"Special Edition" Trilogy Box Set on VHS
Release Date: August 26, 1997
Retail Price: $50 set (tapes sold separately for $20 each)
Trailers/Extras: Description of SE changes before each film
The debut of the infamous "Spedial Edition" Star Wars Trilogy! This controversial set hit VHS in Pan & Scan and Letterboxed format. The Pan & Scan set came packaged in a gold inner box, with a gold-tinted Darth Vader helmet covering half of the inner box (left). The Letterboxed set came in an identical package, but in a silver inner box and silver-tinted Vader as well (right).
The box art is the same for both sets, however the border colours match the box and the Letterboxed films have a "Widescreen" banner along the bottom of the boxes. The cassette labels are now white, but with the title of the film in the colour of the respective box set (gold for P/S, silver for LB).
So far, I have come accross two label variations for the 1997 SE Trilogy (as shown above). As far as I know, these variations exist for both the P/S and LB sets (I'm not entirely sure about the SE Collector's Edition set however). It seems that the earlier releases of the set have white labels with gold "Star Wars" (I'm assuming it would be silver on the LB set), whereas sets released later have horizontal white print on the cassette (I'm guessing these were released later, closer to 1999, as they look quite similar to the white print labels found on both TPM releases).
"Special Edition" Trilogy Re-release on VHS
Release Date: November 21, 2000
Retail Price: $40 set (tapes sold separately for $20 each)
Trailers/Extras: Attack of the Clones trailer & more (Coming Soon)
The final release of the "Special Edition" Trilogy on VHS. However, this time the "Special Edition" tag/marketing ploy was dropped and the box set was referred to as the "Original Trilogy" as The Phantom Menace, the first episode of the Prequel Trilogy, had beed released months earlier. The cassettes slide into a 5-sided box, covered by a partially transparent slipcover. The box features Darth Vader on one side, Yoda on the reverse and assorted characters on the remaining vertical side. When matched up with the black/white sides on the slipcover, the box art depicts the light side (Yoda) vs. the dark side (Vader). The cassettes are re-packaged versions of the 1997 releases, but with new box art. The ANH and ROTJ boxes are mainly white, whereas the ESB box is mainly black. The movies were released in Pan & Scan (left) and Letterboxed (right) format. The Letterboxed set says "Widescreen" on the slipcover, as well as on banners on the cassette boxes. The cassettes were also availible to be purchased individually.
1997 "Special Edition" List of Changes (from Wikipedia)
Episode IV: A New Hope
Additional dewbacks and search teams are visible as the Stormtroopers look for the missing droids. An Imperial transport can be seen taking off in the background.
-There is an new shot of an evening Tatooine sky that pans down to show the opening of the scene in which R2-D2 is wandering through the hills before he is captured by Jawas.
-The Jawa sandcrawler has been revised. The sunset progression has been enhanced, with the sky darkened and stars added at the end of the sequence. The scene where R2-D2 is captured has been tinted red to resemble a sunset.
-A new digital matte painting of the sandcrawler and extended sky was added when the Jawas are setting up shop in front of the Lars farm. Artificial zooming in is also present. More vaporators have been added, but they disappear in subsequent shots.
-There is a new establishing shot of Ben Kenobi's hut.
-Mos Eisley is bigger and busier. Family members of ILM employees wore costumes and walked around a bluescreen mat. Their images were composited into the new scenes.
-Dash Rendar's ship, the Outrider, can be seen taking off in the background when Luke's landspeeder enters the city.
-The blur under the landspeeder caused by poor image quality from repeated optical compositing to obscure the wheels of the landspeeder with a hand-animated haze was removed and replaced with a new, more accurately shaped shadow.
-A short pause of the camera features a Jawa being bucked from its Ronto mount.
-New aliens are seen in the Cantina.
-In Han Solo's last line to Greedo, "Yes, I'll bet you have", the word "yes" is excised from the audio track, though Han's mouth is still seen forming the word.
-In the cantina, Greedo now fires first as Han dodges the shot then returns fire on Greedo. This is one of the more famous and controversial changes to the film.
