Before The Dark Times

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Faneditor Name:
Franchise:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1999, 2002, 2005
Original Running Time:
418 minutes
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
71 minutes
Subtitles Available:
Available in HD:
Synopsis:
All 3 Star Wars prequels, dramatically retold and re-crafted into chapters to re-tell the story of the rise of Palpatine, the fall of the Jedi Order and the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, all through the lens of the original trilogy.
Intention:
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 them 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 original trilogy (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 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 (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 or show 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 is exciting about this edit.
Other Sources:
A shot from Hal9000's 'Labyrinth of Evil' is used to illustrate Palpatine's 'true' form. Samuel Kim's beautiful music. Check out his work here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuoKuTCQ9dmPIgOgyLm9HgQ
Special Thanks:
Wraith and Artisdead for their patience, input and constructive criticism. Hal9000 and Samuel Kim and all the supportive fan editors here!
Release Information:
Digital
Editing Details:
A lot of thinking, a bit of trial and error, a lot of back and forth polishing off my vision with Wraith and Artisdead. Cut together using basic software (iMovie) and Audacity.
Cuts and Additions:
Chapter 1

We begin with audio from A New Hope to frame the beginning of our story. The galaxy is in turmoil. The once noble Galactic Senate of the Republic, is infested with corruption. Padme Amidala, the Queen of Naboo, has arrived on Coruscant to seek the aid of Senator Palpatine, her representative in the Galactic Senate. Amidala hopes that with political intervention, the Senate can take decisive action to help her planet break free from the binds of an invading Trade Federation army….

What I like about this chapter is how succinctly we establish the state of the galaxy. Do we need to see the droid army invading Naboo? No. Do we need to see Naboo at all? No! All we need to know is that Palpatine has manoeuvred himself to exploit a crisis on a planet called Naboo in order to be voted Chancellor. And he is successful in doing so. I love how much is inferred from just the dialogue. In a way, it reminds of the Andor series in that respect.

Chapter 2

Obi-Wan begins to tell the story of his first meeting with a young boy, gifted with the Force and the folly of thinking he could train him as well as Master Yoda.

My inspiration for this chapter was the teaser poster for Episode 1. You know the one where Anakin is standing outside a Tatooine hut, the shadow of Darth Vader projected behind him? I had that poster hanging on my wall for years and loved the evocative nature of it. If only the prequels delivered on this imagery. I think my edit does and I love how the finale of my edit comes back full circle to this imagery…more on that later.

It's confusing to me why Qui-Gon has the role he does. The idea of having Obi-Wan sensing danger in Anakin’s training, along with the Council, only to have them do a complete backflip at the end of the film, still to this day, makes little sense to me.

Only very recently in browsing one of the High Republic novels, I found a mention of a type of Jedi called ‘searchers’, whose job it is to find Force sensitive children to be trained as Jedis. Which got me thinking, what if Qui-Gon was just one of these searchers, called to Tatooine having heard rumors of a particularly gifted child ‘who can see things before they happen’?

What if then, Qui-Gon whisks him away, with the blessing of his mother who wants nothing but a better life for her son (no slavery is suggested here) and Obi-Wan takes the boy as his apprentice, rather than inheriting him out of obligation to Qui-Gon? This would make much more sense in terms of Obi-Wan’s lines in the OT: ‘I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi’. It’s my hope that this inference comes across in this chapter. We don’t bother with Anakin being ‘too old’, which was always a bit silly to me.

New dialogue from Qui-Gon helps drive all this home during the newly crafted pod-race. We don’t focus on Qui-Gon much at all from that point on and it's inferred he becomes one with the Force, at some point in between chapters.

The brilliant music of Samuel Kim is used in this chapter - his beautiful piano rendition of the Imperial March. I use it to create a sense of sadness just as Anakin wins his podrace. While Anakin might be triumphant, his victory will ultimately set him and the galaxy on a tragic path (I love that dichotomy, the same one you kind of get from the teaser poster).

I actually think Jake Lloyd’s performance in the scene where Anakin says farewell to his mother, is his best in the PT. Kim’s music and the new cut, now really make you feel for the kid.

Whilst it pained me in a way to cut the Naboo lightsaber duel and Maul entirely from this edit, it’s all really just eye candy and our tale really does survive (thrive?) without it. Particularly Maul who was completely underused anyway. It makes little sense to me that Palpatine would reveal the existence of the Sith, so early in his grand plan during the events of TPM too - ie couldn’t a bounty hunter have done the job to get Padme back to Naboo rather than show his hand/reveal the existence of Maul the way he does? We’re supposed to believe Palpatine then waits another 10 years to instigate the Clone Wars and for Dooku to warn the Jedi that the Senate is being controlled by the Sith? Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the Sith in the shadows until the events of the AOTC? That’s my intention here: the Jedi don’t become aware of the Sith until the events of AOTC...or our Chapter 4.

