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Star Wars The Lost Cut: Everything We Know About It

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 (Edited)

Hi. I’ve done a few Star Wars comparison videos on YouTube that a few people on here have enjoyed. Here is the most recent: https://youtu.be/FDftt6hqzg0. I’m really still trying to get a grasp on putting together these videos (and doing VO, which I can’t stand), but I want to turn my attention next to the (in)famous Lost Cut of Star Wars.

I know there have been some valiant attempts at recreating The Lost Cut over the years but I’m more interested in creating a demonstration of what was different about it than recreating the entire thing. This might also be a good place to compile everything we know about it into one place.

To kick things off, here are the notes I have so far. Please feel free to add or correct any information as necessary.

The Lost Cut Overall:
-Put together by John Jympson with little help from Lucas.
-Black and White 35mm.
-13 reels.
-Maybe silent? There is debate on this but, if it were true, I would choose to ignore that.
-Onset audio, including David Prowse’s voice as Vader and Anthony Daniels’ pre-ADR performance.
-30-40% different footage (alternate/longer takes and deleted scenes).
-More of a documentary feel.
-Used more primitive effects shots where applicable (i.e. rear-projected landspeeder).
-A much longer opening crawl.
-Distinct from the infamous cut shown to Spielberg, De Palma, Coppola and others, I think? I get the impression that that was closer to the final version that we all know but with some less dynamic editing, the Tosche Station scenes still in tact, slates and/or WWII footage in place of special effects shots and temp audio featuring Holst’s The Planets. I could be wrong about that.

Specific Editing Changes (not deleted or alternate takes):
-The Tusken Raider that knocks Luke down did not rock his staff up and down.
-C-3PO’s “I think I’m melting” beat takes place aboard the Tantive IV.
-Some shots of R2 in the Death Star set were repurposed for the above scene, and during his game with Chewbacca.
-The conversation in Ben’s hut was reordered.
-Shot of Falcon leaving the trench run was originally for their escape from the DS (probably not relevant here -as it is a special effect shot).
-The Death Star was originally not preparing to destroy the Rebel base during the climax.
-Much of the dialogue during the Battle of Yavin was likely written and dubbed in at a late stage.

Sources of deleted/alternate material:
-Blu-Ray Bonus Disc.
-Rinzler ‘Making of’ e-book.
-Empire of Dreams has a few dailies and alternate takes (some overlap with the Rinzler stuff).
-Fanmade recreation of Declan Mulholland’s Jabba scene in less-than-ideal quality.
-An extended bit of dialogue in the Death Star conference room shown at Star Wars Celebration 2017. Only available on YouTube? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Erf6s_wYJk&list=PLCbkx7pMKGDj54sompJCYeA11t87_ekC9&index=4&t=0s)
-Ponda Baba’s decapitated head shown at Star Wars Celebration 2019 that I recorded on my iPhone!

My goal here is to put together the most comprehensive look at The Lost Cut possible using footage available to the public, so I’m asking for your help to make sure I’m not missing anything! Like I said, this won’t be a full recreation that you could watch as a film, but merely a collection of moments that are different along with explanations. But, hey, anyone is free to use the work done here for their own projects.

Thanks in advance. You guys rock.

 

21st January Edit: 13las’ “Star Wars: The Lost Cut” Explained video - https://youtu.be/qRmCUjvZti0

My YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXnq2soRMB-8vqvL-6NHIOg

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that sounds cool.
but there would be more sources out there that could help…

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 (Edited)

These Fan Edit project threads may be of some interest / contain some useful info mate?:-

TM2YC’s The Star Wars: The Lost Workprint (Version 4 in Production) (2013 thread)

Obi Benuubi’s Star Wars: The Lost Cut Reconstruction Project (2014 thread)

darth_ender’s Star Wars: The Lost Cut (2018 thread)

RIJIR’s Virtual Lost Cut - Fan Edit (2012 thread) : Is anyone doing a “Virtual” Lost Cut? (2007 thread)

Kennerado’s The “Lost Cut” Of ANH Discussion of ‘The Lost Cut’ thread (2004 thread)
 

and for some further info…

Heilemann’s Star Wars Insider #41 as PDF? (2009 thread)

Ronster’s Star Wars - The Lost Cut is not exactly what you think it is… (2018 thread)
 

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

I find that answer vague and unconvincing. Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves?
Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? And say something righteous and hopeful for a change?

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For many years I have wanted to try to make a virtual “Lost Cut”. I’m looking forward to this.

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Great job you did!
Thank you!

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I remember reading that the actual Jympson assembly didn’t have the scenes aboard the Tantive IV at all because they hadn’t been shot yet, and that was yet another contributing factor to that version being so poorly received.

The way I see it, this probably describes the post-production assemblies as best as can be currently understood.

Version 1.0 - John Jympson’s assembly
This is probably the version that is most referred to as “the Lost Cut” and where the famous assembly of the Cantina scene and the other surviving black and white snippets have come from. Probably nothing more than colored liter paper for special effects inserts, most likely rendered the final battle a complete mess.

