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9.6 4 10
Documentary/Review August 24, 2020 1749
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The description for this states that it's over 5 hours long (maybe there's some other version out there?) but what I watched was a single-sitting documentary, 2h50m from starting credits to ending fade-out. It's a pretty comprehensive look at Episode III, in fact, maybe going TOO far in that it frequently looks back at the trilogy as a whole. Since Bobson has gone on to do a true 5 hour plus doc for Episode I, I'd like to see a new version of this that cuts out the Episode I and II behind-the-scenes footage to avoid duplication.

I actually watched that Episode I doc first, and I think it unfortunately hurts my appreciation of this one, which Bobson made a year earlier. It suffers by comparison in that it doesn't have the clear chapters of the Episode I doc, and it's sometimes hard to see what the throughline is. The footage is assembled in a way that doesn't feel as clearly thematic and have such a clear progression as in the other doc. There's also the matter that the audio levels and quality jump up and down massively between sources. The video quality differs quite a bit as well. Effort put into unifying these somewhat across the sources would really help this to feel more like one coherent documentary instead of just a bunch of featurettes in a playlist, sometimes with pieces of footage repeating.

If you haven't seen much on Episode III, there's quite a bit of nice information here that takes you into the process. The most interesting bit for me was a segment following a digital "reel" from when it's shot through the process to where it ends up in the final work. It's a great insight into how shooting on digital has fundamentally changed the filmmaking process. It was also interesting to hear some of the bits where the actors reflect back on the challenges of shooting these kind of films, with so few actual physical bits and having such a struggle to make the material emotionally connect. It's the most frank criticism (sometimes SELF-criticism) I've heard from anyone in the Prequel Trilogy.

I do wish Bobson hadn't put so much of that negative material at the end though, as the film felt like ending the trilogy on a high note for me, but the doc trends downwards and then stops on some uber-Star Wars geeks waxing poetic about the old films. I think it was meant to end on a funny note, but the tone overall ends up feeling cynical at the end to me. This one should feel like Lucas' victory lap, so I think the footage would benefit from rearranging a bit.

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