I took a short break from my TROS novelisation to see whether my computer could handle editing a feature film. Turns out, it can! What began as an attempt to edit one deleted line back into Hal’s Labyrinth of Evil turned into an exercise in trimming most scenes and shots down for better flow and quicker pacing, as well as integrating select parts of the Theatrical Cut and NFBisms’ wonderful New Canon Cut.
This is what I’d consider a “vanity edit,” done to make the version of the film that I personally want to sit and watch, based on no guiding philosophy other than “leave in the stuff I like, remove the stuff I don’t.” I like to think that some of the places where I’ve tightened up the pace might be helpful to other people’s edits as well, though.
Here’s my changelog. I used Hal’s Labyrinth of Evil edit as my base, so his edits that I’ve retained are in italics (and hidden, for visual clarity of the list, unless I’ve reverted or changed them). If this sounds like something you might enjoy, let me know and I’ll send you a link.
- Gave myself a vocal cameo somewhere in the movie.
- Added my own vanity plate to the start.
- New title crawl, courtesy of Eyepainter.
- Truncated the space battle at the start. For me, it goes on too long and my interest wanes. I’ve tried to make it punchier, keep only the key moments, and make sense from the confusing geography of ships moving between shots.
Removed Obi-Wan leaping from his cockpitand his little jump during the fight with the battle droids. Reinstated Obi-Wan’s sassy comment about the shields, his big jump out of the ship, and R2’s funny little sproing.
- Lovingly borrowed audio from L8wrtr’s edit in a few spots to remove battle droid voices.
- Dooku is not mentioned until he arrives to confront the Jedi.
- Obi-Wan never refers to R2 by name. It’s not much, but it’s a small way to gloss over the tension between the continuity of the PT and OT.
Partially reinstated confrontation with destroyer and battle droids while boarding the elevator.Further truncated the elevator sequence.
- A match cut removes bad dialogue before the duel.
- Removed sound effects in the rear audio channels that were lifted straight from The Empire Strikes Back.
- Cut away as the railing starts to land on Obi-Wan. The original made it look like his legs were crushed.
- Anakin quickly decapitates Dooku with no influence from Palpatine. However, he still questions his actions afterward. (I only had the later version where Hal undid this change, so, I recreated it myself.)
- Trimmed dialogue and tightened up the action sequence leading up to the bridge fight, including removing R2 slapstick humor.
- Corrected two inaccurate lightsaber ignition sounds during the opening sequence. Obi-Wan and Anakin’s sabers must match their ANH and ESB sounds.
- Truncated the battle on the ship’s bridge. When R2D2 throws a fit nobody stands around watching for a second; Obi-Wan grabs his lightsaber instantly and goes. He also makes shorter work of the magnaguard he decapitates.
- Grievous says, “Time to abandon ship” as he breaks the hull and escapes.
- Used dialogue from The Clone Wars to replace Grievous’ line that was moved to earlier.
- Lightly trimmed dialogue during the crash landing on Coruscant.
- Trimmed Anakin and Obi-Wan’s dialogue recounting past adventures we never get to see.
- Removed Jar Jar’s one line.
- Anakin is only shown to have one nightmare about Padme, and he never tells her about it, another conflict within him.
- Reinstated the balcony scene in a slightly edited form, giving us a window into Anakin and Padme’s happy relationship before the downfall. Used NFBisms’ idea of placing it before Anakin arrives late to the meeting to imply he spent the night at Padme’s apartment.
- Replaced scene with Windu hearing that Obi-Wan has engaged Grievous with deleted scene "A Plot to Destroy the Jedi” earlier in the film.
- Reconstructed NFBisms’ version of Palpatine making Anakin his representative on the Jedi Council, other than Palpatine’s final line to Anakin.
- Reconstructed NFBisms’ version of Anakin being appointed to the council, but cut Anakin saying “something is happening.”
- Reinstated the deleted scene in Bail Organa’s apartment, gently color correcting it to appear to be a bit later in the day, in order to give Padme something worthwhile to do in the film and contribute to a sense of tension between her and Anakin.
- Reinstated a brief reference to the Jedi Code.
- Cut Mace Windu referring to Anakin as a boy and saying he doesn’t trust him.
- Reconstructed NFBisms’ version of Padme and Anakin talking about the war being a failure to listen.
- Moved Grievous’ arrival on Utupau to after Anakin and Padme’s tense political discussion.
During the opera scene, removed reference to midichlorians. Also removed Palpatine calling Anakin out on spying on him. It is more effective to let Anakin carry that tension inwardly only, and provide no relief.Reinstated theatrical version of Darth Plagueis speech.
