REVIEW: “Return of the Jedi: Unaltered”

Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi—Limited Edition
Disc 2: Original theatrical (1983) version of
Star Wars: Episode VI-Return of the Jedi

The Web is full of conspiracy theories.

One of them is that George Lucas insisted on releasing the unaltered versions of the original Star Wars trilogy in a non-anamorphic format so that fans would finally accept the 2004 enhanced versions as definitive.

I don’t put much stock in that particular theory but if that was, by some slim chance, Lucas’ hidden agenda, then he has failed when it comes to this fan.


Tonight, I journeyed back in time to 1983. For a brief instant, I was 8-years-old again. And I was watching Return of the Jedi for the first time.

Without the clouding of preconceived notions of Star Wars, without all the fan “entitlements,” I watched Return of the Jedi.

And I loved it. Just like I did back then.

As an 8-year-old, I never wondered how the teddy bear Ewoks could defeat the evil galactic Empire. I never noticed that Harrison Ford seemed to be phoning in his performance, whether due to a weakened role for Han Solo in the script or sheer boredom.

Tonight, I managed to keep those and similar movie-spoiling thoughts from my head.

Tonight, it was all about having fun. And I came to a realization.

Since 2004, I’ve kind of straddled the fence on the whole enhanced versus unaltered versions debate. As is often the case with me, I could see both sides of the argument. Until this month, I was perfectly content with the 2004 versions.

While I still respect Lucas’ right as an artist to continue to change these films to his liking, Star Wars: Unaltered, Return of the Jedi: Unaltered, and, to a lesser extent, The Empire Strikes Back: Unaltered have all made me realize that I don’t need the 2004 versions anymore.

They were a nice substitute for awhile. I enjoyed them for what they were. But the real films are back now.

Now on to a couple of things I would never have worried about as an 8-year-old and which I am almost inclined to skip for this review were they not such topics of controversy around this release: video and audio quality.

The video quality for Return of the Jedi: Unaltered was top-notch, except for the fact that it was not anamorphic.

I’m not kidding here. This movie looked beautiful. For whatever reason, distortion was not a noticeable issue with Return of the Jedi: Unaltered when zoomed in.

I am very begrudgingly deducting a point for the anamorphic issue, simply because I know that it would look that much better in anamorphic format.

Oh yeah, and I could still see both lines of the subtitles while zoomed in. People with far more knowledge in such matters than I are still complaining about that in various dark corners of the Web. They should know better.

Then again, these are the same people that wanted all of us fans to disregard and ban the Star Wars: Unaltered releases. After what I’ve seen over the last ten days, I can’t exactly respect their opinions on much of anything.

Though Dolby 2.0, this was a great surround mix that added to the excitement of the movie. It was never lacking, so I’m not deducting anything. I don’t care if it’s not Dolby 5.1. So there.

As for bonus features, the 1983 film is the true bonus feature of the set. Also, it’s good to know I now have three copies of the LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy video game trailer and demo. That gives me three times the number of opportunities to not watch or play.

By the way, of course the Ewoks could bring down the Empire. It was their destiny.

Movie: 9 (out of 10)
Video Quality: 9
Audio Quality: 10
Bonus Features: N/A (this movie was the key bonus feature)
Overall Experience: 9
Recommended: To both casual fans and Star Wars fanatics