Utter the words, “A long time ago,” and certainly most anyone not living under a rock could complete the statement that began one of the most popular and influential films in American movie history: Star Wars.
It's been a long, successful road for creator George Lucas. With two more Star Wars sequels, and of course, the Indiana Jones films, fans have praised him for all his creative efforts from the late '70's, and on through the '80's.
However, criticism for George Lucas shifted in the late '90s when he re-issued the Star Wars trilogy. The Star Wars Special Edition trilogy came issued with brand new CG effects to bring the film up to code to current films using the technology. Along with these additions, Lucas also made changes to the film that upset many fans of the film series. From adding a CG Jabba the Hutt, to changing a scene where Han shoots a gangster before he gets shot.
To top things off, Lucas released his prequel trilogy, and while it made big money at the box office, again, many fans were turned off by the wooden acting, and excess of CG effects that some say made the films seem distant from the Star Wars films they knew before.
No need to worry about this anymore. Welcome to the age of the fan editor. What is a fan editor? Ever watch that movie, and everything was perfect except one line, or a whole scene even? Most likely someone agreed with, and decided to take matters into their own hands.
Today we are only talking about fan edit, however; and that edit is Adywan's Star Wars: Revisited.
Adywan is the fan editor code name for Adrian Sayce of Shrewsbury, UK. In his edited version of the very first Star Wars film, you will find roughly over 200 adjustments, including facial movements in the Cantina aliens, and re-colored lightsabers.
“I began work on Episode IV Revisited about May-June 2006,” Sayce said. “It all started with color correcting the 2004 DVD. For some reason the coloring of this set had a strange blue tint to it and this made things look unnatural and not how the film had always looked before coming to DVD; so I had a lot of work to do on that. Then there was the task of fixing many errors within the movie, mainly continuity errors, and I also enhanced all of the visual effects and created some new effects shots and sequences to bring Star Wars into the 21st century and bring the visuals closer to those seen in the prequels to help the two trilogies blend together better.”
Sayce says that his desire to tweak the film came from a deep love for the Star Wars film.
“I have always been a huge Star Wars fan since I first sat in the cinema in 1977 as a 10-year-old when I first saw that huge stardestroyer passing overhead in the opening sequence. Then, many years later, I came across a Star Wars edit by two other fan editors by the aliases of A Digital Man and Darth Editous. I was really impressed by what they had done with the edit. I had always wished that the Star Wars Special Editions had more of an overhaul than just adding a few things here and there so I decided that I would make my own version with all the things I wanted the special edition to be," he said.
If you seen Sayce cut of the film, you might assume he has a history in film editing on his resume. This is what makes Sayce impressive. He had no prior editing training.
“I had messed around with a few movies, just for personal pleasure, but these were just adding in a few deleted scenes to make an extended cut. I had never done anything on the scale of revisited, or even dreamed that I would be able to. Revisited was the first time I had ever done any sort of visual effects work and I had to teach myself how to do all this while I was doing the edit and I'm still learning more every day. I have been totally self taught,” Sayce explained.
Like Star Wars: Revisited, these fan edited films are high quality pieces of work for the most part. It used to be that you could only find this level of work in Hollywood. Sayce says things have changed lately.
“I think that now that the tools to be able to create your own edits are more freely available and PC's have become more powerful that it has given people the opportunity to do things they couldn't have a few years ago. As fan edits become more widely seen it is giving people the incentive to create something for themselves. But the fan edit is no longer just tied to editing a movie. Fan editors are also creating their own "making of" style movies. Star Wars fans should really check out "Building Empire" and "Returning to Jedi" by Jambe Davdar. These are two of the best fan edits on the web, integrating behind the scenes footage into the movie," Sayce said.
After two years of work on Star Wars: Revisited, Sayce says he had some tough moments during the editing process.
“There were times that i just wanted to give up when I had so many problems like hard drives dying on me but the support I received from my family and from originaltrilogy.com was just amazing and kept me going. But I can't explain just how relieved I was when it was finally finished,” he said.
Originaltrilogy.com, and fanedit.org are the places you can find Sayce chatting it up with other fan editors about their work, and the work of others. Fanedit.org is also the site where you can locate copies of fan edited films.
To keep things legal, fanedit.org staff stress that to download any of the fan edited versions of the films, you must own the original official copy of the film. This way no lawsuits are dropped on anyone's heads. No fan editor is paid for their work. It's simply for the fun of editing, and getting to see your perfect version of your favorite film.
Currently Sayce is hard at work on his next editing project; The Empire Strikes Back: Revisited.
“Things are going pretty well. I'm only on the color correction stage at the moment but I should be onto the editing stage by about Christmas,” Sayce explained. “Apart from the color correction, it won't be as an extensive edit that Episode Four was because I think Empire is the best movie in the saga. I probably won't be adding any new scenes so it will mainly be new effects work and will be closer to the original 1980 version with most of the special edition additions taken out.”
And the rest of the Star Wars saga?
“I plan on completing the whole saga. I haven't really made any plans for them yet apart from the fact that C-3PO won't be built by Anakin or even seen in the prequels until Revenge of the Sith, and Return of the Jedi will have a new ending,” he said.
If you would like to take a look at Sayce's Star Wars revisited, you can learn how to download your copy at fanedit.org. If you would like to see trailers for Star Wars: Revisted, or The Empire Strikes Back: Revisited; you can go to youtube.com and search under Adywan's Star Wars.
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