The VHS version was not altered a bit from the theatrical release
Uhg. No. Excuse the incoming long post but prequel preservations are my thing.
There were two theatrical versions of the film during its initial run: film and digital.
The film version and the digital version are basically identical from a sound design perspective (this is important later), but visually they are different. Give or take a few minor altercations, the digital theatrical print is visually identical to the home video release, whereas the film print of AOTC includes multiple visual additions/subtractions that are well documented on this site and in other places (Anakin’s robotic hand being the prime example).
The home video release of AOTC is across the board (on DVD/VHS/VCD), identical to the digital theatrical release on a visual level, as aforementioned. However, the initial home video release changes a few audio cues, the most notable being Padme’s “Yes” being changed to a more natural “Uh-huh” after falling out of the Republic Gunship.
Contrary to popular belief, the VHS is not only pan and scan; a few European releases of the film on VHS exist in Widescreen format. I know this because I own them all. However the US, UK, AUS, etc., releases of the film on VHS and VCD (VCD being Asian releases) are in pan and scan, until the very final shot of the film (the wedding scene), which jarringly cuts to widescreen before the credits crawl.
The Widescreen DVD release is identical to the digital theatrical print in every way bar the audio cues. The Fullscreen DVD release is identical to the VHS/VCD release.
The Blu Ray is again different, changing up even more audio cues and rearranging some shots here and there.
There is also an IMAX version, which has never been preserved. There are recreations, but they are not accurate to a tee.
As it stands the only true theatrical version is in the form of bootlegs, which can be found if you know where to look.
Or, obviously, if you have access to all the original film reels.
Hopefully this information is helpful to someone, and hopefully I won’t have to repeat it again, haha.
As an extra tidbit though, the comment about it being identical to the VHS release (the theatrical version, that is), is actually true for the TPM VHS release… Kind of. I’m not going to get super into it here but there are one or two minor altercations between the theatrical and VHS releases of TPM that prevent it being truly accurate, but it’s very close.
And while we’re on the topic, the ROTS VHS and VCD are the same as the full screen ROTS DVD.
As it stands the only way to see the actual theatrical releases of the prequels are in the form of original film reels, bootlegs or fan recreations. The ROTS Blu Ray does not preserve the theatrical print as there are CGI and audio enhancements; too often I see people claiming otherwise.
I really appreciate the information here since it can get kind of confusing keeping track of what has changed between the multiple versions of the flims. I’m certain if George Lucas was still making star wars films we would still be getting different versions of them. Something I’m wondering since it has never been preserved is exactly what versions of the scenes that are different are included in the IMAX. For example, does the IMAX have Anakin’s hand moving to grab Padme’s or does it have the version where it doesn’t? lol