Topher Grace Edits Star Wars Prequels

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Movie Talk' started by nwjedidave, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. nwjedidave

    nwjedidave Sr Member

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    read this over at slashfilm.com

    Last month I received a cryptic e-mail inviting me to a private screening of a new Star Wars film edited by Topher Grace — which is funny because I had no idea there was a new Star Wars film in the works, with or without Grace’s involvement. I was told the screening was a secret private event arranged only for friends only and was asked not to talk about it beforehand. The event was held somewhere in the Hollywood area in a a screening room filled with filmmakers, editors, actors, actresses and only a few press friends. I was told I could blog about it afterwards if I wanted, so here goes…

    For those of you who don’t know, Topher Grace is a film geek. He loves the Star Wars films, the Back to the Future movies and all the same signature titles of any film geek who grew up in the 1980s. He recently became interested in the editing process and wanted to learn more about the art form. Instead of cutting a short film, he wanted to use something he was more familiar with.

    His idea was to edit the Star Wars prequels into one movie, as they would provide him a lot of footage to work with. He used footage from all three prequels, a couple cuts from the original trilogy, some music from The Clone Wars television series, and even a dialogue bit from Anthony Daniels’ (C-3PO) audio book recordings. He even created a new opening text crawl to set up his version of the story.

    The result is an 85-minute movie titled Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back. It should be noted that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is almost 7 hours in total length, and the shortest film (Episode 1) is more than 51 minutes longer than Grace’s fan cut. What this means is a lot of footage ended up on the editing room floor, and a lot of creative choices were made in the editing process. And the result? Topher Grace’s Star Wars film is probably the best possible edit of the Star Wars prequels given the footage released and available.

    Whats most shocking is that with only 85 minutes of footage, Topher was able to completely tell the main narrative of Anakin Skywalker’s road from Jedi to the Sith. While I know the missing pieces and could even fill in the blanks in my head as the film raced past, none of those points were really needed. Whats better is that the character motivations are even more clear and identifiable, a real character arc not bogged down by podraces, galactic senates, Jar Jar Binks, politics or most of the needless parts of the Star Wars prequels. It not only clarifies the story, but makes the film a lot more action-packed.

    The screening last night was a private gathering of Topher’s industry friends — a event that feels like it will surely become part of Hollywood quasi-urban legend. I wish you all could see Topher’s version of the Star Wars prequels, but we were told that this would be the one and only time he would screen his cut. Of course, there are tremendous legal issues which would prevent him from screening the edit in public. He has no intention of uploading the footage online, and doing a screening at, say, Comic-Con, would require uncle George’s permission — which probably would never happen.

    I will give you a rundown of what appeared and didn’t appear in Topher’s film below, but you’ll find that Grace was able to do a lot by removing just a few central aspects of the prequels: the politics, the clone storyline, and the majority of Phantom Menace. Scenes were also cleverly trimmed to get to the point and remove the fluff.



    The opening crawl establishes that assassins have been after the queen and Jedis have been sent to intervene. Topher’s version begins with Episode I’s climactic lightsaber fight between Darth Maul (Ray Park), Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), bypassing the majority of Phantom Menace completely. Starting the story in the middle of this fight was a brilliant choice. Qui-Gon’s dying request that Obi-Wan train Anakin perfectly sets up the story.

    Grace’s version of the film(s) centers on Anakin’s training and friendship with Obi-Wan, and his relationship with Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). Gone are Trade Federation blockades, the Gungan city, the whole Padmé handmaiden storyline, the explanation of midichlorians, the galactic senate and the boring politics, Anakin’s origins (a backstory which never really needed to be seen in the first place), the droid army’s attack on Naboo, and Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) appears only briefly for only one line of dialogue, used as a set-up to introduce us to the Queen.



    The first time we see Anakin, he is grown up and played by Hayden Christensen (Jake Lloyd never appears in this version). Kenobi and Skywalker are assigned to protect Amidala from additional assassination attempts. This leads us quickly into the chase to capture the assassin in the skies of Coruscant. Anakin is assigned to accompany Padmé to her home planet of Naboo. Unlike George’s version, Obi-Wan doesn’t discover an army of clone troopers on Kamino, but instead stumbles upon Count Dooku’s motives.



