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Here Are The "Star Wars" Films' Most Blatant Special Effects Changes

Is whether or not Han shot first even up for discussion?

If you've watched the original movies recently, chances are you were watching the Special Editions — the versions with updated visual effects.

Lucky for us, Chris Gould of DVD Active has cataloged all of George Lucas's changes in visual and audio effects since the films' theatrical releases in 1977, 1980, and 1983.

Stars Wars: A New Hope

It starts right away when the Lucasfilm Ltd. logo gets all fancified:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

R2-D2 wanders down an even lonelier canyon on Tatooine:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Jawas hide among the rocks.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Jawas hide among the rocks.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Jawas hide among the rocks.

Stormtroopers discover C-3PO and R2-D2’s presence aboard the escape pod:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

The Tatooine sunset is redder:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Obi-Wan Kenobi's home becomes far more grandiose:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

The Wolfman in the cantina transforms into an alien:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

By far the most controversial change in the Special Editions, Greedo now shoots first/roughly at the same time as Han Solo:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Lucas changed this scene multiple times, initally to make Greedo shoot first, and then to make them both shoot almost at the same time.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Lucas changed this scene multiple times, initally to make Greedo shoot first, and then to make them both shoot almost at the same time.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Lucas changed this scene multiple times, initally to make Greedo shoot first, and then to make them both shoot almost at the same time.

Obi-Wan Kenobi deactivates the tractor beam to allow the Millennium Falcon to escape from the Death Star, and the language changes from English to Aurebesh:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Han Solo confronting a few Stormtroopers turns into Han running into a hangar full of troops:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

The destruction of the Death Star gets more epic:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

This scene with Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt was added into the 1997 Special Edition release. In the 2004 update, Jabba was redesigned to look more like he did in The Phantom Menace.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Watch that tail!

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Watch that tail!

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Watch that tail!

The Empire Strikes Back

This shot is from the perspective of Luke Skywalker, who's just been attacked by the less vague-looking Wampa:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

The original hologram of the Emperor was played by an old lady with chimpanzee eyes.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Lucas replaced the old lady with Ian McDiarmid, who played Emperor Palpatine starting with ​Return of the Jedi.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Lucas replaced the old lady with Ian McDiarmid, who played Emperor Palpatine starting with ​Return of the Jedi.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Lucas replaced the old lady with Ian McDiarmid, who played Emperor Palpatine starting with ​Return of the Jedi.

Cloud City got a major update:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Darth's lightsaber turns pink:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

The Special Edition release added a scream to Luke's previously silent fall after his duel with Darth Vader.

Lucasfilms Ltd.

The later DVD release restored Luke back to his silent dignity.

Return of the Jedi

Right before Chewbacca grabs Han’s ankles, Han hangs off the skiff by his toes alone in the original:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Here is a probably unnecessary visual effect change of Han Solo's face while he is freed from his carbonite prison:

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com
Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

For the Special Edition, Lucas once again added more audio at a climactic moment: when Vader decides to sacrifice himself to save his son.

Lucasfilms Ltd.

The spirits of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker watch Luke and the Rebels celebrate their victory over the Empire.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Sebastian Shaw is replaced by Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin starting with Attack of the Clones.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Sebastian Shaw is replaced by Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin starting with Attack of the Clones.

Lucasfilm Ltd/Chris Gould / Via dvdactive.com

Sebastian Shaw is replaced by Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin starting with Attack of the Clones.