In the 1997 re-release, two of the Cantina Aliens that had werewolf heads have been replaced. One was replaced with lizard-like creature while the other was replaced by a creature with elephant tusks. Both the werewolves and their replacements can seen in footage used in a supplemental DVD packaged with the soundtrack to Episode III
These are all the changes made between the 1977, 1997, and 2004 versions:
- The scenes where the Stormtroopers are looking through the sand for the escape pod has extra special effects in the 1997 and 2004 versions.
- When the Sandcrawler is climbing over the sand, the angle has changed to make the machine look much bigger in the 1997 and 2004 versions.
- C3PO saying "We've stopped." has been added to the scene where he and R2D2 are in the sand-crawler for the 2004 version.
- The binary sunset on Tatooine was made more consistent between shots in the 2004 version.
- When Obi-Wan makes a call to scare away the Tusken Raiders, it has been changed, due to sounding too closely like a dew back scream. In the 2004 version it sounds more like the Boga lizard from Episode III, although it has always said to be the call of the Krayt Dragon in books and other sources.
- The establishing shot of Obi-Wan Kenobi's home has been expanded with a big matte painting in the 1997 and 2004 versions.
- When Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids overlook Mos Eisley, the 1997 and 2004 versions have a bigger view with more detail.
- When the land speeder arrives in Mos Eisley, the 1997 version added extra effects to make it more real. The 2004 version further enhanced the special effects with more fluid movement.
- Mos Eisley itself has been expanded in the 1997 and 2004 versions with extra special effects shots, and the strange black blur under the land speeder has been removed.
- In the 1997 version, Greedo shot first during his confrontation with Han Solo, instead of the other way around. The 2004 version has them shooting almost at the exact same time.
- The 1997 version added a scene of Han talking to a CGI animated Jabba The Hutt and inserted Boba Fett into the scene as well. The 2004 version retained this scene but improved the CGI Jabba.
- When the Millennium Falcon takes off, extra effects were added into the 1997 and 2004 versions to make it smoother and less static.
- In the 2004 version, a line has been added to one of the stormtroopers after they search the Millennium Falcon to confirm they found nothing.
- A larger Alderaan explosion was added in the 1997 and 2004 versions.
- C-3PO's line "The power beam holding the ship is coupled to the main reactor in seven locations. A power loss at one of the terminals will enable the ship to leave" was omitted from the 1981 version, but restored in the 1997 and 2004 versions.
- Several laser shots fired in the 1997 and 2004 versions have been censored to not show the impact.
- When one of the stormtroopers bang their head on the door, a sound effect has been added in the 2004 version.
- The cell block corridor has been expanded in the 2004 version.
- The Dianogah in the garbage chute has been improved with CGI in the 2004 version, and now blinks.
- The writing on the tractor beam has been changed in the 2004 version to Aurabesh.
- When Luke and Leia are running from the stormtroopers and find themselves at a dead end, there is extra echo effect added into the 2004 version.
- When Han runs down the corridor and is confronted by stormtroopers, the 1997 and 2004 versions had a whole room full of them.
- When Han and Chewie are running from the stormtroopers, the 1997 and 2004 versions add an extra small line for Han.
- The light sabers in the Obi-Wan/Darth Vader fight have been cleaned up in the 2004 version. The 2004 version also corrects a shot from shortly after the fight where Darth Vader's light saber had not been colored by the effects crew. It now appears red as it should be.
- In the 1997 and 2004 versions, we actually see the Millennium Falcon when it is arriving at the rebel base, and the huge doors are moving now instead of stationary.
- There is a small conversation between Luke and his friend Biggs before they go into battle.
- When the Rebels launch to go into attack, the 1997 and 2004 versions have added more special effects.
- A shot of the Rebel fleet in space has been expanded in the 1997 and 2004 versions and the camera now moves with the X-Wings.
- The line "He's ON Your Tail" was added for the 1997 version but removed again for the 2004 version.
