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Before the Dark Times

LieutenantDan

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By way of introduction, I’ve been lurking in many fan edit forums for many years, dipping in and out of the fan editing scene. I did my own prequel and SE fan edits a long time ago but never released them publicly.

I recently got back into fan editing as a hobby with the intention of doing something that (I think, but happy to be corrected on!) is fairly revolutionary in terms of a fan edit of the prequel trilogy.

As far as I know, no one has tackled an edit of the prequel trilogy quite like this.

What is Before The Dark Times? A series of vignettes? Long-form trailers? A 3-in-1 edit of the prequels? I guess the answer is…all of the above?

A series of 6 vignettes or chapters, that re-tell the story of the rise of Palpatine, the fall of the Jedi Order, the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, all told through the lens of the original trilogy (each chapter beginning with familiar dialogue we’ve heard before).

Like many a fan edit, I think this is much more of a mature take on the prequels. What my style of editing has allowed me to do is to cut out all the child-ish elements or (quite frankly), poor creative decisions that undercut otherwise great (or at least, salvageable) scenes.

There's far too many to mention here given how brutalist a cut and reassembly this edit is.

While the obvious things are gone like the Midichlorians, the Chosen One prophecy, Yoda’s crazy leapfrog antics - plot points and themes that are simply absent from the OT - I feel like the story as originally told by Lucas and countless talented people, is really still there…it’s just told differently. Which is what excites me about this edit.
 
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DigModiFicaTion

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Posting this here so people get a better idea of what this is. When you submit to IFDb we'd strongly encourage you to expand your change list.

Change List: Like many a fan edit, I think this is much more of a mature take on the prequels. What my style of editing has allowed me to do is to cut out all the child-ish elements or (quite frankly), poor creative decisions that undercut otherwise great (or at least, salvageable) scenes.

There's far too many to mention here given how brutalist a cut and reassembly this edit is.

While the obvious things are gone like the Midichlorians, the Chosen One prophecy, Yoda’s crazy leapfrog antics - plot points and themes that are simply absent from the OT - I feel like the story as originally told by Lucas and countless talented people, is really still there…it’s just told differently. Which is what excites me about this edit.
 

LieutenantDan

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I went about this edit….differently, in as much as I had the thought one day, what if you completely jettisoned the idea of re-editing the prequels as feature length movies, and instead edited the prequels down into short tales about the Old Republic, the fall of the Jedi and Anakin Skywalker? What if you then framed those tales with dialogue from the OT, as if classic characters were narrating our story?

Inspired loosely by the Disney+ series ‘Tales of the Jedi’ (which are great!), I wondered what it would be like if you applied that same short-form storytelling style to the prequels? Would it even work to tell the story of the prequels in such a completely brutalist way? Really hack it to bits and restitch it back together? The idea was intriguing.

I quickly became excited about the possibilities with this approach. I began by experimenting with non-conventional (for Star Wars anyway) editing so that scenes jump around (hard cut) aggressively in time. I still use some classic Star Wars wipe transitions but only when needed.

I’ve seen this style of editing work brilliantly in Christopher Nolan films. For example, in chapter 3, which is set in the AOTC timeline, we actually cut back briefly to a short scene in Episode 1 when Anakin is talking about not having seen ‘her in 10 years’ (but in this case it's in the context of Shmi, not Padme). It is this repurposing of scenes and dialogue from other PT (and OT!) films too, that really make this edit shine if I do say so myself (once you’ve unlearned, what you have learned).

It’s an editing technique that also works in trailers. At times, I’m also reminded of the ‘previously on….’ catch-ups that happen prior to a new episode of a TV show.

Like many a fan edit, I think this is much more of a mature take on the prequels. What this style of editing has allowed me to do is to cut out all the child-ish elements or (quite frankly), poor creative decisions that undercut otherwise great (or at least, salvageable) scenes.

