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The Empire Strikes Back: The Fan-Made Version

To remake <em>The Empire Strikes Back</em>, dozens of fans play roles such as Luke Skywalker and Jedi master Yoda, seen here training on the planet Dagobah.
Star Wars Uncut
To remake The Empire Strikes Back, dozens of fans play roles such as Luke Skywalker and Jedi master Yoda, seen here training on the planet Dagobah.

Have you seen The Empire Strikes Back Uncut? If you have, there's a chance you're one of the hundreds of fans who contributed their own scenes to recreate the Star Wars classic in full.

A follow-up to 2010 Emmy-winner Star Wars Uncut, the film is a pastiche of live action, stop-motion and animation that shows both the contributors' talents and their passion for the original material.

The movie signals that this isn't the regular Empire from the start, as the appearance of the 20th Century Fox logo, with its stately drum roll and fanfare, is interrupted by a TIE fighter that's blasted off the screen. What follows is a painstaking recreation of the 1980 film, pieced together from nearly 2,000 fans' submissions, each of them about 15 seconds long. The final product gains some continuity and heft by borrowing from the original's score and audio.

The film was posted to the official Star Wars site and its YouTube channel Friday. Led by Casey Pugh, who created the Star Wars Uncut project, it includes the familiar scrolling introduction, with some amendments:

"Evading the dreaded 8-bit Imperial Starfleet, a group of cardboard freedom fighters led by Claymation Luke Skywalker has established a new secret parking garage base on the remote sugarcube world of Hoth."

Is that really what happens? We can't say. At more than 2 hours, the film requires more commitment than we could give it, and it's packed with "bonus" material. (The Verge has assembled a guide to some highlighted scenes.)

We can confirm the film's sense of humor and charm — click to the 10-minute mark to see an inspired mock product placement, for one example.

There are also jokes and oddities — but for an admitted fan, the cumulative effect of watching dozens of these scenes, and seeing the devotion and care that went into retelling a familiar story, is a reward in itself.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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