    While the Clone troopers make a couple short appearances in this version of the film, the word “clone” is only used once, and the whole storyline is almost completely cut from the story. Jango Fett makes only a small appearance, and his son Boba Fett is left on the cutting room floor. Anakin returns to Tatooine and finds his mother tortured to death by the Tusken Raiders, but gone is the laughable aftermath.



    Padmé and Anakin’s love story is given more of a central spotlight, incorporating a deleted scene of a dinner with her family on Naboo. While the dialogue still sucks, and the romantic scenes are still a bit cheesy, I was left caring way more about this relationship than I was in the original prequels. The arena scene is still included, but shortened.

    And just like that, we’re already into episode 3. In this section, Topher has removed General Grievous.

    Padme tells Anakin that she’s pregnant. The Jedi Council orders Anakin to secretly monitor Palpatine and denies him the rank of Jedi Master. Anakin is frustrated with the Jedi and gets closer to Palpatine. He tells Anakin that the Dark Side of the force has the ability to prevent death. Anakin reports him to the Jedi Council, who doesn’t trust him to come along for the arrest. Palpatine/Sidious battles Jedi Master Mace Windu (Samuel L Jackson), Anakin shows up and turns on his old master to become an apprentice to Darth Sidious. Sidious issues Order 66 across the galaxy, and almost all the Jedi are killed.



    Obi-Wan informs Padmé that Anakin has joined the dark side. She travels to Mustafar to confront him, and realizes that Obi-Wan was telling the truth. Obi-Wan was able to hide aboard her ship, but Anakin believes that she brought him there to kill him. Anakin and Obi-Wan have their lightsaber battle in the middle of a lava flow, ending with Vader diced and burnt. Yoda and the Emperor have their lightsaber duel. Sidious finds Vader in time to save him, and Padmé gives birth to twins — but not intercut.

    The twins find their respective homes, Yoda goes into exile on Dagobah, the droids’ memories are erased, and the film ends with Anakin being turned into Darth Vader. The last shot features Vader’s helmet being lowered down onto Anakin, creating the most iconic villain. And we are left on that dark note.



    Yoda doesn’t teach Obi-Wan how to return from the netherworld to see Qui-Gon, and we don’t see Darth Vader learn of Padmé’s death — which also means we don’t see the resulting infamous laughable temper tantrum “Nooooooooooooooooo!!!!”

    Topher Grace’s Star Wars fan edit is an interesting experiment. You have to understand that Grace can only use the footage available to him, so some of the same problems exist that plagued the original films: some of the dialogue remains laughably bad, and you can’t change some of the stilted performances and stiff framing. I have seen a few of the other fan edits that have been online, including the famous Phantom Edit — and this is probably the best of the bunch. I’m not sure if it turns the saga into a great film, but its certainly a lot more entertaining.

    Before the film screened a trailer for another film Topher Grace is remixing — Steven Spielberg‘s Close Encounters of a Third Kind. I’m not sure that film needs a remix, or could even benefit from a remix, but am interested to see what the experiment will look like. After that, Grace hopes that other actors, editors and filmmakers will run with the ball, produce and showcase remixed films on a annual basis within this private community.

    Jason Reitman has been directing live stage reads of classic film screenplays at LACMA, showing how a filmmaker can make different choices with an interesting cast can completely change a written screenplay. This seems like the next evolution of that, but also an exercise in storytelling with the use of crafty editing. I’m not sure I completely understand Grace’s motives in creating this film, but I enjoyed it regardless.

    Now the question is - WHERE CAN I VIEW IT!? (yes I read that it will NEVER be made available)
     
  2. JoMamma_Smurf

    JoMamma_Smurf Master Member

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    I think this is the only prequel film I'm actually wanting to spend money on to see. I'm extremely interested.
     
  3. aeonpulse

    aeonpulse Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I'm sure it'll eventually start popping up on torrent sites. It's happened with other new trilogy edits.
     
  4. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    See, I'm highly critical of the prequels, but I think this sounds too truncated.
     
  5. micdavis

    micdavis Master Member

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    Does he have a habit of repainting paintings or re-recording songs too?

    The arrogance of some folks just astounds me.

    I didn't like Citizen Kane, that doesn't mean I go around re-editing it.

    What a fools errand.
     
  6. Robert412

    Robert412 Well-Known Member

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    Not arguing, at all. I see where you are coming from, but students remake old masters all the time.

    It's was assigned to us in art school, in almost every beginning class.

    I learned recording, much in the same way. I picked something I was familiar with and tried to remake it.

    Learned guitar the same way.

    And in all cases, when I was done, I wrapped it up with a big ole "Look what I can do!"

    I really think that's all this was.
     
  7. Dave Ward

    Dave Ward Sr Member

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    I'll make a list of songs you may not realise are covers. Now you'll have to turn them off when they're on the radio. As for "repainting paintings", there's just too much ground to go over there...
     
  8. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    Many writers literally copy or re-write other writers for practice. It's common place.
     
  9. micdavis

    micdavis Master Member

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    Fine he needed to learn editing. So do half the current "directors" in Hollywood.

    So this is a publicity stunt?

    Why did we need this story told to us?

    Some two-bit sitcom star edits the prequels so this reconfrims your belief they suck?

    Is that why this is important?
     
  10. Goonie

    Goonie Sr Member

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    If only Topher could edit Venom out of Spiderman 3...
     
  11. DaddyfromNaboo

    DaddyfromNaboo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I recommend first reading The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, New York: Knopf[3] ISBN 0676974740
     
  12. Solochaser

    Solochaser Well-Known Member

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    Pictures or it didn't happen! haha. This sounds really cool. DJ's remix songs all the time so remixing movies sounds like the next logical step. It's a shame we can't see it.
     
  13. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    Of course, DJ's remixes are often awful :lol
     
  14. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Master Member

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    I think it became a story because:

    (A) it was about a guy who you wouldn't figure would be into video editing...

    (B) ...editing several films from a popular franchise which many people regard as weak entries in the series...

    (C) ...into something that actually sounded kind of interesting, based on the description.


    Kinda like the thread about watching the prequels out of order. More a "Huh, that's kinda neat," story rather than a "LOL LUCAS IS TEH SUCK!!1!" story.
     
  15. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    Yet MD STILL COMES ON THESE THREADS...:rolleyes
     
  16. Dave Ward

    Dave Ward Sr Member

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    ...yes.
     
  17. MooCriket

    MooCriket Master Member

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    Topher has redeemed himself from the let down that was Spiderman 3.
     
  18. TheNickFox

    TheNickFox Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Funny story about that...

    Upon seeing Iron Man 2, Topher declares to the friend he went with, "Worst. Superhero. Movie. Ever." To which the friend incredulously responds, "REALLY, EDDIE BROCK?!"

    He laughed.


    I know a guy or two who may get their hands on Topher's Prequel Edit in the coming weeks, and I've already put an IOU for my first born in escrow to make sure I get to see it if they do.

    Fingers crossed, because it sounds incredible!

    -Nick
     
  19. tgreco

    tgreco Sr Member

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    I was a big fan of the Ridiculous Menace... where the editor made TPM even more ridiculous than it already is

    even you need a fan edit to tide you over... give that one a shot, because it was hilarious
     
  20. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Master Member

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    Is that the one with the Benny Hill remix of the Jar Jar battle sequence?
     
  21. crabra comander

    crabra comander Sr Member

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    Yeah stop hating on Topher, if he was pushing for some exposure he would have done a sex tape.
     
  22. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Master Member

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    Here's a thought playing off of Mic's "The arrogance of some people..." comments.


    First, at least Topher is putting his money where his mouth is (so to speak). Many times when people criticize this or that film, defenders of the film will argue "Oh yeah?! Well if you're so smart, let's see YOU do it." Topher didn't film the movie, but he did, at least, play around with editing it. So that is, to some degree, a step further than merely complaining from the sidelines.

