Roderick Vonhögen's Virtual Edition ~ Through the Force, things will you see ~ Roderick Vonhögen's Virtual Edition ~  Through the Force, things will you see ~ Roderick Vonhögen's Virtual Edition ~  Through the Force, things will you see ~
Indy's Idealistic Ending for Episode III
by forumer Indy500.
Part One
Since the release of the Star Wars Special Editions I have held a suspicion that George Lucas may be planning to create an epilogue-style ending for Episode 3, by finally utilizing the infamous cut Tatooine footage of Luke Skywalker and his childhood friend, Biggs Darklighter. Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter, two shooting stars that will never be stopped.
B ecause it was filmed for the very opening sequences of the original Star Wars, it just so happens that the content of this footage now serendipitously forms the perfect bridge that would link the Prequel trilogy with Episodes 4, 5, and 6. Could Lucas in fact be planning to make this deft final stroke which would quite effectively bring the making of the Prequel Trilogy (and indeed, the making of the entire six part saga) full circle ?
I will present the various pieces of evidence (found in the existing Star Wars films, and other official Star Wars related media) which seem to point towards the possibility of seeing the cut Tatooine footage at the end of Episode 3. Before I get to these items, however, I feel it is important to first clarify exactly why we never saw the missing footage in the first place. Why was it not in the film back when Star Wars was originally released in 1977, nor in its subsequent and slightly modified video releases, or even still not included in the heavily modified 1997 ANH Special Edition re-release?
Most die-hard Star Wars fans have seen, read, or at least heard of the as-of-yet unused Tatooine scenes featuring Luke and his best friend Biggs, and there are many who believe George cut the footage from A New Hope because of "poor acting," or "bad dialogue." This is not the case. His editing decision is explained in Laurent Bouzereau's book, "Star Wars - The Annotated Screenplays" :

When George Lucas shared his ideas [for ANH] early on with friends and colleagues, they kept telling him that it was a bad idea to start the film with only the droids, that it was too much like his first film, THX 1138 (1971), and that he should introduce Luke, his leading character, at the beginning of the story:

LUCAS: "So I did it, and I shot it, and I looked at it. It worked okay, but it wasn't great. I could not get out of my mind that poetically speaking I really wanted to have this clean line of the robots taking you to Luke, Luke taking you to Ben, Ben taking you to Han, Han taking you to Princess Leia. I wanted each character to take you to the next person. I finally said, 'I don't care what people say, that they don't like this movie about robots.' I thought they were charming, interesting, and entertaining. They weren't cold like the robots in my first film, THX 1138. So I just decided to trust my heart, and I structured the story that way because of the way I felt about it, not because it was logical."

He's right. I love the way ANH has the linear "droids > Luke > Ben > Han > Leia > Rebels" progression to it. Introducing Luke immediately after the opening shot of the Star destroyer rumbling overhead, and then again showing him saying goodbye to Biggs right after the droids land on Tatooine would have definitely muddied up that beautiful "clean line" within the film's first half, just as George said. Let me point out that when he says, "It worked okay, but it wasn't great," he's not talking about the contents of the footage that got dropped. Rather, the word "it" refers to the "poetic flow"/linear progression of the film's overall beginning narrative, as it stood in that particular ANH rough cut which introduced the hero too soon. After all, that is the issue that George expounds upon and clarifies for us, not some complaint about acting or dialogue. When you think about it, such a complaint wouldn't make sense, really, since it was Lucas himself who wrote the dialogue, and it was also Lucas directing. It stands to reason then that he was able to get the performance that he wanted from his actors.
To further illustrate this point, consider the following. Many have criticized the dialogue (particularly between Anakin and Padmé) in Attack of the Clones, and have yet again accused George of "bad directing," or being a "bad writer." In the following quote taken from the book, "Star Wars - Mythmaking - Behind the Scenes of Attack of the Clones," Lucas responds to the dialogue and acting issue :

"I was happy with the way it turned out in the script and in the performances, but I knew people might not buy it."
The [firelight] scene typified the script's old-fashioned style. "Let's face it, their dialogue in that scene is pretty corny. It is presented very honestly, it isn't tongue-in-cheek at all, and it's really played to the hilt. But it is consistent not only with the rest of the movie, but with the overall Star Wars style. Most people don't understand the style of Star Wars. They don't get that there is an underlying motif that is very much like a nineteen thirties western or Saturday matinee serial."

So, despite the ignorance of those critics who are all too eager to accuse him of being "out of touch" as a writer/director, we see that in actuality George Lucas is very deliberate concerning the script dialogue he writes. He's totally aware of how he directs his actors and how the resulting scenes play, and there's no reason to think that things should have been any different for him back in 1976 with the filming of the Anchorhead scenes. He undoubtedly was satisfied with his script for those scenes, as well as the resulting performances of Mark Hamill, Garrick Hagon, and the other actors involved. The fact is, he simply had to make an objective editing choice and did what was best for the pacing of his film's first reel, despite the fact that it meant losing some great character establishment between Luke and Biggs, as well as the foundation of their story arc. One would think, then, that if George thought it were possible to get those missing scenes back into the story without disrupting the narrative flow of ANH's beginning, he would seize the opportunity.
Well, that opportunity presented itself in the mid-90's, when the believability of ILM's cg Jurassic Park dinosaurs convinced George that the time was right to go ahead with his long-awaited Star Wars Prequel trilogy. The Star Wars ANH Special Edition became the "testing ground" for this ambitious endeavor, and George approached the ANH SE project fully aware that his original trilogy was about to become part of a larger saga, ultimately comprised of six interwoven chapters. How much did this awareness of the bigger vision factor into his decision to re-insert Luke's reunion scene with Biggs back into the story? Issue #35 of the SW Insider magazine contains a great article by David West Reynolds entitled, "Anchorhead - The Lost Scenes." I tend to agree with Reynolds in his assessment of the cut footage when he says, "the scenes play extremely well." He also writes :

"...for the Special Edition, George Lucas and Rick McCallum restored most [emphasis mine] of Biggs' Massassai flight-deck reunion with Luke. But Anchorhead remained as distant as ever."

The inclusion of Luke's reunion with Biggs into the ANH Special Edition is the first and foremost clue that points towards eventually seeing the missing Tatooine footage at the end of Episode III. I will examine several facets of this curious piece of evidence in the next instalment.
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