On September 16, 2011, almost a year before the Walt Disney Company bought Lucasfilm Limited and announced plans to make more “Star Wars” films (including the long-rumored Sequel Trilogy), George Lucas and 20th Century Fox released a Blu-ray box set titled “Star Wars: The Complete Saga.”
This nine-disc set, which encompasses the six Episodes Lucas refers to as “The Tragedy of Darth Vader” was briefly the No. 1 best-selling Blu-ray release in the history format. According to The Numbers, a site which tracks box office grosses and DVD/Blu-ray sales, “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” is still ranked 35th in overall sales. As of October 2013, the box set has sold 1,620,064 units and earned $134, 451,312. (This is impressive, considering that a vocal group of “Star Wars” fans tried to deter consumers from buying the expensive sets from Amazon and other retailers by posting negative pre-release reviews.)
If you’re a “Star Wars” fan or a collector of movies, chances are that you already own this $139.99 collection. But in case you haven’t purchased “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” but are thinking about getting it, here’s what you need to know.
Disc One: “Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace”
Disc Two: “Star Wars - Episode II: Attack of the Clones”
Disc Three: “Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”
Disc Four: “Star Wars - Episode IV: A New Hope”
Disc Five: “Star Wars - Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”
Disc Six: “Star Wars - Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”
Special Features in “Star Wars: The Complete Saga”
Audio Commentary for Each Movie with George Lucas and Crew
Never-Before-Released Audio Commentary for Each Movie from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
Bonus Discs 1 &2
New Star Wars Archives Content Includes:
45 Deleted/Extended Scenes
Cast & Crew Interviews
Props, Maquette and Costume Turnarounds
Matte Paintings and Concept Art
Bonus Disc 3
In-Depth Documentaries and Featurettes:
“The Making of Star Wars” - 1977
“The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX” - 1980
“Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi” - 1983
“Anatomy of a Dewback” - 1997
“Star Warriors” - 2007
“Star Wars Tech” - 2007
“A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later” - 2010
“Star Wars Spoofs” (Including Weird Al Yankovich's “The Saga Begins”)
The packaging is similar to Lucasfilm's 2007-2008” The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones” box sets. “Star Wars: The Complete Saga's” packaging consists of two elements, an outer slipcover and a book-like disc holder.
But whereas the three “Adventures of Young Indiana Jones” box sets’ packs are made from flimsy paperboard material and plastic, “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” features a sturdy slipcover with a photorealistic painting of a forward-facing nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker and a more ephemeral rendition of his son Luke Skywalker standing behind him and facing away as they both stand near the Lars homestead on the desert planet Tatooine.
This cover art, which is done in the same style used by poster artists Tom Jung and Drew Struzan, also appears on the book-like disc holder, which is designed to hold each of the nine discs in protective sleeves.
The disc-holder also has an endpaper illustration which features many characters from both Trilogies and a pocket which holds a booklet titled “Guide to the Galaxy,” which is a contents guide to all nine Blu-ray discs of “Star Wars: The Complete Saga.”
To Buy or Not to Buy…..
While I recommend this box set for most “Star Wars” fans and even casual viewers who aren’t obsessed about the franchise, there are a few things you need to consider before buying “Star Wars: The Complete Saga.”
First, unlike 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s similar “Alien Anthology” set, “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” does not offer multiple versions of the six films it contains. “Star Wars” creator George Lucas stated that the 2011 Blu-ray edition is the definitive version.
Thus, viewers who hope to see the original theatrical release editions of Episodes I-VI in high definition formats are bound to be disappointed. Unless Disney, which will own the rights to the entire saga once the existing contract with 20th Century Fox expires in a few years, decides to overrule Lucas’s edict, the original theatrical releases will not be released in Blu-ray.
Second, the six Episodes of the saga received digital fixes, even the Prequels. Some are very noticeable, including an all-digital rendition of Yoda which replaces the fake-looking puppet in “The Phantom Menace.” Other tweaks, such as sound edits or added off-screen dialogue, are fairly subtle. Additionally, some glaring visual goofs spotted in the DVD releases have been either partially or completely corrected.
Finally, in contrast to the “Alien Anthology” Blu-ray set, “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” only carries over the audio commentaries from the earlier DVD releases of Episodes I-VI. The music videos, documentaries, Webcasts, or featurettes from either of the Trilogies’ 2001-2005 DVD editions are not available in this omnibus collection.
To be sure, the complete "carryover" of extra features from the DVD version to Blu-ray might have made the set a bit more unwieldy and even more expensive. I have also seen a few Blu-ray versions of movies I own on DVD that don't duplicate all the extra features from the older format. The Blu-ray edition of “Superman: The Movie,” for instance, omitted at least one featurette found in the DVD's extra features section.
However, I think that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Lucasfilm could have ported over at least the collection of theatrical trailers from the 2001-2005 DVD releases.
Recommendation: If you own a high-definition TV and a Blu-ray player, the
“Star Wars” movies will look and sound better on Blu-ray than in any other home viewing format. The digitally-remastered audio and video elements give home viewers clearer sound and sharper images than previous formats can, although the "old" DVDs still look nice when played on a Blu-ray player with an HDMI cable.
Sure, the fact that Lucas's team of digital artists have tweaked both Trilogies again and not included the older versions may still rankle some diehard fans. However, “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” is worth buying, despite its few shortcomings.