Currently being worked on:
- I’m piecing together Rose’s new line using clips from Cobalt Squadron.
- A friend is working on the insert shot of the red plomme bloom on DJ’s jacket.
- SparkySywer is rendering the new opening crawl, just waiting on me to decide I’m completely happy with it.
Currently need help to:
- Remove Master Codebreaker music from underneath dialogue that’s been moved to the cell scene. This one I think can be lower priority, since the moment works quite well if I add that music cue to it anyway.
- Remove lightsaber audio from underneath a few lines of dialogue in the third flashback.
- Extend the final group shot on the Falcon by a few seconds to accommodate the soundtrack before the iris out.
The Last Jedi is a film with great ideas and themes that it doesn’t communicate clearly. This is such an issue that its critics tend to think it’s saying the opposite of what it’s actually saying - for instance, the film actually says Luke is wrong to want the Jedi to end, Kylo is wrong to say the past should die, and that Luke is only right when he embraces the cool epic hero version of himself. It’s a movie which celebrates Luke facing down the entire First Order armed with a laser sword, not a movie that derides it. So why do so many people receive the opposite message?
This confusion arises because the dialogue is so over-written. Characters state the themes and even over-explain them, but because they say so much other unnecessary dialogue at the same time, it all gets lost in the shuffle. It’s so overwhelming that it even obfuscates the strong visual storytelling that would otherwise make these things clear.
There are also a few times where the pacing lags, making some moments feel slightly weird and making certain parts of the film feel like they’re much longer than they actually are. I’ve trimmed these moments to fix the pacing, making moments land the way they’re meant to and keeping the film moving.
The Stoic Edition is my attempt to rip out all of the unnecessary dialogue and over-explanation that plagues the film, resulting in a sharply written movie with a lot of great visual storytelling, that could believably have been released in cinemas by Disney in 2017. My goal is not to alter what the film is saying, but to polish how it says it. If you hate The Last Jedi, this edit will hopefully illuminate what the people who love it are seeing.
This edit is focused on strengthening the core themes of each of the movie’s subplots, which I see as the following:
- Failure is part of life; we can either learn from it, or let it destroy us. (Luke and the Jedi Order; Finn and Rose.)
- Loving fictional stories is valid and can inspire us to take real action. (Luke and Rey.)
- Caring about things and being earnest is good; apathy and being cynical is bad. (Finn and DJ.)
- The cause is greater than any individual; you can believe in the cause even if you don’t get along with every individual who supports it. (Poe and Holdo.)
- People aren’t always who you expect; their actions, not their words, determine who they are. (Poe and Holdo, Rey and Kylo, Finn and Rose and DJ.)
- The meta-theme that runs through the whole movie is that the old Star Wars movies (which if you’re a character in Star Wars, are your past history) are good and that Star Wars fans (ie, Rey and the Resistance) are correct to love Star Wars and to want Classic Luke back. Meanwhile, cynical Kylo Ren wants to leave the past behind (aka, he’s the kind of person who thinks Star Wars is lame and complains about fans for earnestly liking things) and he’s ultimately left by himself screaming in rage to nobody while the Star Wars fans fly off to do more Star Wars together. The Last Jedi is the biggest love letter to Star Wars fans for being Star Wars fans, but it’s so stifled in its execution that a lot of Star Wars fans think it’s criticising them for liking Star Wars.
- I initially started working with the theatrical cut, but then I realised I wanted to make almost all of the same cuts as Hal 9000’s Legendary Edition, so I switched to Legendary as my primary source (especially helpful for editing because it has 5.1 surround sound). I reinstated parts by patching over areas with the theatrical cut.
- I’ve written a changelog below, but I haven’t included any of the extensive dialogue cuts and edits. Instead, here’s a link to a dialogue transcript with the cuts highlighted in red.
- I’ve edited in 720p DVD quality, because that’s what my computer can handle rendering. I’ve also used a 1080p BluRay source for select shots I wanted to reframe.
