So I finally posted this onto the Fanedit forums for help, and there’s a brand new cutlist there. I also updated the one in this thread. I’m getting pretty close. Making a lot of slight changes here and there, but I’ll hopefully be done by summer. I have a lot of work and school and life, and I don’t really think anyone cares about this so that takes pressure off. Taking my time. At this point, I’m not even sure I’ll go forward with a drastic color grading.
I recently took it upon myself to change the four(?) instances of Anakin addressing Obi Wan as “master.” I went into this edit thinking that I would just change a few things to better push a specific interpretation, but I realized that that was just it. As much as I changed things, it would still just be an interpretation. One easier to believe with all the cuts, but a headcanon nonetheless. I’m doubling down and really committing to showing and more explicitly portraying the relationship between Anakin and Obi Wan I’m going for. Things like Anakin calling Obi Wan “master” just muddle that image. Anakin won’t call Obi Wan “master.” I legitimately watched 5 movies Hayden Christensen was in (never do this) just to find a good soundbyte to replace “You coming, Master?” with something more casual. Along the way, I also found some giggles that were useful in lightening the banter between the two.
I’ve also gotten some questions asking about what would make my cut different or better (depending on the person) from Hal’s cut. I am leaning heavily on his restructure of Anakin’s motivations. I’d like to know what Hal was going for exactly (it’s been a while since I’ve listened to his LoE commentary) in terms of what would be going through Anakin’s head and who Anakin is during his cut, before I can really answer that question.
But what I got from LoE, was that Anakin’s motivations for turning to the dark side are still generally that Palpatine convinced and manipulated Anakin (and this is the primary reason) into thinking the jedi were the bad guys, (with a good reason for Anakin to think so) and a little extra fear of Padme dying to make him do something about it. And it works fine, I still liked it.
But coming off of TCW into the OT, and my idea of who Anakin and Darth Vader should be - Anakin imo should have much, much more agency; it’s a decision, that he makes with a conscious mind. Most edits never leave the angle that Palpatine tricked him into becoming a sith, or that a submissive Anakin only turns to the dark as a last resort. Even LoE, while showing that the combination of Anakin’s loyalty, politics, and feelings understandably would turn him against the jedi, those reasons are all still put there there by Palpatine. He plays right into Palps’ game, not showing any awareness that he’s being played. That’s not very “sith” of a dark lord like Vader. I want it to be his choice, fully aware of what he’s playing with.
While Anakin in my cut is still manipulated by Palpatine, through a lot of little edits, Anakin is smarter and more adult throughout their relationship. Palpatine never explicitly plays on Anakin’s emotions and feelings - no tuskens, no blatant evil hints, he doesn’t tell Anakin that the council “needs” him, talk about the spying… He’s more subtle; he casually and “unintentionally” brings up things that would be salt on a wound. He doesn’t tell him that he deserves to be a master, or that he should feel conflicted, he just indirectly points out reasons why he would. Anakin is shown brooding and conflicted about what these indirects imply, instead of Anakin taking Palps’ word for direct assertions. Additionally, Anakin now tells Palpatine about dissenting opinions from the council, and shows an understanding of why those opinions exist. While he’s loyal to Palpatine, he’s also shown to be to Obi Wan and the council. He’s set up to not be 100% on either side, basically. I think that makes him smarter, and puts some kind of inner turmoil to the forefront. And not the old “I can’t let her die” conflict of OG!RoTS or the LoE “The Jedi were lying to me” conflict. It’s not one or the other, I’m going for the angle that this is a man caught between two of his allegiances.
So if Hal’s basic, basic structure is:
- Anakin’s strained relationship with the jedi council and then political motivations introduced.
- Fear of Padme’s death introduced.
- 2 ignites action in service of 1 = Anakin’s turn to the dark side.
- Anakin’s conflict between allegiance to the jedi order or to Palpatine introduced.
- Fear of Padme’s death introduced.
- 2 resolves 1 = Anakin’s turn to the dark side.
It’s similar, but my 1 and 3 are different. Padme possibly dying is still the impetus, but how it’s framed in my cut is Anakin decides that he can only keep Padme safe by aligning with Palpatine, either because of Plagueis or because of the political power and freedom that would come with it. And this becomes more clear once we’re out of these first two acts and into when Anakin actually becomes Vader. Hal keeps Anakin turning into Vader as this slow descent into full dark side corruption and power lust. He starts his descent well-intentioned but by the end is high on all of his new power. And that never sat right with me for Vader. The Vader I know from most of ANH, Empire, RoTJ, and the canon comics wasn’t crazy and corrupted. He wasn’t delusional or blinded by his power and emotions. “It’s too late for me, son.” was one of those things as a kid that showed me Vader knew he was a monster. And while the way he talked about the dark side’s power in the OT was always a supportive endorsement of it, it was more like a reverence of it rather than a dependence on having it.
So my Anakin doesn’t think he’s doing what’s best for the galaxy or the Republic or whatever. Sure, he has had political and ideological differences with the jedi council, and that’s what drives him away from them and to Palpatine, but he can’t believe that all of those jedi, in the temple and across the galaxy are bad. But he has to kill them all to embrace the dark side. He knows this, he knows what a sith is - and he can’t be proud of or eager to do it. That’s what I cut out. Every instance of Anakin being eager to do his master’s bidding is removed. He dances around the subject when he talks to Padme. He’s not proud. It’s just a means to an end for his goals for him and Padme. Their last conversation on Mustafar isn’t about the Republic, it’s about taking down Palpatine. For the two of them. For their baby. That’s what he chooses. He chooses what makes him powerful for them. It makes the Vader/Palpatine dynamic more wonderfully sith. It’s also what’ll inevitably turn him back in RoTJ, when he finally realizes the power doesn’t matter to the ones he loves.
Essentially, Anakin’s relationships to Palpatine, the dark side, and its power are the biggest differences in my cut. It doesn’t corrupt him or make him throw tantrums. As Palpatine says in the movie: ‘it gives [him] focus, make [him] stronger’. This is what makes Darth Vader the sith lord, especially when Kylo Ren exists now, whose unhinged emotionality with the dark side of the force is kind of what makes him a lesser Darth Vader. The idea that Anakin has master and control over his anger, fear, and hate to utilize them so effectively - that’s what made Darth Vader menacing when I was a kid. My Vader isn’t vengeful, emotional, or petty. He’s cold, methodical, and brutal. And this is how I’m keeping that image alive while maintaining the thematic through line of the prequels in a consistent way.