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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

when a boy becomes a Jedi

It seems that a missing scene from Return of the Jedi was screened for fans at Celebration, the big Star Wars convention this past weekend, and some guy in the audience who is very excited by lightsabers camcordered it. It’s not embeddable, but you can watch it at Gawker. (Then come back here.)
This scene will be among the deleted scenes included on the new six-film Star Wars blu-rays George Lucas has just announced will be released in Fall 2011. (I might have to finally give in and buy a blu-ray player.)

I hope Lucas includes the scene in which Luke meets Biggs on Tattooine after Biggs has been away at the Imperial Academy. I remember seeing a photograh of Luke with Biggs on Tattooine in a Star Wars storybook, a picture that I knew for sure was not in the movie… which may have been my first introduction to the idea that of all the story that’s on the screen in a movie, there could be more than that still waiting to be seen. I was maybe eight or nine years old at the time, and I’ll never forget that revelation.

Astonishingly, those Luke/Biggs bits are on YouTube. I can’t believe Lucas hasn’t had them pulled down:

Whoa.



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  • Dokeo

    The scene of Luke in the cave activating the lightsaber feels very familiar…was it in the novelization?

    The bit with Vader seems like it belongs at the end of Empire Strikes Back, when Luke gets rescued and hears him telepathically while in the sickbay of the Falcon.

    But it’s been years since I’ve seen these now. I have the VHS tapes of the original version of the original trilogy, but no longer have a working VCR. And I won’t shell out any additional $$ to Lucas until he makes the first-run versions available on DVD. I get that he wanted to fix them — ’cause the special effects and story-line were so crappy that no one liked them in the first release — but I want the “real” ones!

  • Chuck

    I can see why the scenes were cut, they ruin the pacing of the movie. The discussion of how Biggs wants to join the Rebellion is just way too long. It’s good back-story, but it’s just too long. Makes me think Lucas probably fought tooth and nail to keep it in and was finally overruled by a producer. Haha.

  • Mel

    Dokeo–what do you mean by “first-run”? My DVDs of the Special Edition also have what they call the originals, and they’re certainly not the computer-altered SE, so unless there’s an even more original first run, they’re already on DVD. What does NOT seem to be on DVD is any version of the SE that doesn’t have Hayden Christensen digitally inserted over Vader’s ghost, which I think makes me angrier than anything else in the SE.

    As far as cut scenes go–the radio plays run 7, 5, and 3 hours, and include quite a lot of scenes with Luke and his Tatooine friends, Leia and her father (and slimy Imperial officers), and a lot more. But what works in a radio play is quite different from what works in a movie.

  • Victor Plenty

    Chuck, according to other material I’ve read, Lucas actually wanted one of those conversations between Biggs and Luke to be the FIRST scene in Star Wars. If true, this is an amazing revelation about Lucas.

    The awe-inspiring spectacle of the tiny Rebel ship being overtaken by the overwhelming, impossibly massive Imperial Star Destroyer has become so iconic now, it is difficult to fully comprehend the impact it had on theatrical audiences seeing it for the first time. It instantly grabbed people’s attention, awed them, and catapulted them into the story’s universe.

    Without that powerful opening, would the movie have been as financially successful? Would so many teenagers have still gone to see it over and over again for the rest of that summer? It’s impossible to know. But I suspect part of the reason the prequels were less satisfying is that none of them had an opening sequence comparable to the original.

    If that really was not the opening scene Lucas intended, it’s clear we all owe a great debt to the people who had the power, back then, to deny him complete creative control over that movie, and over Empire Strikes Back.

    And MaryAnn has already discussed some of what we lost because Lucas became too powerful to listen to anyone else by the time Return of the Jedi was made.

  • The scene of Luke in the cave activating the lightsaber feels very familiar…was it in the novelization?

    Yes, it was: it’s the first scene of the first chapter. You can read it on Amazon. As I posted elsewhere, I remember reading it decades ago, just after I saw the film, and that quiet little scene somehow stuck with me; so actually seeing that deleted scene was pretty darn cool. I know how that cheering camcorder guy felt; it’s not necessarily the lightsaber, it’s having that remembered scene in your head finally come to life.