Chapter 3

Just like in Attack of the Clones, this chapter begins 10 years after Anakin has left Tatooine. Now in this vignette, we get much more of Anakin’s sense of death and foreboding about the death of his mother, using dialogue from Revenge of the Sith instead (Padme dying is not a plot point in Before The Dark Times when we eventually get to chapters 5 and 6 - more on that later). But more importantly, we get a sense the Jedi are much more aware of his visions but still expect him to commit to his Jedi obligations. That same idea is very much present in AOTC, but I feel it's much more obvious here in this edit. We’re also laying groundwork for what starts Anakin’s distrust of the Jedi here which is clearly what Lucas had in mind as well. The Jedi have lost their way. They have lost their compassion. And it will have dire repercussions.

Gone is the horrendous ‘love story’ and the plot to assassinate Amidala. Instead, the focus is on Anakin refusing to accept he has to allow his mother to suffer because of his obligations to the Jedi. Now, he travels directly from Coruscant to Tatooine with the help of Padme (his loyal friend), against the wishes of Obi-Wan, to try and help his mother but alas….he’s too late.

Whether Anakin and Padme are just good friends or a full-blown couple in this edit, is again inferred (in my head canon they’re just close friends). Instead of jetting off to Naboo to get married, it's very much implied they become a couple in between this chapter and the next (whether they actually do marry in this edit, is up to interpretation…in my head, they don’t). Personally I like the idea of them just sharing a romance and a pregnancy in private without having actually married.

Chapter 4

Is all about the Clone Wars and Dooku as a political idealist, looking to drive his Separatist wedge right through the corrupt Republic. It’s here that the Jedi first get a whiff that the Sith have returned. But they can’t be sure if Dooku is being truthful. Their hubris blinds them.

Chapters 5 and 6

Now things start to get interesting. Interestingly, I found the plot points from ROTS the most difficult to edit down to fit the editing style I was going for. It was difficult cutting out General Grievous. And I mean, cutting out entirely. There’s not a single mention of him in this cut.

There were a few plot points I had to maintain, such as Anakin losing his arm to Dooku (which we don’t see in an earlier chapter because we cut the AOTC Obi-Wan and Anakin vs Dooku duel on Geonosis), Padme announcing her pregnancy and Anakin ultimately killing Dooku in ROTS. I struggled for a long-time for the best way to show all this. And then it hit me.

What if we started with a dream sequence to show all these events in quick succession? As a story-telling device, it allows us to quickly intercut a series of scenes to show what events have happened in the past. I wanted to establish the idea that the Clone Wars had changed Anakin. No more quippy ‘This is where the fun begins’. Wars are not fun. He’s tired. In this edit, I try to infer he’s fighting in the Clone Wars with the knowledge that Padme is bringing his child into a war-torn galaxy and the thought of that pains him.

An idea that is implicitly reinforced later when Palpatine says to Anakin, ‘You’ve been searching for a life, greater than any Jedi, a life of conscience’. Anakin hates war and Palaptine getting extra emergency powers in a scene shortly after is genuinely something he welcomes.

I wanted to suggest that Anakin is in fact suffering from PTSD as a result of the Clone Wars, losing his arm to Dooku, his mother’s death and finally killing Dooku which he regrets having letting his hate and anger get the better of him - some background audio of Bail Organa praising him over his decision to kill Dooku weighs on his conscience too. So adds to the internal conflict that he is praised for killing the enemy even though it’s ‘war’ - not a very Jedi like quality. Once we wake from Anakin’s PTSD nightmare, we thankfully get to avoid all the nonsense that came with rescuing Palpatine too.

Like many fan editors, it was difficult for me to accept Anakin’s turn to the dark side as originally portrayed in ROTS as it was all a bit of a mess. Is it because of his distrust of the Council? Is it his tendency to use hate/anger? Is it Padme dying?

I’ve thought a lot about this. About the very nature of ‘a turn’. In Return of the Jedi, the temptation for Luke seems much more simple (he’s pushed to embrace his aggressive side for fear of losing Leia to the dark side) and I wanted to echo that simplicity/idea more here (it's like poetry, it rhymes).

