***Episode I is now complete and available. PM me for links.***
My name is Pagz. I've been lurking around these boards for the better part of a decade now. I've never truly had much of a presence on the boards, I'd chime in every so often, take part in the odd debate, occasionally ask for advice on video editing, but for the most part I've been pretty quiet.
For the past 4 years now I've been engaged in a personal project. I've started and restarted this project as my skills have improved and my understanding of storytelling and pacing has been honed. I've been keeping it to myself for the most part, but having returned to the boards and seeing the really sterling work that has been done, I thought it might be time to share. My talents and abilities only go so far, but I think the approach I've been taking is worthwhile. As such, I offer it to one and all to do with what you will. This board is a real melting pot of ideas and inspiration, and I can't resist being a part of that.
My approach has been to view the Saga as a whole, but taking the Original Trilogy as the source from which all else derives. It's the OT that captured most, if not all of us. The prequels pained me because it was readily apparent that George had no interest revisiting the OT in order to maintain continuity. There are so many glaring oversights and outright errors in the Prequels that could have been solved by spending a day watching the OT with a pad and pen and jotting down notes on significant points and references.
What George failed to do, we as fan editors have taken up. We all have different outlooks, different approached, different ideas about what is important. What follows is my mission statement if you will of how I am approaching this task.
To me, one of the greatest moments of the OT is the reveal in Empire that Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker, Luke's father. As a child that realization blew my mind. I consider it to be one of the most significant moments of the Saga, and certainly a significant moment in the history of film. As such, my overriding purpose in making my edits is this: Preserve the Secret.
The prequel trilogy totally negates the dramatic impact of that moment. There are now generations of kids who were denied that reveal. They saw the Prequels first. They've known all along that Vader is Luke's father. When Vader drops that bomb on Luke it no longer carries any impact. What was once an "Oh My God!" moment has become a "Yeah, I knew that 3 movies ago, get on with it" moment. That is entirely unacceptable to my mind.
The preservation of the secret requires a few things. First, Anakin's "death" in RotS needs to appear final. As such in my edits the scenes of Anakin's rescue and transformation into Vader will be cut entirely. Secondly, the name of Darth Vader. It's a pretty big give away. My way around this is to make Darth Vader a Sith honorific as opposed to a unique name. In my edits Darth Maul is renamed Darth Vader, thus making Vader the title of Palpatine's apprentice, and not unique to Anakin alone. Thus when Vader is introduced in ANH, the audience can assume this to be the new Sith apprentice.
Certain lines in the OT will require deletion or trimming as well. For example: Obi Wan can no longer refer to Vader as having been a pupil of his, because the audience knows that Obi Wan only ever had one apprentice. Luckily, that particular piece of dialogue is delivered while on a shot of Luke repairing Threepio's arm, so it is easily excised.
The secret of Vader's identity now protected, there is one other revelation from the OT that the prequels render ineffective: That Leia is Luke's sister. In fact, it's clear watching ESB that even Obi Wan was originally unaware of Leia's existence, as is demonstrated in the scene where Luke departs Degobah to rescue his friends. "That boy is our last hope" says Obi Wan as he watches Luke's X-Wing lift off. "No, There is another." replies Yoda. Some might argue that this doesn't necessarily mean that Obi Wan was unaware, but to me that feels a little fatuous.
This one is considerably more difficult to maintain, and may in fact be impossible. If it is to be maintained then the Birth of the twins can no longer be shown in RotS. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to achieve this I'm all ears :)
That still leaves the discussion regarding splitting up the children. This ties in with another issue. Padme can't die in RotS. Leia's remembrance of her "real" mother in RotJ requires that she was a minimum of 2 to 3 years old at the time of her mother's death, and that's being generous. What I have it in mind to do is to work that conversation so that Bail Organa is taking Padme and Leia with him to Alderaan. Padme in hiding as a retainer and nanny to the royal family, Leia as the apparent daughter of Bail and his wife. Tricky, but there's enough dialogue from bail in the movies where he uses Padme's name that the lines could be doctored enough to give that impression. In Bail's final scene where he delivers Leia to his wife, my intention is to cut away from the shot a little sooner, hopefully leaving the viewer with the impression that the woman is Padme and not Bail's wife. The shot is far enough away that the woman's face is not recognizable. Perhaps the inclusion of Bail saying her name might seal the deal, if I can swing that.
Now that I've covered the major continuity issues, on to matters or personal preference and story.
Episode 1 has a lot of problems. So many that I wrote a 50+ page exhaustive review of the film discussing them :p The first issue is dialogue. It's mostly terrible. The Neimoidians are particularly bad. I've redubbed them using a Japanese language track of the film. My trade federation now speak Japanese. I've subtitled them, replacing their dialogue in order to make them considerably more menacing and calculating. No more bumbling. Along the same lines as the Magnolia Fan edit Balance of the Force. Also, no more midichlorians or Virgin birth. I'm deleting the entire "chosen one" subplot of the prequels.
Jar Jar is another issue. I've deleted much of his capering and replaced his dialogue with a mashup track of the Italian and the Spanish language track for Jar Jar. I also lowered the pitch of his voice to try and make it less goofy sounding. Jar Jar is also subtitled now, though he has much less dialogue than before. I've attempted to maintain his role as comic relief, but more in keeping with the tone of the OT. I've written Jar Jar as a sarcastic and cynical wise ass.