    Who was that woman in the first Biggs clip?? If they’d kept that scene in, it would have doubled the number of women with attitude in the film. :-)

  • the rook

    on the other hand, removing the two scenes with biggs ruins the drama of bigg’s death towards the end of ‘A New Hope’.

    the other downside of cutting out the two scenes is that we lose contact with luke’s world before he meets up with obi wan. the loss of luke’s aunt and uncle and his decision to leave tatooine would have had more impact if we could have seen how luke fit into a larger circle of friends and family on tatooine at the start of ‘A New Hope’.

  • Jurgan

    Well, there was a scene in the Return of the Jedi radio play where Luke built his saber. There was more of it, but it didn’t have Vader talking to him. Did anyone else think, when it showed Luke in the cave, that he looked a lot like the Emperor?

  • Mel

    I think the woman in the first clip is Camie (Deak’s girlfriend? But Deak and Windy and Fixer got cut, too). She’s in the radio play.

  • JoshDM

    Star Wars needs more Porkins.

  • JoshDM

    I mean, that is just it, right there.

    He named the fat guy “Porkins”.

    Shouldn’t we have seen the inevitable coming right at us?

  • Dokeo–what do you mean by “first-run”? My DVDs of the Special Edition also have what they call the originals, and they’re certainly not the computer-altered SE, so unless there’s an even more original first run, they’re already on DVD. What does NOT seem to be on DVD is any version of the SE that doesn’t have Hayden Christensen digitally inserted over Vader’s ghost, which I think makes me angrier than anything else in the SE.

    Pardon me if this explanation turns out to be “the obvious”, but you seem confused.

    In 1997 George Lucas released the “Special Edition” versions of the trilogy in theaters, which contained several notable changes. Here are some of the major ones:

    Episode IV
    – An extended entry into Mos Eisley filled with computer generated creatures.
    – Han no longer shoots Greedo in cold blood. Greedo shoots first, then Han shoots.
    – Han meets Jabba in front of his ship before taking Luke and Obi-Wan to Alderaan.
    – Luke runs into his friend Biggs before the attack run on the Death Star.
    – A ring of fire flies out when the Death Star is destroyed.

    Episode V
    – More of the Wampa snow creature, seen eating a carcass of an animal (probably Luke’s Tauntaun).
    – Windows in Bespin/Cloud City allowing you to see outside when Leia, Chewbacca and Lando try to save Han from Boba Fett.
    – Luke screams when he falls after discovering Darth Vader is his father.

    Episode VI
    – A musical number called “Jedi Rocks” in Jabba’s Palace.
    – A ring of fire shoots out when the second Death Star explodes.
    – An extended celebration sequence in which you see places like Tatooine and Cloud City celebrating after the second Death Star is destroyed.

    On the 2004 DVD release, which is three single discs for each of the movies and a fourth bonus disc with an extensive Ken Burns documentary, Lucas changed things further. The most notable changes: Han and Greedo now shoot at the same time, and Hayden Christensen appears as the ghost at the end of Return of the Jedi.

    In 2006, in response to overwhelming fan demand for the unaltered films as seen in 1977, 1980 and 1983, a 2-disc set for each of the three movies was released, with the unaltered versions on Disc 2. However, Lucas still managed to show his disdain for fans by presenting these “first-run” versions in non-anamorphic widescreen, which is significantly lower quality and resolution than the “Special Edition”s, which have had meticulous frame-by-frame restorations and look great. They are also clearly designated as “Special Features” and not films, as if Lucas wants to remind viewers that the theatrical versions of the movies are just “extras”.

  • The short version is that if your DVDs of the films are not 2 discs apiece, then you do have the “computer altered” versions. If they are 2 discs apiece, watch the second disc when you watch the films and Hayden will go away.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Victor,

    I’m not sure the timeline of the decisions suggests what you’re suggesting.

    I think that at some point, the script for Star Wars opened with Luke. From a strict storytelling perspective, this makes sense – open on your main protagonist. Sometime in the production, I think Lucas realized – or for the more cynical of you, was convinced – of a couple of things:

    One, when he saw the shot of the ships chasing each other that the effects guys were putting together, he said “Holy shit, this is gonna change film forever!”