So I had to think, when exactly does Anakin turn in ROTS? It seems to me Lucas wants us to believe it's a slow gradual turn based on several compounding events, with the thing that pushes him over the edge, being Padme’s impending death of course and the (false?) promise by Palpatine that only his power can save her. I never liked any of this. The idea of Padme dying as a reason for Anakin’s turn is a device completely reused from AOTC when Shmi suffers the same fate. We’re meant to accept that the same thing happens to the same dude for both women in his life? It’s just lazy storytelling.

What ultimately happens in my edit, is Anakin’s turn is really about power and the desire for more of it. The ‘push’ that ultimately forces his hand, is really the lack of trust he has in the Jedi order and the lack of trust they have in him. Not because Padme is going to die in child-birth. Are we also meant to accept that with all that technology she couldn’t be saved? I personally find it very poor storytelling that Padme ‘loses the will to live’ - a strong willed, loving person/mother like Padme would not drop dead, having just given birth to her children, because her husband/boyfriend (it turns out), is a dud.

I also like to think that as per his line later on Mustafar (and ultimately in Empire), Anakin really wants to side neither with Palpatine or the Jedi. His ambitions are such that by this point, he wants to run the galaxy his way and is tired of being manipulated by both the Jedi and Palpatine. He figures, I don’t need either of them, I’ll go it alone with Padme (and one day as we find out, Luke attemptedly), at his side.

In my edit, I interpret Anakin’s attack on the temple and the killing of the Separatist leaders as ‘tests’ of sorts, encouraged by Palpatine as an introduction (a sample) of the power that awaits over on the dark side - a push to succumb to the hate that has grown inside him (which we echo using dialogue from ROTJ when Palps says virtually the same thing to Luke).

I love the idea of Palp testing Anakin with these two events (the attack on the temple and the killing of the Separatist leaders) which once completed, complete’s Anakin’s baptism by fire (literally) and ‘rebirth’ (at the same time we intercut with the birth of Luke and Leia) in the dark side.

I like to think Anakin only truly becomes Vader after successfully ‘passing’ these two tests. He officially becomes Vader, only after donning the suit, where again using repurposed. and new dialogue, his old name is thrown aside and he is given his new one along with his new body by Palpatine and the promise of greater power as he continues on his Sith-ward journey. I like the idea of Vader continuing to grow in power from this point on, now that he has embraced the dark side, rather than being less powerful because he lost a couple of limbs. His Sithward journey has only just begun - the next time we see him, he’s kicking serious arse in Rogue One (I love the last 20 minutes of that film).

While I like the idea of Vader existing pre-the suit, I just don't feel we have the footage to build this up/tell that story well.

Speaking of Palpatine, it was always going to be a struggle showing how he transforms from his pre-force lightning state to the ‘scarred and deformed’ Emperor we know (and love?) Thankfully, I stumbled across the brilliant work of Hal 9000 and his Labyrinth of Evil which uses some cool morphing to show Palpatine is finally revealing his true self to the audience in that scene, an idea that is much, much better than his own force lightning coming back to scar him. He then lies later of course, using this to explain to the Senate how the Jedi are the ones responsible for his scarring.

The conclusion of my edit, really lands with a punch to the gut, as we intercut back to Anakin and Qui-Gon on Tatooine to see just how far this boy and his child-like, wistful ambitions, have led him down such a tragic path (the ultimate goal Lucas was going for).

The relocation of the twins, acts as a brief coda (as I quite like those scenes) before we cut to the credits.
Trailer

Faneditor Name:
Franchise:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1999, 2002, 2005
Original Running Time:
418 minutes
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
71 minutes
Subtitles Available:
Available in HD:
Synopsis:
All 3 Star Wars prequels, dramatically retold and re-crafted into chapters to re-tell the story of the rise of Palpatine, the fall of the Jedi Order and the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, all through the lens of the original trilogy.
Intention:
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 them 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 original trilogy (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 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 (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 or show 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 is exciting about this edit.
Other Sources:
A shot from Hal9000's 'Labyrinth of Evil' is used to illustrate Palpatine's 'true' form. Samuel Kim's beautiful music. Check out his work here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuoKuTCQ9dmPIgOgyLm9HgQ
Special Thanks:
Wraith and Artisdead for their patience, input and constructive criticism. Hal9000 and Samuel Kim and all the supportive fan editors here!
Release Information:
Digital
Editing Details:
A lot of thinking, a bit of trial and error, a lot of back and forth polishing off my vision with Wraith and Artisdead. Cut together using basic software (iMovie) and Audacity.
Cuts and Additions:
Chapter 1

We begin with audio from A New Hope to frame the beginning of our story. The galaxy is in turmoil. The once noble Galactic Senate of the Republic, is infested with corruption. Padme Amidala, the Queen of Naboo, has arrived on Coruscant to seek the aid of Senator Palpatine, her representative in the Galactic Senate. Amidala hopes that with political intervention, the Senate can take decisive action to help her planet break free from the binds of an invading Trade Federation army….

