/less crushed blacks. You will see some clipped reds in Despecialized that aren’t clipped in 4Kxx, however, because of some of the color boosting on the Blu-rays. That would presumably be taken care of using the 4KSE, which seems to be much better in terms of color.

That said, 4K83 loses surprisingly little due to clipping, and looks much better IMO than 4K77. Honestly my biggest complaint about 4K83 right now is the color – it’s a shame that something based on the Blu-rays has far more theatrically accurate colors than an actual film scan – but DrDre is well on his way to fixing that problem, and then after that it will be a close match indeed.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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I have been checking out some of the opinions and technical information posted here across multiple threads and it seems to me that there is really no good way of judging what theatrically accurate actually is/was. The viewing experience was not uniform across cinemas even back then and with the various degeneration factors affecting the projects now, the color inaccuracies of basically all the older home releases as well as their lack of detail due to low resolution, it becomes a bit of a never-ending quest to get the best and most accurate versions of these films. Is it even possible now without a time machine?

As for 4K83, I personally like the flawed v1.0 better than the supposedly superior v1.3. I have checked it out and the pepper-red Han Solo’s face in “Free from Carbonite” scene left me going back to v1.0. Have not seen v1.2 or any others yet. With 4K projects what I have seen so far is that while the many updated versions fix a lot of issues with the image that is available to us now, they mess up on many other scenes/shots at the same time. I do not doubt the guys who do these color corrections have some /a lot of/ experience, fan determination, or are actual professionals in video color grading, editing, etc. But even if the last applies, it seems to me that it comes down to their personal preferences rather than theatrical accuracy when making final decisions on their color corrections.

Then there are a number of problems that can objectively be considered flaws in any video source. Those are also present and apparent in all the current versions.

So, I would say, when choosing the most accurate version from what is out there right now, there is actually still no clear winner. Best to download as many versions as you can and see which one you like best.

“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.”

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^ While 4K83 has no current release that may be called theatrically accurate color, 4K77 v1.0 is close. It wasn’t corrected to a projection, but the soundtrack on the film was white balanced, and what we are left with is something that is similar to the projected print, compared to the evidence I have seen. The fact that the Tech IB print is unfaded made that simple enough, and the 4K83 print had no such luck, since it was a red faded Eastman print.

Regarding 4K83, there will eventually be a release with colors that approximate the theatrical timing, and will hopefully be done sooner than later. I’m working from the colors on the unfaded LPP scans they have, correcting for the excess of blue in those sources.

As far as the color corrections that have come out for both restorations go, they were never intended to be theatrically accurate IIRC. They were corrections made by a member to suit his personal tastes, and those just sort of became the defacto colors until more corrections become available in the future.

Army of Darkness: The Medieval Deadit | The Terminator - Color Regrade | The Wrong Trousers - Audio Preservation
SONIC RACES THROUGH THE GREEN FIELDS.
THE SUN RACES THROUGH A BLUE SKY FILLED WITH WHITE CLOUDS.
THE WAYS OF HIS HEART ARE MUCH LIKE THE SUN. SONIC RUNS AND RESTS; THE SUN RISES AND SETS.
DON’T GIVE UP ON THE SUN. DON’T MAKE THE SUN LAUGH AT YOU.

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How about the Silver Screen Edition of SW, v1.3? Unfortunately, unless anyone helps me, I don’t think I’ll be be able to dl it as it is really nowhere to be found, and so I can’t decide yet if that’s my favorite right now.
But just judging by v1.0, it could be.
The overall color consistency seems much better than anything else out there and the blacks are mostly acceptable. It’s 1080p only but I don’t mind since 4k and 1080p in 4K77/83 don’t make much of a difference anyway.

“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.”

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Sry, yes, I meant v1.6.

“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.”

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Regarding color correction, if you’re interested in the topic, you should check DrDre’s threads and color correction theory and methods very carefully. I was skeptical at first but have been convinced. Color fade can be modeled and reversed mathematically, and can be done for the most part without using any judgment calls, as long as you can find good candidate frames in the shot. Because of this, when anyone uses DrDre’s tools to color-correct faded images, they get very close to what can be called the original colors with a good deal of certainty. So when DrDre does his correction, it’s 95% math, 5% finesse on top of that. How do we know those are the theatrical colors? Because that’s what the math says they are – if they’re not, the only explanations are that either color theory is wrong, DrDre’s code fails to correctly model color theory, or you’re using the tools wrong – because seriously, it’s just math. While white balancing against the soundtrack is a clever idea, it doesn’t account for fade with nearly the same level of accuracy as DrDre’s tools (in short, because color correction is more than just white balance), and doesn’t deliver good results.

When you look at DrDre’s color corrections for Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi, it’s very easy to see that Despecialized is currently a closer match than 4Kxx for all films. I say “currently” because, as people have said, 4Kxx is always getting new color corrections (and DrDre himself is working on some of them), and will certainly one day surpass Despecialized in terms of theatrically-accurate color.

