I loved the original Star Wars trilogy when I was a kid, but loathe all of the current DVD, Blu-ray, and streaming versions available today. Ever since 1997, every version of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi has had horrendous CGI effects added in that George Lucas deemed necessary to bring his "ideal" version to life.
Thankfully, we have OriginalTrilogy.com forum user Harmy to save us all from George's horrible updated releases. His unadulterated version of the original Star Wars trilogy is called the Despecialized Edition—fan preservation films that piece together multiple video and audio sources to create the closest thing we have to high-def theatrical versions of the films.
If you plan on seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I highly recommend you watch these versions beforehand. In my opinion, skip the prequels altogether, or try out the Machete Order if you must watch them.
Getting your hands on a copy of the Despecialized original trilogy is tricky, plus it's a legal gray area, so Harmy recommends that you own the original Star Wars trilogy on Blu-ray in case any legal issues arise. Below is a list of the newest versions released. As of a few days ago, The Empire Strikes Back just went from v1.0 to v2.0, so if you already have that Despecialized Edition, it's time to update!
- Star Wars IV: A New Hope - Despecialized Edition, v2.5 (available as MKV, AVCHD)
- Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back - Despecialized Edition, v2.0 (available as MKV, AVCHD, NTSC DVD5)
- Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi - Despecialized Edition, v1.0 (available as AVCHD)
The easiest way to download legit version of the Despecialized Editions would be to use the private torrent method, but if you don't have a MySpleen account, it's almost impossible to get.
The laziest way is to just search The Pirate Bay or Kickass Torrents to search and download the files using a torrent software. However, torrented versions may be altered from Harmy's versions, and may contain malicious content, so beware.
The files are pretty large (the MKVs can be around 20 GB each), so keep that in mind. It will take some time to download these!
There are other options, so for detailed instructions on the multitude of ways to download the Despecialized Editions online, see HanDuet's Google doc, which was reviewed and approved by Harmy himself. It includes everything you need to know about downloading the right versions, as well as how to play them. And make sure to follow the Despecialized Facebook page for any updates.
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