What I like about this chapter is how succinctly we establish the state of the galaxy. Do we need to see the droid army invading Naboo? No. Do we need to see Naboo at all? No! All we need to know is that Palpatine has manoeuvred himself to exploit a crisis on a planet called Naboo in order to be voted Chancellor. And he is successful in doing so. I love how much is inferred from just the dialogue. In a way, it reminds of the Andor series in that respect.

Chapter 2

Obi-Wan begins to tell the story of his first meeting with a young boy, gifted with the Force and the folly of thinking he could train him as well as Master Yoda.

My inspiration for this chapter was the teaser poster for Episode 1. You know the one where Anakin is standing outside a Tatooine hut, the shadow of Darth Vader projected behind him? I had that poster hanging on my wall for years and loved the evocative nature of it. If only the prequels delivered on this imagery. I think my edit does and I love how the finale of my edit comes back full circle to this imagery…more on that later.

It's confusing to me why Qui-Gon has the role he does. The idea of having Obi-Wan sensing danger in Anakin’s training, along with the Council, only to have them do a complete backflip at the end of the film, still to this day, makes little sense to me.

Only very recently in browsing one of the High Republic novels, I found a mention of a type of Jedi called ‘searchers’, whose job it is to find Force sensitive children to be trained as Jedis. Which got me thinking, what if Qui-Gon was just one of these searchers, called to Tatooine having heard rumors of a particularly gifted child ‘who can see things before they happen’?

What if then, Qui-Gon whisks him away, with the blessing of his mother who wants nothing but a better life for her son (no slavery is suggested here) and Obi-Wan takes the boy as his apprentice, rather than inheriting him out of obligation to Qui-Gon? This would make much more sense in terms of Obi-Wan’s lines in the OT: ‘I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi’. It’s my hope that this inference comes across in this chapter. We don’t bother with Anakin being ‘too old’, which was always a bit silly to me.

New dialogue from Qui-Gon helps drive all this home during the newly crafted pod-race. We don’t focus on Qui-Gon much at all from that point on and it's inferred he becomes one with the Force, at some point in between chapters.

The brilliant music of Samuel Kim is used in this chapter - his beautiful piano rendition of the Imperial March. I use it to create a sense of sadness just as Anakin wins his podrace. While Anakin might be triumphant, his victory will ultimately set him and the galaxy on a tragic path (I love that dichotomy, the same one you kind of get from the teaser poster).

I actually think Jake Lloyd’s performance in the scene where Anakin says farewell to his mother, is his best in the PT. Kim’s music and the new cut, now really make you feel for the kid.

Whilst it pained me in a way to cut the Naboo lightsaber duel and Maul entirely from this edit, it’s all really just eye candy and our tale really does survive (thrive?) without it. Particularly Maul who was completely underused anyway. It makes little sense to me that Palpatine would reveal the existence of the Sith, so early in his grand plan during the events of TPM too - ie couldn’t a bounty hunter have done the job to get Padme back to Naboo rather than show his hand/reveal the existence of Maul the way he does? We’re supposed to believe Palpatine then waits another 10 years to instigate the Clone Wars and for Dooku to warn the Jedi that the Senate is being controlled by the Sith? Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the Sith in the shadows until the events of the AOTC? That’s my intention here: the Jedi don’t become aware of the Sith until the events of AOTC...or our Chapter 4.

Chapter 3

Just like in Attack of the Clones, this chapter begins 10 years after Anakin has left Tatooine. Now in this vignette, we get much more of Anakin’s sense of death and foreboding about the death of his mother, using dialogue from Revenge of the Sith instead (Padme dying is not a plot point in Before The Dark Times when we eventually get to chapters 5 and 6 - more on that later). But more importantly, we get a sense the Jedi are much more aware of his visions but still expect him to commit to his Jedi obligations. That same idea is very much present in AOTC, but I feel it's much more obvious here in this edit. We’re also laying groundwork for what starts Anakin’s distrust of the Jedi here which is clearly what Lucas had in mind as well. The Jedi have lost their way. They have lost their compassion. And it will have dire repercussions.

