Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – What Is the JJ Cut?
The JJ Cut. It might sound like the name of a lethal, and therefore banned, breakdancing move. And look, it might be. But the JJ Cut some Star Wars fans are talking about lately is a rumoured version of The Rise of Skywalker that includes swaths of material that was allegedly cut by the malign gloved hands of Mickey himself, jowls quivering, minutes before diving into his Scrooge McDuck-style money pit. Or by Disney execs, anyway.Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has been, to put it mildly, divisive. This writer happens to have loved it, seeing it as an antidote to the cynicism and world-weariness of 2019, but there’s no denying that it felt… well, rushed. Partially because it had to close a lot of the doors that Rian Johnson flung open with The Last Jedi, but also because it had to wrap up a nine-film saga somehow. The co-writer of The Rise of Skywalker, Chris Terrio, told Awards Daily the following:“Of course, as a writer, it breaks your heart to leave stuff on the table that you think would have given the story more depth and nuance and to give the characters more to do. Speaking for myself and not on the part of the studio, I do wish there could have been a ‘Part 1’ and a ‘Part 2.’”This is where the JJ Cut is getting its oxygen. Well, some of it, anyway.
What Is the JJ Cut of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?
According to anonymous Reddit user “egoshoppe”, there’s a JJ Cut of Star Wars that hits the three-hour mark. This user posted a fairly complex breakdown detailing a slew of supposed leaks from “someone who worked closely on the production of TROS and works for one of the major companies I cannot disclose here.” The thread, which can be read here, claims a lot of things: that TROS director J.J. Abrams clashed with Disney throughout the entire process; that Abrams wanted two films, and Disney said no; that the JJ Cut exists and “will always exist.” (Like a Force Ghost!)Actor Dominic Monaghan, who played Resistance member Beaumont Kin spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about footage that didn’t make the theatrical cut. “Like a lot of Star Wars fans, I’m hoping there will be a director’s cut so we’ll get to see more and more of the stuff that was filmed… I wasn’t there all the time, but even in the short time that I was there, there was so much stuff filmed that didn’t make it to the theatrical version,” he said, before going on to detail scenes that had to be ditched, further stoking fans.Much like with the probably-mythical Snyder Cut of Justice League, a cabal of fans seems convinced that the evil studio holding the purse strings made savage cuts to an auteur’s work, and are holding the pure, untampered version of that work in a vault somewhere.From the sound of it, none of the reported cuts would necessarily be a bad thing to see put back into a future edit of the film. If anything, the film needed more time to breathe. The recent release of the Visual Dictionary allowed Lucasfilm to canonically massage some much-needed clarification back into The Rise of Skywalker, and the new trilogy in general. We learn how old all the characters are, exactly how long Luke was gone for (six years), that Darth Revan is canon, exactly what a “force dyad” is, how Rey repaired Anakin’s lightsaber, that Kylo got his Wayfinder from Mustafar, and more. See? Lots of glorious clarification.But these clarifications came in the form of an ancillary text, an optional quasi-textbook. What exactly would this apparent JJ Cut have actually put back into the film itself?
What Is in the JJ Cut of Star Wars: The Rise of Skwalker?
