A week or so ago, various outlets reported the amusing anecdote that actor Topher Grace was a huge Star Wars fan and had edited all three of the lackluster prequels into one 85-minute film. The story came and went, with the most that readers took away being, “Huh, turns out this Hollywood guy is a bit of a geek.” But Slashfilm is one of the sites to have actually seen the film, and they report that it may be the best fan edit out there.
The way the Slashfilm writer tells it, this was less of Topher’s judgment on George Lucas and more his own personal experiment in cutting a short film. Of course, your average short-film beginner wouldn’t have industry elite at the screening, but that’s all relative.
Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back combines footage from the three prequels, some shots from the original trilogy, animated Clone Wars footage, and even selections from Anthony Daniels‘ (C-3PO) audio books. It cuts out conflicts we never cared about like the Trade Federation blockading Naboo, Padme’s (Natalie Portman) “is she a handmaiden or the queen?” disguise, and Jar Jar Binks.
You should definitely read Slashfilm’s detailed account of the film and what made it in to the final cut. Interestingly, we start with an older Anakin (Hayden Christensen‘s role), whereas Michael Barryte‘s video we wrote about two weeks ago advised that the true star of the prequel trilogy should have been Ewan McGregor‘s Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Of course, in Topher’s version we’d miss out on all of the giggle-worthy parts of Anakin’s fall, like
Part of what makes the screening so epic is that it will likely never happen again. From this description, I’m quivering with jealousy:
The screening last night was a private gathering of Topher’s industry friends — a event that feels like it will surely become part of Hollywood quasi-urban legend. I wish you all could see Topher’s version of the Star Wars prequels, but we were told that this would be the one and only time he would screen his cut. Of course, there are tremendous legal issues which would prevent him from screening the edit in public. He has no intention of uploading the footage online, and doing a screening at, say, Comic-Con, would require uncle George’s permission — which probably would never happen.
I should try to look at this through a creator’s eyes more. Would I be insulted if someone hacked my movies to pieces and made a piece of video fanfiction with what s/he thinks is the “right” way it should go? Probably, yes. But at the same time, fans have always had a right to at least present their views on telling these stories with characters they respect and treasure. I just wish that there were a way for Topher to post his edit online without infringing on Lucas’ rights.