What video format offers Star Wars' original sound mix?

Aaron Garman

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Hello all. After reading some posts, and owning four versions of Star Wars on VHS and Laserdisc combined, what version holds the most faithful sound mix to the 1977 release of the film? Some people have said that the THX versions are remixed, and I know the Special Editions are definitely different. Can anyone give me a rundown of all this info on the sound mixes? Thanks.

Aaron Garman
 

Damin J Toell

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After reading some posts, and owning four versions of Star Wars on VHS and Laserdisc combined, what version holds the most faithful sound mix to the 1977 release of the film?
it depends on which 1977 release you're talking about. there was the 70mm mix which, according to the booklet that comes with the Definitive Collection LD box, was a rush job. then there's the 35mm mix which was done with a longer lead time and varies from the 70mm mix in various places. for the 1993 Definitive Collection, Ben Burtt compiled a "final" mix, which combined some elements of both mixes. i believe the 1995 THX CLV discs has that same mix. i'm unsure what mix releases prior to 1993 had, but only one release (1989 LD) was in widescreen.

i hope that helps a bit.

DJ
 

Rachael B

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The old grey label Fox Widescreen releases are said to have very faithful sound. I used to have them. I gave them to my brother near 10 years ago when I got the THX discs. The Deffinative CAV set has the same sound as the greys, I think. The even older releases are P & S and some are even edited to make STAR WARS and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK fit on two sides instead of the three it takes. There are even P & S CAV releases from way back when in the 80's. Stick with the grey label stuff me thinks. Best wishes!
 

John P Grosskopf

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There are essentially 3 "original" sound mixes for Star Wars in 1977: the original mono mix, the dolby stereo mix, and the 70mm six-track magnetic mix. Few theaters were Dolby equipped, so two separate 35mm optical versions had to be sent to theaters to maximize sound quality. Neither of these mixes are identical however, and sound effects are slightly different in several places in order to deal with the limited bass response and noise floor of a non-dolby optical mono track. To make matters worse, apparently the first prints of Star Wars which did not have the "Episode IV" in the opening crawl had a different mix from the later prints that did. Further, the 70mm prints had another mix with different lines of dialogue as well as a few short cuts/additions that were not in other releases. The 70mm mix is that one that included the "close the blast door." and "A power loss at one of the terminals will allow the ship to leave." lines that didn't exist together on on 35mm prints until the release of the special editions.

When re-released in 1980 a month before The Empire Strikes Back, the film's soundtrack was again sweetened to further refine soundtrack quality. It is this mix of the film that was used to master the broadcast and first home video versions on VHS, Beta, and P&S LD. It is also missing the two lines mentioned above if I am not mistaken.

Essentially, the very first mixes have never been released on any video format, making the sound track from the 35mm 1980 re-release prints the closest to the original theatrical release.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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To make matters worse, apparently the first prints of Star Wars which did not have the "Episode IV" in the opening crawl had a different mix from the later prints that did.
Not just "the first prints", but *every* print prior to 1981 did not have the "Episode IV" tag. That was added beginning with the 1981 reissue, after Empire had come out.
 

Jeffrey Gray

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The mix on all pre-Definitive Collection releases is the original (or 1980 re-release, if Grosskopf is correct)stereo track, but later releases have the extra dialogue (which are actually from the MONO mix, which was done LAST) dubbed in. Also, speaking of the mono mix, according to some accounts, Aunt Beru was dubbed by someone else, and Luke said, "Blast it, *WEDGE*, where are you?" But I haven't seen it, so I dunno.
 

GregK

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I know this is slightly OT, but when I saw Star-Wars a few

times during it's first run, I could SWEAR the last shot

of Darth Vader was his TIE fighter spinning out of control.

..But when I watched Star-Wars again in 1980, there was a

shot showing his TIE fighter stabilizing and flying off.

Is there a website that lists the minor differences from

the 1977 to 1980 cut?
 

John P Grosskopf

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...later releases have the extra dialogue (which are actually from the MONO mix, which was done LAST) dubbed in. Also, speaking of the mono mix, according to some accounts, Aunt Beru was dubbed by someone else, and Luke said, "Blast it, *WEDGE*, where are you?" But I haven't seen it, so I dunno.

The "Close the blast doors" and "powerloss" lines were in the 70mm mix, which was used to create the Story of Star Wars narrative record. They may be in 1st mono mix as well, but definitely not in the first 35mm Dolby mixes.

I'd forggoten about the Aunt Beru thing, but I think you might have it backwards. Aunt Beru's voice is dubbed by a different actress than the one who played her in all prints of the film but one. It may be the mono mix that has the actress' real voice.
 

