Another Improvement To The Star Wars 'New' Trilogy Torpedoed By Copyright

from the not-helping,-you-are dept

While fan-made movie edits aren’t particularly new, they don’t often find themselves getting a ton of attention by the mainstream public. That changed a couple of years ago when Topher Grace, of That 70’s Show fame, decided to try to learn film editing and produced a recut single film of the Star Wars trilogy (episodes 1, 2 and 3) that came out a decade or so ago. The result was a tighter, single film that decapitated a great deal of the nonsense Star Wars fans hated. Instead, it was a single movie that left in the real meat of the story, focusing on Anakin Skywalker’s relationships and his fall from grace. In other words, it’s what Star Wars films should be.

Only a few friends of Grace saw the recut film, because copyright got in the way, though it became the stuff of legend, with lots of people talking about it. Grace made it clear that he had no plans on putting his work up on the internet. So people were deprived of a recut, to some degree transformative work, despite how much the public wanted just such a thing.

Of course, Topher Grace isn’t the only one doing these kinds of edits, and isn’t even the only one looking to wrap up the early Star Wars episodes into something other than the mess that George Lucas released.

A reimagining of the Star Wars prequel trilogy edited into a single compelling movie, based on the structure conceived by actor Topher Grace. As a critique of episodes 1-3, many large plot pieces have been removed or changed to strengthen the core relationship between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. More than 100 video and audio edits heighten the main character’s tragic fall from grace.

This appears to be an even more transformative attempt than Grace’s, with scenes recut and reordered to portray an even deeper emotional storyline of the infamous Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader. Some early comments on the edited films were quite positive. I can’t provide you with my own review because, well, you’ve probably already guessed it.

UPDATE (6:58pm): And the video’s now gone, presumably removed for copyright reasons.

And so, again, viewers are deprived the opportunity to see a recut, fan-made exhibition of their own Star Wars take due to the overprotective nature of copyright holders. It’s a situation that makes little sense. You can’t even really appreciate the recut film without seeing the originals, so that you have the context of what was done. While many will argue that the finished recut film was itself a better movie than the 3 original films, the star here is the editing work, not the film itself. That’s the transformative art. I won’t go so far as to say that copyright shouldn’t even apply here, but there’s no way it’s serving its original purpose.

On top of that, forcing Jar Jar Binks down our throats by kneecapping a film that omits him/it/whatever is just mean.

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Comments on “Another Improvement To The Star Wars 'New' Trilogy Torpedoed By Copyright”

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Michael (profile) says:

I’m torn on recuts like this. While I am not a fan of copyright stifling creativity, I can see compensation for the original creator in many cases being appropriate.

Now, the original Star Wars films? When we are talking about a trilogy that is 30 years old and had a pretty big impact on culture, I think it is time to see this end up in the public domain.

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: No net?

(S)He were pointing out correctly that thanks to Hollywood’s creative accounting practices, taxes were evaded, actors and the actual creators of the movie who should have been paid from the net got nothing.

Apparently IRS is not interested in investigating large scale fraud in the billions magnitude when it comes to MPAA members.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: No net?

I am acutely aware of this. I am referencing “Hollywood Accounting” in a vary subtle joke.

If it makes anyone feel any better, I’m watching “Turn to the Dark Side” right now, and there is no way in hell this could replace the original three. Seven minutes in and it’s just the yellow rolling text and a lightsaber fight that was too long to begin with. It skips all character introductions and development. The only way it could be understood is if you watch all three full movies.

It is exactly what it claims to be. It is a fan movie exclusively for those who are already huge fans of the movies.

musterion (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think an adequate length of time is the life of the author, or if a corporate copyright, 50 years. I don’t see why the heirs should necessarily benefit for long periods of time. Perhaps the children of the author might be in for some benefit, but certainly not the grandchildren. Of course, the Disney Empire would not go for this.

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The original 14 years is more then enough to recapture expenses and make a nice profit.

After that, there is no need for government granted monopolies.

