Empire Begins, The

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Empire Begins, The
Faneditor Name:
3 prequels. 1 new episode.
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1999, 2002, 2005
Original Running Time:
415 minutes
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
160 minutes
Time Cut:
255 minutes
Available in HD?
Brief Synopsis:
The Empire Begins consolidates the prequel trilogy into one self-contained episode, carefully edited to feel like a real Lucasfilm release. I used footage from all three prequels + a few deleted scenes. I wasn't trying to be flashy, or to chop the movies down to the bone. I endeavored to make my cuts invisible and keep the runtime in the 2.5 hour range. The Empire Begins runs slightly longer than Attack of the Clones.
According to George Lucas' own admission: "60 percent - maybe 80 percent of the story - is in Episode III. The rest was a jazz riff."

The Empire Begins = roughly 5% Phantom Menace, 35% Clones, and 60% Sith. I should note that these percentages do not reflect my opinion of each film. My focus was to show the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of the Empire, not to assemble a personal "best of" reel. I sought to make Anakin a stronger and more likable character, to simplify his motivation for turning to the dark side, and to strengthen the Anakin/Padme love story.

I invite you to enter a parallel universe with me. A universe without Jar Jar Binks, without General Grievous, without cringeworthy dialog and questionable filler material. A universe where only one prequel was ever made…
Other Sources:
I replicated some of the IMAX cuts to help streamline Attack of the Clones.
Special Thanks:
Special thanks to modernknife for giving me the idea in the first place, and to the Phantom Editor for the brilliant use of subtitles in Zam's death scene.
Release Information:
Editing Details:
My priorities were:

1) Make The Empire Begins feel like a real Star Wars film. Follow George Lucas' film grammar, keeping my edits as invisible as possible.

2) Make Anakin a stronger and more likeable character. Simplify his motivation for turning to the dark side.

3) Strengthen the Anakin/Padme love story. After all, it is the most important romance in the galaxy.

4) Remove weak dialog and cringeworthy moments.

5) Keep the runtime between 2 and 3 hours. See rule #1.
Cuts and Additions:


added copyright disclaimer
color corrected Fox logo
new crawl

removed all of The Phantom Menace except for…
re-edited Darth Maul duel

dialog trims on Coruscant landing platform. cut "there was no danger at all" and "I failed you Senator"
added deleted scene - Padme addresses the Senate (used noise reduction to clean up all reinstated deleted scenes)
cut Jar Jar close-ups in deleted scene
cut Chancellor's Meeting scene (Palpy's chamber).
cut Old Friends scene (apartment reunion)
cut Ani's "just being around her again is intoxicating"
cut Padme's handmaiden checking on her after kouhun worm attack
cut first alien drive-by in speeder chase
dialog trims throughout speeder chase. OB and Anakin's relationship is far less contentious.
cut Ani's laugh at "pull up Anakin!"
cut chase through power plant
cut "…I think" off Ani's "this is a shortcut".
cut OB's "I hate it when he does that"
cut all references to Anakin losing his lightsaber
cut wide shot of Anakin falling off Zam's speeder
cut argument between OB and Anakin outside club. ends with OB's "he went in there to hide, not to run"
cut OB and Ani's entrance to club
cut Sleazebaggano character. (death sticks guy)
cut a few frames of Anakin roaming the club
cut Anakin's "Jedi business. Go back to your drinks."
cut Anakin's "tell us now!"
Zam now says "It was a bounty hunter... from Kamino. Real scum."
cut OB's "a toxic dart"
cut Mace's "don't use registered transport. travel as refugees."
cut Palpy's "even more powerful than master yoda" line
cut Padme packing scene
cut departure from Coruscant scene
cut Dex's Diner scene
cut scene aboard refugee ship
cut Jedi Archives scene
cut Yoda and younglings scene
cut walk after Naboo landing
cut Audience with the Queen scene
cut Kamino arrival scene
cut Meeting Lama Su scene
added deleted scene - Dinner with Padme's family
cut children playing
cut Ruwee's "you've come to the right place at the right time"
cut Padme's "he's not my boyfriend" talk
moved Ani reaction shot
cut Inspecting the Clones scene
cut Picnic and Shaak riding scene
cut Jango's Apartment scene
cut Forbidden Love scene (fireplace)
trimmed OB's report to Yoda and Mace, cutting all references to Sifo-Dyas
moved Stolen Kiss scene
cut all dialog at lake house after "try to guess the names of the birds singing"
replaced music under kiss
cut Padme breaking off kiss
inserted shot of sunset
trimmed Boba action during OB vs. Jango fight
cut very slow shot of OB sliding down ledge
cut Anakin having nightmare
trimmed and re-jiggered dialog in Ani and Padme's "morning after" scene
cut arrival to Tatooine. Watto is gone.
trimmed Boba and Jango dialog during Asteroid chase
trimmed C3PO's dialog at Lars homestead. He doesn't call Ani "the maker". He doesn't recognize Padme.
cut Cliegg's "where are you going"
cut Ani's "to find my mother"
cut Nute Gunray's "until I have her head on my desk"
moved Dooku line about Darth Sidious controlling the Senate
cut Banking Clan alien
trimmed Shmi's death scene
trimmed OB's call to Tatooine
cut Ani and Padme scene in garage ("You're not all-powerful" scene)
cut Cliegg's eulogy
cut Ani's "I miss you… so much."
now OB says "Count Dooku is behind the attacks on Senator Amidala"
cut any reference to OB being captured on Geonosis
cut Mace's instructions to Anakin
cut Anakin and Padme's departure from Tatooine
cut Jar Jar out of Palpy's chamber scene
cut Mas Amedda and Palpy's last lines in chamber
cut OB captive scene
cut Jar Jar out of Emergency Powers scene. Senate scene ends with Mace's "It is done then."
cut Ani and Padme arrival to Geonosis
cut Droid factory scene
cut Ani and Padme's capture
cut Arena scene
cut Geonosian battle
cut OB / Ani / Dooku duel
cut Yoda / Dooku duel
cut Dooku's departure from Geonosis
trimmed dialog in Jedi temple wrap-up scene. No references to Geonosian war.
cut Yoda's "begun the Clone War has"
trimmed and re-jiggered wedding scene. No close-up of Ani's mechanical hand.
created montage of wedding and clone war

