October 30, 2008
Here’s the review I wrote for this edit, in which I also approved it for FE.org:
Most people on this forum–and its sister site, originaltrilogy.com–know the Star Wars movies inside and out. That being said, no matter what a faneditor does, we know the story behind it and what originally happened. In the case of TMBTM’s edit, it is by and large a case of subtraction rather than addition or alteration. Despite cutting a large amount of footage in order to make each episode fit a 30-40 minute standard, the story still makes complete sense. Even the prequels. ;) Consideration was given to how scenes would play out in the future having removed certain things, and it all fits together very well. The dialogue cards were concise when possible and went into more detail when necessary. (I will get into the dialogue cards more later on.) I laughed out loud several times when reading the editor’s notes and thought ‘oh, people are going to get a kick out of this!’
I give the plot 4/5, the subtraction for perhaps not going far enough outside the original plot boundaries as I may have liked (very subjective; I do see how it should be quite close when doing a silent film version of something, as well), and for the fact that no matter how well one tries to explain the prequels, it can never fully be done. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand them, anyway.
For a long time, I had wondered if anyone had made a silent film version, completely done in black and white. Only a couple of months after I had posted my thoughts, I found out about this edit. I must say, these movies look great in black and white, especially the prequels. At ot.com, astromech said the following: “…turning the movies to black and white has actually taken a lot of the cartoonish nature away from the [CG] work.” That statement is very accurate, especially as far as the prequels are concerned. I’ve always felt they went overboard with color and light at times, and having a lack of color like this sort of mutes everything. There are times when it gives the scenes a very classic feel; the duel between Vader and Luke in ESB looks especially nice; elegant, even! Sometimes, the image is a bit too bright, but that is not the editor’s fault. It mostly happens in outdoor scenes in the PT, and to change it may have created more problems than it was worth.
Having said all that, some have mentioned that adding film grain to this may have given it more authenticity, rather than the excellent DVD quality image this edit presents. But it seems to me that that process can be hit and miss. TMBTM can certainly do this if he wants to return to this edit in the future, but I think it’s fine the way it is. Others have expressed concerns about overall brightness, but I saw no issues with this. Everything looked consistent, and the fact that these were sourced from the 2004 DVDs must be taken into consideration.
I give the image quality 5/5.
This is what this edit is all about; enjoying John Williams’ beautiful film scores in a unique way. And that music is in fine form; crisp and clear. There are several excellent cuts and substitutions present. One example is using music from ROTJ suring the pod racing scene, which seems to have been timed just for that scene, especially towards the end! The timing during the droid ship destruction and the addition of “Jedi Rocks” into AOTC were also very well timed. My favorite cut for the sheer cleverness factor may be during ROTJ right after Jabba says he likes Solo right where he is. You’ll see. The only problems I heard were a couple of times where the volume seems to ramp up for a split second, and a couple of fades and such that were a little hard.
Overall, the music selections show that a lot of thought went into them and the songs sound great. I rate the audio quality 4.5/5.
Difference to the original:
Lack of color, altered dialogue, substituted/edited music and shortened sequences make this one quite different from the original, which is good. As I mentioned earlier, the thought of a silent film version of the Star Wars movies is something I was already hoping to see before I’d heard of this edit. When all the good ideas had seemingly been done, along comes one that someone has actually made that I had a vision of beforehand. I must have had the biggest grin on my face when I read about this one.
Overall, I will give the differences a 4.5/5. If the storyline had been more significantly altered, that may have been a 5, but that’s just me.
I find this whole edited saga shows a great deal of consideration. I can’t imagine how much time and effort went into planning! I even put several hours into it, thus making this the first fanedit I’ve worked on. (My review is still unbiased, however.) I proofread and made alterations to the script/dialogue cards, most of which were implemented. Since the editor’s first language is not English, I wanted to make it seem as if it is, basically. There are a few spelling and grammatical mistakes that were missed once put into the movie (I had no advance screening, so I couldn’t help at that point), but all are small and soon forgotten.
The menu is simple, but effective, as are the dialogue cards. I kept thinking of things he may have been able to do to change them, but after a while, I thought ‘no, they’re fine the way they are.’ To gussy them up too much would be distracting, I think. The only thing I might have done was try and get the outline–including the Star Wars logo–a little smoother looking. As for amount of time the cards are on screen, no problems there. The viewer will always have plenty of time for reading, with no feeling of ‘get on with it’ at any time. One thing that made me smile a few times are some of the wipes he used. Pretty clever at times. I especially liked one that went from Vader’s meditation chamber to the battlefield of Hoth.
I rate overall presentation 4.5/5.
All in all, it’s hard to believe this is TMBTM’s first fanedit contribution to the site. It is a definite winner, and any fan of these movies should have it in their collection. I see no reason to delay adding this to the FE.org main page. If TMBTM wants to return to this edit and do some small tweaks, he’s more than welcome, but for now, I say this edit is approved.
P.S. I have now submitted further tweaks to the dialogue cards for TMBTM’s next version of this project. He has also posted samples in the FE.org and OT.com threads for these edits of what they could look like, all sepia’d up, with scratches and film grain added. They look nice so far.