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Star Wars: The Anakin Saga

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What is it?
This is an edit of the Prequel Trilogy and Original Trilogy that aims to tell the most central story of the Star Wars saga, the story of Anakin Skywalker, within three films. It integrates the emotional core of the PT, Anakin’s downfall, into Luke’s story. It does this through a remix of the PT with the OT. Multiple timelines is a storytelling technique that has been used in many films and TV shows (most recently in Westworld) and that back and forth structure is how I’ve chosen to tell the two stories.

This edit also has a secondary goal, which is to improve the PT. It does so by cutting out most of the dull politics, eliminating irritating characters and character moments, reshaping entire character identities, trimming and replacing dialogue, rearranging scenes, and cutting out large swaths of scenes featuring unnecessary CGI. At its core, the goal is to tell a focused story about how Anakin was found and what made him fall to the dark side, and not necessarily on how the Empire rose to power.

Who is it for?
My objective for this project is to share the good parts of the prequels with non-Star Wars fans and those who haven’t seen the PT. Basically, I want to share the story of the Skywalker destiny, which I feel is the heart of the series, with friends and family who have only seen the OT, or only TFA. Anakin’s story in the PT, despite being clunkily told, does add gravitas to ESB and ROTJ. This is something I want to share with non-fans without exposing them to the terrible and off-putting parts of the PT. However, it’s also for existing Star Wars fans to experience a much improved version of the PT in a new way.

Why not do a simple PT edit? Why taint the OT?

The reasons for that are twofold:

  • a) Stripping the PT down to what I would consider its essentials leaves about an hour of content per film, so separate edits could not work, though I highly respect Hal and others who have done an admirable improvement on the films.
  • B) All of the edits I’ve seen that put all three of the PT into one film feel disjointed. Though that is something I could potentially do with what I’ve kept from the OT, I felt it would be more compelling (and more original) to let viewers experience the complete story in a trilogy.

Wouldn’t this give away a lot of the reveals of the OT?
This has been something I’ve actively worked to avoid. Anakin falling to the dark side is something that will be hinted at in the flashbacks only in the second edit (Ep 2 of TAS) and will be first revealed in the ESB portion of it. Same goes for the Leia reveal. Yoda will also not show up in the past scenes before his identity is revealed in the OT.

What sources did you use?
I used the standard Blu-Ray editions of all 6 films and Harmy’s Despecialized to replace some of the baffling CGI additions. I’ve also used newer Star Wars films and other sci-fi movies to update some of the special effects. I am aiming to use a color-corrected version of the OT (from NevervarGreat) as the base when that becomes available.

You updated the OT’s special effects?
Yes, I’ve added new versions of the Alderaan and Death Star explosion, as well as stolen a shot or two from TFA and RO. I’ve also kept some of the SE changes with regards to CGI for locations, vehicles and ships, and removed changes where it detracted from the scene (like the Greedo scene). I kept the SE CGI because I want the two eras of the project to feel more like one whole (I’ve added more grain to the PT for the same reason).

What other major changes have you made?

TPM:

  • The overall plot has been changed. It is now about the Queen on the run from an organization called the Trade Federation led by the shadowy Sith who wants to kill her. Her Jedi protectors are on a mission to take her back to her planet and end up on Tattooine for repairs, where they find Anakin. After they escape, they find her planet under occupation and fight to take it back. Coruscant and the council do not appear at all.
  • Padme isn’t the Queen anymore. She’s the Queen’s right hand, an extraordinary talented handmaiden who the Queen hears the counsel of and who will go on to become Senator.
  • Jar Jar is just a minor character who got caught up with the Jedi. His role is explained away and dialogue is changed.

How long is each film?
While I’ve kept the minimum amount needed from the PT to coherently tell Anakin’s story, the resulting films are still fairly long, though within feature film length. I’ve just finished the first of my planned edits, blending episode I into episode IV, and it clocks at around 2 hours, 50 minutes, though the next two will be a little longer.

Is this out?
V0.9 of Episode 1 is out and going through beta. If you’re interested, I can send you a link. I would love any feedback you have. Episode II featuring a remix of AOTC and ESB will be out later this summer.

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I really really really like this idea! If you want feedback I’ll be glad to give it!

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Thanks for the interest guys. I’m just plugging a couple of plot holes that popped up, then I’ll send it to each of you.

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I like this idea, im interested on watching it.
Keep it up!! The concept sounds very cool. 😃

I don’t really care if it’s in the shape of a movie, or a cartoon tv-series, or if it’s on videogames and books. Neither if it’s canon or legends; I love all my Star Wars (yes, even the prequels).

“Laugh it up, Fuzz ball.”

