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Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Mystery of Star Wars phantom edit
The Phantom Menace
The Phantom Menace: New edit is 20 minutes shorter
A re-edited version of Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace is causing a stir among Star Wars fans.

The Phantom Edit is shorter than the original by some 20 minutes, according to website Zap2it.com.

Tapes are circulating around the Hollywood community - but no-one knows who made the film.

Created by an anonymous fan calling himself the Phantom Editor, the edit removes scenes and dialogue that disillusioned fans when the original version, directed by George Lucas, opened in May 1999.


I have re-edited a standard VHS version of The Phantom Menace into what I believe is a much stronger film

The Phantom Editor
And a web site has sprung up dedicated to message board postings from fans about the legitimacy of the re-edit.

Lucas has said he is delighted with the idea, although he has not yet seen the new version.

"The internet is a new medium, it's all about doing things like that," he told Zap2it.com..

Much of supporting character Jar Jar Binks's footage, including an underwater city scene, is omitted in the re-edit.

A scene where Jedi-to-be Anakin meets the Jedi council has also been altered.

The new version has a different opening signature scroll to the original, in which the Phantom Editor expresses his disappointment.

The scroll reads: "Being someone of the George Lucas generation, I have re-edited a standard VHS version of The Phantom Menace into what I believe is a much stronger film by relieving the viewer of as much story redundancy, pointless Anakin actions and dialogue, and Jar Jar Binks, as possible."

George Lucas
George Lucas: "The internet is all about doing things like that"
Speaking in an interview with Zap2it.com, the Phantom Editor said that the process of editing took four months.

He states that "the intent was not to simply remove footage that I didn't like for the sake of making it shorter".

Jeanne Cole, a spokesperson for Lucas' company, Lucasfilm, added: "At the end of the day, this is about everyone just having fun with Star Wars."

She said the company did not pursue fans "as long as nobody crosses that line - either in bad taste or in profiting from the use of our characters".

Eclectic director Kevin Smith, whose films include Clerks and Dogma, was widely rumoured to be the anonymous editor, due to his deep fascination with Star Wars.

Many of his films feature a Star Wars-related speech and/or in-joke.

But a message on Smith's official website says he "had nothing to do with the project," although, unlike George Lucas, "he has seen a copy."

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See also:

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