Crawl space

Here’s the Phantom Menace’s opening crawl. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s the words that scroll up the screen at the beginning of the film to tee up the plot:

Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.

Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.

While the congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict….

It’s not easy to un-Trade Federation that, but I’ll give it a go. It also needs a re-jig for visual balance. You want three roughly equal-length paragraphs, I’d have thought.

Here’s a rough first stab at a Shadows of the Force rewrite (complete with deliberately-incorrect four-point ellipsis), hastily tapped out before I need to pick up LT from school:

These are dangerous times for the Republic. Sinister forces, wielding the power of the dark side, conspire to end centuries of peace and prosperity.

In the outer rim, deadly battleships have entered orbit around the beautiful planet of Naboo. Their official mission is diplomacy; their true purpose is war.

Working in secret, the Jedi Council and leaders of the Senate have dispatched Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi to maintain peace and justice in the galaxy….

There. It’s far from perfect and I’m sure I’ll tinker with it some more as and when I dive into the script. It deliberately foreshadows opening crawls of “later” episodes, which I think is fine.

It punts out some plot specifics (which will need to change anyway) in favour of just generally setting the mood, which I think should be “erk, here comes the dark side”. I think it partly. achieves that. Oh, and it namechecks Obi-Wan (with a promotion to Jedi Knight) so you know a beloved character will be in the thick of the action from the get-go. I may bin off Qui-Gon entirely – we’ll see.

And that’s it for now, really. Er. Goodbye!

Star Wars Episode I – Shadows of the Force

I want this blog to be fun, more than anything. Fun to write, and perhaps even fun to read. I don’t know why I ever thought of that before. So I’ve come up with this incredibly self-indulgent idea to redraft the script of Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace. I know.

I’ve always thought that being a script doctor sounded about the most fun job in the world, so why not have a whirl at it for a bit of a giggle? And do something Star Wars-y to boot.

Anyway, I’m not going to tackle all that in one go. I’m just going to poke at it here and there when I fancy it: in a series of blog posts! I’ve already started, with the title, which I reckon should be Shadows of the Force instead of The Phantom Menace. Yes, I know Shadows of the Empire was a revered piece of universe expansion with a similar name, but I’m not going to worry about that. This is just for fun.

Similarly, I don’t want to get into what’s right and wrong with The Phantom Menace. I’m just going to trust my writerly instincts and change what they say to change.

Off the top of my head, here are things I think I’m probably going to change:

  1. The title (done! ✅)
  2. The Trade Federation – get all the trade stuff out and make this a straightforward tale of good and evil, because it’s Star Wars.
  3. Character names – this is tricky and subjective, but I think since the original trilogy most character names are pretty bad in the way Isaac Asimov character names tend to be pretty bad.
  4. Midichlorians be gone.
  5. Last but not least, cheesy dialogue, which for me, is in no short supply.

I don’t mean to dump on the Phantom Menace – enough of that’s gone on and it’s become beyond ugly. And I’m not saying anything I can poke at will be any better. Once again, this is just a self-indulgent exercise for my own amusement (which I’m definitely going to finish because James the tinkerer is dead.)

So there we are. You can track progress with the #shadowsoftheforce tag over in the projects section of the sidebar →