It seems the holy grail of vintage sci-fi cinema has finally leaked into the wild.
A team of amateur archivists have reportedly obtained an original 35mm print of 1977’s Star Wars, and has spent the past few years working to clean it up and restore the film to its original state. Now they’ve leaked the finished product online — providing what is arguably the best-quality, and most authentic, version of the film as it originally existed.
As fans are well aware, George Lucas spent the better years of his life tinkering with Star Wars, with the first tweaks being introduced as early as 1981 for the first theatrical release (the title was changed to A New Hope) and each subsequent version (Special Editions, DVDs, etc., etc.) providing more and more “refinements” via updated effects, all-out changes (Han shot first) and the addition of superfluous scenes.
But the group calling itself Team Negative1 wants to change that — so they’ve released the restored 35mm cut online (we won’t tell you where to find it, but it’s probably floating around wherever one might look for pirated movies). They’ve called their version the “Silver Screen” restoration, and sample footage released up to this point looks surprisingly good.
"I’m not going to claim that as a kid that’s what I remember,” Mr. Black , one of the restorers, told Movie Mezzanine. “My memory is just not that great. But I will say this, thinking back to watching a worn-out print and the kind of colour schemes and palettes that they used back then, and seeing this print projected, and knowing that the correction was done with that in mind, we’re trying to get that look and that aesthetic of that print."
Of course, this isn’t the first time a group of fans has tried to restore the original film (the most famous version, The Despecialized Editions, is cut from various sources to return the film as close as possible to its original form). Though this seems to be the most authentic. You can’t get much more original than an actual 35mm print circa 1977.
With persistent rumblings still lingering that Disney might work out a deal to release a 4K version of the original trilogy, this release could potentially help push all parties involved to make it happen (since this is free, and albeit illegal, you’d think the studios would want to make the mint this official release would almost certainly produce).