    Two, that the scenes with Luke were slow, and delayed any action, and he said “Let’s face it, this isn’t American Graffiti, I’m gonna have to develop characters through action, not dialog.”

    Of course, we end up with an odd situation where we don’t meet the main character until 15 or 20 minutes into the movie.

  • History of Bubbles

    I thought Lucas always wanted to frame the story with the two droids, in homage to Kurosawa’s “The Hidden Fortress” and how it followed those two peasant characters. Of course, that could be just as big a myth as the idea that he had all nine parts of the story planned out from the beginning.

    Heck, from what I hear, a lot of important elements were contributed by Marcia Lucas, George’s at-the-time wife (and an accomplished film editor in her own right) who edited the films and helped George brainstorm, but who has been all but scrubbed from public record in years since.

  • Victor Plenty

    Dr. Rocketscience, I have to admit you might be right about the sequence of decisions while the original movie was being made.

    It doesn’t change much, though. Even if the credit belongs to Lucas for having the Star Wars opening sequence unfold the way it did, it’s tough to deny that a large number of bad decisions were his, and pretty much his alone, through the history of the series.

    And yet, even with all those bad decisions, the point I’m really trying to emphasize (and probably failed to emphasize enough in my previous post) is that it’s possible that the prequels might have been much better received if Episode One had been given an opening scene anywhere near as iconic and mind-blowing as that of Episode Four.

  • History of Bubbles

    @Victor: If Episode I had had an opening scene anywhere near that cleverly done, that would have been indicative of the kinds of thought processes that would have lent themselves to creating a better movie all around.

  • Chris

    While it would have been terrible (retrospectively) to start ANH with those scenes, I don’t think they would have been out-of-place in the movie. Though Luke’s intro would be different…

    I don’t know, they might have found a way to edit it and make it work. I think those two scenes add a whole lot to the feel of Tattooine. Plus, hey, total female characters in original trilogy up to 3!

  • These are great clips, thanks for posting them, MaryAnn. It’s funny how even the deleted scenes of the original trilogy are more interesting (by themselves) than the entire prequel trilogy.

  • Dokeo

    Tyler Foster: I probably am confused. Not being 14 anymore, my life doesn’t revolve around Star Wars and its availability on DVD. When I moved from VHS to DVD, a good quality version wasn’t out. A comment on another thread mentioned that this was still the case. I still sleep fine.

  • I mean, that is just it, right there. He named the fat guy “Porkins”. Shouldn’t we have seen the inevitable coming right at us?

    LOL! Not to mention that he actually named Admiral Ackbar’s species “Mon Calamari.

    Philip Reeve–you all love Philip Reeve, right?–wrote a blog post that’s mostly about LOTR, but there’s a part about how Lucas just makes up names that sound “right” (Skywalker, Han Solo, Biggs, etc.) without having those names emerge naturally from a fully-imagined culture. I like Reeve’s footnote where he points out, as MAD magazine said, that Lucas probably chose General Grievous’ name “because ‘Hitler von Killington’ didn’t sound quite evil enough.”

    I think those two scenes add a whole lot to the feel of Tattooine. Plus, hey, total female characters in original trilogy up to 3!

    Er… four? If you’re counting Leia, Aunt Beru, and Mon Mothma in addition.

    (Okay, I’m being way too much of a SW geek over this…)

  • Tyler Foster: I probably am confused. Not being 14 anymore, my life doesn’t revolve around Star Wars and its availability on DVD.

    Well, I review movies for DVDTalk, so I know about the availability of things on DVD. Thanks for assuming I was a shut-in, though.

  • Also, I was responding to Mel, not you.

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    Ok, wow.

    One of the Star Wars graphic novels (Empire, volume 2, 2004) is all about Biggs.

    A lot of these scenes are incorporated word for freaking word, including Skywalker being called “Wormie”.

  • Ide Cyan

    Jurgan:

    Did anyone else think, when it showed Luke in the cave, that he looked a lot like the Emperor?

    I thought so too!

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