Movie Watcher Memories: ‘The Star Wars Trilogy’ DVD Box Set…and Why I Won’t Part With It

My ‘Star Wars Trilogy’ DVD set. My mother gave this to me in 2004 as part of my 41st birthday present. (Photo by the author)

Hello, there. It is late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Monday, August 16, 2021. It is a warm, humid day; the current temperature is 82˚F (28˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 67% and the wind blowing from the south-southeast at 8 MPH (10 KM/H), the heat index is 88˚F (32˚C). Today’s forecast calls for scattered showers and a high of 91˚F (33˚C). Tonight, we can expect light rain and a low of 76˚F (25˚C). The Air Quality Index (AQI) is 30 or Good.

As you probably know, I have been a Star Wars fan since 1977. I have seen all 12 of the theatrically-released films – the nine Skywalker Saga Episodes, the two anthology films, Rogue One and Solo, and Lucasfilm Animation’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars – in theaters. With the exception of three films,[1] I watched them on Opening Day.

Promotional graphic for the Fall 2015 reissue of the first six Star Wars films in Limited Edition Steelbooks. This was the last Blu-ray release by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment before the distribution rights were handed over to The Walt Disney Company after Lucasfilm was sold to the latter in 2012. 20th Century Fox owned the distribution rights to five of the six movies until 2020, and Star Wars was owned by the studio outright for perpetuity Image Credit:. (C) 2015 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Lucasfilm Ltd.

And since the advent of home video formats in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, I have owned the Star Wars movies – especially the Original Trilogy – on four formats: VHS videocassettes, DVDs, high definition Blu-ray discs (BDs), and 4K ultra high definition Blu-ray discs (4K BDs). In fact, I bought my first Star Wars home media release – a used “for rent” copy from a video store near my former home in Miami – in December of 1983, almost a year before I owned my first VCR.

Thus, over the past 38 years, I’ve acquired almost every Star Wars home media release issued by Lucasfilm through either 20th Century Fox or Buena Vista Home Entertainment, including most of the VHS sets, including the 1992 15th Anniversary and the 1995 “Remastered THX” sets. (The only major home video format I never adopted due to cost and availability was the laserdisc, the LP record-sized precursor to the DVD.) At one point in 2002, I had all but one of the VHS box sets – I could not afford Lucasfilm’s first widescreen VHS set, which came out in 1995 – of the Original Trilogy, as well as the Special Collector’s Edition of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I stopped buying VHS releases after that and decided to focus on DVDs instead.[2]

The 2011 Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray set, with character art Bliu-rays. Judging from the details on the promo art, this is the UK edition. Image Credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Lucasfilm Ltd.

Ever since the now-defunct 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace on DVD in the fall of 2001, I’ve owned most of the disc-format releases and reissues of the Skywalker Saga, especially the first six films. At one point, I had all of the individual releases of Episodes I-VI, including the 2006 Limited Edition 2-disc sets that included the 1977, 1980, and 1983 theatrical editions of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. I no longer have them; when Lucasfilm reissued the Prequel and Original Trilogies in box sets in 2008, I bought them and gave away all six of my “individual title” sets to the young son of one of my mother’s home care assistants.

My Treasured Box Set

The reverse side of the slipcover depicts Darth Vader in black and silver tones. (Photo by the author)

Even though my Star Wars home media library has been updated and expanded to two newer formats since 2011 (the year that Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the now-inaccurately titled Star Wars: The Complete Saga BD set), I still own my treasured 2004 Star Wars Trilogy DVD box set. I received it via Amazon a few days after it was released on Tuesday, September 4, 2004. Not only is that set – the black-and-silver Widescreen edition – a collectible because it is the first DVD issue of the original 1977-1983 trio (albeit in the tweaked Special Editions), but it was a gift from my late mother, who died after a long illness on July 19, 2015.

Mom was not a Star Wars fan in the early years of the franchise. The original Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) was released around the same time that we moved from our house in Westchester to an apartment in Sweetwater while our townhouse at East Wind Lake Village was under construction. Between the move – which took far longer than anticipated because the developers’ overly optimistic estimates for completing Phase II of our condominium were off by six months – and her preconceptions about the film, she wasn’t keen on seeing Star Wars. She didn’t mind if I enjoyed it; she gave me my weekly allowance and dropped me off at the theater so I could watch it to my heart’s content. She even gave me Star Wars books and action figures for Christmas and birthday presents. She just didn’t think that the galaxy far, far away was a place she wanted to visit.