Gone is the horrendous ‘love story’ and the plot to assassinate Amidala. Instead, the focus is on Anakin refusing to accept he has to allow his mother to suffer because of his obligations to the Jedi. Now, he travels directly from Coruscant to Tatooine with the help of Padme (his loyal friend), against the wishes of Obi-Wan, to try and help his mother but alas….he’s too late.

Whether Anakin and Padme are just good friends or a full-blown couple in this edit, is again inferred (in my head canon they’re just close friends). Instead of jetting off to Naboo to get married, it's very much implied they become a couple in between this chapter and the next (whether they actually do marry in this edit, is up to interpretation…in my head, they don’t). Personally I like the idea of them just sharing a romance and a pregnancy in private without having actually married.

Chapter 4

Is all about the Clone Wars and Dooku as a political idealist, looking to drive his Separatist wedge right through the corrupt Republic. It’s here that the Jedi first get a whiff that the Sith have returned. But they can’t be sure if Dooku is being truthful. Their hubris blinds them.

Chapters 5 and 6

Now things start to get interesting. Interestingly, I found the plot points from ROTS the most difficult to edit down to fit the editing style I was going for. It was difficult cutting out General Grievous. And I mean, cutting out entirely. There’s not a single mention of him in this cut.

There were a few plot points I had to maintain, such as Anakin losing his arm to Dooku (which we don’t see in an earlier chapter because we cut the AOTC Obi-Wan and Anakin vs Dooku duel on Geonosis), Padme announcing her pregnancy and Anakin ultimately killing Dooku in ROTS. I struggled for a long-time for the best way to show all this. And then it hit me.

What if we started with a dream sequence to show all these events in quick succession? As a story-telling device, it allows us to quickly intercut a series of scenes to show what events have happened in the past. I wanted to establish the idea that the Clone Wars had changed Anakin. No more quippy ‘This is where the fun begins’. Wars are not fun. He’s tired. In this edit, I try to infer he’s fighting in the Clone Wars with the knowledge that Padme is bringing his child into a war-torn galaxy and the thought of that pains him.

An idea that is implicitly reinforced later when Palpatine says to Anakin, ‘You’ve been searching for a life, greater than any Jedi, a life of conscience’. Anakin hates war and Palaptine getting extra emergency powers in a scene shortly after is genuinely something he welcomes.

I wanted to suggest that Anakin is in fact suffering from PTSD as a result of the Clone Wars, losing his arm to Dooku, his mother’s death and finally killing Dooku which he regrets having letting his hate and anger get the better of him - some background audio of Bail Organa praising him over his decision to kill Dooku weighs on his conscience too. So adds to the internal conflict that he is praised for killing the enemy even though it’s ‘war’ - not a very Jedi like quality. Once we wake from Anakin’s PTSD nightmare, we thankfully get to avoid all the nonsense that came with rescuing Palpatine too.

Like many fan editors, it was difficult for me to accept Anakin’s turn to the dark side as originally portrayed in ROTS as it was all a bit of a mess. Is it because of his distrust of the Council? Is it his tendency to use hate/anger? Is it Padme dying?

I’ve thought a lot about this. About the very nature of ‘a turn’. In Return of the Jedi, the temptation for Luke seems much more simple (he’s pushed to embrace his aggressive side for fear of losing Leia to the dark side) and I wanted to echo that simplicity/idea more here (it's like poetry, it rhymes).

So I had to think, when exactly does Anakin turn in ROTS? It seems to me Lucas wants us to believe it's a slow gradual turn based on several compounding events, with the thing that pushes him over the edge, being Padme’s impending death of course and the (false?) promise by Palpatine that only his power can save her. I never liked any of this. The idea of Padme dying as a reason for Anakin’s turn is a device completely reused from AOTC when Shmi suffers the same fate. We’re meant to accept that the same thing happens to the same dude for both women in his life? It’s just lazy storytelling.

What ultimately happens in my edit, is Anakin’s turn is really about power and the desire for more of it. The ‘push’ that ultimately forces his hand, is really the lack of trust he has in the Jedi order and the lack of trust they have in him. Not because Padme is going to die in child-birth. Are we also meant to accept that with all that technology she couldn’t be saved? I personally find it very poor storytelling that Padme ‘loses the will to live’ - a strong willed, loving person/mother like Padme would not drop dead, having just given birth to her children, because her husband/boyfriend (it turns out), is a dud.

