More Star Wars than you can imagine

Less than a month to go now before Lucasfilm Limited and Twentieth Century Fox release the complete Star Wars saga on Blu-ray. Fans have anticipated owning Star Wars in high definition for as long as the format has existed. The real countdown began on August 14 of last year, though, when George Lucas announced that all six Star Wars films would hit Blu-ray in late 2011.

The release seemed so far away back then, but since the announcement, I have managed to keep myself from watching the movies or listening to the soundtracks. This is no small thing, as the Star Wars films are among my favorite movies of all time. I often listen to the soundtracks on my iPod, and I tend to watch one of the movies on DVD at least every three months or so.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga appears on Blu-ray Friday, September 16 in the United States. The 9-disc boxed set includes all six movies and loads of bonus features.

The two trilogies (Episode I through III prequels and Episode IV through VI special editions) will also be available separately as three-disc sets, for those who prefer to own only one or the other.

Buying the full set seems like the best deal, however. Plus, you would otherwise miss out on three discs worth of bonus features. Besides, I love all six movies and cannot imagine deciding to own just half of them on Blu.

Lucasfilm has even launched a Star Wars channel on YouTube to promote the Blu-ray release. Here are three of the best clips released thus far.

Star Wars Blu-ray: Full Trailer

If this doesn’t get you pumped up for Star Wars on Blu, nothing will.

Star Wars Blu-ray: Episode IV – X-Wing

Among other things, this preview reveals that an annoying 2004 audio change has been rectified. The John Williams soundtrack soars again as the X-Wings swoop down to begin the Death Star trench run. The 2004 DVD edition mixed this important musical moment way down in favor of sound effects.

Star Wars Blu-ray: Deleted Scenes Trailer

If you have been a Star Wars for quite some time, there are certain deleted scenes that are legendary. This trailer reveals that we will finally be able to view these scenes in the upcoming Blu-ray set.

Check out the enormous discussion thread about the Star Wars Blu-ray release over on TheForce.net‘s Jedi Council Forums. I have not signed up there as of yet, but I have read every page of that thread over the last year. It is definitely a roller coaster experience, but I am glad to see the reaction mostly take a positive turn as the release date approaches.

Here is the full press release from Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox, including a partial listing of contents for each disc.

“Bring home the adventure and share Star Wars(tm) with your whole family – when STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment! To be released beginning on September 12 internationally and on September 16 in North America, the nine-disc collection brings the wonder of the entire Saga direct to your living room, where you can revisit all of your favorite Star Wars moments – in gorgeous high definition and with pristine, 6.1 DTS Surround Sound. Dive deeper into the universe with an unprecedented 40+ hours of special features, highlighted by never-before-seen content sourced from the Lucasfilm archives.

Special Features:

STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA ON BLU-RAY is presented in widescreen with 6.1 DTS Surround Sound. Special features include:

DISC ONE – STAR WARS: EPISODE I THE PHANTOM MENACE
Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, John Knoll, Dennis Muren and Scott Squires
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC TWO – STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES
Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC THREE – STAR WARS: EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH
Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, John Knoll and Roger Guyett
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC FOUR – STAR WARS: EPISODE IV A NEW HOPE
Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC FIVE – STAR WARS: EPISODE V THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC SIX – STAR WARS: EPISODE VI RETURN OF THE JEDI
Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew

DISC SEVEN – NEW! STAR WARS ARCHIVES: EPISODES I-III
Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; a flythrough of the Lucasfilm Archives and more

DISC EIGHT – NEW! STAR WARS ARCHIVES: EPISODES IV-VI
Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; and more

DISC NINE – THE STAR WARS DOCUMENTARIES

NEW! Star Warriors (2007, Color, Apx. 84 Minutes) – Some Star Wars fans want to collect action figures…these fans want to be action figures! A tribute to the 501st Legion, a global organization of Star Wars costume enthusiasts, this insightful documentary shows how the super-fan club promotes interest in the films through charity and volunteer work at fundraisers and high-profile special events around the world.

NEW! A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later (2010, Color, Apx. 25 Minutes) – George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Lawrence Kasdan and John Williams look back on the making of The Empire Strikes Back in this in-depth retrospective from Lucasfilm created to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of the movie. The masters discuss and reminisce about one of the most beloved films of all time.

NEW! Star Wars Spoofs (2011, Color, Apx. 91 Minutes) – The farce is strong with this one! Enjoy a hilarious collection of Star Wars spoofs and parodies that have been created over the years, including outrageous clips from Family Guy, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother and more — and don’t miss “Weird Al” Yankovic’s one-of-a-kind music video tribute to The Phantom Menace!

The Making of Star Wars (1977, Color, Apx. 49 Minutes) – Learn the incredible behind-the-scenes story of how the original Star Wars movie was brought to the big screen in this fascinating documentary hosted by C-3PO and R2-D2. Includes interviews with George Lucas and appearances by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX (1980, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) – Learn the secrets of making movies in a galaxy far, far away. Hosted by Mark Hamill, this revealing documentary offers behind-the-scenes glimpses into the amazing special effects that transformed George Lucas’ vision for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back into reality!

Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi (1983, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) – Go behind the scenes — and into the costumes — as production footage from Return of the Jedi is interspersed with vintage monster movie clips in this in-depth exploration of the painstaking techniques utilized by George Lucas to create the classic creatures and characters seen in the film. Hosted and narrated by Carrie Fisher and Billie Dee Williams.

Anatomy of a Dewback (1997, Color, Apx. 26 Minutes) – See how some of the special effects in Star Wars became even more special two decades later! George Lucas explains and demonstrates how his team transformed the original dewback creatures from immovable rubber puppets (in the original 1977 release) to seemingly living, breathing creatures for the Star Wars 1997 Special Edition update.

Star Wars Tech (2007, Color, Apx. 46 Minutes) – Exploring the technical aspects of Star Wars vehicles, weapons and gadgetry, Star Wars Tech consults leading scientists in the fields of physics, prosthetics, lasers, engineering and astronomy to examine the plausibility of Star Wars technology based on science as we know it today.”


Update: Adam Gregorich over at Home Theater Forum has begun a series of in-depth reports about the upcoming Star Wars Blu-rays, based on hands-on experience with the Blu-ray set at the home of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic in California. I will post links here as they become available.

August 21, I: Interview with Lucasfilm (The First Part)

August 22, II: Interview with Lucasfilm and Matthew Wood

September 17, III: Dennis Muren, Holiday Special and THX

Thanks to HTF for the terrific coverage.


August 25 Update: StarWars.com has posted more information on the restoration: The Best on Blu-ray: Restoring the Star Wars Saga for the HD Generation