added "3 years later" title
cut Ani's "this is where the fun begins"
cut all references to General Grievous in this section. He is not seen or referred to at all.
cut droid ship antics
cut Ani and OB evading missles
cut buzz droids scene
cut dialog about shields still being up
cut OB's "I have a bad feeling about this"
cut from OB's "spring the trap" to OB and Ani exiting the control tower elevator
cut all references to OB and Ani dueling Dooku in Ep. 2
cut Palpy's "yeah!"
trimmed shot of OB being crushed by railing
cut Palpy's "he cut off your arm" line
cut R2's flame thrower fight
cut OB's "to the hangar" line
trimmed Anakin dialog in crash landing scene
cut OB recounting Palpy rescue
cut OB's "someone needs to be the poster boy"
cut dialog between Palpy and Mace
trimmed Anakin's reaction to "I'm pregnant"
cut Ani and Padme balcony scene
cut all references to Ani's "on the council but not a master" subplot
trimmed opera house scene
Palpy now says "we've found the location of the droid army"
Palpy now says "he could use the force to create life." No reference to midichlorions.
cut Wookiee tarzan swing
cut clone trooper's "when have I ever let you down" line. cut OB's response.
trimmed OB's landing on Utupau. OB actually flies off instead of sneaking out of his ship.
inserted establishing shot of Palpy's office
office scene ends with "I'm going to turn you over to the Jedi council"
trimmed Ani and Mace dialog in hangar scene.
trimmed Jedi showdown in Palpy's chamber
trimmed Palpy pleading for his life
cut Ani's "I can't live without her"
cut Palpy's "the force is strooong with you"
cut Ani's "thank you my master"
cut OB and Commander Cody dialog. OB never loses his lightsaber because OB never fights Grievous.
cut death of she-Jedi on Willy Wonka planet
cut Jett Lucas vs. Stormtroopers at temple
cut Padme's "so this is how liberty dies"
cut toaster droids at Ani's entrance to Mustafar command center
cut C3PO's "i think I'm getting the hang of this flying thing"
cut Ani's "freedom" in new empire speech
cut Ani's "you will try"
cut Vader and Emperor dialog. no "where is Padme" or "nooooo!"
cut Jar Jar out of Padme's funeral march.
added "Yoda lands on Dagobah" deleted scene
added fan editor credit


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(Updated: May 23, 2020)
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I still don't know how I really feel after the prequels. I think I regard them much higher than the Disney attempt and I even have a soft spot for Phantom Menace, but I can understand why the editor mostly left that out (only the Maul/Jinn/Kenobi fight remains) due to focusing on Anakin's story. I think it was an interesting choice to start with that. But I think it was a little odd to have the title crawl appear straight after Qui Gon's death. I know the audience isn't supposed to know who he is, so would have little sympathy, but for me it still felt like an oddity and didn't feel very Star Wars to open with that. Maybe the title crawl should have been placed at the beginning before that scene? But just that's my lowly opinion and feel free to ignore it. That's my main criticism over with.

I was overall happy with the trimming down of Attack of the Clones (as I've never been a fan) and you can't tell where the editor has cut for the average casual viewer such as myself. You may see a lot of screen wipes at times, but I can't say that it put me off as I was simply happy watching the bare bones of the story without the filler. The main narrative is put forward such as Anakin and Padme falling in love, Count Dooku announced as a Sith and the creation of the Clone Army. When watching it I never thought "Oh, I really missed the Yoda/Dooku confrontation" or "This film could really do with Dexter". Finally, some other things to note is that Hayden Christensen's mostly bad acting is toned right down (or better still - removed) and that helps lift the entire film and actually helps with his portrayal of Anakin. I find that you can actually sympathise with Anakin more when his mouth is actually closed. The love scenes flow and are mostly minimal so that the audience can fill the in-betweens themselves. All of the AotC's chapter is seamlessly made within a snappy 55 minutes. What fans may miss? More battle on Geonosis footage. But that's it, frankly.

