The Complete Star Wars “Filmumentary”: A 6‑Hour, Fan-Made Star Wars Documentary, with Behind-the-Scenes Footage & Commentary

Who owns Star Wars, George Lucas or the fans?

The short answer now, of course, is… Dis­ney… and maybe J.J. Abrams. Giv­en the explo­sion of fran­chis­ing and mer­chan­dis­ing begun by the com­ing tidal wave of new Star Wars films under Disney’s aegis, it will some­day be dif­fi­cult to con­vince young­sters that things were ever oth­er­wise.

But in my day [insert old man wag­ging fin­ger here] the crit­i­cal debate was between Lucas and the fans. I’m pret­ty sure the fans won. The world-build­ing of Star Wars will out­last its cre­ator and its first cou­ple gen­er­a­tions of devot­ed view­ers, and the grand tra­di­tion of Star Wars fan films—begun almost imme­di­ate­ly after the first Star Wars’ release with the fond par­o­dy “Hard­ware Wars”—will live on. Star Wars fan films even have their own annu­al awards pro­gram.

There are many micro-gen­res of Star Wars fan film: Ani­me, Silent, Crowd-sourced, Action Fig­ure, etc. Today we bring you per­haps the best exam­ple in the Doc­u­men­tary cat­e­go­ry, a “Com­plete Fil­mu­men­tary” by film­mak­er Jamie Ben­ning. Although pre­sent­ed here in order of the first three Star Wars movies, this stel­lar exam­ple of fan craft and devo­tion actu­al­ly began in 2006 with the film right above, Build­ing Empire, which offers over two hours of “video clips, audio from cast and crew, alter­nate angles, recon­struct­ed scenes, text facts and insights into the devel­op­ment and cre­ation of The Empire Strikes Back.

Next, in 2007, came Return­ing to Jedi, anoth­er exhaus­tive pre­sen­ta­tion of out­takes, behind-the-scenes moments, audio com­men­tary, tech­ni­cal details, and triv­ia from the first trilogy’s final film. Final­ly, in 2011, Ben­ning com­plet­ed his fan doc­u­men­tary tril­o­gy with Star Wars Begins at the top. “If you’ve nev­er seen the delet­ed scenes of Jab­ba the Hutt or Big­gs Dark­lighter on Tatooine, or heard David Prowse say­ing Vader’s dia­logue,” says the film’s press release, “then you will get a real kick out of this. Many reviews and com­ments have cen­tered on the fact that it’s like watch­ing your favourite movie but from an entire­ly dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.”

It’s also at times like watch­ing what Star Wars might look like in an alter­nate uni­verse. Some delet­ed scenes and ear­ly demo footage show us plot points and char­ac­ters we nev­er knew exist­ed. In Star Wars Begins, for exam­ple, we see an ear­ly black and white silent edit, known as the “Lost Cut,” and fea­tur­ing a droid named “Tread­well” who resem­bles Short Circuit’s John­ny 5. As fan films demon­strate, again and again into seem­ing eter­ni­ty, the Star Wars uni­verse is infi­nite­ly malleable—despite con­stant bick­er­ing over canon—and offers end­less rich­es for imag­i­na­tive plun­der. And for that we’ll always have the films’ orig­i­nal cre­ators to thank. Benning’s painstak­ing­ly-edit­ed doc­u­men­taries show us the incred­i­ble amount of work that went into build­ing the world of Star Wars, a world that shows no signs of ever com­ing to an end.

Jen­ning’s fil­mu­men­taries will be added to our list of Free Doc­u­men­taries, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

via Men­tal Floss

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Mak­ing of The Empire Strikes Back Show­cased on Long-Lost Dutch TV Doc­u­men­tary

Joseph Camp­bell and Bill Moy­ers Break Down Star Wars as an Epic, Uni­ver­sal Myth

Hard­ware Wars: The Moth­er of All Star Wars Fan Films (and the Most Prof­itable Short Film Ever Made)

Star Wars Uncut: The Epic Fan Film

Frei­heit, George Lucas’ Short Stu­dent Film About a Fatal Run from Com­mu­nism (1966)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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