- The Death Star explosion is expanded in the 1997 and 2004 versions.
- Many matte lines have been removed throughout the 1997 and 2004 versions and other similar optical improvements have been made. The overall video and audio quality has also been improved in each version, sometimes with changes to some sound effects.
The 2006 DVD reissue contains a "bonus disc" which features the unaltered, pre-special edition film, with the original opening crawl (without the "Episode IV: A New Hope" subtitle) and the 1993 LaserDisc sound mix without C-3PO's "tractor beam description" and Stormtrooper "close the blast doors" lines. This is the first and only time that this version will be available on video in regular DVD.
The film was originally released with two stereo mixes created from the same four-track master. Later, a third audio mix was prepared for theaters which had not upgraded to Dolby stereo yet. This third audio mix was in mono and had a few minor differences from the other two audio mixes such as Aunt Beru being dubbed by a different actress. In 1981, two of the three versions were updated to include the "A New Hope" subtitle - the version not updated was the mono mix. Later on, a fifth audio mix was created (the fourth being created for the 1985 VHS release) for the 1993 Definitive Collection Laserdisc set. This audio mix combined elements from all three of the theatrical audio mixes but was primarily sourced from the 70mm stereo mix. The 1997 Special Edition and 2004 DVD release feature more changes (both audio and visual). The 2006 DVD bonus disc is made from the masters for the 1993 Definitive Collection laserdisc set but with the highest quality 1977 print available spliced in for the original opening crawl. This means that (excluding TV edits and pan & scan releases) there have been at least TEN different versions of Star Wars to date.
In the USA "Ken Films" released for world-wide outright sale, condensed versions of popular cinema releases for the Super 8 home movie film market. From 1977, initially only the seven minute running time abridged version of STAR WARS (F48) was sold in three versions; in color and sound; in black and white and silent with subtitles; in color and silent with subtitles. In 1978, a further 17 minute running time version of STAR WARS Part 1 of 2 (F48) in color and sound was released, which contained part of the content already in the 7 minute version. With the cinema release of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), a further 17 minute running time version of STAR WARS Part 2 of 2 (F64) in color and sound was released. Super 8 Sound Movies only in the sound color versions STAR WARS (F48) and STAR WARS Part 1 of 2 (F48) and STAR WARS Part 2 of 2 (F64) were sold in Australia by "The Home Talkie Company of Australia". Later the English company "Derran" released a complete version of STAR WARS on 750 meters polyester Super-8 in Cinemascope & Dolby Stereo (estimated 50 - 100 copies).
The German "marketing film" released 10 months after the cinema start in West Germany a cut version on Super-8 on two reels in 4:3/color/sound. Reel #1 is running 17 minutes (120 meters), reel #2 is running 9 minutes. This two reels are fitting together and are showing the story from the beginning of the movie to the end of the fight between the Falcon and the TIE fighters right after the escape from the Death Star. The assault on the Death Star didn't make it in this Super-8 version. The beginning shows not the opening crawl, the cut version starts in space over Tatooine with the star destroyer attack on Princess Leias's blockade runner while a speaker summarizes the opening crawl. Almost three years later the German "UFA" released a 17 minutes long version including parts of the final battle against the Death Star and the throne room ceremony. Additional this version includes a lot of sequences not shown in the "marketing film" version: cantina scenes, Tusken raider scenes, the destruction of Alderaan, the Death Star approach of the Falcon after entering the Alderaan system. By editing this three reels together the viewer got a complete overview of the story. But Obi-Wans death is not shown. The 17 minutes US "Ken Films" version (F48) provides two scenes not included in the German version: Vaders conversation on the blockade runner and a part of Luke and Leias swing across the abyss. Editing this two scenes - copying the German audio track - into the "marketing/UFA"-3-reel-version provided the longest available cut version of STAR WARS: 43 minutes.
