In the lead-up to the rumoured digital re-release of episodes I-VI, we now discover that Reliance MediaWorks have done a “4K 16 bit restoration” of the “Star Wars trilogy” (i.e. episodes IV-VI).
You can see some of the handiwork here:
There are no clues to suggest which version of the film was restored, but I’d put good money on a full restoration of the pre-1997 versions (i.e. the original original trilogy). There is no longer an ideological reason for Lucasfilm to hold off on releasing the original versions and a very strong commercial reason for them to do so. Not only would the original versions sell tremendously, they would also go a long way towards further fostering the goodwill that has slowly been eroded with many original fans over the last 17 years.
In many ways, the revisions to the original trilogy that have occurred since ’97 were all designed to move the films closer to the vision presented in the prequels, such as the inclusion of Hayden Christensen to Return of the Jedi. If this is indeed going to be marketed as a restoration of the “Star Wars trilogy” (as episodes IV-VI were known prior to the prequels), that seems to suggest a full pre-1997 restoration.
If this is correct, it can’t come soon enough. I expect that in November this year we’ll have Blu-rays of the original Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi to enjoy, the way many of us remember them—the way audiences experienced those films for 20 years.