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Video Blog: Topher Grace's 85-Minute Cut of the 'Star Wars' Prequels

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March 7, 2012

Star Wars Prequel

Last night I was invited to a secret showing of "Star Wars: The Editor Strikes Back". It was actually just an experiment spearheaded by actor Topher Grace, as he said in the intro that he has given terrible notes in "post" before and wanted to learn about the process. So he edited together all three of the Star Wars prequels into one, short 85-minute movie, focusing mostly on Anakin's arc and his path to the Dark Side, while retaining all the important details. It will probably never be shown again but was a fun look at how someone could re-cut the prequels for a much more satisfying experience. It was honestly pretty damn good.

The small, private screening was attended by about 50 people, mostly other actors, filmmakers and editors from the industry, very few press. After the screening we met up with Kyle Newman, director of Fanboys (who knows his Star Wars better than just about anyone), as well as Peter from SlashFilm and Frosty from Collider for a video blog discussion on the experience and this revised cut of the prequels. Of course, opening the book on a discussion about these prequels is almost a trap itself, as the debate will never end, but we get into it briefly. This is a fun one to watch, especially if you're a Star Wars fan (like all of us are):

Our video blog (above via Collider) features quite a good discussion between Kyle and Frosty (which was fascinating), but we all get to voice our opinion. I'm one of those die-hard Star Wars fans who grew up with the original trilogy (on VHS) and mostly enjoyed the prequels, but didn't think they were anywhere near the originals, by any means. I actually like Episode I one quite a bit (for the pod race, Darth Maul), but was surprised with this edit to find how many scenes with Anakin were much more resonant brought together. His story is much clearer and it gets right down to the meat of Star Wars, the relationships between Anakin & Padme, and Anakin & Obi-Wan, and how he ends up becoming Vader. And how it ended in this - perfect.

This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, mostly for legal reasons but also because this was Topher's first experiment in the editing world (he's planning to re-cut Close Encounters of the Third Kind next). I really wish others could see this as well, not that it would necessarily change many opinions, but it was just such a unique experience to see all of the (mostly disliked) prequels from an entirely fresh perspective. If this is what we'd seen instead of those movies, I think fans would be much, much happier. But alas, this particular version will now have to live on as legend amongst geeks, perpetuated by our fervent discussion.