Let’s start with what Monaghan said could end up part of a JJ Cut. First, he detailed a scene where he helps Billie Lourd’s (daughter of the late Carrie Fisher) character Lieutenant Connix with an injury sustained during battle. He also said that his character, Beaumont, got more backstory that didn’t make it in.Chris Terrio, who shares a screenplay credit on the film with Abrams, answered complaints that Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico had been sidelined in The Rise of Skywalker, explaining that some of her scenes with Fisher — who was included via footage shot for The Force Awakens — were cut due to technical reasons. “One of the reasons that Rose has a few less scenes than we would like her to have has to do with the difficulty of using Carrie’s footage in the way we wanted to. We wanted Rose to be the anchor at the rebel base who was with Leia. We thought we couldn’t leave Leia at the base without any of the principals who we love, so Leia and Rose were working together. As the process evolved, a few scenes we’d written with Rose and Leia turned out to not meet the standard of photorealism that we’d hoped for. Those scenes unfortunately fell out of the film.” These scenes, presumably, would’ve given Rose, and the film, more depth.But the bulk of claims as to what we lost in the theatrical release come from that unnamed source on Reddit.First, according to the source, “Older actors were included like Hayden [Christensen], Ewan [McGregor] and Samuel [L. Jackson] and anyone who wasn’t animated. The force ghosts weren’t meant to be voices because they shot that footage on camera. The actors were in costumes. Rey was supposed to be surrounded by the force ghosts to serve as sort of a barrier between her and the Sith surrounding them.” And why did this content get cut? “My source thinks but can’t 100% confirm that this is because of China.” (Roger Guyett, the visual effects supervisor for The Rise of Skywalker, has suggested to Yahoo! that an Anakin Force ghost was never going to appear in the film.)The source allegedly went on to detail scenes in which: Rose interacted with Rey at the front of the film; Kylo’s Mustafar massacre was longer; Naboo, Kashyyyk and Kamino appeared in the lightspeed skipping sequence; and Jannah was confirmed to be Lando’s daughter.The thread also detailed that apparently Han’s appearance in front of Kylo was Leia’s doing, but that this “flew over people’s heads with the Disney cut.” There’s mention of Finn moving an object using the Force, a cadre of contemplative moments with Rey and Kylo, and, apparently, Abrams hated their kiss. Also, it seems the director fought to make the much-hoped-for-in-some-quarters Finn and Poe romance happen. Why would anyone stop John Boyega and Oscar Isaac from going at it like a couple of porgs on a hot summer afternoon? Because Disney are evil, the cry returns! Wake up, sheeple!
Will the JJ Cut of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Ever Be Released?
Ostensibly, this Reddit thread is a litany of fixes to perceived problems; a neat parry to each thrust into the heart of the haters. If you thought something was missing, this thread asserts that someone higher up at Disney has schemed to keep it from you. The film you want, whole, complete, intact, is just out of reach. All you have to do is rally. All you have to do is #ReleaseTheJJCut.But there’s the thing: There probably isn’t a JJ Cut.We’re not disputing that there are deleted scenes — and we’ll be more than happy to gobble them up on Blu-ray. And what’s more, we’d welcome an extended edition of the film! Hell, bring it on! Fill it out, insert stuff that there wasn’t time for. But our balking at this movement forming to liberate some mythical, superior version of the film from the clutches of Disney is less about wanting to see the scenes, and more about trying to move away from the paranoiac backlash.It’s a distortion of reality. And it’s further polarising a needlessly polarised fanbase. Star Wars isn’t meant to make you feel dirty; it’s meant to make you feel happy, hopeful. Here’s what Obi-Wan himself, Alec Guinness, said after seeing the original Star Wars: “There’s a wonderful freshness about, like wonderful fresh air… When I came out of the cinema, I thought… London’s sort of gritty and dirty and sort of rubbish, isn’t it? Because this had all been so invigorating.” So why can’t we all feel that way now?Also, to just get down to basic logic, the Reddit post that started all this JJ Cut stuff says one of the reasons Disney supposedly cut Abrams’ film into what we got was… to take a shot at Warner Bros., who Abrams recently signed a big production deal with.“WB wants Abrams for some DC projects,” reads the post. “My source said that this generation’s Star Wars is the MCU, and Marvel’s biggest threat is a well operational DC. They want to keep DC in the limbo that they’re in right now. Abrams jumpstarting that franchise with something like a successful, audience-pleasing Superman movie makes them nervous. Their goal is to make JJ look bad to potential investors/shareholders.”So they wanted to make him look bad by making the last Skywalker movie… bad? Come on.It’s worth pointing out that whilst The Rise of Skywalker has split critics, with a 54% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience rating is a healthy 86%, so maybe all of this fervour for a fix is needless. Lots of people love it. The film is doing just fine.From a certain point of view.
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