'Empire Strikes Back' Fan Edit Mixes Classic and Special Editions
If it ever bothered you that the color of the snow on the planet Hoth looks more blue than white, then you’re in luck. A new fan edit of The Empire Strikes Back has been released, which rolls back changes from the derided special editions but still uses stuff from the special editions, and it has its own original reshoots, too. In addition to worrying about the color of snow, this project is also concerned with the Emperor in a hologram being both old-school and new-school at the same time. Confused? Here’s the deal.
The Empire Strikes Back Revisited is a fan edit that has been underway since 2009. But as of August 12, 2017, the person behind it says it’s done. He calls him himself Adywan and touts his vision of Star Wars as “what the special editions should have been!” The basic concept here is to “fix” editing and VFX errors with the existing versions of the classic trilogy, i.e. the 2004 DVDs. To be clear, again, this is not a de-specialized edition but instead, a Star Wars potpourri, where the editor kind of chooses what he likes from the special editions and the classic versions, too. At one point, Adywan apparently tried to reshoot the Wampa sequence with his wife in a bespoke Wampa costume. Really!
This project produces a few strange sentences. For example, it’s tough for even a hardcore fan to wrap their mind around the concept of “the original 2004 Emperor edited to match the 1980 dialogue.” If you’re wondering whether or not the Emperor is a time traveler, he’s not. But this Emperor stuff does represent the entire project in a microcosm. In 1980, the Emperor was not played by Ian McDiarmid like he was in 1983’s Return of the Jedi and all the prequels. Back then he was voiced by Clive Revill, who sounds nothing like McDiarmid. So, when Lucas did the special editions, he put McDiarmid in there as the Emperor. As far as special edition changes, this doesn’t seem like a big deal? Nothing like approaching the blasphemy of Greedo shooting first. Right?
Well, here’s the rub. When Lucas put a new/old Emperor in the Empire Strikes Back, he changed the dialogue. The Emperor’s speech in the special edition of Empire is full of a lot more keywords, like “rebel” and Death Star” and “Anakin Skywalker.” So, for his “revisited” project, Adywan looks at this and fixes it; he puts the canonical Emperor (McDiarmid) into the scene but edits it to where the dialogue is closer to the Revill version from 1980.
All in all, it’s an impressive —albeit confusing — undertaking. Making the outside snow scenes look white rather than blue seems like an arbitrary choice. Plus, if one has ever read a biography of George Lucas, they’d know he was obsessed with color palettes. What’s the big deal with the blue lighting on Hoth? Does it look too fake? Have fans out-George Lucased George Lucas, finally?
By combining the gloss of the special editions with the simplicity of the original versions, the Revisited edit neatly represents the entirety of hardcore Star Wars fandom in one project. Here is a place where retcon, fan canon, and nitpicking details all live together, struggling to restore a balance to the Force that may never actually be possible.