Posted this in Hal’s thread a few days ago but didn’t get much traction - on reflection this probably belongs here anyway…
One of the biggest fourth wall breaking moments of TROS that still really rubs me the wrong way on repeat viewings is the now-infamous “somehow, Palpatine returned” line.
I’ve tried to trim the line to give it a more dramatic punch, without being as clunky and tension-killing as it is in the final cut. Poe now simply says “We’ve decoded the intel from the First Order spy, and it confirms the worst… Palpatine.” Palpatine’s presence (in any form, alive or dead) will always be a terrifying, bone-chilling threat to the Rebels and Resistance - why would they need to speculate on if he’s actually alive or not? Surely even just discovering an old contingency plan would be enough to evoke the same exact reaction?
With the original “somehow” framing, this moment has a predominantly speculative tone. Unfortunately, this speculation swiftly becomes pointless and irrelevant as the moment doesn’t actually lead to anything new being revealed to the audience. With this very minor cut, the “The Emperor is dead” & “Dark Science, Cloning, Secrets only the Sith knew…” etc. lines become independent responses that aren’t necessarily factual to the canon of the film, but are instead just pieces of frantic back-and-forth chatter amongst individual characters. In the final film these lines seemingly only serve to act as heavy exposition to try and (poorly) spell everything out to the audience. This cut hopefully makes this exposition-dump of a scene just that tiny bit less of a, well, dump.
Hopefully this also goes to somewhat preserve a casual viewer’s curiosity regarding Palpatine’s exact means of resurrection, something which in my opinion the theatrical cut otherwise abruptly shoo’s away with the “Somehow” framing. “Has the Emperor truly returned, or is there more to it?” - This is a question and mystery that the audience should have in the back of their mind throughout the majority of the runtime, all the way up to Palps, Ben and Rey’s final confrontation, where the exact nature of his existence and plans all begin to click into place and are fully revealed.
Maybe with this cut it could even make the idea of having the Fortnite broadcast subtly playing as the decoded message slightly more believable?
The only problem with this cut is that Poe’s head quickly jerks upwards (due to the removal of “Somehow”). I tried to add some subtle interpolation to this particular moment but - mostly due to my poor editing and FX abilities - there’s still 3 or 4 interpolated frames which unsurprisingly have some weird blurring and artifacts on Poe’s face… I should note as well that this was done just with Hal’s V3 workprint in FCPX, so maybe with a lossless source and someone who actually knows what they’re doing (i.e. not someone like me!), we may be able to tease out a far more positive result to make this line/word removal totally seamless and without any weird frame interpolation oddities?
I am in no way a pro editor, as you’ve likely gathered by now lol. This is just a very rough mockup of an idea that I had in an effort to try and (marginally) improve this pretty dreadful moment… presented here as a means to hopefully throw it over into more capable hands to see it fully realised, if anyone’s interested in giving it a proper shot?