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Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (2004 DVD Edition)

By T. Rob Brown

So, what’s new about the Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 2004 DVD version?

I'm writing this article as I watch the new DVD which was just released yesterday: Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2004. So, I may miss some of the differences.

The first thing I noticed different was a remake of the conversation between Darth Vader (David Prowse acting, James Earl Jones voice) and the holographic Emperor Palpatine (now portrayed by Ian McDiarmid, who took on that role in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi as well as that of Senator Palpatine [Star Wars Episode I: The Phanton Menace] and later Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones). The original Emperor Palpatine was quite grotesque and barely looked human. They remedied the Emperor’s looks in the third installment of the classic trilogy, but even in the Special Edition they didn't go back and replace him in the second film.

With Ian McDiarmid’s return to Star Wars for the first two episodes in the newer trilogy and his likely return for the May 2005 release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Lucas decided to take advantage of this fine actor's abilities to replace the grotesque version.

Not only was the holographic image replaced with the newer version of the Emperor, but some of the lines were changed -- including the mention of “Anakin Skywalker;” whereas, formerly the only reference was to “the son of Skywalker” in the original version.

Here's the scene with new dialogue in italics...

Vader: What is thy bidding my master?

Emperor: There is a great disturbance in the Force.

Vader: I have felt it.

Emperor: We have a new enemy. The young rebel who destroyed the Death Star. I have no doubt this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker.

Vader: How is that possible?

Emperor: Search your feelings, Lord Vader. You will know it to be true. He could destroy us.

Vader: He is just a boy. Obi-Wan can no longer help him.

Emperor: The Force is strong with him. The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi.

Vader: If he could be turned, he could become a powerful ally.

Emperor: Yes...he would be a great assett. Can it be done?

Vader: He will join us or die, Master.

My opinion on the above change is that for the most part I like it, except for the fact that by adding the additional information it removes a bit of the mystery of what’s going on.

Also, Luke no longer screams when he leaps down the shaft on Cloud City to escape Vader, after Luke’s hand has been cut off. He just wails instead.

Boba Fett’s FOUR lines have been re-dubbed by the actor who played Jango Fett in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Note: I’m glad to see that two rumors did NOT come true. One was that Jedi Master Yoda would be completely replaced with a CGI version. Thankfully, they kept the Frank Oz Muppett and Oz’s voice. Also, I’m glad they didn’t replace the ghostly visions of Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi (Sir Alec Guiness) with the Ewan McGregor version.

All three DVDs are so much sharper than my Special Edition VHS version, have better color quality, better contrast, better image exposure, better textures and detail, and better sound (5.1 Surround/THX vs. the old Dolby II stereo on VHS).

Hasta la vista,

T. Rob Brown

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