- Trimmed Anakin calling Obi-Wan “master” at their farewell, so when he mentions Obi-Wan’s training it feels more like two equals remembering the distant past when he was Obi-Wan’s student.
- Replaced the unsuitably harrowing music when Obi-Wan and Anakin speak to each other as friends for the final time with something more fitting and bittersweet (‘The Will of the Force’ from the Jedi: Fallen Order soundtrack).
- Chewbacca’s onscreen appearances have been altered to either remove him or disguise him by recoloring his fur and adding alternate clothing. (Thanks to Poppasketti for visual FX, and to danieldubb and Chase Adams for help with audio)
- Cut the tank explosion from the Wookiee and droid battle, which I feel lasts slightly too long.
- Reinstated the sunset meeting between the loyalists and Palpatine, further elaborating on the tension between Anakin and Padme. Trimmed Palpatine’s snarky line about the committee to make him more believably manipulative as a politician.
- Anakin is depicted as being in his right mind up until he formally joins the dark side. The scene where he seems to have paranoia about Obi-Wan being as Padme’s apartment is gone.
- Along with other dialogue trims, removed Obi-Wan telling the corduroy man to summon warriors.
- Removed the first half of Grievous’ line, “It is a volcanic planet. You will be safe there.” Volcanic equals safe?
- Shortened the shot of the big metal thing Obi-Wan pulls onto the magnaguards.
- Reinstated Grievous taunting that he’s been trained by Count Dooku, albeit with slightly tighter timing.
- Removed the second shot of Grievous’ hand spinning one of his lightsabers, since it adds nothing to the scene, throws off the timing, and drifts weirdly to one side.
- Trimmed Grievous’ lunge that Obi-Wan does not react to. It betrays the chasm between the CGI and live elements.
- Grievous retreats as soon as the clone troops arrive, in keeping with what little characterization about him we have seen so far, rather than gloating a bit and then running away.
- Removed the now redundant scene in the war room talking about a plot to destroy the Jedi.
- Reconstructed NFBisms’ version of Palpatine revealing to Anakin that he is the Sith Lord. (Huge thanks to NFBisms for sending me some of his original clean VFX shots to make this possible.)
- Trimmed a few shots of the end of the Grievous chase to pick up the pace a little.
- Cut Grievous successfully kicking Obi-Wan. We just saw him dent the spaceship with a punch, a kick would shatter his skull. Removing it keeps the tension up, as any hit Grievous lands could kill Obi-Wan instantly.
- Tightened up Obi-Wan shooting Grievous, so it doesn’t look like Obi-Wan points the blaster at him and patiently waits around for him to wave the electro-staff about a bit, then casually lets Grievous stand there after being shot before firing again.
- Removed Palpatine’s voiceover as Anakin waits in the Council room, talking about Padme again.
- Trimmed dialogue as Windu and his gang confront Palpatine. Restored the full conversation preceding Palpatine’s attempted arrest, but truncated the spin over the desk slightly. Now he only turns once, like some kind of weird monster, instead of noodling through the air like a Flutterbye Fairy.
- Trimmed the arrest fight to clean up the geography and pick up the pace. Hopefully Sheev looks like a fast and extremely efficient duellist now, instead of the Jedi just standing around gormlessly while he merks their friends.
- Trimmed the lightsaber fight, including Palpatine’s bizarre serpentine jump. As the fight continues into the office, cut some of Mace and Sheev’s sillier twirls that I find distracting, and added back in some of their silliest twirls which I like.
- As Anakin enters the scene, Windu is already going to kill Palpatine, who defends himself with force lightning and sends Windu falling to his death.
I made use of an idea from Kerr’s fan edit that L8wrtr also used to imply that the wrinkly face was Palpatine’s true appearance all along. Palpatine uses lightning only once instead of twice. He’s human-looking at the start, then the lights go out, and he has a monster face when they come back on.Reinstated the theatrical cut of Mace, Palpatine and Anakin’s conversation, but trimmed Palpatine pretending to be weak and defenceless. Also trimmed Mace’s comedically long baseball bat wind-up to executing Palpatine, giving Anakin less time to think before making his decision.
- Replaced “Power! Unlimited power!” with a wordless shout of exertion. It’s a fun line and I like the delivery but this isn’t a moment for camp melodrama, it’s a moment for serious emotional melodrama.
- The second blast of lightning throws Mace out the window immediately.
- Anakin and Palpatine don’t mention Padme during the knighting of Vader scene. Other dialogue is trimmed a little for effectiveness. The idea is that saving Padme’s life is the spark that ignites a myriad of other factors for Anakin’s turn toward evil.
