Hey guys, this is my new fan-edit that attempts to boil down the most important part of the story told over the prequels into one feature length movie. The result is 130 minutes of a purely character-focused film centered around what I consider to be the most essential part of the PT: Anakin Skywalker and his downfall. What’s always been most important to me about Star Wars is the human element, the characters and their arcs. That’s why I wanted to cut away all the parts of the prequels that did nothing for me, the trade disputes, political scheming, CGI wankery and over the top humour, and just focus on the story we actually wondered about the first time we watched ESB: Who was Anakin Skywallker? What caused him to become Darth Vader? This film attempts to answer that question and to do so in a self-contained way that work even for someone who’s never seen the prequels before. It’s best watched in the Machete Order after ESB as it’ll address the cliffhanger well as it can be with the source material, without suffering all the rest.
The theme that I hoped to emphasize in this edit was that it was ultimately Anakin’s fear of loss which drove him to what it did. It was the guilt of leaving his mother behind, the anguish of losing her, the resurgent fear of losing Padme, the desolation of being so powerful but not being able to do a thing about that fear, which all culminated in him becoming Vader. And of course I also emphasized how Palpatine both orchestrated and cultivated those negative feelings alongside a bond of trust with Anakin which resulted in his eventual choice. It’s safe to say the three main characters of this film are Anakin, Padme and Palpatine.
The film is split into three acts: the first focuses on Anakin’s budding relationship with Padme, and his anxiety and fear over his mother, ending with her death and Anakin’s promise to get powerful enough never to face such loss again. In the second act, we jump to Anakin years later, never really having recovered from that loss, but now having visions of Padme’s death. His faith in the Jedi Council wanes as they hold him back while his relationship with Palpatine continues to grow. Again, he is primarily motivated by fear and not being powerful enough in the constraints put on him by being a Jedi. This all culminates in the boiling point that we know and he resigns to the dark side as it is the only way to gain power and save Padme. The third act is about the consequences of his choice and plays out much the same as in ROTS. Edited together like this, Yoda’s maxim about fear leading to the dark side becomes strikingly apparent.
Disclaimer: This is not a good film. It is a remix of three awful films to try and make something less awful. While it is a much better film than any of the prequel films individually, there is only so much one can do for the terrible dialogue, wooden acting, and school-grade storytelling. That being said, like hundreds before me, I’ve done everything I felt I could to address those flaws wherever I could (let’s call them the ‘anti-cringe cuts’). For what it is, I think it came together pretty well.
Now, onto the cut-list. Well, actually it would be easier to list what I did include:
- New crawl (like ANH, I used the crawl not to talk about the protagonist but set up the political context about the war, Jedi and Palpatine so we could get straight into the story)
- Padme’s ship is ambushed. Palpatine talk to the Jedi Council about the war and Palps suggests Obi-Wan and Anakin being assigned to her.
- Anakin and Obi-Wan meet up with her (with a flashback to young Anakin giving young Padme the necklace)
- The second assassination attempt with significantly shortened chase
- Obi-Wan being assigned to investigate and Anakin to guard Padme. Palpatine whispers in Anakin’s ear.
- The rest of the first act centers around Anakin and Padme on Naboo, with the worst scenes and dialogue being (hopefully) seamlessly cut. They’re a couple of horny teens, you don’t need a lot of dialogue.
- Anakin dreams about his mother. Flashback to him saying goodbye to her. Anakin and Padme go to Tattooine to find his mother. Most of the scenes play out the same, but I took out C3PO being recognized (because him being Anakin’s droid is dumb)
- Anti-cringe cuts to Anakin’s angery scenes talking to Padme after he returns from getting his mother
The first act ends at her grave on Tattooine and Anakin making a vow
Cut to title cards in the iconic blue typeface which tell us it’s been five years and we’re now well into the war. This might seem like an amateurish choice that pulls you out of the film. To that I say: this plays to the saga’s pulpy roots as much as the opening crawl and titles. It’s fine. It gets the job done. It’s not an art film.
Based on @NeverArGreat’s idea, there are now vignettes in between each title card between EP II and III. More specifically, I used a shot of the Anakin/Padme wedding, a battle scene from the battle of Geonosis and one of Palpatine looking over the clone army. I think it looks pretty good.
- The entire first part of ROTS with the space battle is cut. Dooku is not mentioned. We open to Coruscant and Anakin, Obi-Wan and Palpatine fly in after the latter has just been saved.
