Last Jedi recut erases Girl Power

Daisy Ridley
Daisy RidleyPHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

An unnamed person has edited Star Wars: The Last Jedi to remove all significant women's scenes

LOS ANGELES •Which planet are you from? Even within the community of men's rights activists for whom it was made, Star Wars: The Last Jedi: De-Feminised Fanedit is a divisive film.

It pares the run time of the original 21/2-hour Last Jedi to 46 minutes by deleting "most shots showing female fighters/pilots and female officers commanding people around/having ideas" as its unnamed creator described it.

But its production flaws become apparent a few seconds in. The iconic opening crawl has been censored so that the name of the leader of the Resistance, General Leia Organa, is removed from the text. Her rebellion has become a generic "Resistance".

Ironically, the creator forgot to remove Leia's name from the Chinese subtitles that scroll across the frame for the entire length of the remake - an unavoidable legacy of the camcorder bootleg from which Fanedit appears to have been made.

Subtitles notwithstanding, Leia - actress Carrie Fisher's final film role before her death in 2016 - has been removed entirely from the recut's opening battle between the First Order and the Resistance at D'Qar, where she censures and demotes flyboy Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) for a risky attack that cost many (male and female) lives.

"The intro sequence is now very watchable and actually much cooler without all of Leia's nitpicking," the recut's creator wrote.

Unfortunately, the general's absence also makes the fight incomprehensible. It is unclear who the protagonists are until the film is a quarter way finished.

She now seems more graceful and real to me.

''THE RECUT'S CREATOR on Rey (Daisy Ridley)

In one of many lurching cuts, Fanedit blinks from the battle at D'Qar to the planet Ahch-To and, for the first time, shows a woman doing anything besides taking orders from or staring silently at men.

Luke Skywalker is somehow in the middle of training Rey (Daisy Ridley), the heroine of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, who has come to train with the Jedi master. Rey mostly just waves her lightsaber around in the air while Luke talks at her. "She now seems more graceful and real to me," the creator noted.

After Luke spends a few minutes telling Rey about heroic things he did in past episodes of the franchise, the re-edit cuts back to space, where Leia's son, Kylo Ren, blows up her ship. In the original film, Kylo actually does not have the heart to fire on his mother and leaves the job to another bad guy.

The film's central villain is "more badass and much less conflicted" in the new version, the creator said.

After the explosion, you see Leia floating lifelessly through space.

In the original film, as the Washington Post's Michael Cavna wrote, her unexpected resurrection made audiences cheer, weep, gasp and laugh in their seats. Her coma, recovery and victory may have been the movie's most powerful arc - especially in light of Fisher's death post-production.

In the recut, Leia just dies in space. That way, the creator explained, she is not around for most of the movie to scold the closest thing to an alpha male in the Resistance: ace pilot Dameron.

The recut could not manage to similarly reconcile Laura Dern's character, the "unflinching vice-admiral in the lavender-tressed" Amilyn Holdo, with the creator's notion of femininity. So the admiral was simply deleted. In her place, Dameron is conscripted to fill in a plot-critical suicide mission, where Holdo saves her fleeing colleagues by making a hyperspace jump with the Resistance cruiser Raddus into the First Order's flagship.

Ironically, Poe's death means that his own heroics in Last Jedi's finale, where he leads the remaining Resistance fighters to escape, have to be scrubbed out of the remake along with the scenes of female bravery.

What more can one say about the re-edit? The men left behind are just sort of there, reciting lines and making gestures that make little sense in a plot that is still driven by women, whether they are invisible or not.

Even the recut's creator acknowledged the futility of this endeavour: "The flow of the shortened movie is still somewhat coherent. (Could be done better, but was lazy.)."

And it shows. Only 66 people tried to download Star Wars: The Last Jedi: De-Feminised Fanedit, which is free.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2018, with the headline 'Last Jedi recut erases Girl Power'. Print Edition | Subscribe