This Star Wars mega-trailer offers us a thrilling sense of what might have been

Topher Grace’s Star Wars Always supercut blends footage of the best-known films to suggest a radical vision for the saga

Imagine if all of the Star Wars movies had been produced by a single creative mind across 20 years or so, as opposed to being developed over roughly half a century as a mixed bag of movies courtesy of wildly varying creative forces. The result, shrunk down into miniature, might have looked something like a new Star Wars Always trailer posted this week by actor and superfan Topher Grace, which blends footage from 10 of the best-known films into a remarkable, seamless five-minute cut.

Fleetingly, it’s possible to imagine how Star Wars might have looked if the dreaded prequels had left Jar Jar Binks in his Gungan hellhole, and excised 99% of Anakin Skywalker’s emo tendencies. In fact, the future Darth Vader isn’t seen prior to his teenage years – no pod racing on Tatooine here (though it’s impossible to get rid of him altogether without ruining the trailer’s flow). Bouncing Zebedee-Yoda from Attack of the Clones is also kept firmly in his box, while none of George Lucas’s hapless CGI additions for the 1997 special edition versions of the first trilogy are allowed to rear their ugly digital heads.

There are, however, jarring moments when Alec Guinness’s Obi Wan Kenobi fondly remembers his old friend Anakin and when Hayden Christensen’s image flashes up. Almost 15 years after Revenge of the Sith hit multiplexes, it is still tempting to imagine an alternative reality in which an entirely different trilogy of prequels made it into cinemas. How might those movies have looked if they were a little more rugged, better cast and freed of the need to tell a history that would have been better left as shadowy, half-imagined myth? Christensen’s whingeing, wooden delivery manages to ruin even the Yoda scene on Degobah in Empire Strikes Back.

Surprisingly, the trailer’s Han Solo segment, which includes footage of Harrison Ford in the original trilogy (and The Force Awakens) and Alden Ehrenreich in last year’s Solo, isn’t so painful to watch. Might Ron Howard’s movie eventually stand the test of time better than the prequels have been able to? Likewise, the short segments from Rogue One in the mix are easily blended, just as Gareth Edwards’s film somehow added organic, naturalistic weight and depth to the first trilogy.

The trailer’s title, Star Wars Always, nicely flags up the saga’s penchant for stylistic symmetry, as Vader cuts down Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars and Kylo Ren tries and fails to do the same to phantom Luke in The Last Jedi. There is even a cheeky spin on Yoda’s famous line in Empire when discussing Luke’s status as the light side of the Force’s last hope with ghost Obi-Wan: “No, there is another.” Many fans have assumed the Jedi master was referring to Carrie Fisher’s Leia, but what if he really meant Daisy Ridley’s Rey? A stretch perhaps, given that Lucas had a completely different vision for the final trilogy of Star Wars films than Disney has given us.

If the trailer represents the best bits of the older and newer Star Wars movies, blended with the least-worst bits of the prequel trilogy, then that perhaps tells us everything we need to know about the saga’s current legacy. Somewhere out there is probably a completely different cut with a lot more Jar Jar, segments on Anakin’s romance with Padmé Amidala and the awful CGI band from Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. The only reason to watch it would be to marvel at the folly of the creative decisions involved.


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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