How Star Wars was saved in the edit

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I still love the original Star Wars trilogy. Nothing in my life has ever come close in terms of sheer awe and wonder to that evening when I watched the first Star Wars movie in my local cinema. I was eight years old and the only film I'd seen before was 'The Cat From Outer Space'. Suffice it to say, I walked out of that cinema a different boy. Later on, as a young man, I still enjoyed the drama, the acting and the cinematography but I also enjoyed the Eastern Philosophy ideas of the Force, 'an energy web connecting all living things', and its connections to the Tao Te Ching. It was a gift that kept on giving.

Unfortunately, as many, many other Star Wars fans would agree, things went pretty much downhill from there. The Empire Strikes Back was a good movie. The Return Of the Jedi was so-so but after that… I'll say no more. Simon Pegg's brilliant rant about 'the Phantom Menace' in the second tv series of Spaced summed the whole thing up very well. What was particularly odd for me was that he did it in my local comic shop, 'They Walk Among Us', in Richmond upon Thames, which made his lament even better.

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This blog article isn't going to be a rant about what's happened to Star Wars. Instead, here's a very good documentary about how the first production version of Star Wars was a mess, and how the film's editors, in particularly Lucas's wife Marcia, changed it into something taut, dramatic and brilliantly honed. I think there are lessons to be learned here for anyone writing any story, whether it's a screenplay, a short story or a novel, and especially for anyone writing science-fiction. Enjoy!