Version 1.3 - Initial revised edit
This is the version shown to Lucas’ friends (De Palma, Spielberg, Coppola) with many changes from the initial Jympson assembly, mostly due to this being a version intended for some sort of public screening. This may or may not have had the Anchorhead scenes included; conflicting sources say this was excised after Jympson’s initial edit while others suggest that it was in the version Lucas’ associates watched (the existence of the color edit of the Anchorhead scenes would suggest this). This cut likely had better pacing than the Jympson cut, was composed entirely of on-set audio with film scratches for laser fire and featured the World War II dogfight footage during the space battle sequences.

Version 1.5? - Workprint
This version, if my hypothesis is correct, was the version screened for the 20th Century Fox executives (as described in Empire of Dreams). By this point the Anchorhead scenes were definitely gone, as were likely other scenes (Chief Bast and Vader), and special effects were likely beginning to seep their way into the cut as well as some post production audio (very rough and temporary). Chew and Hirsch’s reorderings were almost certainly taking root by this point as well, and this may have been temp-tracked with the Stravinksy and Holst music. It was a far more complete film by this point and easy to see why it may have given some of the shareholders hope.

Version 1.7 - Scoring Workprint
This would be the version that John Williams wrote and performed the score to, and if my guess is correct, would have been mostly complete. Its existence is supported by the existence of color screenshots of many scenes in the Insider article (which are described in the official Carol Titelman script) and pictures taken of Williams at the podium, as well as sections of the complete soundtrack. I can with a degree of confidence conjecture the contents of this version (against the theatrical cut):

  • Aunt Beru filling the glasses of milk (actually described in the screenplay as a brief segue scene)
  • The original rear-projected Landspeeder scene (and an effects shot of the speeder’s scanner; supported by the original score and the Art of Star Wars). This was likely fully ADR-ed and later the dialogue was applied to an uncut effects shot intended for the start of the scene.
  • The original exterior shot of Ben Kenobi’s home.
  • Luke deciding against re-applying Threepio’s restraining bolt.
  • A very slightly extended entry into Mos Eisley? Either that or a substituted shot in the final edit.
  • Han and Jenny in the Cantina.
  • The Cantina snitch’s full journey outside may have been in this cut.
  • An establishing shot for the scene where Tarkin directs the Death Star to Alderaan; this shot is described in both the original screenplay and the novelization and can be seen in the original Insider article.
  • As Ronster has noticed (and may actually be correct about for once), the escape from Tatooine may have been reordered for logistical consistency; supported by the laser fire sounds matching up better with reordered shots and a couple of music jumps.
  • The coda to Alderaan’s destruction. This is a stretch, but there is a high quality color image of Leia being led away (that appears to be a screenshot). If true, the entire scene in the Falcon’s hold may have originally been unscored. Additionally, Alderaan’s explosion undergoes a noticeable jump cut in the final edit, which may suggest the shot was altered at the last minute.
  • The shot of the Falcon escaping (repurposed for the final battle) may have already been reshuffled considering the music in both scenes lines up from the original soundtrack.
  • Han and Luke congratulating each other after the dogfight scene (the dialogue is described in Ann Skinner’s continuity script). This may have been cut in the end due to an awkward ad-lib from Harrison Ford transitioning into the next scene.
  • A couple of extra shots of the briefing room and in the hangar (I have a conspiracy theory about the Biggs hangar scene but it’s best left out of this).
  • Many effects shots (all over the film but especially during the final battle) were likely temporary composites or earlier versions. One screenshot from this version shows Yavin as having been removed from the composite of a shot during the final editing sessions, and likely other shots were different or rougher as well.

As best as I understand it, this might describe the various versions rather well.

I’m just here because I’m driving tonight.

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Very interesting and comprehensive. Thanks for that. I knew it was more complicated than just a “lost cut” and the final version, and its hard to know exactly what appeared in which iteration without seeing them for ourselves. What can you tell me about the original exterior shot of Ben’s hut? Is that available somewhere?

My YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXnq2soRMB-8vqvL-6NHIOg

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Ben's Hut

It appeared in David West Reynold’s original Insider article. It seems, like all of the pictures in that article, to be from Version 1.3 directly. My theory is that this cut was where the edit of the Biggs scenes has come from and a consistent resource whenever LFL needs to include some edited footage. Most of what’s on the blu-ray seems to be unedited dailies, though.

I’m just here because I’m driving tonight.

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Here is a truth about movie making. They end up with a ton of stuff that is never used and they often miss things they need and either have to do pickup shots or find something that they weren’t going to use that will fit it. In ANH, there are many shots of R2 from the Death Star control room (where he found out Princess Leia was being held prisoner) that were used elsewhere, particularly in the Falcon.

Ronster is coming from the angle that the cut that Ben Burtt was using for the main audio track, got edited in a few places AFTER some of the sound was laid down and is trying to uncover that cut. I can see the point to that. Star Wars Deleted Magic had several places in the film where they found that footage had been moved around and reordered things. (Ronster, if you haven’t seen that you must check it out)

And it is certain that quite a number of shots from ANH (used or unused) were reused for ROTJ inside the Death Star. Cooridor shots and the weapon firing in particular. But that also isn’t unusual.