Oh wait, no, not all of it, don’t count the Holiday Special on it.

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Sounds like a pretty nifty concept. I would like to check it out if possible.

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Yeah, sorry for the delay, I showed it to some people IRL and realized it had a couple edit issues and plot holes which needed more scenes to resolve. Then I just got busy, but I’ve been working on it on and off, tinkering scenes and audio.

I’ll definitely send this out to everyone around the end of April.

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Okay, just got a chance to watch this.

First of all, I like the aspect of Episode 1 that you’ve chosen to focus on. The Anakin podrace plot in TPM was the best part of the movie IMO, and I’m glad to see (almost) no Coruscant scenes and very little Gungan action.

Interspersing these scenes into ANH has promise; since there are obvious parallels between Luke and Anakin, it feels appropriate to see Anakin’s time on Tatooine. However, I don’t think their placement quite works yet. For example, the first inclusion after the Tantive scene carries with it a feeling of narrative whiplash, as we are suddenly introduced to a bevy of new characters from 3 decades prior. They are talking about Tatooine, sure, but we are never told that Tatooine is Luke’s planet in ANH, so it’s a bit strange to be focusing on this. The same odd whiplash holds true for most of the other flashbacks. The fade outs after the Droid Auction and after the Binary Sunset seem like good places for flashback scenes, but the content of these flashbacks has little to do with the previous scenes and so they still feel out of place.

Going forward, I would ask: what is the goal here? You say it is to tell Anakin’s story, and indeed it focuses on this aspect above all others, but there’s still a great deal of extraneous plot for TPM. I’d argue that the story should be told from Anakin’s point of view, so it should not begin with Obi-wan and Qui-gon. In fact, the Naboo plot should have no place here, as Anakin has practically no understanding of this conflict, and in any case the plot for TPM makes little sense.

Watching this edit, I had an idea of how you could make this more about Anakin, and tie it together with ANH. It could start with the Tantive attack as normal, but after R2 and 3PO escape in the pod, it cuts to the deleted scene of Luke watching the battle and his discussion with Biggs. This establishes Luke as a hotshot pilot risking his life early in the film. Then the first we see of TPM footage is right after the dinner scene where Luke’s parents talk about Anakin:
“He has too much of his father in him”
"That’s what I’m afraid of"
32 Years Earlier
Cut to the middle of the podrace. We see Anakin neck and neck with Sebulba, and then one of Anakin’s engines catches fire, costing him his position. The next scene is Jar Jar and Sebulba, and this is where Anakin meets Qui-gon and company. Anakin notices Qui-gon’s lightsaber, Anakin invites them to his home, and they discuss their predicament over dinner. Edit out the fact that Watto doesn’t know about the pod - in this version Anakin has used this pod in several races.
Then there is the binary sunset and R2’s disappearance.
Later that night, Anakin and Qui-gon sit outside discussing Anakin’s future. There is the scene with Watto, where the dialogue has been massively cut down to only include the bit about the ship being the entry fee. Then Anakin fixes his pod and it ends with his ‘It’s working’ line.
Then Luke and the Sand People and his talk with Obi-wan. After this scene, as the music rises, cut to the beginning of the podrace. The race happens sans the parts used in the previous race, and there is no discussion of Qui-gon winning Anakin in a bet. The scene after the podrace is Anakin being informed that he has been freed and his emotional leave-taking. This mirrors Luke’s inner turmoil over leaving, and gives us more room between his refusal of the call and his sudden decision to leave.
Cut to the Imperial officers and the film continues as is.

I don’t know how much more of Anakin’s story needs to be told in this fashion. After Luke sells his speeder and we see the dark-hooded spy character, we could cut to Maul on Tatooine, and have the lightsaber fight where Anakin meets Obi-wan. Then in the next scene Luke and company see the Falcon and it couldn’t be more different than the queen’s starship. This would emphasize the decrepitude of the ship. However, including such a villain would draw attention away from ANH and onto the plot of TPM, and this would make the film feel very bifurcated. So I think it would be best to just end the flashback scenes with Anakin’s leave-taking.

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@NeverarGreat

Thank you for watching it and sharing your thoughts. While Anakin is the main focus of these edits, I also did want to tell a debloated version of the prequel stories. I included the Naboo plot because it was necessary to explain why the Jedi end up on Tattooine. They’re on the run from an evil organization, protecting the Queen and taking her back to her planet, but run into this extraordinary boy. The way I structured the story, we see the why of their landing, the introduction of Anakin and the fallout of their mission, i.e. a resolution of the Naboo plot, defeat of the Sith warrior chasing them and Qui-Gon’s death (explaining why he’s not there in the next two). It’s sort of got a beginning middle and end, even with most of the original cut out.