- We’re told Grevious is the last hold-out in the war and the Council agrees to pursue him. The remaining story of the war is told entirely through reference (it’s great how well this worked out). We’re told when Grievous has been located, when Obi-Wan has been selected to be sent and when he’s been dealt with. He is not shown (which is no loss because he is dumb). Anakin, like the audience, is left out from all this.
- Meanwhile, we focus on Anakin and his fear of losing Padme, his growing trust in Palpatine and his growing resentment of the Council. All those character scenes are kept albeit edited for anti-cringe.
- There’s no Yoda in Kashyyk or Obi-Wan on Utapau. There is no Chosen One plot (it is dumb).
- Most of the scenes in the thrid act of ROTS (the best part of the PT) are kept. We see Anakin make his decision and carry out Palpatine’s bidding in a desperate attempt to save Padme. We see him end the war. We see the Jedi die and the Republic fall. We see Yoda attempting to stop Sidious and fail. We see Padme and Obi-Wan confront Anakin (with less dialogue). We see a shortened version of the Anakin Obi-Wan fight.
- I’ve tweaked the dialogue in the pre-fight confrontation of Obiwan and Anakin. Anakin’s line about bringing peace to his new Empire has been removed. I feel like Anakin going from being a conflicted Jedi but ultimately good person to full blown fascist doesn’t have enough set up so that line always stuck out to me as too drastic a shift. Instead, when his back is turned, I’ve put in the line “I will save Padme’s life”. This ties back into the main theme of my edit, which is that his fall was caused by the fear of loss and inability to let go. His turn on Mace and acceptance of Palpatine as his master works much better if it’s fuelled by that tragic flaw the trilogy builds up in him. Now the confrontation ties together better, because it’s consistently about themes that have been developed i.e. (i) how the Jedi personally failed him and (ii) he’s doing this to save Padme.
- Padme dies but there’s no explanation of it being from heartbreak (which is…you guessed it, dumb). The survivors get to their resting places and the stage is set for the OT.
- The story of Anakin’s downfall is thus told. The story of how Palpatine manipulated him and the Jedi and the Senate is told to the extent it needs to be.
And that’s how I chose to do it. In case it wasn’t clear, this is ‘done’. Now I need your feedback on two things:
- The technical aspects. I’ve done this before but I’m not some master editor. If there are cuts which are too sharp, transitions that look off or sound transitions that just mess with the scoring too noticeably, let me know. I want this to feel seamless as much as possible. I’ve shown it to one other person who’s a casual fan and they only noted 2 noticeable cuts. I’ve reworked them since. Also thinking about putting in a color regrade or grain for a V2, or taking ideas from other fan editors.
- Theme, narrative and continuity. I’ve done my best to describe which scenes and parts of the prequel trilogy I kept to serve the narrative I chose to focus on and the theme at play. Do you feel I missed some key scenes from the PT which would’ve strengthened that narrative? Were superfluous scenes included? Are there any other loose plot threads or parts of the film someone watching this for the first time wouldn’t follow? I would’ve liked to include Anakin offing Dooku at Palp’s behest, but it would’ve required too much setup and ultimately wouldn’t add much to the narrative. Nevertheless, open to ideas. Have other fan edits with a similar mission done interesting things which would add to my edit?
Anyway, that’s the thing. Thanks for reading and PM me if you want a link.
New opening crawl: https://streamable.com/2z9wd
Lead-in to first flashback: https://mega.nz/#!0apixaDZ!65mxu-FGpLSXL_pDbIo_yrj0HiqVIjxPk1hX-9A2mB0
De-cringed “love” scenes and Lead-in to second flashback: https://mega.nz/#!ZPw03CaZ!P2G9RsXGzfJpRZuv82iku4LgBlFIXlpq-_XCdCxcV5Y
Transition from the first act (ep 2) to the Episode III with the title cards and vignettes): https://mega.nz/#!UHxwQQIK!BGvRCFwTDW_KDwUsX27epi93NPMgxoDsErkbruwruWU
New pre-fight confrontation scene: https://mega.nz/#!df50nYbI!O7rUhZKxzEwBhWMCHovdi4MUrjeaKw8LP1H0vtCT9yQ
Shortened Ani/Obi fight: https://mega.nz/#!IT4EAIaK!yEmKdfc5yiY7i-wYK7MysZnhDhJb-at65Id0VGPhS1A
And for the enterprising who want to see more and how this cut looks in practice, the full first 30 minutes: https://mega.nz/#!NC4i1QLZ!DeZbQ_Oom9uVINgyx7MMrALV_GW-3Jx7Xw_DCIZ6h7E