So with one caveat, we can, in fact, know what the theatrical colors were, with a good deal of certainty. And in fact we already do know, for the most part. The caveat is that different filmstocks may have different color characteristics – for example, the Technicolor prints have a yellowish tone not present in other prints, etc. But these were slight color differences compared with the huge variance we currently see among fan preservations. Because the colors of some of the fan preservations are, to be blunt, way outside the range of what could ever have possibly been correct (specifically, they have some of the same overly-magenta cast that has plagued Star Wars home video releases since the THX releases, which is probably because the color correctors were trying to make it look like their old VHS tapes, and succeeded).

For example, want to see what the theatrically accurate colors for Jedi were? Easy. You’d be correct if you noticed it doesn’t look anything like any existing 4K83 release. Empire? Here. Star Wars started off as matching someone’s manual regrade, but I think has matured into using the color correction model more exclusively, which is why I’m linking to latter posts in that thread.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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With regard to 4K83 - that was scanned from a show print that was struck directly from the negative, if I’m not mistaken, which means while the details are extremely clear and clean, the color on the print doesn’t reflect what an actual color timed release print would look like, so unlike 4K77, you can’t just white-balance it to the sprocket holes; best thing to do there is to use the LPP scan as a color reference to match the 4K83 show print scan to. Frankly I’m a little surprised that hasn’t been done yet.

a trolling bantha

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ChainsawAsh said:

With regard to 4K83 - that was scanned from a show print that was struck directly from the negative, if I’m not mistaken, which means while the details are extremely clear and clean, the color on the print doesn’t reflect what an actual color timed release print would look like, so unlike 4K77, you can’t just white-balance it to the sprocket holes;

Not only that, but it being all red faded makes it more complicated of a source, and I remember Williarob mentioning that he tried using Dre’s color restoration tool on it. Not sure if he ever posted the results.

best thing to do there is to use the LPP scan as a color reference to match the 4K83 show print scan to. Frankly I’m a little surprised that hasn’t been done yet.

I’ve been in the process of doing that for oohteedee for a while now. It’s taking longer than I had hoped, but I’m halfway and it’ll be done eventually. Keep a lookout. 😃

Army of Darkness: The Medieval Deadit | The Terminator - Color Regrade | The Wrong Trousers - Audio Preservation
SONIC RACES THROUGH THE GREEN FIELDS.
THE SUN RACES THROUGH A BLUE SKY FILLED WITH WHITE CLOUDS.
THE WAYS OF HIS HEART ARE MUCH LIKE THE SUN. SONIC RUNS AND RESTS; THE SUN RISES AND SETS.
DON’T GIVE UP ON THE SUN. DON’T MAKE THE SUN LAUGH AT YOU.

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I am pretty much in agreement with many of the posts above.
My preferred version is 4K77, Empire Strikes Back Despecialized and 4K83.
The one thing I would add, I LOVE the way the sound options are done on the Despecialized editions.
I love that you can choose from the mono, 35mm stereo mix (the most familiar one) and then Hairy_Hen has created an approximation of the 70mm six track mixes.

I love having the options, but Hairy_Hen’s six track approximations are awesome. They were bigger and boomier and it was like seeing the movies again with a new exciting element. If you have the sound equipment to take advantage of them, they are worth watching just to experience those tracks.

I am not sure how the stereo track on the blu-ray versions of 4K77 and 4K83 compare to the ones on Despecialized. Not sure what the sources are.
But, the Despecialized gets points in it’s favor at least for those tracks. The good news is, you now have options available to see the movies.
May the Force be with you.

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The sound options are pretty much the same on 4K77/83, except that they use newer versions of hairy_hen’s 5.1 mixes, and 4K83 has the optical stereo mix recorded from the print itself included, too.

a trolling bantha

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I’m in the minority here, but if you grew up with VHS or Laserdisc, I’d highly suggest the JawsTDS Return of the Gout releases. IMHO, it’s the highest quality “Official” version you’ll find (upscaled, but a single source).

For fun, you can also check out Hal9000’s Special Edition audio (cut to the theatrical length) which are absolutely beautiful. (Personally, I prefer the GOUT RotJ audio, but only because it sounds more similar to the SW/ESB mixes. The RotJ SE audio is much cleaner/sounds digital in comparison to the other two’s analog twang).

Preferred Saga:
PT: Hal9000
4/5: Adywan
6: NSP
7/8: Hal9000

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ChainsawAsh said:

The sound options are pretty much the same on 4K77/83, except that they use newer versions of hairy_hen’s 5.1 mixes, and 4K83 has the optical stereo mix recorded from the print itself included, too.

So it does. Thank you for the correction.
Mine are from the blu-ray .iso which plays much smoother on my system than the .mkv file. I couldn’t recall which audio options were available on them.