All that being said, I can’t argue with your perception of narrative whiplash. I’m still tinkering with the placement of the scenes to make it feel more natural. I am getting the feeling disassociated multi-timeline storylines work much better on television than film. For what it’s worth, my original cut started with them landing and ended with them leaving Tattooine, with a small part of the final Maul fight in there, but the test audience I showed it to was confused about the characters on the ship and what they were doing there.

Your ideas for the cut is interesting, it would essentially keep a handful of scenes from the original but place them better. I may give that a try later on. Thanks again.

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Damn, this is what I get for not coming on for a while. I’d be interested in seeing this if you’re still giving out betas.

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Here are my comments from watching it:

-2 hours and 50 minutes is pretty long.
-If you’re going to have an Episode #, I would make this Episode I, not Episode IV.
-The audio in the crawl seems a little compressed, but it might be my headphones, or maybe it’s just how the Blu-Ray version is and I’m used to Harmy’s Despecialized.
-The cut between the escape pod falling (~7:27) and the next shot is pretty abrupt. If you’re sold on that cut, what I’d recommend you extend the previous shot’s audio so they fade into each other.
-The first transition goes black and silent for too long. I’d have the music come in earlier, and the “32 years earlier…” come in almost immediately after the music starts.
-The audio there sounds kinda compressed too.
-I really like the color correction and film effects you did to TPM.
-Sidious’s dialogue is kinda obviously tampered with, especially “I want her…”. For that line I’d have it be said while you can’t see his face.
-Not a fan of the font you used for subtitles, but it’s no big deal either.
-Jar Jar’s dialogue is also clearly tampered with. I’d use a foreign dub of TPM to replace his dialogue, like Russian or Hindi (although decent quality Hindi dubs are hard to find). That’s what I did. Although, my personal recommendation is to cut the scene entirely.
-There are a few scenes from TPM that should be cut for time. Like the “I’m a person and my name is Anakin” scene, and Obi-Wan in the desert.
-In the transition between the crew leaving Watto’s shop and the ship scene, the audio totally cuts out for a second. Also, it should be a few frames quicker, and the previous scene’s video shouldn’t be translucent. Same with the next transition.
-The transition between TPM and ANH (dinner to garage) has too much lag time, too.

I couldn’t finish it because it’s pretty long. I’ll get around to finishing it, but I skimmed through and here are my comments on what you asked:

-No crawl for TPM is necessary. Just the one for ANH.
-Wipes were too slow. Wipes in my fanedits are about ~21 to ~27 frames long. Hover around there.
-It was absolutely a good idea to cut out C3PO.
-I love the low contrast and film effects, although maybe a little overboard in a few places.
-I would have used Harmy’s Despecialized instead of the Blu-Ray. That kinda bothered me, but I’m probably just really used to Harmy’s at this point. And it’s not a big deal if you like the Blu-Ray better as a source.
-Audio was a bit of a problem around cuts. The problem could be fixed by, whenever there’s a cut, fade in the audio from one side into the audio from the other.
-The audio feels compressed, although my headphones or computer just might be shite.
-I love the music added to the podrace, however there’s some music taken from AotC. One of my problems with that movie, and RotS, is that they reuse music from previous movies. Like literally use the same exact recording, even. If you’re gonna keep the AotC music, I recommend you remove that music from AotC.
-I don’t know what you mean by the Mos Eisley Droids Scene.
-Too many SE SFX.
-The flashback scenes are good foreshadowing. I like them.
-I like the new Alderaan explosion. The remains are a little weird, though.
-I like the new Death Star explosion, too, although the lasers lighting up should have came together, like in the Alderaan destruction.

As for the overall concept, I’m not entirely sure. It would work if you really put a lot of effort into tying TPM with AotC. Personally, I would have put AotC scenes in ANH, RotS scenes in ESB, and left RotJ on its own. But this can work, and I look forward to seeing it.

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The Empire did nothing wrong

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@NeverarGreat On second thought, the Naboo plot, even the reframing of it I did, doesn’t really have any emotional connection to Anakin’s story, which is really the point here. I might have made it better IMO but the fact of the matter is the plot doesn’t have much connection even in its original form to the other two PT. I’m doing another cut that’s closer to what you’ve said. I hope you don’t mind checking that out when it’s done.

@SparkySywer Thanks for your comments, especially the technical stuff. Glad you liked the grain and contrast. AOTC into ANH is an interesting idea. Maybe once I cut the TPM stuff just to Anakin and tell that story while Luke is still on Tattooine, I can jump ahead to AOTC later.