In the 2004 DVD edition, Vader's lines are lowered very slightly in pitch so his voice sounds more like it does in the next two films.
For the initial Australian Cinema release of Star Wars (1977) distributor cuts were made to get the censorship classification the distributor wanted to guarantee an audience. To obtain the classification rating of (NRC) NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN - the Australia Film Censorship Board ordered the elimination of "the frightening and extremely disturbing brief shots of the two burned and still smoking, charred skeletons" i.e. Australia Film Censorship Board insisted that the full length scene was not allowed to be seen "Luke's home is destroyed and he finds two charred bodies at his burnt-out home on Tatooine (his aunt and uncle)" all shown in a close-in shot of the homestead "Igloo" and nearby are the charred bodies (skeletons) of Owen and Beru Lars. - - - In 1977 the part of the scene at Luke's burnt-out home on Tatooine, which demonstrated the ruthless and quite horrible tactics used by the Empire, with an extremely shocking and very lingering scene showing his aunt and uncle's burnt and still smoking, charred skeletons, was removed from all 1977 Australian Cinema film prints, so Australian audiences were not permitted see all of the tactics used by the Empire . . .
In most German home video releases, two lines from Luke are missing ("You know what's about to happen, what they're up against." and "Take care of yourself Han."). Those lines were recovered and included in the Blu-ray release.
The film has numerous Hungarian versions:
- The original subtitled release from 1979 renamed Chewbacca to Harah for unclear reasons.
- The first dubbed release, made for a 1984 television broadcast introduced dialogue changes that were carried over into later dubs. The Clone Wars are simply named "the War", as the translator couldn't make sense of the term. Han Solo's boasts about the Millennium Falcon are rewritten; instead of referencing the Kessel Run, Han says the ship can lose Imperial Star Destroyers under one twentieth of a second. His mention of the planet Corellia is also removed. Greedo's dialogue is dubbed using heavy voice-modulation effects. The rest of the dub often simplified lines (Obi-Wan Kenobi's "Who's more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?" became "Giving it a try is no more foolish than sitting around here and wait.") and used a number of old-timey expressions that might sound odd and dated to contemporary viewers.
- The second dub from a 1995 VHS release kept the dialogue changes but recast most of the voices. Greedo is dubbed again, with a normal voice.
- In the 1997 Special Edition dub, Greedo's original dialogue is left intact and subtitled. Only some of the other voices were changed, most of the VHS cast returned to their roles. This version contains a notable flub: Kenobi's line "This little one's not worth the effort." completely changes its meaning due to a single typo. Instead of "ne rajta" ("not on him"), he accidentally says "na rajta" ("well, come on"), making it seem like he's instigating a fight rather than asking the guys harassing Luke to stop.
- All later releases of the film use the 1997 dub. Subsequent changes to the American version's audio, like Kenobi's updated Krayt Dragon call were not implemented.
- The Blu-Ray release rewrote Greedo's subtitles, leading to an error wherein Han's final response doesn't follow what Greedo has said. Television broadcasts still use the original translation.
When the original theatrical version was first released, it was simply titled Star Wars.The opening crawl was changed to "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" during the 1981 re-release. According to Sterling Hedgpeth, Lucasfilm film archivist: "I found a box with all the positive elements for the 'revised' opening crawl, and the assorted trim boxes are dated from October through December 1980. This, then, is consistent with the view that Episode IV: A New Hope was added for the first time to the opening crawl for the April 10, 1981 re-release."
Stills from the "lost" Tatooine scenes have been published (in "The Star Wars Storybook", for example) and at least one sequence is shown in the documentary 'The Making of 'Star Wars'". Also, the scenes were included in the novel, comic book and radio adaptations of the story.