Mom bought me a poster with this artwork on the day we went to see The Empire Strikes Back at the Dadeland Twin Theater 41 years ago. (C) 1980 Lucasfilm Ltd. Art by Boris Vallejo

Eventually, John Williams’ music, Yoda, and her curiosity combined to at least pique her interest when The Empire Strikes Back was released in May of 1980, and she became a casual fan after we saw that film a few weeks after it opened in Miami. After that, we saw the Original Trilogy together in theaters and at home throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. And when George Lucas finally got around to making and releasing the Prequel Trilogy at the turn of the century, Mom and I saw each film on Opening Day.[3]

My mom gave me the 2004 Star Wars Trilogy DVD set for my 41st birthday. More accurately, she gave me permission to use her credit card to preorder it on Amazon as part of my birthday present in March of that year.

If I recall correctly, 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm announced the release of the Star Wars Trilogy six months before its “drop date” of September 4. Even though the DVD format was a popular format and had matured in the eight years since its introduction to consumers in 1996, there were two popular franchises (Indiana Jones and the original Star Wars Trilogy) that were released relatively late, at least from the fans’ perspective.[4]

Naturally, this was earthshaking news to me, so when my mom asked me why I was so excited (I don’t necessarily have a poker face when Star Wars is involved!), I had to share the news.

“Mom, you know how Lucasfilm just released the Indiana Jones: The Complete DVD Adventures DVD set?”

“Yes, of course. I gave that set to you for Christmas, didn’t I?”

“Well, the Star Wars trilogy with the Special Edition version is coming out in September, but it’s available for pre-orders at Amazon now,” I said.

“I can tell where this is going,” Mom said with that drily humorous tone of voice she used when she was secretly amused by something someone said or did.  

“May I please use your credit card to pre-order a set? I’ll consider it as part of my birthday present for this year.”

Now, this was on March 31, 26 days after my 41st birthday, but because the box set was more expensive than my usual purchase ($51.97, according to my order history) and Mom almost always had more money in the bank than I did, sometimes she would allow me to use her credit card, or she would pay my credit card from her account. Either way, she would indulge me every so often because that was the way she was.

“Sure. But let’s keep it between ourselves. You know how your sister gets when it comes to your birthday present. She can be so…difficult at times.”

Less than six months later, my Star Wars Trilogy box set with four DVDs – the three Star Wars films from my younger days and a Bonus Disc with behind-the-scenes materials – arrived at our Miami home, and I’ve had it in my collection for nearly 17 years (as of this writing). I don’t break out the DVDs with the feature films anymore; I have the Blu-rays, 4K UHD BDs, and even digital copies now. But sometimes I’ll watch the late Kevin Burns’ Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy on the fourth disc, since it is the complete, uncut version of the documentary and not the slightly shorter version available on the Disney+ streaming service.

The slipbox with embossed print is not exactly in mint condition, but the DVDs are still in good shape and will probably remain that way for many years. I could have given them as a parting gift to a friend when I moved from Miami to New Hometown in 2016; I have so many variants of the trilogy on Blu-ray and DVD, and my storage capacity is not exactly infinite. But even though I was the one who ordered the 2004 box set, it was Mom who paid for it, and I always think of it as one of the best birthday gifts she ever gave me.

May the Force be with you, Mom…wherever you may be.  

[1] Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

[2] I gave away my entire VHS library (I owned slightly over 100 films on videotape) in 2003. I needed the room in my closet for my growing DVD collection, plus my half-sister Vicky went over to the townhouse one day and took Mom’s VCR to replace hers, which had just given up its electronic ghost. She didn’t even ask our mother if she could take it or stop to consider that we still used that VCR even though I had a DVD player and a compatible TV set. She just said, “I need your VCR,” and took it to her apartment. I still had more VHS tapes than DVDs at the time, and some of them – like the Star Wars Trilogy and Schindler’s List – were not available on disc then. And my Mom was not able to watch the few VHS titles she owned – including West Side Story – till I bought DVD versions of them many years later.

[3] Sadly, the last movie my mom saw in theaters was Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Age and declining health had a negative effect on her desire to go out, and even though she drove her car to the bank and the nearby supermarkets until 2009, Mom never went to a movie theater after May 2005. As much as she loved movies (especially the Indiana Jones series), she preferred to watch them at home when they came out on DVD or Blu-ray.

[4] Paramount and Lucasfilm released the first three Indy films on DVD in November of 2003.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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