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'Star Wars': The phantom DVDs

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93026__starwars_l_1Now that George Lucas is finally releasing (on Sept. 12) the original, theatrical, unexpurgated, non-CGI Star Wars trilogy on DVD, how do the discs rate? We don’t know; there are no advance review copies being sent to critics. The PR firm promoting next Tuesday’s DVD release has said it’s withholding the screeners due to piracy fears, but such concerns haven’t stopped Lucas from sending critics advance copies of all the previous Star Wars DVDs. So is there another explanation? There are a couple of possibilities:

1) Maybe the product stinks. Hard to imagine, since a) we’ve all seen the movies and loved them, and b) Lucas wouldn’t put out a DVD on which he hadn’t tinkered obsessively until its audio and video were as pristine as possible. Still, the sound mix on these is the less-than-state-of-the-art Dolby 2.0 Surround Sound, and the pre-digital image quality will probably never meet Lucas’ CGI-ist standards. Plus, these discs will be available only through the end of the year. Which brings us to our other theory…

2) Maybe these are just stopgap discs, with yet another version (maybe one with a higher quality transfer) due in the next year or so. We already know they’re making 3-D versions for theatrical release (and surely, eventual DVD release, so that you can wear the glasses with minimal public shame), and no Star Wars fan would underestimate Lucas’ ability to make folks pay for multiple iterations of the same movies.

Think either of those are the reason for the secrecy, or is there another explanation for this Jedi mind trick? Conspiracy theorists who believe Lucas was long ago seduced by the dark side of the Force, here’s your chance to spout off.

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