And before someone starts to whine about “owning their intellectual property”, let me point out, that preventing someone from copying is not a natural right of the creator, and copying is not stealing “expected profits” in any way.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Power of Copyright Compels You!

We … condemn, reprobate, and reject completely the books and all the writings and sermons of the said [fans], whether in [video] or any other [format], containing the said errors or any one of them; and we wish them to be regarded as utterly condemned, reprobated, and rejected. We forbid each and every one of the faithful of either sex, in virtue of holy obedience and under the above penalties to be incurred automatically, to read, assert, preach, praise, print, publish, or defend them. … Indeed immediately after the publication of this letter these works, wherever they may be, shall be sought out carefully by the [authorities], and under each and every one of the above penalties shall be burned publicly and solemnly in the presence of the [lawyers] and people.

Sincerely, Pope Leo X, Vicar of Christ on Earth.

… because that totally worked against Martin Luther.

Beta (profile) says:

unspeakable numbers

Not having seen these recuts, I find it very difficult to believe that one could simply carve a good movie out of those three monstrosities.

But, if it really is just a matter of cutting away the bad stuff and reordering the scraps that are left, then a recut version is basically just… the three prequels plus a short list of start/stop time indices. Could someone really be sued for copyright infringement, for circulating a couple of hundred numbers which are not copyrighted?

Keroberos (profile) says:

Re: unspeakable numbers

But they’re not just giving the start/stop times–they’re releasing the actual video–which is infringement.

A more interesting question would be–could you consider this fair use? They are not releasing the entirety of the three movies–just the parts used in the edit, it was not done for commercial purposes, it’s a commentary on how bad the originals were–and the only way to demonstrate that is to release this edit, and it has only limited effect on the value of the originals–the great majority of those interested in viewing this version already have or have seen the originals.

Beta (profile) says:

Re: Re: unspeakable numbers

My point is that all they have to do is release the start/stop times. There are a lot of people out there now who could take the list, grab their own copies of the prequels, put in a minute’s work, and sit down and watch the recut version. And the fraction of the viewing public that can do that is only going to increase (barring a big new turn of events in the War on General Computing).

For years I’ve been advising people to watch “The Abyss”– but skip the last five minutes or so (I have the exact time around here someplace). The first half of “The Puppet Masters” is good too. “Heroes” is great if you skip the second season entirely. And I don’t know how many times I’ve recommended a particular chapter or volume of a book, or book of a series.

Copying and distributing recuts are logically independent, and they’re now becoming practically independent too.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: unspeakable numbers

Honestly, that’s not a bad idea for a relatively simple software product.

A movie editing program that saves just the start time of a section, duration to play, and then the order in which to play them.

Then someone could download the appropriate movie files, match them to a synchronization point, and see the new cut – no included movie. It may be interesting to also then cut a movie but then play the “cut” against a different movie file to see what happens (arrange Pulp Fiction in chronological order and then play Gone with the Wind in that order?).

Now I just have to go apply for my patent so when someone else tries to do this I can profit!

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: unspeakable numbers

Not having seen these recuts, I find it very difficult to believe that one could simply carve a good movie out of those three monstrosities.
Maybe not a movie, but you ought to check out the webcomic Darths & Droids.

The premise is that Star Wars never existed, until one day a tabletop gaming group gets together to run the DM’s newest adventure, a space opera involving diplomat-knights wielding laser swords. Check the link (first comic) to get the basic idea presented better than I can explain it.

It manages to be a better prequel trilogy than George Lucas’s by using screenshots following the basic progression of the movie but replacing the dialog. And it even succeeds at turning Jar-Jar into a likeable character! (No, I’m serious. Check it out…)

marcos anthony toledo (profile) says:

reeditted Star Wars films 1to3

I would like to see this reedited film anyway Jar Jar should have not been created in the first place. There is no reference to his people in the original films he has no place really in the original cannon. Another mistake is that Hans Solo and Greko are only slightly order than Leea eand Luke and would not be born when the Clone Wars took place.

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