We do know from Mark Hamill that Lucas was going for “faster and more intense” and that extended into the edit. My guess is that he was cutting stuff up to the end. My guess is that just reordering what we have will not achieve any of the previous cuts because what was cut is missing and not just moved around. One cut we know of was one of the imperial officers (sorry, I have never memorised all their names) in a longer version of his shot using the word Sith. Deleted Magic reused some footage to recreate what they saw as the original trench run. You would have to creatively reused shots (maybe in reverse) and audio and probably pull music from the full recordings to simulate what the longer cut might have looked like, but the stuff you need to recreate it authentically is not there. It was cut.

That original rough cut was in B&W and was Lucas’s worst nightmare using transnational editing techniques that Lucas wanted to abandon.

We know a lot about what he wanted from the scripts and storyboards, and we can glean more from the music recordings and how the final edit came out (obvious edits). The following films were not done quite so rushed and the last minute edits were better done. Remember how fast they worked to finish Star Wars in 77. 3 FX shots and the final end credits were not done in May 77 and were included in the wide release and international releases later.

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Thanks yotsuya for those explanations !

yotsuya said:

Ronster is coming from the angle that the cut that Ben Burtt was using for the main audio track, got edited in a few places AFTER some of the sound was laid down and is trying to uncover that cut. I can see the point to that.

That would be interesting (even if irrelevant with the Lost Cust matter), are there sources that confirm this theory?

yotsuya said:

My guess is that just reordering what we have will not achieve any of the previous cuts because what was cut is missing and not just moved around (…) The stuff you need to recreate it authentically is not there. It was cut.

Exactly. So true.

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Perhaps I was harsher than I needed to be. It’s not like there isn’t some truth to the idea of shots having been reorganized even after the soundtrack was laid down. I say as much in my original post (and even credit some of Ronster’s more credible early research). Ben Burtt has always been very thorough and there is reason to think that some of the sound errors in the stereo and 70mm mix are due to editorial reshuffling.

My problem with Ronster was that he was beginning to get snippy and over-insistent that his conclusions were correct. Without actually seeing these pre-release cuts, none of us is ever going to be 100% correct about this.

I’m just here because I’m driving tonight.

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Ronster: Able to leap chasms of logic in a single bound! 😉

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Hey, it’s the return of DE!

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)

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How do you know also what was in the lost cut?

I don’t really think anyone knows for sure do they or perhaps you do?

I am not claiming it was or it was not in the lost cut but it should be considered that it would have been part of an assembly cut and atleast shot for some purpose this is fair enough and should be treated as such identified.

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[Ronster said:]

The only thing which could be remotely interesting about that version is if George Lucus filmed Alec Guinness on Yavin Base before he decided midway through production to kill Ben Kenobi off on the Death Star. But even then if he was filmed on yavin that would still be left out the the cut you are talking about because there was only ever one outcome kenobi dies on the Death Star.

So no point guessing same film without any of the people who created Star Wars behind the scenes and made it what it is like any other film.

Mate, you are in a topic named “Star Wars The Lost Cut: Everything We Know About It”, written by a guy (13las) who made an amazing documentary about it, and you just say this is not interesting…
How dare you ?

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Okay, let’s try and get this topic back on track.

My theory of the deleted scenes from the blu-ray coming from either the second or third cut in my post seems to have some possibility of truth. There are very few deleted scenes on the blu-ray that are actually from post-production cuts and not raw assemblies of dailies, but I suspect this was because the raw dailies were likely in better condition than any other footage. The abhorrent state of the early opening crawl would support this.

I think the early landspeeder edit, the Anchorhead scenes and the alternate take of the Biggs scene come from either Version 1.3 or 1.5 (to use my own naming scheme), while the black and white version of Luke on the salt flat and the Cantina footage come from Jympson’s edit. Empire of Dreams has a few clips, but these seem to largely be dailies or isolated early edits.

I forget if David West Reynolds said that the Tantive footage was in the 13 reel dupe that he watched, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was missing. It would explain why the details of that scene’s longer form seem to be largely up to speculation. There’s almost certainly things in Jympson’s edit (and other version) that may not have appeared in any of the publicly-available scripts (like Luke and Han congratulating each other after the TIE dogfight, which if the available fourth draft is to be trusted was either written last-minute or improvised on set).

I’m just here because I’m driving tonight.

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 (Edited)

The thread has been somewhat cleaned so it is now back to being about 13las’ video project on ‘The Lost Cut’.

Both the mods and 13las don’t want to see repeat of what occurred in here earlier - thank you.

 

 

The video has been released by 13las - in case anyone has missed it - is very much worth a watch, and can be found here:-

Star Wars: The Lost Cut Explained’:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRmCUjvZti0

The blurb:-

“A comprehensive exploration of the mythical “Lost Cut” of the original Star Wars. Featuring rare footage, audio and behind-the-scenes information.”
 

^ be sure to check out 13las’ other quality Star Wars videos at his Film Spaced YouTube channel too.
 

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

I find that answer vague and unconvincing. Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves?
Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? And say something righteous and hopeful for a change?

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does anybody try to create the lost cut?