- The amount of technical trickery that went into the dialogue cuts was unexpectedly huge. The Last Jedi has an extremely busy soundscape, with almost literally constant music, a sound effect for every onscreen movement, and unique atmos tracks for every location change, no matter how minor (ie. a spaceship corridor and the next room in the same spaceship). Dialogue often covers multiple audio channels, frequently all of them. (It’s a work of art in its own right, just as beautiful as the cinematography people like to praise; despite being so busy, it never gets intrusive, and often isn’t even noticeable - and it’s all there to contextualise the few moments of silence sprinkled through the movie, and make them all the more powerful. It’s great, but it makes it a pain to edit.) As a result, I had to reconstruct some atmos tracks from minuscule beats between other sounds, and a few times, I had to scrap all of the audio and record new atmos and sound effects myself.
- Dialogue has been extensively trimmed, as explained.
- WIP: DJ was the Master Codebreaker Maz sent them to find. It supports the theme that sometimes you’ll have to work with people you don’t like, as well as the theme that people aren’t always who you expect. In a practical sense, it also streamlines Finn’s subplot and makes it easier to follow.
- If I was to do a V2: Redubbing Holdo’s dialogue with a new actor, solely for the purpose of writing new dialogue for a few lines when her face is off-camera. (There’s a bunch of shots of very obvious ADR in the theatrical cut, so I figure if Rian can do it, then so can I.) Poe and Holdo’s subplot was the hardest one to work with; I’ll talk about it more in the comments if people are interested, to avoid turning this dot point into an essay.
- Extensively trimmed, pruned, removed, and reorganised dialogue throughout the entire movie. See this document for a full list of changes to the dialogue. I haven’t explained my reasoning behind every alteration or the document would be a dozen pages long, but they’re all in service to the clarification of the themes I outlined above.
- Gave myself a vocal cameo somewhere in the movie.
- WIP: New opening crawl, slightly altering the first paragraph.
- Removed Tali and all introductions to the bombing fleet personnel - it’s more important to focus on Paige in this sequence.
- Replaced the cut to black when Paige falls with a brief flash to white and an ear-ringing sound. Cutting to black implies a time skip and ruins the momentum of the scene.
- Trimmed Paige grabbing the detonator.
- Used poppasketti’s audio to change Luke tossing the lightsaber (Hal).
- Removed random insert shots of stuff in Luke’s hut; the scene cuts directly to his robes being folded.
- Reinstated the deleted scene where Finn gets his jacket from Poe, with scene transition by poppasketti and pleasehello (Hal).
- Removed distracting insert shot of contemporary-looking water bottle.
- Removed Leia slapping Poe. That’s not how a good leader would act, not to mention it’s a double-standard; imagine if Han slapped Rey for something in TFA.
- Reinstated the “Luke Has A Moment” deleted scene (Hal).
- Removed sea creature’s weird snort at Rey. It makes it feel like it’s sapient, which is narrowly on the wrong side of how off-putting the milk drinking scene is meant to be.
- Added wide shot from Biomes to imply passage of time on Ahch-To while Rey is following Luke.
- Cut Kylo trying spinning because it’s a good trick.
- Made the explosion hitting the bridge more rapid and intense, so Leia doesn’t stand there awkwardly for a second in the explosion.
- Made the shot of Smiling Luke recognising R2 into a closeup. It’s not much, but we need to see that this Luke is still in there somewhere, so we can anticipate him re-emerging later.
- WIP: Added new Abednego line “She’s old school military, tough as nails,” in response to Poe’s confusion about Holdo, to try and recontextualise some of Holdo’s more abrasive attributes and actions.
- Tightened the timing on Rose drawing her stun taser.
- Tightened the timing on Rose stunning Finn, and the oddly long pause before the scene transition.
- Force Skype conversations: dialogue extensively trimmed. Only one line is spoken in the first one, which breaks the connection; in the second they manage to hold a short conversation; by the third, they can communicate freely; in the fourth, they touch hands.
- Cut the Caretakers using a VFX shot by snooker (Hal). The nifty symbolism of Luke literally living in the crumbling ruins of an ancient ideal is destroyed by having fish nuns still doing upkeep around the place (as much as I personally like their design and think they’re funny).
- Cut the Robot Chicken style joke where Luke tickles Rey’s hand.
- Removed reference to Luke cutting himself off from the Force. This is such a massive idea that the KOTOR games were completely centred on exploring it, and here it’s tossed out as a throwaway explanation for something that doesn’t even need one. Having the Force was never like having a GPS tracker on you in the OT, so why would we suddenly need a reason that Leia and Snoke haven’t been able to find Luke with the Force?