-A CGI version of Jabba the Hutt confronts Han in the Millennium Falcon's launch bay with new dialogue recorded in the Huttese language. The live action footage in the scene was from the original 1976 shoot.
-There is a new scene in the Mos Eisley docks of the Falcon taking off.
-The explosion when Alderaan is destroyed by the Death Star has been completely redone.
-The Death Star docking bay is revised to be more consistent with the one seen in Return of the Jedi, most notably in the overhead shot when the Millennium Falcon has landed.
-C-3PO's line describing the tractor beam's power systems has been put back in after being deleted in the previous stereo sound versions.
-The flashes of blaster impacts on some of the Imperial officers were censored.
-When Han Solo is chasing a squad of Stormtroopers on the Death Star, instead of running to a dead end, he ends up at a hangar bay with seemingly hundreds of Stormtroopers and officers.
-"Close the blast doors!" is put back into the scene where Han and Chewbacca, pursued by Stormtroopers, jump through the doors as they close.
-A scene between Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter just before the Battle of Yavin has been inserted.
-There are new digital shots of the X-wings and Y-wings taking off from Yavin (in the original version, they just appeared as white flashes) and approaching the Death Star.
-There are new and revised dog fighting and attack run scenes during the battle at the Death Star.
-After Red Leader's unsuccessful trench run, the line "He's on your tail!" was added to the film.
-The shot of the Rebel fighters flying away from the Death Star has been revised.
-The Praxis effect shockwave (so named for a similar effect seen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) was added to the destruction of the Death Star.
-Matte paintings (or cardboard cutouts) of the members of the assembly on the left and right sides of the Throne Room at the end of the film when Luke, Han, and Chewie approach the throne have been digitally replaced with real humans.
-James Earl Jones is now credited.
-"Luke's Theme" is partially repeated in the ending credits music to make room for the Special Edition release credits.
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
-The opening battle sequence was cleaned up, including fixing some instances where the blue screen process allowed the cockpit window frames of the snow speeders to be partially transparent.
-There are new scenes on Hoth with a redesigned wampa ice creature, including showing the full-body wampa eating a carcass and later screeching in agony following the loss of its limb. Two close-up shots of the original wampa mask are still noticeable.
-When Luke Skywalker heads to the exit of the wampa's cave, his lightsaber's deactivation sound is heard, even though the blade does not retract.
-Errors were corrected from the original version wherein the blue rank indicators on Imperial uniforms turned black, likely because of the blue screen process that was meant to create a view of space outside a window.
-The scene where the Slave I follows the Falcon out of the Star Destroyer's floating garbage includes a newly created CG shot of it pursuing the Falcon.
-At the opening shot of Cloud City, the Cloud Car was replaced by a Tibanna refinery, though it is almost panned and scanned out of the 2004 full screen DVD version. The right side of the refinery can be seen briefly in the 2004 full screen DVD version if played on a PC or LCD television monitor.
-There are new and additional shots of Cloud City.
-Several wall panels have been digitally replaced with windows to show more of Cloud City.
-Luke's line, "You're lucky you don't taste very good," after R2-D2 is spat out by a Dagobah dragonsnake is changed back to the original "You were lucky to get out of there."
-The sound of the voice that says "Who are you?!" to C-3PO on Cloud City right before he gets blasted has been changed.
-Lando Calrissian says "Attention" twice (instead of once) when he speaks on the Cloud City public address system.
-Shots of people listening to Lando on the PA ordering the evacuation of the city have been added.
-Luke screams as he jumps off the platform in Cloud City (the scream is actually lifted from the Emperor's death scream from Return of the Jedi).