- Cut Anakin awkwardly calling Palpatine “my master” immediately after Hayden’s great line read on “thank you.” Now it feels like he’s actually grateful, albeit still conflicted, to receive the title of Darth Vader.
- Cut Palpatine saying Anakin will be stronger with the Dark Side after killing everyone in the Temple. Not exactly a good selling technique at that moment, Sheev. You’re meant to be making this seem reasonable, not evil.
- Cut Palpatine referring to Commander Cody by name. Why would he know the name of every single clone commander? Is he contacting every single squad individually? It makes more sense if it’s a message sent en masse to all the clone commanders.
- Added a short scene in which Jedi are being slaughtered in the Temple while Anakin oversees.
- After Yoda’s brief and only use of his lightsaber in the whole trilogy, removed the scene where Anakin ignites his saber on a roomful of children. By cutting this, Anakin’s slip toward depravity can be seen as a little more gradual.
- Removed the one bit of dialogue in the otherwise wordless Order 66 montage.
- Cropped the establishing shot of Grievous’ ship and landing pad, to make it clear where we’re meant to be looking in frame.
- Cut C-3PO’s weird line about Anakin being under a lot of stress.
- Removed Yoda’s interactions with the Wookiees after Order 66. Removed R2 popping out of Anakin’s fighter.
- Removed Obi-Wan and Yoda’s fight to enter the Temple. The line of dialogue about everyone being preoccupied about the Senate session is good enough.
- Because I removed the duel between Yoda and Palpatine, I also removed discussion about said duel after Obi-Wan sees the security hologram. Also removed Yoda’s line that sees Anakin and Vader as separate people; it sounds like something he would have said in Return of the Jedi, rather than immediately after Anakin turned.
- Truncated the introduction to Mustafar.
- Padme is never informed about Anakin killing children. Trimmed other dialogue during this scene for effectiveness. Slightly extended Obi-Wan’s line to “I have seen a security recording… of him…” and then he chokes up slightly before turning back to Padme.
- Truncated Anakin brooding on Mustafar, so the music no longer spikes dramatically at a very long static shot of an empty table.
- Removed Obi-Wan sneaking into the bathroom on Padme’s ship. If you missed him during the wide shot, it’ll be a surprise when he shows up later.
- Removed most asinine dialogue as Padme arrives and confronts Anakin, including “I saw your ship.” No reference to younglings. Tension ratchets between the two as Anakin finds out Padme told Obi-Wan about their relationship. No discussion about Anakin trying to save Padme; she never knew about Anakin’s fears about that. Anakin doesn’t seem focused on it himself anymore. Added back in some more Anakin and Padme lines I like in their final conversation.
- The duel on Mustafar plays out in full without cutting away to other plot threads. There is no duel between Yoda and Sidious.
- Removed Anakin and Obi-Wan swinging back and forth on wires swatting at each other.
- Cut the weirdly long shot of that droid thing Anakin lands on. The droid looks stupid and I feel sorry for it when it gets caught up in the fight. It’s so distracting.
Removed dialogue about the ‘high ground’ at the end of the duel.Reinstated the “high ground” conversation.
- Cropped the shot of Obi-Wan approaching R2D2, to make it clear where we’re meant to be looking in frame.
- Hal’s voice replaces that of the medical droid. His prognosis is not that she’s dying, but rather that she will survive without ever fully recovering.
- Thanks to Snooker and Sir Ridley, removed R2 and 3PO from the birth of the twins. This eases continuity tensions with the original trilogy, avoiding awkward questions like, “Shouldn’t R2 have recognized Yoda on Dagobah?”
- Replaced Vader’s scream with the Russian dub, arguably making it a little less cheesy.
- Courtesy of Hundsdorfex, replaced shot of Tantive IV descending toward Naboo with the ship streaking through space.
- Trimmed dialogue aboard the Tantive IV to accommodate the idea that Padmé survives to travel to Alderaan with Leia.
- Replaced Padme’s funeral with the deleted scene of Yoda arriving on Dagobah.
- Padme is seen cradling an infant Leia on Alderaan, using footage from The Other Boleyn Girl, with her eye color corrected by Hundsdorfex. (Idea by ‘The Cutter,’ also used in Q2’s edit.)
- Added credits for myself, workprint viewers, contributors, and acknowledgements of all other ROTS “FanFix” fan edits to date.
- Gave myself, NFBisms, and Eyepainter credits alongside Hal and everyone who contributed to Labyrinth of Evil respectively.
- Added some little easter eggs for people who like to watch the end credits.
“It’s like rhymetry. They poem.” - Leorge Gucas