- WIP: The trio are running back out of the casino because BB-8 has told them the shuttle’s being towed. The man at the craps table is simply a wealthy background character with no introductory music, whose indifference to them being electrocuted and dragged off serves to highlight the idea that none of the rich one-percenters even give a second’s thought about what happens to the lower classes.
- WIP: DJ has a red plomme bloom on his lapel in an insert shot; Rose and Finn notice it and exclaim “The Master Codebreaker!” after watching him casually slice his way out of the cell.
- Canto Bight extensively trimmed down. No fathier escape; we go straight from the cell to the stolen ship (Hal).
- Luke’s second lesson has been pruned to focus on his opinion that the Jedi’s legacy is failure, and so is his own.
- Rashomon flashbacks: As these are unreliably-narrated subjective memories rather than flashbacks to the actual events, a smash to black and fade in has been added to help differentiate them out from the rest of the movie.
- No shirtless Kylo japes. He just happens to not be wearing a shirt now.
- Truncated the Cave sequence, so now Rey just snaps her fingers once to test it out - no unnecessary hand waving and multiple clicking.
- WIP: Luke deactivates his lightsaber immediately in the third flashback; he doesn’t realise Kylo is awake and hears it. VFX shot courtesy of SparkySywer.
- Removed Rey’s clunky twirl in her fight with Luke.
- Removed iron/spaceship gag, using a deleted scene restored by poppasketti (Hal).
- Trimmed comedy about BB-8 being put under a trash can (Hal).
- Punched in on elevator wide shot to clarify the geography of where the two sets of characters are in frame.
- DJ doesn’t return the Hasian Smelt. Why would he? The whole point of his character is that he only looks out for himself.
- Restructured scenes to combine the the throne room scene into one singular scene. This facilitates a greater buildup of tension, as well as a less melodramatic and more sinister version of Snoke’s mind-probe (inspired by Peregrine’s “The End of the Jedi” edit).
- Used poppasketti’s editing of the buildup to Snoke’s death using musical score from The Force Awakens (Hal).
- Tightened the pacing on the Throne Fight where possible.
- Removed Finn’s fight scene with Phasma, using VFX shots by poppasketti (Hal).
- Reinstated deleted scene of Finn and Rose leaving in the shuttle, using VFX by poppasketti (Hal).
- Moved Yoda’s scene to immediately before the Battle of Crait, using audio and video by Darthrush (Hal).
- Removed references to Leia being a rallying point for people. The whole point is that the galaxy doesn’t have such a thing, and Luke arrives on Crait and gives them one.
- Truncated the Battle of Crait, keeping the battle short and focused on the main trio. The theatrical version asks for too much audience investment in establishing the battle, and this much new set-up feels out of place during what is now moving into the denouement of the story. The audience needs to save that level of investment for the Luke and Kylo fight.
- Extremely truncated the Falcon flying underground. Now it just loses the TIEs and smashes back out.
- Removed the awkward kiss between Finn and Rose. There aren’t any romantic undertones in their story arc so it comes out of nowhere, and Finn doesn’t actually look particularly pleased about it.
- The crate Luke sits on on Crait (what a sentence) now remains motionless, thanks to VFX by poppasketti (Hal).
- Using audio I trimmed from earlier in the film, C-3PO now utters a small exclamation which Luke winks at, implying 3PO can see that Luke isn’t really there without giving the twist away to a first-time viewer. Then he responds with “Master Luke…” in that great combination of admiration and mild admonition that Anthony Daniels delivered it with.
- Replaced Hux’s silly comedy scream when Kylo throws him inside the shuttle with a less distracting yell.
- Trimmed the unnecessarily long shot of Kylo’s shuttle landing in front of Luke.
- Restructured scenes to combine the Luke vs Kylo duel into one scene. The theatrical cut makes it feel like they say one line each and then stand there for a few minutes, doing and saying nothing, while the Resistance escape.
- Removed weird slow-motion insert shots and screams from the otherwise tight-paced, Kurosawa-feeling Luke vs Kylo duel.
- Punched in on Luke on Ahch-To, to make it more immediately clear what we’re looking at.
- Cut the Broom Boy scene from the ending, instead irising out on the small spark of the Resistance that the whole film has been about saving as they bond in the Falcon.