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A very interesting idea Shadester9, I’d be happy to give it a watch and post my thoughts on it if you’re happy to shoot me a PM?

Just some feedback on the title itself though as I’m personally not overly fond of “The Anakin Saga”. Even though the story told across a trilogy is about Anakin, it sounds like the focus is still more on the OT and therefore it is also largely about Luke. I would even say just on first impressions from reading your plans for the edits, that they centre around Luke still and are interspersed with flashbacks to Anakin who also bookends the trilogy as the overarching story arc. To me a more fitting name would be something like the below examples:

“Skywalker’s Redemption”

“Skywalker’s Story”

“The Skywalker Saga”

“Force Legacy”

.Val

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Well, I finally got to see your edit after so many failed attempts on downloading it, and here are my thoughts:
(Sorry about the very long text)
I like the idea of trying to tell a parallel story between Anakin and Luke, and it might work, but with some changes like the ones mentioned before me.
The placement on flashbacks is not bad at all, BUT, in my personal opinion I dont like it some of them(for example, I would preffer to match Luke watching the suns paired to Anakin watching his mother as he leaves, but idk if there would be enough time to tell TPM story that way), but my ideas wouldnt exactly work(i think), and sometimes the flashbacks feel too long that they could detract attention from ANH. The “32 years earlier…” works as how it is, at least for me, another crawl so early on the film again or even a second crawl at all, i dont think that would be a good idea.
Maybe the moments of TPM could be a bit misleading, specially Maul, it could detract a bit from Vader as for main villain, to be honest, I was expecting to see a quick cute to Anakin blowing The Federation space station before we get to the Death Star attack, it would had be a cool mirroring, but, now that I think of it, maybe it wouldnt make a lot of sense due to what is given from TPM via flashbacks.

I dont feel the cuts to be abrupt, at least not visually, the fading to black was good, and they are the correct speed for me. And the subtitles where fine, I didnt saw any errors.

It was a well condensed version of TPM, and I liked how the death of QuiGon could be paired to the one of Ben Kenobi, both apprentices lost their masters. The characters from TPM, well, its all fault of the source material really and the idea of making flashbacks from the movie, so, altho some feel a bit ‘‘meh’’ (Sidious and Binks for me), they are okay. And I didnt liked the voice of JarJar at all, really, it felt wierd to hear it, unnatural, is it backwards? And C-3PO out of TPM, good idea.

The way TPM was modified to look more old, with the film grain and contrast, i loved it, it looked really good, I would had liked to watch more TPM with that filter. The quality wasnt a distractor for me, but maybe it could be enhaced (i really dont know about that), and in my opinion you should had used either Revisited or Despecialized editions as base for ANH.

Fun fact, ANH audio has always bugged me, i dont know if I have such bad luck to always find a version where the quality of audio randomly jumps and varies a lot (i think the better example i could give would be on Luke’s room when he is cleaning the droids). I do think the ones that bugged me the most where because of that and not your editing, altho a quick cut between voices in TPM where the Queen and QuiGon decide to where to go each other when they are on the hangar and Maul appears, and also on the Deaht Star battle, I heared a quick short jump between music and effects, altho i cant remember where exactly. Replaced dialogue…I can only recall the one on the Padme throne room run/hangar, and the jumbling of the score, I noticed it too, not thaaaaat distracting, but noticeable anyways. The music to podrace, was good, yay.

The Mos Eisly Droids, you reffer to that scene where there was a big Ronto blocking the view before? Yeah, it looked noticeable, and also too yellow in comparisson to the other shots of Tatooine. I dont exactly know what you took out of SE appart from that, I could even say that you keeped all of them haha. The new Alderaan explosion looked really cool but, not very adequate for ANH, it looked ‘‘to modern’’ for the old footage that ANH brings. The flashbacks that Ben Kenobi had while talking about Anakin look convicing enough for me, but it looked a bit wierd that two of them where from ROTS and one from AOTC, but the AOTC one is the best to depict ‘‘and he was a good friend’’ line so that doesnt really matter, and the one where he is supposed to see Anakin burning, was good. The Death Star explosion, well, I like the idea of the 8 ligths being on and then exploding, but, its obvious to me that the explosion itself its from TFA, I can even see the rectangular dish of the Falcon and the quality its too high in contrast of ANH.

Overall, I liked the idea and Im totally positive on watching the next chapter on this project of yours:)

I don’t really care if it’s in the shape of a movie, or a cartoon tv-series, or if it’s on videogames and books. Neither if it’s canon or legends; I love all my Star Wars (yes, even the prequels).

“Laugh it up, Fuzz ball.”

Oh wait, no, not all of it, don’t count the Holiday Special on it.

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