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I'm in the process of completing my edits of the Star Wars prequel trilogy; I have trimmed many scenes to improve pacing, removed as much exposition as possible, and altered dialogue in some places.
A quick overview of what I'm doing:
New opening crawls for each film.
Opening titles: I’ve used the 1980 versions of the 20th Century Fox opening titles, the “A long time ago..” text and the green Lucasfilm title, all sourced from Harmy’s “de-specialised” version of The Empire Strikes Back. I wanted all six episodes to have the opening titles from the original cinema versions from 1977, 1980 and 1983.
Some colour correction where appropriate, in particular to remove the rose pink tint found in The Phantom Menace, and to bring out the more natural, beautiful colours of the forest scenes.
I am aiming to have these films match the tone, pacing and storytelling style of the original (pre-Special Edition) Star Wars Trilogy. I want to edit these films so that the prequels wouldn’t give away too much information that you would later find out in Episodes 4, 5 and 6, so that these edits could be viewed prior to watching the original trilogy if desired. For example, in my edit of episode 3 there is no hint that Palpatine is a Sith Lord until he reveals his true self in Revenge of the Sith, and the name “Darth Vader” isn’t used in my edit, thereby retaining the surprise revelation in The Empire Strikes Back.
I’ve sought to remove the poorly-timed, and poorly-executed attempts at humour. So, there is no slapstick humour, no poo or fart jokes, and no silly conversations from Battle Droids or Super Battle Droids.
I’ve re-recorded and replaced the dialogue for the Gungans as well as the Neimoidians. Replacing the dialogue allowed me to create new subtitles for them, which in turn granted me the opportunity to alter and hopefully improve their characters.
I also added in new subtitles for these characters, with alternate dialogue to what was in the films, and did my best to improve the flow of the story, and also improve the characters too.
A thank you list:
Dazman at the Original Trilogy Forum. He has kindly let me use some of his edit: one shot of Threepio removed from the background, where Anakin has started up his podracer. Also: the scene of the Queen in the red gown on Naboo - the power cable has now been removed.
For any deleted scenes re-inserted into each film, I used AI-upscaled HD scenes, kindly provided by Original Trilogy Forum member bryantmh.
@DigModiFicaTion and jackpumpkinhead for creating templates in the Blender software, to create the opening crawls!
A list of the major alterations, cuts, trims and additions:
- Jar Jar Binks: I’ve removed the childish antics, and instead tried to make him more of an adult, and someone who isn’t a useless, bumbling clown. I did my best to actually make him an interesting and useful background character.
- The Neimoidians: As with Jar Jar, using subtitles allowed me to make these characters seem far more sinister and ruthless, instead of the pathetic characters we originally got.
- Anakin Skywalker: no more “whoops!”, “yippee!”, or other such rubbish, which all seemed out of place in this film. I tried to edit it in a way that made him a far less silly young boy.
- Queen Amidala: slightly pitched her voice up, to reduce the deep voice in the original film.
- Trade Federation starship: slightly trimmed the explosion of the rebel cruiser, to improve the pacing.
- Naboo hangar: removed Panaka saying that there were too many Battle Droids, and the reply from Qui-Gon that it wouldn’t be a problem. That line killed any potential interest in a short skirmish between the Jedi and the Battle Droids.
- Watto: new subtitles, with alternate text to what was in the original film.
- Watto: removed his line about being a Toydarian.
- Jedi: no prophecy, no “chosen one”, no midichlorians.
- Ric Olie: his name should really be changed to “Captain Obvious”, as he spewed out an enormous amount of exposition. I cut as much of his nonsense as possible.
- Podrace: this has been greatly reduced in length, and some scenes have been reorganised. The podrace looks amazing, however it does take up a large amount of time, and in some parts is a bit slow (there are even some duplicated shots during the race). I relocated some scenes, and have inserted new audio of crowds cheering, as well as music from the TPM soundtrack. I have edited it to hopefully be a much more interesting and fast-paced sequence now. Anakin’s podracer doesn’t stall at the start, and there is no “spinning out of control” sequence either, plus no commentary from the two-headed race announcer.
- Scenes of other racers having engine trouble, Tusken Raiders, droids collecting damaged parts, Jabba The Hutt, and the food vendor have all been cut. No final shot of Sebulba sliding to a stop; his fate is left unknown. Also cut is Shmi saying to Anakin that he has given hope to people; winning a sporting event is hardly going to inspire the citizens of Tatooine!
- I’ve also reduced the excessive amount of close-ups of Anakin, plus made several trims so that he fixes his podracer much more quickly. The last moments of the race have been trimmed to improve the pacing, plus shots right near the end of Kitster, the crowd, Qui-Gon et al have been relocated.
