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Star Wars Uncut shows at DPAC

Pat McManus | Sunday, September 30, 2012


At midnight on Saturday, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC) screened the film “Star Wars Uncut,” a shot-for-shot remake of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” crafted from 15-second segments created by fans. The film is a unique manifestation of what is possible when the Internet, a huge fan base and innovative filmmaking come together. The 2010 film was directed by Casey Pugh and won a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media. 

There is a huge diversity in the way that fans interpreted the short scenes they recreated, not just in terms of live-action versus animated, but within those broad categories was a great variety of styles. 

There were spaceships beautifully rendered using computer animation techniques, interestingly hand drawn, represented by cars, or in one case, signified by a guy running through his house with a towel over his head. This multiplicity is a great tribute to the powers of crowdsourcing and the diversity humans are capable of producing, given the same stimulus. 

On the other hand, the dramatic shifts every 15 seconds or so can be quite jarring. At first it’s humorous to see Luke Skywalker played by a small girl and then a gentleman speaking Japanese in the subsequent scene. But when he is a Luke Skywalker action figure, and then a Captain Kirk action figure, and then a cat, and then a baby and then the name “Luke” on a sign, the novelty wears off. Thus, the greatest part of the movie is also is biggest flaw: its ambition. The fan film is just as long as the original movie.

The problem of the movie being essentially a feature-length YouTube video is mitigated by several factors. The first is just how well known and treasured the original 1977 “Star Wars” is. 

That’s why the project was possible in the first place. The knowledge of the original movie and strong sense of character and place George Lucas’ movie engendered enables the viewer to understand that action is taking place on the desert world of Tatooine, whether it is represented by someone’s living room or a Lego set. The iconic performance of Alec Guinness lets the audience understand Obi-Wan Kenobi, whether he is psychedelically drawn or played by a child with a shaving cream beard. 

The other element that makes “Star Wars Uncut” work is the sheer creative force of fans all over the world. In addition, loving parody or crude humor embedded in their scenes is a welcome addition. 

Some scenes were done in forms entirely different from the space-opera source material. For instance, some scenes were done as if a 1940’s noir drama, a news broadcast or an infomercial, depending of the content of the scene. 

As interesting as the movie is to watch, it must have been more fun to make. All the participants seem enthused at the chance to use their talents to make or become their favorite characters without limitations imposed on their imaginations. At starwarsuncut.com you can watch this movie or claim a scene to remake for “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Contact Pat McManus at [email protected]