I also like to think that as per his line later on Mustafar (and ultimately in Empire), Anakin really wants to side neither with Palpatine or the Jedi. His ambitions are such that by this point, he wants to run the galaxy his way and is tired of being manipulated by both the Jedi and Palpatine. He figures, I don’t need either of them, I’ll go it alone with Padme (and one day as we find out, Luke attemptedly), at his side.

In my edit, I interpret Anakin’s attack on the temple and the killing of the Separatist leaders as ‘tests’ of sorts, encouraged by Palpatine as an introduction (a sample) of the power that awaits over on the dark side - a push to succumb to the hate that has grown inside him (which we echo using dialogue from ROTJ when Palps says virtually the same thing to Luke).

I love the idea of Palp testing Anakin with these two events (the attack on the temple and the killing of the Separatist leaders) which once completed, complete’s Anakin’s baptism by fire (literally) and ‘rebirth’ (at the same time we intercut with the birth of Luke and Leia) in the dark side.

I like to think Anakin only truly becomes Vader after successfully ‘passing’ these two tests. He officially becomes Vader, only after donning the suit, where again using repurposed. and new dialogue, his old name is thrown aside and he is given his new one along with his new body by Palpatine and the promise of greater power as he continues on his Sith-ward journey. I like the idea of Vader continuing to grow in power from this point on, now that he has embraced the dark side, rather than being less powerful because he lost a couple of limbs. His Sithward journey has only just begun - the next time we see him, he’s kicking serious arse in Rogue One (I love the last 20 minutes of that film).

While I like the idea of Vader existing pre-the suit, I just don't feel we have the footage to build this up/tell that story well.

Speaking of Palpatine, it was always going to be a struggle showing how he transforms from his pre-force lightning state to the ‘scarred and deformed’ Emperor we know (and love?) Thankfully, I stumbled across the brilliant work of Hal 9000 and his Labyrinth of Evil which uses some cool morphing to show Palpatine is finally revealing his true self to the audience in that scene, an idea that is much, much better than his own force lightning coming back to scar him. He then lies later of course, using this to explain to the Senate how the Jedi are the ones responsible for his scarring.

The conclusion of my edit, really lands with a punch to the gut, as we intercut back to Anakin and Qui-Gon on Tatooine to see just how far this boy and his child-like, wistful ambitions, have led him down such a tragic path (the ultimate goal Lucas was going for).

The relocation of the twins, acts as a brief coda (as I quite like those scenes) before we cut to the credits.
Trailer

Trusted Reviewer reviews

3 reviews
Overall rating
 
8.1
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.7(3)
Audio Editing
 
7.7(3)
Visual Editing
 
8.3(3)
Narrative
 
7.7(3)
Enjoyment
 
8.0(3)
Overall rating
 
9.2
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
8.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
An ambitious project very well realised, nothing to fault visually and very little audio-wise, pretty much a "good bits" condensation of the source films with none of the original cringeworthy content.

On balance I think that I would favour the more traditional edits of the prequels in most circumstances, as there are quite a few parts I have a fondness for that are missing here. There is also the possibility that viewers new to the story might occasionally struggle to follow. In the former case though, anything other than this laser-focused approach would defeat the purpose of the edit, and in the latter it is unlikely that a non-fan would be watching!

In summary, Lieutenant Dan has shown what can be done with the technical capability and a spaceship-load of imagination, many thanks for all the effort!

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(Updated: June 03, 2024)
Overall rating
 
8.5
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.0
Audio Editing
 
8.0
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9.0
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9.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
I was finally able to sit down and watch this edit, and I'm happy to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is the most creative and perhaps most effective way I've seen a fan edit tackle the prequels and LieutenantDan has succeeded in his ambitious goals! Only Chapter 1 I felt like didn't work for me and I've explained them below.

For Chapter 1: The beginning just throws you into the story with zero context and has no hook to bring audiences to care. Perhaps an opening text (a la Solo A Star Wars Story) could remedy this? That could also help with starting with the senate scene, which I feel is a stronger start with better exposition than the scene in Palpatine’s office. (Although you see more of Palpatine’s manipulation there.)

It isn’t very interesting to hear about a crisis in the senate and not see it at all. To be fair, this is a problem with the original film as well, but by cutting all of it I feel like it is amplified a bit. Maybe you could show some of the Naboo invasion, like the Neomoidians threatening Sio Bibble? A good recommendation to help accomplish this is looking at the Clone Wars episode Supply Lines, which does a similar thing and serves as a prequel to the liberation of Ryloth arc.

For much of these reasons Chapter I didn’t really work for me. However, I absolutely LOVED every other chapter--I honestly wish the first chapter was more like them somehow.