David West Reynolds, an employee with Industrial Light and Magic discovered a forgotten black-and-white workprint of Star Wars which was edited before the addition of special effects, and contained a large number of differences. This lost cut includes more long panning shots of the desert and a new scene in Mos Eisley where a small alien runs and hides from a large Alien in an alleyway; the aforementioned Cantina scene is also from this edit. All the landspeeder, Millennium Falcon, and cockpit shots were done with real time projections of special effects. They were deemed inferior to the blue screen tests, so they were discarded. The running time of this rough edit was 2 hours and 30 minutes.
There are a few noticeable differences between the version shown on ITV on British television during the 1980s and early, pre-'remastered' video releases:
- The sound quality of the voices heard over intercoms and radios during the Battle of Yavin is very different.
- On TV, Luke says "Blast it, Wedge, where are you?" On the video he says, "Blast it, Biggs, where are you?"
- On TV, Porkins' final dying scream is drowned out.
- On TV, a stormtrooper searching for the droids on Tatooine says, "This one's secure, move onto the next one". On the video he says 'locked' instead of secure.
The 1981 re-issue contains three dialogue differences from the original. First is the appearance of the "close the blast doors" line that was silenced in the 1981 version. The 1977 version has Aunt Beru's line "All his friends have gone" places emphasis on "friends" rather than "gone" in the 1981 version. Finally, Luke shouts "Blast it, Wedge, where are you?" rather than "Blast it, Biggs, where are you?" Because Luke's head is turned to the side, it's impossible to tell which is the on-set name used. The redubbing makes Wedge's rescue of Luke more unexpected.
The subtitles for the Han and Jabba scene have been altered slightly for the DVD. Originally, the phrases "twenty percent" and "fifteen percent" are spelled out. In the DVD, they are abbreviated as "20%" and "15%," to save space, since the typeface used for the captions is larger than that used in the theatrical version.
The voice of the actress who played Aunt Beru, Shelagh Fraser, was dubbed over in all but the original prints.
In the video version of the original, when the stormtroopers are chasing Han down the hall, you can hear one of them say "Open the blast door. Open the blast door" as Han and Chewbacca pass through it and leave the troopers on the other side. In the special edition, you can hear one of the stormtroopers say "Close the blast door" before it closes. The scene is actually a little funnier because it's his own fault that the door closed. The extra dialogue was "lost" on the home video release but the line did exists in earlier theatrical versions, as evidenced by the 1977 audio recording of the film entitled "The Story of Star Wars." This LP/audio cassette includes that line, in the exact same voice and reading as it appears in the special edition. Also note that foreign language versions of the film did have the translation of that line. The "close the blast doors" line is also seen in a Star Wars clip in the 1993 special "George Lucas: Heroes, Myth and Magic" on the PBS series _"American Masters" (1983)_.
The "lost scenes" from this film, namely Luke's discovering the orbital Tantive-IV-Battle while working on a moisture vaporator; Luke storming into Station Tosche at Anchorhead to tell his friends, Fixer, Camie, and Biggs about the space battle he witnessed; and Luke's and Biggs' extended talk about Biggs' having been assigned to work on the starship Rand Ecliptic, and also confiding in Luke that he has made certain friends at the Imperial Academy who plan to join the Rebel Alliance on Tatooine reveal that one of Luke's friends, Camie, was played by Koo Stark (of early Eighties Prince Andrew liaison fame). Sadly the scenes never made it into the movie and can only be seen on the "Behind the Magic" CD-ROM-discs.
In all theatrical versions, subtitles for alien languages appear at the bottom of the frame. In widescreen video releases, the subtitles are moved to the top of the lower black bar, so that they actually appear below the image without obstructing the picture. Long lines of dialogue, such as those during the Greedo scene, were originally given one long caption at the bottom of the screen. Due to the shorter space available on television screens, these captions were broken into two pieces. "Jabba put a price on your head so big every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you" was split into "Jabba put a price so big on your head..." followed by, "every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you."
The 2004 DVD also features substantial changes in the sound mix, especially in regards to the music. John Williams' score is de-emphasized considerably throughout, and during the minute or two of the climactic battle, it is completely inaudible.