I also deleted the entire Gungan city/planet core sequence. It was completely unnecessary. Why would the invasion force land on the opposite side of the Planet from Theed? Makes no sense. Now the Jedi and Jar Jar leave the forest and the next time we see them they're entering the city (using the very end of the deleted waterfall scene). It now appears that they have followed the invasion force and snuck into the city during the fighting.
Battle Droids. I have removed almost all battle droid dialogue. No more roger roger. I've also deleted as much capering and comic relief involving the battle droids as possible.
The escape from Naboo. cut the scene of Obi Wan telling Jar Jar to stay out of trouble. Cut the scene where R2 bumps into Jar Jar, The droids now deploy wihtout any capering. Lost the lines "we're losing droids fast" and "That little droid did it!". Cut out the line "the hyperdrive is leaking" hyperdrives do not leak :p Cut out the entire scene of Artoo being introduced to the queen and being rewarded as well as Panaka complaining about the tatooine plan. Entirely redundant, he's already expressed his concern to qui gon in the previous scene, we don't need to hear him say the same thing again, especially when there will be no debate on the matter.
I've started rambling about my edits, which was not my intention, but I'll leave it to give you a basic idea of what I've been doing. My over all intention with Phantom Menace is to make it much more serious and dark while removing continuity issues with the OT. A new opening crawl will address some of those issues. For instance, Obi Wan is no longer Qui Gon's apprentice. The opening crawl will reveal that Qui Gon is overseeing Obi Wan as he completes "The Trials". This will explain why Obi Wan never mentions qui gon in the OT and why he tells Luke that Yoda was his master. The opening crawl will also be more explicit about the nature of the trade federations embargo of Naboo. Like Magnolia Fan, I'm favouring the notion that the trade federation are slave traders and that Naboo has recently been instrumental in abolishing slavery in the Republic.
Episode II. I'm taking a lot of cues from the phantom editor here, who made what I consider to be the best episode II edit I've yet seen. the only changes I'll be making revolve around Dooku being a sith lord, and the use of the name Darth Sidious. I've found all of the Sith names in the prequels to be embarassing. The emperor will never be referred to as Sidious in my edits of the saga. Further, I will be cutting the film to make Dooku a good guy trapped by impossible circumstances. He tries to talk reason to the jedi, but they aren't listening. He duels Anakin and Obi Wan because he must. I'm going to attempt to remove the force lightning, hopefully turning it into a force push. I'm also dropping the Yoda/Dooku duel entirely in favour of the Phantom Editor's much more elegant sollution.
Further I will be rotoscoping in a Yellow lightsabre for Dooku. In RotS again Dooku will be using a yellow lightsabre. I will replace his dialogue where he claims to be looking forward to the duel with the much more neutral "just because there are 2 of you, don't assume you have the advantage" line from the Episode III video game. Much of Dooku's dialogue was purposefully written to be able to cut both ways, they merely abandoned the idea, where as I will be taking advantage of it. Dooku is in essence the founder of the rebel alliance.
Dooku's death will also be much quicker. There will be no hesitation on Anakin's part and no goading from Palpatine. Anakin will catch Dooku's sabre and in one fluid motion decapitate him. The idea being that Anakin can't control his passions. He allows his anger to flow when he shouldn't. My attempt is to make Anakin's fall seem inevitable, rather than Palpatine basically duping him into it.
General Grievous will no longer be General Grievous. General Grievous is Darth Vader (darth maul). This wil not only establish the emperor's habitat of rebuilding his apprentices when they've been brutally maimed, but will also ad a much deeper emotional resonance to the final duel between Kenobi and grievous. This will require some effects work on a few shots with close ups of Grievous's eyes. Also I will be re-recording grievous's dialogue with a voice actor so that it will more closely match Darth Maul from episode 1, with some electronic reverb to make it more cyborg like. I will also rewrite most of Grievous's dialogue, as it was pretty bad.
I'm also cutting out the buzz droid sequence as it makes no sense and just slows down the pacing of the opening. They're jedi, one force push or force crush and all those droids are taken care of. Making the jedi forget they have the force in that scene is just stupid. All of Artoo's slapstick will be deleted, as well as the capering in the elevator. The elevator will now take the Jedi directly to the chancelor.
I'm still working out how to handle Anakin's fall. as it stands in the movie, Anakin is required to be the stupidest man in the galaxy to agree to join Palpatine. I need to edit the film in such a way to make Anakin seem more willing and less like he's been tricked.
I need to go through the film again when I get closer to editing episode three, I'm hoping there might be a way to Make Anakin seem like he's succumbing to the desire for more power. I'll be editing down the final duel a lot, it's far too bloated and filled with corny dialogue.
I want to salvage some of the scenes I'm cutting from RotS to use in the OT. When Obi Wan talks about Vader being more machine than man, twisted and evil, I'm hoping to insert a semi-transparent image behind them of the scene of Vader's reconstruction. I had also hoped to include some Padme shots and the some pieces of the funeral during the scene where Leia is remembering her mother (the inference being that the little girl in the funeral procession is Leia) but I'm pretty sure that there just isn't enough time during that peice of dialogue to do that effectively.
Anyway, I think you all probably get what I'm going for here. I'd love to hear any feedback or suggestions. I don't promise to heed all suggestions, but I want to hear them regardless ;)
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