Star Whore: Giving A Shit

May the Force go with you!
By Matt Springer
June 07, 2005

For a multitude of reasons, I think it’s safe to say that George Lucas’ relationship with his fans can be a contentious one.

Not all of his fans, naturally. In fact, I bet most of them behave as fans should, and are appropriately adoring when thinking upon and speaking of the man.

Then there’s those persnickety folk who just can’t take “No” for an answer, and insist on doing something about it.

This weekend, I watched a DVD I’d downloaded off the interweb called Deleted Magic. It’s a non-profit fan project that covers deleted scenes and alternate takes from the original Star Wars.

Before you immediately assume this film is a few clicks above homemade porn in the professionalism department, let me reassure you: This is the real deal. From the start, Deleted Magic has all the slickness, bells and whistles of most studio DVDs. Yet it also boasts an obsession with detail only evidenced in art produced from great love. For example, one of the menu screens features the song performed by Jefferson Airplane in the Star Wars Holiday Special as its background music. That’s a wickedly obscure detail, one that only the diehardiest of the diehards will get, and it makes me chuckle each time I see it.

In Deleted Magic, director Garrett Gilchrist takes a bold new approach to the idea of the “extended cut,” offering what he calls a “deconstruction” of the film that incorporates all extant bits of deleted scenes, alternate visuals and audio from existing scenes, notes and clips from some of Star Wars’ biggest influences, and the occasional bit of random and fascinating trivia. It’s an innovative concept; studios love to market deleted scenes and making-of featurettes as stand-alone features on their DVDs, but there’s no reason the same material couldn’t be reorganized into a branching feature in the movie itself. Deleted Magic made me wish I could see more movies I love in this unique way.

Then there’s the video itself, the bits Gilchrist has inserted into Star Wars. I consider myself to be a pretty avid collector of random Star Wars video, and there’s plenty on this disc that I’ve never seen before. But even leaving that aside, the effort Gilchrist has made in organizing and presenting these clips is both noble and exceptional. Everything has a very logical flow; everything makes sense. Essentially, it’s all killer, no filler, which is more than you can say for your average studio-produced DVD extras.

At the end of the day, Gilchrist is laboring to do work he’d love to see Lucasfilm do themselves, but which they cannot be bothered to do. We all know there’s a vault somewhere with countless deleted scenes and alternate takes from Star Wars, just like we know they’ve got pristine prints of the non-special edition versions of the films. Yet although the fans want this product and crave this information, in the vault it remains. We will likely see uber-mega releases of all six Star Wars films someday, and yet, will they have the same love for the films that Gilchrist does? Will their work come close to being as exhaustive and comprehensive? Sadly, I think not. In a sense, we care about these movies more than Lucasfilm does.

After watching it almost two times already, I appreciate Deleted Magic a great deal, not just because it’s a fine bit of filmmaking from a talented and passionate fan. I appreciate it also because it represents the initiative of a fan who saw what was out there, discovered what was missing, and chose to fill that gap on his own when his favorite filmmaker couldn’t be bothered.

In this final summer of Star Wars, I’ll use Star Whore to document my journey through one last wacky and wanton celebration of my most insanely passionate fandom.