I’m not going to rehash the whole history of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” its extensive reshoots, and the massive editing process, but Ben Mendelsohn perhaps best summarized how it all went down.
“We did have multiple, multiple ways of going at any given scenario, we had multiple readings of it. So should they ever decided to, there would be a wealth of ways of approaching these different things. And I know from having seen sort of the crucial kind of scenes throughout it, I know there’s vastly different readings of at least four of those scenes,” the actor said in December, adding that you could probably fashion a different version of ‘Rogue One’ from the excised footage.
“Absolutely, with enormous differences within I would’ve said 20 or 30 of the scenes,” Mendelsohn confirmed. “There really would be. There would be enormously different renderings.”
Indeed, the trailers for ‘Rogue One’ had a wealth of footage that wasn’t in the final movie (we exhaustively broke it down), however, it sounds like all that material is going to stay in the archives. Doing the rounds for the home video release, Edwards said (not entirely convincingly) that the deleted or alternate scenes don’t work on their own, and that’s why they were not included on the upcoming Blu-ray.
“The stuff people talk about, like what they saw in the trailer, they’re not scenes you can just put on a DVD. They’re moments within scenes and threads, and you pull a thread and it all changes. It was changing the whole time. It’s not like there was one version and then there was this other version — it was like this thing that incrementally evolved constantly through all of post-production and didn’t stop until there was a gun at our heads and we were forced to release the movie,” he told Fandango.
Perhaps the most famous shot to be left out of the movie was Felicity Jones‘ Jyn Erso facing down a TIE fighter, but Edwards is leaving that sequence a secret. “….it’s going to have to remain a myth because it’s sort of the thing where you’re trying ideas out to find the right version of the movie, and at the same time marketing is getting excited about certain shots and moments. Eventually you’ll see something presented to you and you’ll be like, wait a minute, this shot is no longer in the film,” he added, while also saying the VFX for many of those scenes are still unfinished.
All along there’s a sense that Edwards and co. were really flying by the seat of their pants, and that’s true when it comes to Darth Vader, where it was a very late decision to have the iconic character board the rebel ship.
“He arrives and obliterates the Calamari ship, and then the blockade runner gets out just in time and he pursues the blockade runner. And then [editor] Jabez [Olssen] was like, ‘I think we need to get Darth on that ship,’ and I thought, yeah, that’s a brilliant idea and would love to do it, but there’s no way they’re going to let us do it. It’s a big number and we had, what, like three or four months before release. Kathy [Kennedy] came in and Jabez thought, f**k it, and pitched her this idea, and she loved it. Suddenly within a week or two, we were at Pinewood shooting that scene,” he told Fandango.
However, that wasn’t the only change made to the third act of the movie, as Jyn Erso’s journey with that big hard drive to put in the transmission tower was condensed. In the original trailers, we see her run across the beach, but all that stuff was cut, and Edwards explains why.
“I think the main thing that changed at the end…what used to happen, and you can get a sense of this in the early trailers, the transmission tower for the plans was separate from the main base on Scarif. To transmit the plans, they had to escape and run along the beach and go up the tower. In cutting the film, it just felt too long. We had to find ways to compress the third act, which was quite long as it was,” Edwards explained to Slashfilm. “And one real, fast, brutal solution was to put the tower in the base, so they don’t have to run across the beach and do all of that stuff to get there. That became a decision that eliminated the shots you see in the trailer of the back of Cassian and Jyn and the AT-ATs. That was some of the reinvention that happened. It was all to do with compression.”
Frankly, all of this stuff is super fascinating, and while we might not get the deleted scenes, here’s hoping the home video release has a lot about how they tailored and shaped the story through filming and editing.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” hits digital on March 24th and Blu-ray and DVD on April 4th.