The Empire Strikes Back original home release is really the perfect way to celebrate the sequel’s 40th anniversary. Luckily, you can check out the whole thing below. Long before the days of streaming and Blu-rays, the first-ever home release for the sequel came out on two 8mm film reels, which when combined, had a total of 35 minutes of footage. There are no digital fixes from the 1990s when George Lucas decided to go back and rewrite history. The original movie is here, albeit in abbreviated form, in all of its glory.
When firing up The Empire Strikes Back 8mm release, Star Wars fans will be quick to notice that there is no opening crawl. Instead, the iconic opening has been replaced with a traditional opening credits, which is pretty weird, to be honest. The gritty film takes fans back to what the movie originally looked like on the big screen, way before any of the Special Edition tinkering and 4K reissues. This is a historical artifact for hardcore Star Wars devotees.
Since there’s only 35 minutes of footage, The Empire Strikes Back 8mm release is missing some pretty crucial scenes, including when Darth Vader reveals the shocking news to Luke Skywalker. However, back in the early 1980s, VHS and Beta had yet to take off, so this was one of the only ways to be able to enjoy some of the magic at home. In addition to the edit, the 35 minutes of footage is believed to be taken from the original 70mm theatrical edit, which is literally what people saw in theaters for the first time.
The Empire Strikes Back 8mm release is also notable because some of the effects and composite shots are different from what we all know and love. There are some differences in effects and dialogue, which is easy to see when even watching a few minutes of the footage. Before the wide release, George Lucas wanted Industrial Light and Magic to go back and add footage to the end, to help clarify things with Luke, Leia, Chewie, and Lando. At that point, the movie had been on about 100 screens, so some lucky fans were able to see the incredibly rare cut of the sequel before anyone else.
Regardless of how fans have come to love The Empire Strikes Back, the 8mm home release offers an entirely different perspective on the movie. It truly is the perfect way to celebrate the movie’s 40th anniversary at this time and we’re still holding out hope that George Lucas will one day surprise us all with the untouched versions of the original trilogy. While that seems unlikely now, we have seen stranger things happen, like the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League becoming a reality. In the meantime, you can check out the original 8mm home release of The Empire Strikes Back above, thanks to the Dartman71 YouTube channel.
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