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Vader's voice change in the OT

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 (Edited)

Although James Earl Jones has consistently voiced Darth Vader in the movies, there is a difference in his voice between “Star Wars” and “Empire Strikes Back”.

It’s not necessarily night and day, but the more noticeable examples are:

“I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you.”
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TjiXJiAEn0)

versus

“the force is with you, young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet.”
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igx0nazlpfE)

I’ve wondered if it had to do the with the post-production equipment available or James Earl Jones growing into the role.

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Also to note, that in Holiday Special (1978) his voice sounded like in the sequels.
While I noticed the change already as a kid, I do not know the reason for it (nor haven’t tried to find one). But I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the post-prod.

And in the time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns.

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They probably did refine the aspects of Vader for Empire. People found the deep voice iconic, so they made it even deeper. That’s my guess.

“Remember, the Force will be with you. Always.”

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Worth pointing out that his pre-SE voice in Star Wars '77 is even more different to the rest of the OT, so that first clip is probably a bad example.

If you’re comparing Vader’s SE voice with the other films, I hardly hear much of a difference.

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Yeah, they changed the voice in ANH for the 2004 DVD release.

Well done. I will disengage self-destruct initiative.

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Really? I’ve never heard that before. But I can only recall watching a post-1997 cut of ANH once (on Disney+) so I’m really not an authority on SE changes, especially from the DVD release and beyond.

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 (Edited)

The SE’s mixed Vader’s voice differently in both ANH and ESB. The 1997 SE of ANH has his voice mixed the same as the original but the 2004 DVD mixes it to where it’s a bit cleaner sounding than the original but very soft. For example during the dual with Ben his voice is almost drowned out by the lightsaber sounds. Sadly this is how Vader has sounded on every release since. Empire on the other hand amplifies his voice beginning with the 1997 SE and has remained so on subsequent versions.

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Fascinating. I would’ve never known (mostly because I never watch anything but the theatrical cuts).

I will admit watching the ANH clip posted above does sound a little different than I remember. Not drastically so. It’s obviously the same recording. Just… a little more processed? Or processed a little differently? Something.

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canofhumdingers said:

Fascinating. I would’ve never known (mostly because I never watch anything but the theatrical cuts).

I will admit watching the ANH clip posted above does sound a little different than I remember. Not drastically so. It’s obviously the same recording. Just… a little more processed? Or processed a little differently? Something.

In 2004 they tried to match his voice to the sequels. I’m surprised if people hadn’t noticed, I’ve only seen the 2004 version 3 times and noticed straight away!
Edit: and I didn’t even click the links so I don’t know what’s in them.

And in the time of greatest despair, there shall come a savior, and he shall be known as the Son of the Suns.

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Well, I’ve never watched the dvd or Blu ray versions. And I only watched the D+ version once in a massive marathon building up to seeing The Rise of Skywalker, where I watched the “official” versions of the entire saga (including Solo and Rogue One) in chronological order. I hadn’t watched any version of the SE beyond the ‘97 version (which I hadn’t watched since the prequels theatrical releases) and I hadn’t watched the prequels themselves in over a decade so there was a LOT of new stuff to take in. Heck, the audio mixes themselves on the OT were so different from what I was used to that I’m not surprised I missed a detail like Vader’s voice being tweaked (especially when it’s the same recordings just mixed differently).

But listening to it in a short clip by itself, yeah it’s very obvious it sounds meddled with.

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I always noticed the difference in how his voice sounds between films even back to the days of videocassette.

As well as in how he had red lenses in one film Star Wars, a shiny helmet mask in Return of the Jedi etc.

Other folks have mentioned differences in lightsaber props for Vader in Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back but to be honest i never noticed. There were other suit differences as well between Star Wars, Empire and Jedi but i’m no expert on that.

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Oh I’m well acquainted with the differences Vader exhibits from film to film. We are specifically discussing how they altered the way his voice sounds within the same film from the theatrical version to the various special edition versions.

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KurganX said:

More comparisons…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlEG7awIuck

I always assumed it was done with tweaking, rather than re-recording the lines with JEJ or using different audio takes.

Honestly, I’ve never noticed the tweeking in the Special Editions.

Regardless, there’s still no doubt Vader’s voice in ‘Star Wars’ is different than his Empire and ROTJ voices; granted they each fit their respective movies.

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I’ve always thought they changed the recording setup and technique as everything became more advanced and of course they had a significantly higher budget and more time. Personally I’ve always liked the tinnier sounding '77 Vader just as I prefer him more mysterious and not the typical Vader people think of. I LOVE how they made Brock Peters sound in the radio drama and there are many days where I even want to say out loud I prefer that version…

There are many reasons why I always tell people the 97SE mix was the last time SW ever sounded good and this is yet another reason. In 1997 they added some new effects for the new stuff but largely just brought the original 4 track design into the 5.1 environment, added mono mix fixes and tweaks to try and make a fantastic 5.1 experience that stayed relatively faithful to the original track design of all three films. Then in 2004 they took this work and pissed all over it by inducing many changes, EQ tweaks, new changes on top of old ones, voiceover dubs, flopped surround channels on ANH, messing with the music levels and adding an unnecessary EX phantom rear center. Then these got bumped up to 6.1 for the 2011 BDs with some issues fixed but even more awful new changes added.

You can put on D+, BD or 2004 abominable DVDs and then play the 97SE LD ac3 and just watch people’s minds get blown. Sure the 97SE 5.1 isn’t always fully historically accurate but they did an amazing job for the time and it’s got some really intense LFE usage which must give an idea of the 1977 70mm baby boom experience people had.

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I remember sitting in the theater in 1983 watching Return of the Jedi and specifically noticing that Darth Vader’s voice sounded different than before. It sounded deeper, a little synthesized. I even wondered if maybe they had changed voice actors.