Most younger Star Wars fans have likely never seen the “real” film, the one that was released in theaters in 1977 thanks to the various edits and revisions that creator George Lucas has made to the franchise over the years, but luckily, a group of dedicated fans took it upon themselves to restore the original print of Star Wars and have now released it online for everyone to see.
Referring to themselves as Team Negative One, the group spent the last three years painstakingly restoring each frame of a 35mm theatrical print of Star Wars. This isn’t some amateur hack-job either; the restoration is of a much better quality than the most recent release of the original cut, the laserdisc versions that were made avaialble as bonus material on the 2006 DVD release. In some cases, it even looks better than the Blu-ray version.
Every moment that fans care deeply about is present and accounted for here: Han Shoots first and Obi-Wan doesn’t sound like a butchered monkey anymore when he’s trying to scare away the Tusken Raiders. As if being able to see those scenes again wasn’t impressive enough, Team Negative One has also released a behind-the-scenes video showing how they accomplished this Herculean task.
“Why did it take over three years to complete?” YouTube user “The Star Wars Trilogy” wrote in the video description. “This is why. Manual cleanup alone took an average of one minute per frame. Star Wars has around 174,000 frames.”
In case you wondering, this is definitely not legal and the fan release will probably be flooded with take down notices from Disney and Lucasfilm’s legal departments soon. We can only hope that someone at either of those companies is paying attention to this situation and sees how badly people want official restored versions of the Star Wars trilogy.
Currently, you’ll have to do some real digging to find the full version online (we do not condone doing this, of course … ) but there are some cool preview videos available where you can see how much better the restored version looks. Like this one: