J.J. Abrams has revealed that there were actually 20 deleted scenes taken from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens final cut. The first cut was originally two hours and forty minutes, and by the time it reached the final, it was only two hours and 16 minutes. That means somewhere along the way, 24 minutes were removed from the film to bring us what we have today.
All in all, 20 full scenes were cut, and that’s not counting some of the scene moments and snippets of dialogue that were removed. Before the cutting occurred, many of the scenes had nearly completed the special effects. Some full characters were even removed.
About this extensive editing process, Abrams told Entertainment Weekly the following.
“Sometimes you discover that things you would have cut off a limb to shoot on the day are absolutely inconsequential, and in fact less impactful than if you were to remove it … As much as you try to kick the tires and write and shoot only what is necessary — no one wants to waste anyone’s time — when you’re in the editing room you realize, for instance, that introducing the character there actually diminishes their power. Or, giving that information actually distracts you from what you should be concentrating on. Or, having that moment happen concurrent with that moment actually gets in the way of both — things like that.”
Without further ado, we’ll discuss some of the scenes removed from the original. But first, it’s important to note that the rest of this article contains spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, it’s wise not to continue.
You know how in the film, Rey comes across the original lightsaber of Luke Skywalker? The blue one, not the green one he wields in Return of the Jedi? Well, the film was originally supposed to open by panning over a dismembered hand (Luke’s hand that Darth Vader cut off in Empire Strikes Back) holding a lightsaber. This scene almost made the cut, but it was eventually removed late in the process.
General Leia vs. The Senate
In the final cut, General Leia doesn’t show up until about halfway through the film. But originally, she was supposed to appear much earlier, as she had a conversation with Korr Sella of the Galactic Senate. They were supposedly discussing her case to take direct action against the First Order. Sella, who was played by Maisie Richardson-Sellers, didn’t get to have her shining moment in the film, but she did appear briefly in the balcony scene when Starkiller base charges their weapons and destroys Hosinian Prime, where the Galactic senate resides.
Finn’s Journey to the Nima Outpost
After Finn and his pilot friend crash-land on Jakku, it’s assumed that he treks his way to town where he meets Rey, but that journey is never shown. However, one piece of concept art in the book The Art of The Force Awakens, shows a figure holding a jacket trying to hitch a ride into town. He flags down a ship filled with ruffians who make rude gestures and drive right past without slowing down.
Luke Skywalker Explained
J.J. Abrams, upon first making the film, was concerned that the younger generation who didn’t grow up with the original trilogy might not know who Luke Skywalker is. For that reason, Rey was originally supposed to ask who Skywalker was when it was revealed that the droid was holding a map to his location. However, it would have seemed strange that anyone in the Star Wars universe wouldn’t know who Luke Skywalker was, so instead, the line was replaced with “I thought he was just a myth,” and those who didn’t know who Skywalker was could figure it out through the context of the rest of the movie.
Maz Kanata Has the Force
One revealing and humorous scene was removed that showed Maz Kanata using the force after her castle was under attack from stormtroopers. It shows a humorous back and forth conversation between Maz and Han as she asks Han to distract the stormtroopers so she can concentrate enough to drop a section of roof on them. This scene also shows how Han Solo knows Finn wasn’t part of the resistance, because he was wearing stormtrooper boots.
When the film comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray, it’s likely that these cuts and more will be revealed on the special features of the disc. Then you can see for yourself what was removed and maybe recognize why it was taken out of the final cut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
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