Star Wars: Deleted Magic

Paul R. Potts

This is a follow-up to my “Through the Binoculars” essay in which I discuss remembering scenes that were never actually present in the original 1977 Star Wars movie. I again mention the “Nostalgia Edition.” There is no edition by that name, but you can look for an amazing fan project called the “Despecialized Edition.” That project’s introduction says:

Born out of frustrated fans’ failed attempts to convince George Lucas to release the unaltered theatrical versions of the Star Wars Original Trilogy films (Episodes IV, V, & VI), the online forum community built around a popular petition hosted at turned to discussion of fan edits as a means to obtain their shared goal without Lucas’ help. Eventually, a fan restoration project led by Harmy as the primary video editor resulted in what he called the Despecialized Editions.

It isn’t for everyone, since you will need some serious computer skills to be able to download the fan-made film and play it back. But if you’re game, Google “Star Wars despecialized,” and see for yourself just how deep this rabbit hole goes.

There’s a fan-produced documentary called Deleted Magic which assembles a variety of Star Wars deleted scenes, together with outtakes, and puts them in context with bits of the release film. It’s a labor of love.

After watching portions of this, I’ve come to realize that no, I never did see the “deleted scenes.” Why? Because they are pretty different from my “memories” of them. These memories are probably conflated from my reading of the novelization, hearing audio versions, and seeing images from the deleted scenes (for example, the Star Wars bubblegum cards — I had complete sets — had some images that weren’t in the actual film release, such as shots of Luke wearing his poncho and shots of Biggs on Tatooine).

Many of the things in the deleted scenes are actually referenced in scenes in the theatrical release: for example, the blue milk shows up on the dinner table, Luke makes reference to Toschi Station and Anchorhead, and also talks about Biggs. I probably conflated the exploding red droid with the one Luke calls “Treadwell” in the unused footage.

What’s frustrating is that it has been left up to the fans, who love this work, to preserve the lost footage and put it in context. That should have been Lucas’ job. If he had an actual appreciation for what was great about the original Star Wars, it would have been a labor of love for him, something he relished doing. “Deleted Magic” would have made up the bonus disc to the “Nostalgia Edition” of the original Star Wars. Instead we have Lucas redesigning CGI explosions, and then redesigning them again.

I recommend Deleted Magic, if you can find it. (Hint: Google “Star Wars Deleted Magic.”) You’ll get to see Koo Stark as one of Luke’s friends, the voice of David Prowse as Darth Vader, and other amazing bits and pieces!

Ann Arbor, Michigan
November 3, 2006

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