The clone army is announced, we do see some minimal footage of the battle on Geonosis and led straight into "Revenge" onto the Palpatine rescue mission with a quick title. The actual rescue of Palpatine is done and dusted in around 10 minutes from when they land, but the suspense is left in. What is missing from the entirety of "Revenge" is General Grevious and it makes you realise how inessential he is to the plot. I can't say I missed him or his little multiple lightsaber action at all.

From this vision of "Revenge" I felt Anakin's battle with his thoughts was at the front of the edit. Something happens and then it's back to Anakin unsure of himself. Something else happens and Anakin is still in turmoil. The editing and pacing works in that regard, which somehow never really works in it's original release as there's simply too much going on. Additionally throughout the film I should add that the audio is spot on and nothing seems strange or off-key.

The rest of the film is pretty straight forward and there's no "shocking" things taken out. Some lines have been trimmed down or removed. Bail Organa witnessing the padawan's death is gone - probably for pacing, I don't know. Some things that I thought may have been taken out such as the Yoda's/Sidious fight and Padme dying of "unexplained circumstances" or a "broken heart" remains. But it's the editors work and I applaud the editor for it.

Finally, Jar Jar Who? .... midi-whatiants? Gone. ;)

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Well this is it - the best of the best of Star Wars Prequel edits. I've watched a bunch in my quest to finally enjoy the prequel and this is as close as it gets. Editor Darth Awesome does an excellent job boiling down the plot of three movies to focus on Anakin, cut the cheese from the originals and give us a glimpse at the Clone Wars era Star Wars universe. The result is an enjoyable Greatest Hits of the Prequel trilogy and a surprisingly engaging Anakin character study.

Darth Awesome does a great job in cramming a ton of story into under three hours. The coolest battles are still seen here and the fat is trimmed. Most surprising is how much the Anakin and Padme relationship improves onscreen thanks to this edit. Sure, it plays out like an episode of Star Wars' Dawson's Creek, but I mean that in the good melodrama, soap-opera-y way. It makes Anakin a relatable, tragic character. It was the first time I thought that Hayden Christensen actually did a decent job. That's all to Darth Awesome's editing credit. Darth Awesome also does a killer job transition from Ep. 2 to 3. The way he handles the start of the Clone Wars is masterful as he moves into Ep. 3.

There are a couple technical nitpicks, though minor. First, you can't walk into this edit blind to the story or characters. There are some narrative jumps that are made that you have to overlook. Characters come and go - even our introduction of Ep. 2 Anakin is jarring if you don't know who he is already. However, if you're hunting down a fan edit of these movies, you're probably already a fan; it's a minor complaint. More pressing are a couple of hard transitions that would be nice to see softened up - particularly working in an establishing shot for Obi-wan arriving on Kamino and a little more clarification on the cloning process.

Overall, this is the most fun I've had watching the prequels. It doesn't fix them - that's impossible. Editing can only do so much. Darth Awesome pushes the craft to the limit here. For those days you are nostalgic and think that you should give the Prequels another shot - this is the edit to watch.

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I thought this was a really interesting take on merging the 3 prequels into one film. It certainly covered all the main elements that contribute to episodes 4, 5 and 6. It seemed very well done and certainly felt seamless. The only crits I have would be,

1) I think the crawling into text should always come at the start. Personally, other than letting us know who Qui Gon Jinn is, I felt the Darth Maul sequence could be missed out.

2) I felt the discovery of the clone army seemed very dumbed down. I remember it being a bit more exciting in Attack of the Clones and it was a lot more mysterious and interesting seeing the clones in production and training.

Other than that I was pretty impressed. I enjoyed seeing the deleted scenes inserted into the film as I hadn't actually seen those before. Good job :)

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Whilst nothing can be done to save the terrible acting and over-use of CGI, this edit distills the essential elements of the prequels narrative making a far more cohesive story. This goes to show how those three movies should have been one film, it was far more enjoyable told this way, it felt like I'd just watched a full narrative arc rather than three flabby movies full of so much dead weight. The editing is unnoticeable and expertly done.

For those of you who really don't like the Star Wars prequels, this is an ideal chance to see how it might have been done more successfully as a tight and focussed story.

Well done Darth Awesome, you did a fantastic job.

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Excellent boiling down of episodes I, II, & III which widely believed to be the weakest of the currently released material (I-VI). To be honest I don't have a lot of faith that the upcoming VII, VIII, and IX will be worthy BUT I wanted my kids to see understand the story line of the first three (3) episodes with out forcing them to watch the almost eight (8) hours of content. This fanedit successfully does the job. Were some of the subtle points missed, yes, but the trade-off was more than worth it. If you haven't watched the first three (3) episodes and aren't a Star Wars purist, watch this fanedit and thank the editor. A lot of work must have gone in to this. Thanks.

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