The Phantom Edit is a fan edit of the movie Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, removing many elements of the original film. The purpose of the edit, according to creator Mike J. Nichols, was to make a much stronger version of The Phantom Menace based on the previous execution and philosophies of film storytelling and editing of George Lucas. The Phantom Edit was the first unauthorized re-edit of The Phantom Menace to receive major publicity and acclaim.
It was originally circulated in Hollywood studios in 2000 and 2001, and was followed by media attention. Salon.com, NPR, PBS, and the BBC all covered the edit to various degrees.
Rumor attributed The Phantom Edit to Kevin Smith, who admitted to having seen the re-edit but denied that he was the editor. The editor was revealed to be Mike J. Nichols of Santa Clarita, California in the September 7, 2001, edition of the Washington Post.
Available on VHS, DVD and later via BitTorrent, the DVD contains two deleted scenes and a commentary track by the editor as well as a few easter eggs. The DVD version has also been relabeled as Episode I.II, has a slightly different podrace from the VHS version, and contains more extensive editing to individual images and sounds that have not been entirely cut.
Originally, George Lucas, director of the original film, appeared to tacitly approve of the edit. By the end of June, however, Lucasfilm had reversed its position, warning fans that the edit was infringement.
Changes made from the original film in The Phantom Edit
- Re-editing of nearly all scenes featuring Jar Jar Binks and removing some of what Nichols dubs 'Jar Jar Antics.'
- Removal or re-editing of most of the Battle Droid dialogue
- Limiting of exposition throughout the film
- Trimming scenes involving politics
- Re-arrangement of shots and scenes to match the original Star Wars trilogy's presentation style
- Removal of "Yippee" and "Oops" from Anakin's dialogue
- Removal of dialogue that specifies the nature of midichlorians as a biological basis for Force sensitivity.
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