- No Jabba The Hutt or other galaxy-shrinking cameos.
- No “pathetic lifeform” remark from Obi-Wan. In my edit, Jar Jar is no longer useless or pathetic!
- Deleted scene added back in: Sith probe droid following Qui-Gon and Anakin.
- Partial deleted scene added back in: the Jedi and Jar Jar walking up some stairs in the city of Theed, simply to establish that they have reached the city.
- Removed Anakin saying “Qui-Gon sir! Wait, I’m tired!”, as well as Qui-Gon’s line “Tell them to take off!”, since Anakin doesn’t do it.
- Reinserted the shot of Palpatine’s office building from the TPM cinema (theatrical) version.
- Inserted the shot of the spinning N-1 Starfighter from the TPM trailer.
- Battle Droids: no more “Roger Roger!” or “D’oh!”.
- No “ascension guns” sequence. I’ve cut it to appear that Padme & the Naboo Soldier’s search for the Neimoidians all takes place on the one level of the palace.
- Since I’ve tried to make Jar Jar a more useful character, the first encounter with him is brief; he informs the Jedi of the city of Theed, which makes the trip to Otoh Gunga sequence redundant, so that has been deleted. I’ve removed him calling the 14-year old Queen “pretty hot” in the air taxi sequence on Coruscant, plus also removed his snoring during the trip to Coruscant.
- See-Threepio: he isn’t in my edit of Episode 1. Anakin isn’t “The Maker” in my edits; Threepio’s inclusion in this film served little purpose, and seemed to be nothing more than a way to add more exposition. An example of this can be found during the podrace sequence, where Threepio mentions how many laps there are to go, as if the audience is made up of nothing but idiots who constantly need to be told what’s going on. For a few scenes, Threepio has been removed from the background, and his dialogue has been removed too.
- Senate: removed any reference to the taxation of trade routes, to comply with the revised opening crawl of the film.
- Removed the tiny hint of a smile from Palpatine after Queen Amidala decides to go back to Naboo.
- Removed the line "This may be the clue we need to unravel the mystery of the Sith."
- End sequences have been altered and / or restructured:
- Naboo: restructured and relocated some scenes, for example when the Naboo starfighters are about to battle the Vulture Droid fighters, it originally went: shot of N-1 starfighters > shot of Vulture Droid fighters > Pilot saying “fighters straight ahead”. The audience could already see that fighters were approaching, so this line is a bit out of place. I have reorganised it to: shot of N-1 starfighters > Pilot saying “fighters straight ahead” > shot of Vulture Droid fighters.
- Slightly restructured the beginning of the Gungans seeing the Battle Droids. Originally it went from: Gungans stop > raise shields > Trade Federation tanks come over the hill. I've changed it to: Gungans stop > Trade Federation tanks come over the hill > the Gungans raise their shields.
- Going to the hangar: trimmed the conversation between Qui-Gon and Anakin, plus reorganised some scenes to follow the Jedi into the hangar, and show their movements in sequential order instead of being interspersed with other footage.
- Removed multiple shots of Anakin looking at the battles around him; these shots seem to only be there to direct the viewer's attention to a different area.
- Anakin getting into and starting up the starfighter: I followed a lot of Hal 9000’s sequencing, as that matched what I wanted to do!
- Anakin flies the starfighter into battle of his own accord (no autopilot).
- The Jedi and Sith duel mostly plays out in full.
- I restructured the sequencing of the end battles, using some of the ideas from Hal 9000’s edit, plus some extra changes I added in there too.
- Qui-Gon dies after Maul kills him. There is no request from him to Obi-Wan to train Anakin.
- Removed the blood spray when Obi-Wan cuts Darth Maul in half. There was no blood spray when other characters in the prequels or original trilogy were cut by a Lightsaber.
- No line from Palpatine stating that he would watch Anakin’s career. It’s best to hide his ideas and motivations, to retain some kind of mystery about his real intent and identity. He is the phantom menace in this story, after all!
- The conversation between Yoda and Obi-Wan prior to Qui-Gon’s funeral has been trimmed.
- The funeral scene is cut differently; there is no final shot of Palpatine, as it is unnecessary to draw attention to that character. The original final shot of him makes it far too obvious that he has something to do with what has transpired during the course of the movie.
- There is no end celebration; after Mace and Yoda speak, there is a final shot of Qui-Gon on the funeral pyre, then there is an iris-wipe to the end credits, thus creating a far more sombre finish to the movie.