This essay is from Alexander DeLarge
Published on June 12, 2001
The Phantom Edit -
An Edit Too Far
In 1999, the first episode of the Star Wars saga (chronologically speaking, at least) was released. Star Wars : Episode I - The Phantom Menace disappointed many fans, who were expecting the new instalment to be different in tone. Personally speaking, I was able to enjoy The Phantom Menace thoroughly, and although I did have some problems with the movie, they were no greater problems than the ones present in the original trilogy (which IS very flawed, once you look at it without your childhood-memory influenced eyes). Numbers of incredibly childish websites sprung around the internet, most of them devoted to the death of CGI-created Jar Jar Binks and to bash Jake Lloyd's performance as Anakin Skywalker.
But recently, one fan took it a bit too far. He/she re-edited the movie, cutting almost 20 minutes of material, and the internet community is applauding his effort. Even George Lucas behaved graciously when he heard of the re-edit, claiming he has heard it is very good and he would like to see it. Lucasfilm is not pursuing this fan, and quite frankly I feel he's getting away with it. And that worries me. This is not "cute". You're messing with an artist's vision. And no matter whether if you liked it or not, George Lucas IS an artist and he has a vision. And this Phantom Editor decided to undermine this vision.
I find it alarming to see how when a big studio re-cuts a movie to pieces to fulfil his expectations (see Blade Runner, for example), fanboys shout in disgust. But when a fanboy does the same thing, he is applauded and cheered, because "he's sticking it to the man". And sure, nobody thinks The Phantom Edit will pose a real threat to The Phantom Menace's video sales, or anything. And I realize this Phantom Editor actually cares about Star Wars, in his own, weird, disturbing way. Furthermore, I know that he is not making any profit from it. What I'm saying is, it doesn't matter. You are still messing with the artistic integrity of a person's work. And I am very much against that.
I think all the Phantom Editor wants is to please himself and the average fanboy. Well let me tell you about the average fanboy. The average fanboy is a selfish creature, actually dumb enough not to realize that when the trailers for Episode I said "Every generation has a legend" Lucas wasn't talking about our generation. Lucas was talking about the kids. And the kids got the message. We grew up with Star Wars, and now, the younger generation is growing up with the new Star Wars too. The fact that it is made for kids does not make The Phantom Menace a movie that is to be exclusively enjoyed by kids. Episode I has many levels, and I, being older when I saw it, could still enjoy it, because I like Star Wars for what it is, not for what my childhood memory of it was.
As long as you keep watching Episode I and comparing it, not to what the original trilogy actually was, but to what the original trilogy MEANT for you when you saw it as a child, then Episode I will disappoint you. The thing is, I consider myself lucky. I grew up with the original trilogy, and I am also growing up with Episode I, because I am giving it a chance. Episode I is Star Wars. The Star Wars "magic" is the magic you bring with you. And this Phantom Editor is hacking Lucas' movie because he didn't bring his "magic" with him when he went into the theatre to see The Phantom Menace. Hence the edit. Hence the mutilation of Lucas' vision.
But look how quickly have you turned your back on Lucas because he didn't please you.
Keep in mind that you are messing with the vision of a truly gifted artist. It might not be an artist you respect anymore, but he is STILL an artist, and as an aspiring filmmaker, I know I wouldn't want my movies to be re-edited, by a studio or by a fan with too much time and not enough respect. Keep in mind Lucas wants you as his fan. Lucas tries to please you as a fan. But he does not need you as a fan. You have forgotten what the man did for you, and still does for millions of people worldwide. If this was A New Hope, or The Empire Strikes Back being re-edited, the Phantom Editor's head would be on a stick. But since it's the movie you don't like that was edited, you allow the artist to be screwed.
How quickly have you turned into the Empire, my friends.
What do you think. Is Alexander right? Did the fanboys miss the point of Episode I? Email us and let us know what you think.