Book Review: A Saga on Home Video: A Fan’s Guide to U.S. Star Wars Home Video Releases, by Mat Bradley Tschirgi
Star Wars releases on home video have been more plentiful than death stick sales in the Outlander Club on Coruscant. You have different formats to consider (VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes, etc.), retailer exclusive special features, and even changes to the films themselves! Nathan P. Butler’s new book A Saga on Home Video: A Fan’s Guide to U.S. Star Wars Home Video Releases takes a deep dive into the dozens of home video releases for the Star Wars films, TV shows, and everything in between.
Author Nathan P. Butler, perhaps best known among Star Wars fans for being the author of The Star Wars Timeline Gold and host of the Star Wars: Beyond the Films podcast, uses his immense knowledge of that galaxy far, far away to craft an accessible book that’s not afraid to get into the nerdy side. From the earliest Super 8 mm highlight reels from the original Star Wars film all the way up to the Blu-ray release of Star Wars Rebels, Butler approaches the subject matter from a historical perspective. Chapters One through Seven detail the home video releases of the live-action Star Wars films all the way through Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Chapters 8 through 11 cover the various animated series over the years from the obscure (Droids) to the current (Star Wars Rebels). The last three chapters of the book cover miscellanea, Star Wars Home Video Collecting Tips, and a handy checklist of the various home video releases mentioned in the book; the checklist alone runs 18 pages!
Black and white pictures from Butler’s personal collection liven up the read quite a bit. One really gets to admire the different cover designs used over the years with all the different pictures featured throughout. As its title implies, U.S. home video releases are the main focus, but Butler is not afraid to dip into a few UK or Japanese releases with special goodies here and there. Of particular note is the fierce attention brought to edits made to the various home video releases, whether it’s the well-known changes for the Star Wars Special Edition from the 1990s or the minor edits made to the Ewoks TV series’ incomplete life on home video thus far.
Nathan P. Butler’s take on the Star Wars home video library comes from a place of love but he’s not afraid to be critical when necessary. His writing never comes off as flippant but rather as a concerned fan who wants home video releases to be complete with generous bonus features. It would have been nice to get some idea of a ranking for the video and audio quality on the oodles of videos covered here, but this is more of a history and a cataloging than a collection of reviews. Even the most die-hard Star Wars fans could learn a thing or two after reading A Saga on Home Video: A Fan’s Guide to U.S. Star Wars Home Video Releases.
You can listen to an interview with Nathan P. Butler on the Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed episode of Sequelcast 2.