Director:  George Lucas

Starring:  Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman

WARNING: This article contains spoilers!


There’s a fine balance to be struck when preparing supplemental bonus materials for a DVD (especially when, as here, so much is being offered). Fans, of course, want to see absolutely everything. More casual viewers might only want to spend an hour or two watching the extra footage. There’s a wealth of material on this disc, almost enough to please everyone, and certainly more than enough for less dedicated viewers. There are two documentaries that form the core of the disc. They’re much more focused on specific aspects of the production process than The Beginning (the hour-long documentary on Episode I disc) and complement what was on The Phantom Menace disc very nicely.

From Puppets to Pixels – Digital Characters in Episode II   [52’17”]

This documentary begins with footage from behind the scenes of the original trilogy, showing how creatures like Jabba the Hutt and Yoda were created using puppets or full-size props. That’s how it used to be done. Lucas has revolutionised the industry over the last decade or so, advancing the art of special effects to the point where now virtually anything that can be imagined can be put on the screen. Huge chunks of Episode II were shot using, or augmented with, computer generated backgrounds, creatures and characters. The film’s commentary track is very revealing: it often points out which elements of a shot were real, and which were created electronically. Sometimes this is all too obvious, but the extent that these techniques were used in the film will come as a shock to many viewers. For example, even though the clone troopers feature in numerous scenes, in shots that vary from close-ups with dialogue to long shots with hundreds (if not thousands) of them on screen at once, the filmmakers never made a single clone trooper costume: in every shot they’re CGI characters.

The documentary examines the creation and evolution of several key characters, including café owner Dexter Jettster, but focuses on the task of turning Yoda from an “874-year old frog” to an ass-kicking martial arts master, for his duel at the climax of the movie. The documentary puts the animators in the spotlight: as Lucas wryly notes, digital actors will never replace real actors, at least not while real animators are needed instead! The documentary never gets too technical (although some basic knowledge of the techniques involved will help viewers appreciate what’s happening on many of the close-ups of computer monitors that are featured), and there’s time for some levity, too (including a nice moment where veteran Hammer star Christopher Lee is confronted with a Yoda stand-in with vampire fangs! 

State of the Art – The Pre-Visualisation of Episode II  [23’25”]  

One of the key advances for Attack of the Clones was a much more extensive use of animatics (video mock-ups of action scenes, using relatively crude computer animation, or models). These have virtually replaced traditional  storyboard techniques on hi-tech, big-budget productions like Episode II. This documentary demonstrates how there have been huge technical advances since animatics were used on  the original Star Wars trilogy. Viewers may well be astonished by a sequence showing scenes from the original Star Wars movie, side by side with the archive war footage that inspired it – they’re virtually identical! 

Lucas explains that many sequences are now very closely modelled on the animatics, allowing him and his editors to prepare a rough cut of any given sequence, even allowing Lucas to determine exactly how long each shot needs to be (a valuable piece of knowledge, when every second of computer animation may cost thousands of dollars). Three key sequences are featured here: the Speeder Chase (Obi-Wan chasing Zam Wesell through the skyscrapers on Coruscant), Droid Factory (the conveyor belt scene) and the Clone War finale. The use of animatics also gives the actors something to look at when they’re being shot in blue-screen sets. Lucas is rapidly evolving a new way of filmmaking, by shooting tiny elements of shots that will be composited together later. The documentary wraps with a few goofy shots woven into the end credits (similar to those gleefully included on the Shrek and Toy Story discs). 

Deleted Scenes

There are seven entirely new deleted scenes, and one that’s an extension of an existing scene. These can be played with or without introductions from Lucas, Ben Burtt and Rick McCallum, explaining their context and the reason why they were ultimately dropped. There are references all over the disc to deleted scenes that haven’t been included, (including a shot of the “naked” C-3PO on location in Tunisia, where Anthony Daniels spent “days” shooting it, apparently). It’s obviously Lucasfilm’s intention is that people will only get to see deleted scenes when they’ve been fully completed to the same high standard as the rest of the film, which is obviously an enormously expensive process, and very time consuming. I’m sure fans of the series would have been ecstatic to see unfinished versions of some of the still-missing scenes, but they'll have to settle for what's here! The scenes included on the disc are:

Padmé Addresses The Senate

This scene was intended to be included near the beginning of the film, shortly after the first assassination attempt on her life.  In it Amidala pleas with the Galactic Senate for peace, as the consensus of opinion shifts towards Palpatine’s “New Order” option: war.

Lucas dropped the scene, choosing to personalise the threat to his lead characters, rather than overtly politicise the situation.



Jedi Temple Analysis Room

Obi-Wan Kenobi visits the Jedi archives, where two floating analysis druids attempt to trace the source of the only clue to the identity of Zam Wesell’s killer, the poison-tipped sabredart.

The scene was dropped because it was a transitory scene that didn’t add anything to the plot: at the end of the scene neither Obi-Wan nor the audience was any the wiser.



Obi-Wan and Mace – Jedi Landing Platform

A good example of Lucas’ masterful use of virtual sets, this scene, in which Obi-Wan expresses his concerns about Anakin’s suitability as Amidala’s bodyguard, and his development as a Jedi Knight, was re-written, moved to a different location (the Jedi temple, which allowed Lucas to add Yoda to the scene), and shuffled to a spot earlier in the film. As a nice continuity point, the scene ends with Obi-Wan leaving in the Jedi starfighter that we see him in when he arrives at Geonosis.



Extended Arrival on Naboo

This is a longer version of the scene where Anakin and Amidala arrive at the Naboo capital. In this longer version the trio cross the square,  discussing Amidala’s first visit to the capital, and how her parents were concerned for her safety while she was Queen.



Padmé’s Parents’ House

A scene that Lucas admits was “very difficult to cut out”, this is a very nice sequence: Padmé visits her parents and sister with “bodyguard” Anakin (wink wink) in tow. It’s a shame this was dropped since it’s a situation that will be very familiar to many young couples, and would have been a rather pivotal point in their blossoming relationship, (despite Padmé claims their relationship is “strictly professional”).



Padmé’s Bedroom

An extension of the Padmé’s Parents’ House sequence, this is a little pointless. The main purpose it serves is to further expand on Padmé’s back-story, using a series of holographic animated pictures hanging on the walls. For some reason, it’s also yet another scene of Amidala packing a suitcase! When Padmé’s Parents’ House was ultimately deemed disposable, it was inevitable that linked scene would also hit the cutting room floor.


Dooku Interrogates Padmé

Following their capture by Boba Fett and the Geonosis factory workers, Padmé and Anakin are brought before the enigmatic Count Dooku, who offers to release Obi-Wan in return for Amidala surrendering Naboo to his alliance (“The Republic cannot be fixed… it’s time to start over…”) This scene was dropped because Lucas felt that the focus had moved away from Obi-Wan for too long, and ultimately chose to replace it with the scene of Dooku offering a similar deal to Obi-Wan.



Anakin and Padmé on Trial

Considerably less interesting that it sounds (especially if the title brings memories of the Klingon trial in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country to mind), this short scene is a continuation of Dooku Interrogates Padmé. Anakin and Padmé are sentenced on espionage charges, and sent to appear in the arena. This scene was dropped partly because it made it obvious too early that Count Dooku was a villain, but mainly as a consequence of the interrogation scene being dropped.



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