-Darth Vader's tense-but-forceful line, "Bring my shuttle," has been changed to the more benignly-toned "Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival," a line originally recorded for A New Hope. A wide-angle CGI visual has been added showing Vader boarding his shuttle. This short added scene is spliced directly into the action surrounding Leia, Lando, and Chewie's attempt to rescue Luke as he dangles from an antenna below Cloud City. The music track that has become known as "Rescue from Cloud City / Hyperspace" - a track that, in the film's original version, begins from the moment Vader cuts off Luke's hand and continues until Vader storms off the bridge of the Executor after the Millennium Falcon escapes into hyperspace - is also now spliced in a manner corresponding to the insertion of the short added scene. Specifically, for approximately 5 to 10 seconds, music originally played at the moment Vader informs Luke of his parentage (itself an earlier part of the "Rescue from Cloud City / Hyperspace" track) is incongruously inserted.
-There is a new shot of Darth Vader's shuttle heading toward his star destroyer.
-A digital hatch has been added to replace the white light that appears when Lando opens the outer hatch to rescue Luke.
-A new scene with Darth Vader landing in the docking bay of his Star Destroyer is included, taken from an outtake from Return of the Jedi. Like the footage of Vader boarding his shuttle, this short scene is similarly spliced directly into the action surrounding the Millennium Falcon's escape from Bespin, and the music accompanying the added footage (both a few short seconds of music taken from the very beginning of "Rescue from Cloud City / Hyperspace" and then a few seconds of the same music that was used during the shuttle-boarding footage insertion) likewise cuts incongruously into "Rescue from Cloud City / Hyperspace."
-"The Imperial March" is partially repeated in the ending credits music to make room for the Special Edition release credits.
-Like Episode IV, matte lines have been removed thanks to digitally compositing.
-R2-D2's panels have been colorized blue replacing the original black. Note: The black version was used in bluescreen shots in Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI.
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
-A new Jabba's Palace Band musical number, "Jedi Rocks" replaces "Lapti Nek" with additional footage from the extended music number of "Lapti Nek." The puppet of female alien singer Sy Snootles is replaced with a new CGI version.
-Nine new characters were added to the Max Rebo Band: Joh Yowza, Umpass-stay, Ak-rev, Barquin D'an (Figrin D'an's brother), Doda Bodonawieedo, Greeata Jendowanian, Lyn Me, Rappertunie, and Rystall.
-There is an additional scene of Oola in the Rancor pit. In the newly shot scene, Oola is played by Femi Taylor reprising her role 14 years after the original film. Taylor was cast in the new scenes after her brother spoke to a friend who was working on the special edition who mentioned that they were working on the dance scene in Jabba's palace. Taylor's brother said she was in the original and was in even better shape than 15 years previously. She was recast in the role, and a number of shots of her new dance moves were edited into the original footage with no noticeable difference in her body in the 15 years between the two shots.
-Boba Fett is briefly shown flirting with the Max Rebo band dancers Rystall and Lyn Me at Jabba's palace.
-There are additional scenes on Tatooine of a herd of wild Banthas (actually live action elements digitally replicated) before scenes at the Pit of Carkoon.
-The Sarlacc now has extra CG tentacles and CG beak at its center.
-During Han's attempt to rescue Lando from the Sarlacc, the skiff rocks more dynamically when it is shot rather than simply tipping forward as before.
-When shooting the sarlacc tentacle, Han says "It's all right, I can see a lot better now" rather than the original "It's all right, trust me."
-CGI rope has been added around Han's ankles as he dangles from the skiff above the Sarlacc.
-In the original version, a flight of four TIE fighters appear from behind the camera flying toward the Death Star and disappear a second before the scene changes to the Emperor's arrival. This is corrected and the fighters continue heading toward the Death Star.
-As with the destruction of the first Death Star, the second Death Star has a more pronounced explosion.
-At the end of the trilogy after the Empire is defeated, scenes of celebration on Bespin, Tatooine, and Coruscant are shown in addition to the original and new celebration scenes on Endor. The musical theme "Ewok Celebration" during this sequence has been replaced with an entirely new John Williams composition, "Victory Celebration."
-During the end celebration, a brief shot of Luke hugging Wedge Antilles was inserted.
-"Parade of the Ewoks" is partially repeated in the ending credits music to make room for the new Special Edition release credits.
-Matte lines and bluescreen elements have been removed and sometimes shots have been recomposited.
-Unlike ESB and A New Hope, fewer wipes have been optically redone.