As research into a book project about the writing and editing of the Bible and the writing and editing of the Star Wars Saga, I made my own edit of The Phantom Menace.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Silent Menace
“No illogical dialogue. No annoying voices. No racist accents. All the best visuals. All the best music. An all new script.”
How is it different compared to the original?:
When watching a foreign movie without subtitles the viewer must re-invent the characters and story in their own imagination. By applying this exercise to The Phantom Menace, I realized I had something in mind far more entertaining than George Lucas’s original script. It also fit far better with the themes, relationships and continuity of the Original Trilogy.
So, The Silent Menace is The Phantom Menace completely re-imagined and re-written based entirely on the visuals and John Williams score. All dialogue is removed and replaced with subtitles, allowing for a new script, many new story elements, new character development (including backstories for major characters), and new relationships between the characters. Cutting and reordering footage allows for more logical and connected action sequences.
The soundtrack is replaced by the John Williams score from The Phantom Menace, plus individual tracks from other Star Wars movies. The pod race, which for the most part ran without music, includes the sound design from the original movie plus additional music from the Attack of the Clones and the Original Trilogy soundtracks (with all two-headed commentary removed).
I’ve been working on this edit on and off for about a year. In total I spent about 130 hours editing. For a taster of what it looks like, check out this video of the opening action sequence:
For all the technical challenges, the most interesting and rewarding part was re-writing the story and characters. For example, Qui-Gon Jinn gets some interesting backstory, and new science fiction elements are brought in to make more sense of Jar-Jar Binks and Queen Amidala. There’s a lot more besides, but I don’t want to give too much away.
So how can one watch The Silent Menace? It turns out that fan edits fall into a copyright grey area. The whole process works on the honor system, with the understanding that anyone who either makes or, just as importantly, watches a fan edit has personally bought the original unedited movie for home viewing on DVD. A fan edit is not a bootleg, nor is it a free download. If you want to watch this edit, you must already own a legitimately purchased copy of The Phantom Menace.
Even after explaining that, and despite the fact I created this as research for an academic book project, I’ll not be sharing files or links publicly. If you want to find out more, or want to watch the movie yourself, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
The movie is also listed on the Internet Fanedit Database, a part of fanedit.org where, to be listed and reviewed, an edit of a movie must pass a pity stringent quality control test.