Movies & TV

Star Wars fan edits – opinion given form

Han Shot First
Being a big Star Wars fan, I’m surprised it has taken me this long to delve into the murky waters of fan editing but opportunity presented itself recently and I dived in.

I’d imagine there are more fan variants of Star Wars than I could count. Some such as Star Wars Revisited attempt to add to the existing films by the addition of modified scenes or special effects but there are others that take the opposite view and feel subtraction is the best choice. Two in particular approach that situation in very different ways.

The first are the infamous “Phantom Cuts”. Created after the release of the prequel trilogy, “The Phantom Edit” and “Attack of the Phantom” take a big knife to Episodes I and II. In the first, Jar Jar Banks is the famous victim of the first film whilst the second makes use of aggressive cuts to propel the story and avoid the unnecessary. Both result in substantially shorter, more focused films. The publicity generated by these edits forced their creator to later apologize as it was not his intent for the films to get into such wide distribution. However, people tend to share what they like so that’s got to mean something.

What I find interesting about these is that the intent to trim the films brings them not only in line with the original films in pacing but also George Lucas’ own approach during that period of his career when he was not afraid to make the fast cuts in the editing suite. They can be seen as a tribute to a style that was perhaps abandoned by Lucas in the prequels.

The second set are the “Despecialized” editions of the original trilogy. These are edits that attempt to produce restored versions of the pre special edition films that match the quality of CGI enhanced versions. A time consuming process of stitching together multiple sources to get the best result possible has paid off in giving fans a retro tribute to remember. Changes include removal of all SE additional scenes, replacing effects shots with their original versions and making sure than Han shoots first.

What is great about these is that they are a collective fan reaction to Lucasfilm no longer acknowledging the original versions of the films (or even provide viable copies) and of people’s desire to be able to see them in that form in the future. Considering these films pushed the effects driven blockbusters to new levels, it is heartening to know people still prefer to see the films as they remembered and not just as the latest reinterpretations on DVD.

Overall, these are fascinating versions of the classic films that may be of interest to those with a gripe over the modern versions. Alas I can’t link to them due to their nature but for those adventurous types with any eye for searching, I’m sure you will be rewarded by the experience.

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