Peter Apruzzese

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I remember reading somewhere that the "Episode IV" prints actually began to appear during the film's original run when replacement prints were sent out to theaters after SW had made a ton of money and sequels were green-lighted. On the one-year anniversary of the film, an adverstizing campaing was inititated along the lines of "re-released by popular demand" and "come again to a galaxy far far away." In many cases, the film had been playing at the same theaters the entire time, and merly new prints were required to replace the battered ones still in exibition. I understand that these replacement prints were the first to contain the "Episode IV" tag. I could have rememebered that wrong, but I'm pretty sure it went something like that.
I saw every reissue of Star Wars during its run. New prints, old prints, 35mm mono, 35mm stereo, 16mm, 70mm. None had the Episode IV tag until 1981. And, even then, it was just spliced onto existing prints. They printed up a new section that included the opening crawl right up to the first reverse angle of the Star Cruiser.

FYI: The one-year anniversary actually had a special "birthday cake" poster created for it - a very rare item.
 

Dave H

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I have a bootleg copy of Star Wars on VHS that was taken before 1981 and it DOES NOT have the Episode IV in the opening.
 

Tom J. Davis

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Anybody have the Widescreen Review issue that has a review of the Definitive Collection LD set in it? I used to have this years ago. It had an article about the different mixes, but I don't remember alot of the details.
 

John P Grosskopf

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I saw every reissue of Star Wars during its run. New prints, old prints, 35mm mono, 35mm stereo, 16mm, 70mm.
Were 16mm prints made for college engagements or what? I remember renting films through Blackhawk during my college days for fund raising, and never saw any of the Star Wars films available for what I surmised were piracy fears. Disney allowed rental of quite a few though.

Also, many of these prints were cropped to the 4:3 frame lopping off the sides. Some prints were anamorphic, but only a very few (i.e. Gallipoli, Disney's The Black Cauldron). Also, the 16mm prints we received were mono. Is there such a thing as 16mm Dolby Stereo on non-professional equipment, as proper decoding would require a Dolby unit to recover the "boom" track non present on mono prints?
 

Peter Apruzzese

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No, I saw both 16mm "bootleg" prints (which were 'scope, I saw one less than a month after it opened) and legit prints of SW. They didn't start renting SW legitimately for several years (both flat and 'scope); most films have campus 16mm availability within months. I think the earliest legitimate 16mm's of Star Wars were for the military market.

I remember the Raiders reissue in 1983 (I played it at my theater). The poster tag was "The Return of the Great Adventure" and the newspaper campaign had my favorite tag line of all: "If you don't go to the movies, you won't see Raiders of the Lost Ark!".

As far as I know, there was no 16mm Dolby Stereo process (although I'm sure there were some experiments). I know you could do a two-track mix on 16mm magnetic sound prints, but I don't think they ever did optical stereo on 16.
 

Joseph Bolus

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On the one-year anniversary of the film, an adverstizing campaing was inititated along the lines of "re-released by popular demand" and "come again to a galaxy far far away."
Actually, I thought this campaign accompanied the August, 1978 two-week national re-release. (Fox had to actually recall the film from the theaters in the third week of July 1978 to prepare for the national re-release.)
Strictly speaking, the August 1978 re-release wasn't the one-year anniversary since the film was released initially in May 1977. I do recall the "Birthday Cake" poster alluded to, but that was in the paper in May 1978, the true one-year anniversary. At that time, believe it or not, Star Wars was still in its initial run!!!
I own the very first official VHS release of the movie, but of course by that time they had already added the "Episode IV" monniker. (The first VHS release, BTW, only provided stereo on the Dolbyized linear audio tracks!! The concept of spinning heads in the drum for "HI-FI" audio hadn't been invented yet. So, for most of us, the first VHS release played in MONO since very few decks were equipped at the time for linear stereo. It was also, of course, P&S only. Pretty sad for the first home release. Still, I was very happy to have it at the time.)
I also own the Castle Films "Star Wars Home Edition" on Super 8mm film. This provided two P&S scenes from the movie, one of which was the escape from the Death Star. The "Open the Blast Doors" line is missing in that version.
 

Paul Linfesty

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As far as I know, there was no 16mm Dolby Stereo process (although I'm sure there were some experiments). I know you could do a two-track mix on 16mm magnetic sound prints, but I don't think they ever did optical stereo on 16.
The original experiments for Dolby stereo optical were done with 16mm equipment. A 16mm projection manufacturing company (can't remember which one, B&H, possibly?) They came up with the bilateral optical tracks. Dolby was brought in to use their "A" noise reduction system, and the system evolved into the matrixed system. AFAIK, the system never made it past the development process, and, after further refinements, was adapted to 35mm use. American Cinematographer had an article about this development back in the early/mid 70's.
 

Michael TLV

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So which print has the Stormtrooper searching the mos eisley doors saying "it's secure ... move onto the next one" as opposed to "This door is locked, move on to the next one."

So many different versions of the film. I'd also swear there were two different effect shots of the Falcon blasting off into the Mos Eisley sky ... The colour of the sky was different in each version.

Regards
 

Dave H

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Like I said above, you'll not find the original track on a licenced home video version, a boot is another matter entirely.
I agree. I was just confirming that theater prints prior to 1981 did not have the "Episode IV" title in the beginning.
 

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