I have been thinking of a way to squeeze in some of the prequels in between Episodes V and VI a la Machete Order for a first timer--I always felt Revenge of the Sith immediately before Return of the Jedi strengthens that film as you fear more for Luke's potential fall to the dark side--but recently I felt like squeezing in 2/3s of a trilogy just for that feels disjointed and does a disservice to the saga. But this edit is the perfect length and the (almost) perfect thing before Return of the Jedi to squeeze in, and you can still get away with showing the rest of the prequels later whenever they'd like as a sort of expanded edition and precursor to The Clone Wars show.

Furthermore, the vignette style of presenting the Prequels actually benefitted the storytelling in a way I hadn't expected--you see, as everyone knows, the Prequels are not very well known for its subtlety. Cutting it down to this length under NORMAL circumstances, I would say you'd be missing in on a lot of the subtleties and the intricacies of the story. However considering that the Prequels do NOT have those, or at least ultimately fails to synthesize them meaningfully, the "broad strokes" approach actually strengthens Anakin's fall to the dark side, as a lot of things are still left to the imagination (similar to how Tales of the Jedi handles Dooku's betrayal and turn to the dark side.)

The reason I say this is because in the actual Prequels and most Prequel edits, Anakin's arc is still linear and adds a lot of characterization and exposition--Anakin's fear of loss, Obi-Wan's failure to teach what Anakin actually needs, his anger and hate sourced from his troubled past and mistreatment (first from the slave owners, then from the Jedi), and most importantly, his power hungry nature (which ironically is the thing that the Prequels neglected THE MOST). The films try to keep Anakin optimistic and idealistic until the last second so much that, despite all the setup that the films attempt to do, you never believe that Anakin would destroy everything in his path--especially just to save his wife. I understand that his fear of loss led to his wish to be more powerful, to save the ones he loves, but only saying it does not make it believeable. That's just bad writing. We need to see that his initial noble wish turns to greed, and the films largely gloss over that.

The absolute GENIUS of this edit, then, is to reframe everything so that the vignettes make it feel like they're all happening at a similar pace, unlike the original film where the second act of ROTS has everything so rushed. Now, the "broad strokes" approach gives us the same insights that the prequels give--that his fear of loss lead to greed--however it is edited in a far more elegant and natural way. When the distraction of Padme's imminent death is gone, now it seems like he is purely power hungry. We still see him try to hold on to his initial ideals, but we also saw that, leading to his ultimate betrayal, Anakin was itching to get a taste of the dark side, because of the way that LieutenantDan brilliantly created a montage using his few-and-far-between power hungry moments that the films never succeeded in convincing the audience. So when Anakin said (far more confidently this time) that he can overthrow the Emperor and rule the galaxy, for the first time when watching these frickin' movies, I actually believed him. This is the highest praise that a Prequel editor can get-- LieutenantDan actually made the Prequels work.

Now above, I said "almost perfect" because one thing I wish all Prequel edits kept, regardless of how the film itself executes it, is Anakin saying "You underestimate my power" because it ties into Luke saying the very same thing in Return of the Jedi to Jabba, adding to many of the things that makes the audience fear that Luke actually might follow in his father's footsteps.

On a personal note, one line I wish you kept was "So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause." Which is my favorite line in all of Star Wars. Furthermore, I missed some things such as Qui-Gon Jinn's importance to Anakin and how different he was to the rest of the Jedi, including Obi-Wan, as he is the only one who understood that attachments and emotion are not dangerous in and of themselves. On the other hand I realize that this is not what the edit is about and that can always be retained in longer edits of the Prequels.

So thank you, Lieutenant Dan, for this quite marvelous edit you've done. I recommend everyone in the community who have felt wronged by the Prequels to give this a shot. Thumbs way up!
Owner's reply November 12, 2023

Thank you for this incredible review. Appreciate it!

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(Updated: December 12, 2023)
Overall rating
 
6.5
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.0
Audio Editing
 
6.0
Visual Editing
 
6.0
Narrative
 
6.0
Enjoyment
 
7.0
This is an ambitious edit for sure. It employs neck breaking visual editing and extensive audio replacement to move the story along at incredible speed. Narratives are told simultaneously in a long form montage approach with voice over work throughout. It's one of the more unique edits I've seen, but it doesn't exactly feel like a movie do to it's unique approach. This is more an artistic reinterpretation of the Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker.

AVQ 8
The audio and video have some issues here and there, but for the size (2gb) it's very impressive.

