Title: Star Wars – Dark Destiny
- Runtime: 1hr 7 min
- Author: Unknown
I ran across this incredible fan edit mashup of The Phantom Menace and The Empire Strikes Back. Don’t believe how that could work? Believe it. The film squeezes the entire Phantom Menace into the end sequence of Empire when Darth reveals himself to Luke. That’s right, it’s a wild idea that totally works.
The film starts off with Luke shooting away from Degobah in his X-wing fighter, and next thing you know he’s on Bespin, looking for Han. The editor assumes that you’ve already seen Empire, and in fact, this film runs like episode 5.1, but at a runtime of just over an hour, it would be more like a DVD bonus feature than a full length film.
Luke makes his way to his confrontation with Vader, but it’s been paired down to focus on Luke. The sequences where Lando helps Leah, Chewie and the droids escape has been taken out, and a few other elements have been removed. The drive is to get us to the Bespin core, since we’ve already seen Empire.
Once on the bridge, things begin to change drastically. Now, as Darth and Luke talk, we get a flashback and voiceover from A New Hope. It’s intercut with the dialog, so when Vader says “Obi Wan never told you about your father.” we immediately get a cut to Obi Wan with his (shortened) voiceover.
Then, right when Vader says, “Search your feelings,” we get a shot of a very evil looking Anakin from Episode III. This is a tease to get you interested in the whole prequel concept.
From there, Luke looks down into the blackness of the Bespin core, and the camera zoom extends down into the depths for a fade to black, which brings us to ship-filled star field from Episode I. This is not the opening of Episode I however, but the invasion sequence. The original opening has been cut. We jump forward to two Jedi who leap out of some ramparts and rescue the princess. The fighting is continuous. From there, we cut brilliantly straight into the fight in the hanger, where the heroes make their escape. No ‘earth’s core’ sequence at all. The space battle with the R2 units remains however.
From there, we cut to a very angry emperor and Darth Maul, which makes sense. The trade federation says that the princess has escaped, but we cut to the princesses ship, where they find that they fuel cells have been damaged. That’s a nice bit of editing, as the sequence is different in the original film.
Now our heroes land on Tatooine to buy parts. These long shots are shortened significantly. There is less walking, and Qui-Gon Jinn gets directly to the shop he needs. The editing is seamless. Once in the shop, he quickly exits, leaving the princess alone with Anikin. What’s nice about this sequence is the addition of a closeup on young Anikin, as you can see below. We can see a lot more expression and emotion as he talks to Padme, close ups that would have enhanced the original film greatly.
The best editing is when Qui-gon buys the engine part. All we see is a very short shot of him in the junk yard nodding in agreement, then leaving. That’s it. No words. We get it. He got the part he needs. The heroes leave, only for one of them (who will remain nameless) to get into a fight with a local. Anakin shows up and stops the fight, and leads them out of the sandstorm. The next few scenes are greatly edited and focus entirely on the relationship between Qui-gon and Anakin.All the interactions between Anikin and Qui-gon are still there, although some of them are shorter. A great deal of extraneous exposition is cut, but what is left leaves us with the impression we need – that Qui-gon really cares for the boy, even though he expressly says he’s not there to free slaves. Anakin’s mother gives him a cold look and slams the door on him, sliced together with Darth Maul’s arrival.
It’s all pretty smooth, seeing as how the podrace is totally gone. In this version, they simply buy the part the need and take off. But just before their departure, Qui-gon has a change of heart and says that he needs to go back to town to take care of some business. Here, as in many scenes, Obi Wan’s lines are reduced or totally cut. The focus is on Qui-gon. He goes back to Anikin’s house and says that he’s going to take the boy. The goodbye scene has been shortened, we don’t see Anikin feeling any remorse until he’s already out the door. In this version, he never asks his mother ‘what about you’, he just grabs his bags and he’s gone. It’s a bit cold, but he does turn around and run back to his mother like in the original film. There’s another lightsaber battle, and then the characters are on Coruscant. Here, Padme’s storyline is totally gone. Totally. The entire focus is on Anikin’s training, which feels right. The Jedi agree to train the boy, and they all head back to Naboo.
Once back on Naboo, we get the final fight scenes. They are pretty much unedited, except the sequence is a bit different in the beginning and the end. Right after the emperor says ‘let them make the first move,’ we go to the scene where the soldiers come through the fog, which seems to make sense. And now the emperor says ‘wipe them out’ just before the final tank barrage in the siege sequence. We also get a close up on Darth Maul’s face, which seems like it has more impact than in the original cut
Tonally, the most important thing about the edits is the removal of the parade and fanfare from the end sequence. It is totally gone, and it seems to match the feel of the events – Qui-gon has just died, and I personally always felt that the funeral scene clashed with the celebration scenes in a very abrasive way. Here, that’s been eliminated. And most amazingly, the funeral scene’s final shot on Palpatine merges seamlessly with Luke and Vader back in Bespin. Vader’s voice even rises from the funeral pyre and says, ‘it is your destiny’ right when the camera pans to Palpatine, and then we are back in Bespin. Luke listen’s to Vader’s last entreaty, then makes his choice and jumps.
From there, the film runs to the end of The Empire Strikes Back without a change, probably because the editor was exhausted. Overall though, at an hour and 7, Phantom Menace only gets 40 minutes of runtime, and we get the most action pact and emotionally powerful elements of that film. On top of that, you get to see the most thrilling sequences in Empire.
This edit isn’t perfect. It was made in Windows movie maker or iMovie or some other free or cheap software, and some of the scene transitions are not smooth. The sound jumps at some, but not all of the cuts. The video was exported in low quality. But it is still highly watchable, and makes you wish someone had taken one more swipe at the script of Phantom Menace, which could have been a great film.
I’ve seen a lot of fan edits, and I can never stomach The Phantom Menace, no matter how you edit it. Until now. Putting in scenes from Empire, one of the best films of all times, helps a lot. This edit also moves so quickly and smoothly, and retains all the best parts (while cutting out the immaculate conception and the mitochlorians) that I’d have to say that this is the best version of Phantom I’ve ever seen, and most clever.