It's also allowed me to take a heavy amount of creative license. A lot is inferred. I trust the audience is smart. We don’t waste time. And we don’t need to explain everything.

While the obvious things are gone like the Midichlorians, the Chosen One prophecy, Yoda’s crazy leapfrog antics - plot points and themes that are simply absent from the OT - I feel like the story as originally told by Lucas and countless talented people, is really still there….it's just told differently. Which is what excites me about this edit.

Whether it’s told better I will leave up to you, the audience. But for me, I would rather watch the PT this way, my way. It's also a much shorter sitting (clocking in at around 70 minutes watching all chapters back-to-back). I also love the self-contained nature of each chapter, each focussing on a specific part of the PT storyline.

This is Before The Dark Times.

A series of 6 vignettes or chapters, that re-tell the story of the rise of Palpatine, the fall of the Jedi Order, the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, all told through the lens of the original trilogy (each chapter beginning with familiar dialogue we’ve heard before).
 
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Echoweaver

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I'm curious what OT dialogue/scenes you'd use to frame the vignettes. Exposition from Obi Wan? I'm not sure what tidbits there are to mine from the OT material.

The prequels are also stylistically incredibly different from OT. If you're going to use OT scenes, the contrast might be jarring without some color correction, etc. done to one or the other.
 

LieutenantDan

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I'm curious what OT dialogue/scenes you'd use to frame the vignettes. Exposition from Obi Wan? I'm not sure what tidbits there are to mine from the OT material.

The prequels are also stylistically incredibly different from OT. If you're going to use OT scenes, the contrast might be jarring without some color correction, etc. done to one or the other.
Mostly Obi-Wan yes from ANH and ROTJ but one also from Yoda in ESB.

And I don’t use any video from the OT, just audio. 😉

My whole edit is online already and am happy to DM you a link.
 

Echoweaver

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Yeah, I'd love to take a look.

Hmmm. It seems like it would be jarring to never see the speakers from the OT voice overs, though. It probably works well enough if we're really familiar with the OT movies (which, to be fair, most viewers would be) and the scenes were the words were spoken (which everyone might not be).
 

LieutenantDan

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I think it works great. 😉 but yes, some assumed knowledge of the OT is required (the audience this is really for). Will DM you a link.
 
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ArtisDead

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This is a very ambitious project. Anyone who is interested should dm the editor for a link to a current workprint. It's important that interested members do provide feedback on this project thread. The more input the better. The editor can decide which feedback will make their edit closer to their vision. We are a community of fans. Academy approval is only one facet of this process. Thank you to all members who do conscientiously contribute appropriate feedback.
 

ArtisDead

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I must say, Lieutenant Dan, that is an amazing and tantalizing trailer.
 

Takeshidude

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This seems really neat! I enjoyed the Count Dooku stories from TotJ.

I'm DMing to ask for a link!
 

CourtlyHades296

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This unique take on the prequels comes recommended. The narrative style is much like a New Hollywood film, with lots open to interpretation, including Padme's fate.
 
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LieutenantDan

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This unique take on the prequels comes recommended. The narrative style is much like a New Hollywood film, with lots open to interpretation, including Padme's fate.
Thanks so much. Hadn’t thought of it in terms of that new Hollywood context. Very interesting! Yes I feel padme’s fate is one of many things left up to interpretation in this edit. The less said the better. Unlike the prequels which had to explain everything. Even down to the midichlorian count. Completely unnecessary.
 

ArtisDead

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@LieutenantDan, your edit has been approved by the legend, himself. Welcome to the community, Lieutenant Dan! Well deserved! Now where is our shrimp gumbo?
 

DigModiFicaTion

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Congrats LieutenantDan! Welcome to the after-party!
New Year Classic Reaction GIF
 

Masirimso17

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Wow, I’m deeply intrigued by this ambitious edit. A breath of fresh air for the oft-edited PT. Sending a PM now!
 

Wraith

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7hrs in 70minutes…
Quite an achievement!
 
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