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  • Bart
    I had this idea years ago. Of course it started with the idea of cutting out most of Jar Jar. I'm glad someone actually did it, would love to see it.
  • http://profiles.google.com/snears Nick Sears
    Alex, do you think that'll eventually make it to the web, or is there just too much legal restrictions for that?
    • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
      Yea, DEFINITELY not to the web. If anything, maybe another event (like at Comic-Con), but Topher kept saying it's likely this will never, ever be shown again. :/
      • http://profiles.google.com/snears Nick Sears
        Bah! Well, hope it continues to gather attention... and heads to south florida.
        • http://www.pewpewpew.de reeft
          Well, it's shame. I know no-one will do it for reasons of integrity which I totally understand, but having a list of the scenes and people doing a re-cut by themselves would still be nice. It's just.. you know... I love Star Wars and I really wanna love those movies but I don't. However, there's still an alternative experience: http://static.nomachetejuggling.com/machete_order.html It removes almost everything I don't like (like Jar Jar and Midichlorians, etc.). Worth the read.
          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jan-Hamm/100000759504131 Jan Hamm
            Great read, thanks for linking! If I ever learn about someone around here who doesn't know SW yet, I'll certainly try this.
  • Jake
    I want to see this.
  • Jake
    I bet Kyle thinks deeper into Star Wars than George Lucas ever did.
  • Voice of Reason
    All Star Wars prequels, that I can understand....but Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Thats a classic, the prequels were crap. I mean, no one cares for Dreyfus nowadays, I get it, but shoot for other large-scale travesties like Kingdom of The Crystal Skull....or better yet, Topher could edit him and Venom out of Spiderman 3.
    • Jay
      Agree "Voice of Reason" -- so many have posted edits of the SW prequels and their takes on it... what's the point? -- and then for Grace to announce he's going to make his own edit of CE3K -- that's like saying he's going to make his own edit of JAWS -- it doesn't need one whatsoever.
      • Max Renn
        CE3K has already had like three director's versions already, so why bother with another? Still, it's interesting to see other cuts of popular media.
  • LeaveCloseEncountersAlone
    Close Encounters IS FINE AS IS! LEAVE THAT MOVIE ALONE!
    • tir na nog
      agreed,look for flawed movies,not great ones
  • Kaim
    Until I see 6 Star Wars movies, 3 Lord of the Rings movies, and Berry Gordan's Last Dragon edited into one cohesive 90m feature I will not be impressed.
    • http://www.milliondollarcuffs.org Triangle Dimes
      Then you're just weirdly difficult to impress.
      • Kaim
        If you would like the challenge of impressing me you can edit these movies and I will rate it out of 10 for you.
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-Juliano/1039832533 Jeremy Juliano
    Funny how passionate things get, I love Fanboys; a lot more than the Prequels. Hopefully this 85 minute edit experiment finds a place for the world to enjoy it. I would solicit Lucas, you know he would make a ton because everyone would see it. 
    • Richie G
      More money for Lucas, its hard to think of how he could argue against that cinematic release... except that he's probably more interested in a way to make the present 3 movie saga into 6, not one concise film. Would be nice though. If only he knew there were fans, like me, who never bought eps 2&3 when it became clear those movies weren't getting any better. We're just waiting to be convinced into buying back our childhoods
  • Patryck Boberg
    If it's never going to be seen again don't tell us about it. That sounds like something every Star Wars fan would be interested in. Anything to make the modern trilogy watchable.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ5hK-D8kRQ Crapola
    Unable to move on.
  • Simon12
    So wait he was able to fix the horrible acting in Episode III with an edit...
    • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
      No, that's all still there... but he cut around it, and he cut out a lot of the REALLY bad scenes. Removed a lot of the worst of the worst stuff.
      • Simon12
         wow, that's pretty cool then *thumbs up*
  • Jurnee
    All those smartphones and no theatre pirate torrents? WTH?!
  • OfficialJab
    Love the prequels. I'd enjoy this a lot I think, since I imagine there was a lot of Binks on his cutting room floor.
    • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
      There was only ONE scene of him really, one line, that's it... he cut a lot of the really bad stuff out, focused on character/story, which is why it was so short.
  • darthstu
    That's awesome. Need to see it! 
  • http://twitter.com/Jertown Jertown
    This is awesome and maddening.  It makes me sad that this is the most exciting Star Wars news I've heard in years and I'll never see it.  
  • Nakamally2
    I LOVED the politics and HATED the romance
    • Max Renn
      I hated everything about the prequels.
  • Mikerexbooks
    Oh c'mon.  Everything shows up on line these days. If the Phantom Edit can exist on the web, why not this?  It will show up one day. About Cose Encounters...yeah, it's a great film.  Perfect as it is.  If I were Topher Grace, and had the time and money, I would make something original, not rehash something that was excellent.
  • Kyle Gallagher
    Release the XML, if I'm not mistaken that would give fans everything they need to recreate this.
  • Pneumaz
    Can anyone kinda timeline out this edit? I'd love to play around and make one of my own. Since I can't see Tophers at least I can make my own version using notes as a guideline.
  • Joe 12-Pack
    I want to see a version that is JUST jar jar binks.
  • http://twitter.com/serke serke
    None of you have ever seen Episode 1 "The Phantom Edit" eh? It's actually good. And the commentary track is fascinating.
  • David Banner
    This is some hipster doofus shit......3 movies, cut to 85mins? Really?   Wow, how clever....   I never thought I would stick up an support the prequels, but this just ticked me off. "Some editing" of each movie would indeed improve the films, but taking ca 420mins and cutting down to 85mins.....and if that 85mins was only fottage from the first 3 episodes and if we remove credits time(ca 8mins each movie) from the 420mins, we have ca 400mins cut into 85mins. Yeah, sure....   It's not good, but it's not that bad. The prequels allready have a feeling of being "edited down", hense many illogical choices in editing; as if we were watching 1 season of televison cut into 1 feature length movie; three times. I do not believe in a total butcher (85mins??) would be the solution, but actually adding more, would improve. Episode I, II and III, should have been 36 one hour episodes on TV, not 3 feature films, based on the results.   "The Phantom Edit" is amusing, as JarJar is cut out and the story still works. I fully support the editing of JarJar, and I almost totally agree with redlettermedia in their rants of the movies; but this...maybe if I edited Topher Grace out of all the failure films he has been in, they would be better? They would....must be irony One can infact release this Star Wars edit, under educational purposes, like "how to re-edit a messy movie-blah, blah", but if Topher Grace doesnt feel like it, suggest to him he releases the notes, time stamps, editing points ect, and we can edit it ourselves and see. And he's gunna edit Close Encounters of the Third Kind??? Really?? How long is that one gunna be, 25mins?  Is Topher Grace dying and has noting left to loose?    
  • sohit234v
    I have a feeling someone's eventually going to put it up on the net. I'd like to see how much of an improvement it is.
  • blu-ball
    Fuck. Well great! I'll NEVER get to see. Thanks for sharing.

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