Audio editing 6
There are some abrupt transitions throughout and some of the music replacement clashes with the levels of the audio and dialogue of scenes. If this was a straight up movie approach, it would be more impactful, but with the artistic approach of a montage you already know you are watching an edit so it's not as jarring as it would have been otherwise. There is an incredible amount of audio work in this edit, and while some transitions feel abrupt, it is impressive what the editor was able to achieve. This feels like art.

Visual editing 6
I feel like the montage approach removes the jarring impact of some of the visual editing choices in this edit, but I do have to agree that the decisions made here do mirror the approach well. There's just a lack of visual continuity throughout so it's hard to give some of the visuals the investment that they would in a more traditionally driven visual narrative. The visuals here are backdrops to the voice overs and music.

Narrative 6
The narrative works, but it just feels disjointed due to the montage approach of the story. That's not saying this is bad, but it is certainly noticeable as a fanedit.

Enjoyment 7
I did enjoy the fresh approach to this edit. It gave me a lot of new ideas about the prequels, and I wonder if they are best served in this manner. This felt like art in a way that I haven't experienced here at fanedit.org. That may be due to the fact that this doesn't necessarily feel like a fanedit film, but rather a long form fanedited tribute to the source material. That isn't meant as a knock at all, it just is in it's own unique space here. This feels like Star Wars in the style of Phantasia. My enjoyment score is most impacted by the audio editing and the lack of visual continuity that made it hard to invest a full viewing length of attention to. With some more focus on audio transitions, I believe my enjoyment would go up at least a point. That being said, I'd highly recommend this edit as it challenges the idea of what a fanedit is and how one can approach the prequels in a new way in a sea of familiarity.

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Owner's reply October 17, 2023

Thanks Dig. Glad this edit has subverted expectations and appreciate the high-praise use of the term 'art'. You're right, it's not a traditional 'film' or 'fan edit', very much by design.

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8.0
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7.0
This edit works well if you are already familiar with Prequel Trilogy, but, and this would be my major criticism, this edit is not a stand alone piece in my opinion. The political intrigue edited over action and conversation, Episode 1 of note, works well. But much of the nuance of Anakin's descent is gleamed over in this super edit. Personally, I feel removing so much of how Qui-gon manipulated the situation to "win" Anakin eliminates one of the worthwhile themes of the prequel trilogy. And having Anakin go from being a child to killing the Tusken Raiders is too much of jump for his character ark.
The battles are well cut together, and the action set pieces, overall, remove so much of the nonsense that Lucas filled the prequels with, that I commend the editor on those portions. I would suggest leaving in a bit more of the character development and interactions between the action peaks to allow for more of a narrative flow.

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Overall rating
 
8.3
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9.0
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6.0
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10.0
The first thing I'd like to say is the visual editing... needs works. There are moments where the scenes take turns showing off a few seconds at a time, and it comes off as choppy.

There are however at least two moments where this comes to the scene's aid, first there's the war montage, and when Darth Vader overlooking the Death Star is interlapped between Young Anakin, highlighting how far he fell.

That said, there is one decision that baffles me, the placement of Order 66. In this it is apparently at the same time of Anakin and Obi Wan's duel on Mustafar. But at that point the Empire was already declared, and if the Jedi across the galaxy were still alive, they would've known and began doing something about it. And likely would've sensed Order 66 coming and prepared accordingly.

I also felt there should've been some more dialogue when Mace Windu attacked Sidious

And one last minor thing, at the end of the credits, (approximately at 1:10:55) the audio runs out, which to me felt like it was making room for some post credit dialogue, check out Star War Story's post credit edits to see what I mean and for some ideas.

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Overall rating
 
10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
Best edit of the prequel trilogy! Captures the essential parts but hard to fit into canon without The Clone War series though.

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Overall rating
 
10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
Such a well produced edit of the prequel trilogy! All in a single hour too! Takes all the best bits and makes such a well flowing plot structure and packs such a punch. Highly recommend, can't stress that enough to anyone

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Overall rating
 
7.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.0
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6.0
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7.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Quite a feat this! I'd call it a work in progress still as with an AI narration to really pack out the episodes, and some post-processing ironing out it could be spot on. This is the epitomy of a fan edit here. Ambitiously brining the prequels in line with the vogue of the originals being a leap and a bound in the right direction. Tut-tut George Lucas for his Disney affairs. Jar Jar and all that inappropriate jizzyness. Even with the audio sync issues no doubt caused by the huge number of cuttings and pastings overloading the program (no idea really) I still watched it all the way through and quite enjoyed it too. Hopefully there will be rehashes. Such a neat concept.

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