Fan Film, Fan Films

Gray Areas: Deleted Magic From Star Wars


So let’s say you’re a Star Wars fan—a really biiiiiig fan (and I ain’t talkin’ the kind whose Jabba The Hutt T-shirt has a life-size photo on it). Let’s say you’ve seen every ‘making of’ documentary (been there), read all the behind-the-scenes books (done that) and briefly kidnapped Mark Hamill so you could have him in your collection (wasn’t me, honest). Even if you did all that, you still wouldn’t know all the amazing stuff in Garrett Gilchrist’s jaw-dropping documentary, Deleted Magic.

All cheap jokes aside, this is perhaps the greatest fan-created project ever, because it really does the impossible: It took a movie that I love but which I have zero desire to ever see again, and made it Brand New. And if that ain’t magic, I don’t know what is.

Simply put, Gilchrist gathered together every documentary, cable TV special, promo VHS, video press kit, deleted scene (Luke and Biggs chillin’ on Tatooine) and more, and built a Frankenstein, psudo-rough cut of A New Hope. Slicing all that footage into little pieces, he reassembled it all in the order of the original movie, and threw in Pop-Up Video-style factoids across the bottom of the screen about whatever you’re watching. The result is the ultimate annotated version of the movie. You hear Dave Prowse (the guy in the Vader suit) doing dialogue in his own squeaky voice, discover alternate plot points that got cut out, see mistakes and bloopers in the movie pointed out to you, and much more.

Gilchrist went to USC to learn film editing and apparently it suited him. The most fascinating parts of Deleted Magic are when he points out the subtleties of editing, showing how a nip here and a tuck there saved a turgid (ooh, an SAT word), slow flick and made it a classic. Watching this, it becomes clear that a lot of the movie’s success was due to George Lucas’s then-wife, Marcia, who was the film editor. Purely conjecturing here, perhaps the series’ eventual slide could even be attributed—in part—to the fact that her critical perspective wasn’t around, as they went separate ways around the time of Empire. Regardless, if you read between the lines here, Gilchrist makes a strong argument that the original 1977 movie is as much hers as it was his.

That’s not to say that Deleted Magic is perfect; sometimes you get too much of a good thing. For instance, the Cantina scene is presented twice—once with the original, boring rough edit, and once with the final edit after they did last-minute reshoots on a set the size of a teabag. Believe me, one trip to the bar would have sufficed. Similarly, Lucas’ rough edit of the climactic Death Star battle had no tension for one very good reason (I won’t give it away here, but you’ll see that Marcia saved the day). Gilchrist admirably tries to recreate that early edit, but the result is that it works too well—the big finale is as dull as a Lifetime TV movie.

Despite the flaws, however, Deleted Magic is one of those shows that makes you tell people, “Dude, you gotta see this one.” You can find it (of course) on YouTube, divided into segments, but it’s best appreciated in one continuous swoop on your TV. For that, you’ll have to go to the Deleted Magic website and get instructions on how to download the DVD version.

It’s fair to ask, “Is this legally safe to download?” Maybe, because the documentary might be allowable under the fair use doctorine, and some official Star Wars people definitely know about it (Here’s a photo of Carrie Fisher—that’s Princess Leia to you and me—at an autograph signing; the disc to her left is one of Gilchrist’s copies of Deleted Magic). That said, while this documentary has been making the rounds on the net for a while without anyone getting sued into a galaxy far, far away, download at your own risk.

And with all that said, well…Dude, you gotta see this one.

Deleted Magic website

Like this story? Tell the world:

One Response to “Gray Areas: Deleted Magic From Star Wars

  1. Go Green With The Shamelessly She-Hulk Fan Film! | Fan Cinema Today
RSS for Posts RSS for Comments