    Second, in response to the "The NERVE of some people!" style comments, there seems to be the implication of "How could these mere peons think they could do better than what was there? God...such arrogance."

    But what if it actually WAS better?

    Or is the issue "How dare anyone remake or modify the original (who isn't the original author themselves, just so we avoid THAT particular debate)?" In which case, again, cover songs, parodies, remixes, etc.

    I'm not saying I don't disagree with the notion of "Go out there and do something new," but on the other hand, if you're, oh, I don't know, a HOBBYIST and you're making, say, reproductions (or REPLICAS) of things that other people made but maybe putting your own touch on them...I guess I don't see that as particularly arrogant. Moreover, Topher Grace wasn't exactly advertising this. Apparently the screening of this thing was a rather small scale affair -- a guy showing his buddies what he's been up to, and word just spread. I think that's a bit different from, say, a Hollywood remake or something like Adywan's edits that end up being publicly distributed.
     
  23. nwjedidave

    nwjedidave Sr Member

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    I'm a star wars fan, and even though the prequels weren't what *I* wanted them to be, I'm open to watching another version to see if *I* like it better.

    Nick you could be my newest hero!
     
  24. tgreco

    tgreco Sr Member

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    the very same
     
  25. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    A) Dan, well said. B) GL makes SW worse all the time. Other people might as well play around with it too.
     
  26. niennumb1

    niennumb1 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I'd love to see this. Couldn't read all the outline of what happened in his edit. I'd just rather watch it and see for myself. I'm sure it will get out there some day...
     
  27. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    I wouldn't mind seeing it. I'm amazed Lucas doesn't have him do it and sell it.
     
  28. JD

    JD Master Member

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    Topher who?!?

    For some bit player in a Spider-Man movie and (basically) a has been from a TV show, he sure must have one hell of an ego.

    Seriously, what kind of arrogance does it take to think you take someone elses film, someone elses vision and property and then try to "make it better."

    Not only that. You're just condesing the story... you're abridging it. 80 minutes isn't telling the story as it was meant by its creator to be told.
     
  29. The Wook

    The Wook Master Member

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    I agree, 85 minutes is woefully inadequate.

    The Wook
     
  30. TheRealMcFly

    TheRealMcFly Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Anyone who believes arrogance has anything to do with wanting the Star Wars prequels to be better, is delusional.

    "As it was meant by its creator"

    Seriously? Did anyone watch the prequel bonus features? I'm embarrassed to admit I did and it's painfully obvious Lucas had no idea what he was doing with any of the story elements.

    Edit on fanboys. They didnt take away anyone's prequel DVDs. They could take mine... but I already got rid of them years ago.

    I'd like to see Topher's version.
     
  31. PantheraGem

    PantheraGem Sr Member

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    His time would have been better spent editing himself and the entire Venom story out of Spiderman 3. (Yeah I'm probably not the first person who would point out this irony.)

    Edit; I see someone did beat me to the punch. Goonie and I are in agreement. :)
     
  32. Dave Ward

    Dave Ward Sr Member

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    Again, I'm assuming you didn't watch the new Battlestar on principle, and you turn off cover versions when they're on the radio, and you won't watch remakes like Scarface and Cape Fear. ;-)


    Well that's exactly the point. It's illustrating that the story was badly told 'as it was meant to be' and is trying to craft something more entertaining out of the raw material. Culturally speaking, I think that's pretty interesting.

    Now, I agree, were the other way round, it would be arrogance, that's to say if George Lucas took a film student's 80 minute show reel and reedited it without permission to show him how he was doing it wrong, that would not be good. But that's the nature of power.
     
  33. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    Arrogance? You've never purchased something and altered or customized it in some way to better suit your needs? I do that all the time.
     
  34. Dave Ward

    Dave Ward Sr Member

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    Also, it's worth considering how invasive Star Wars is. I'm 34, and ever since I was a boy, I've been bombarded with images from it and solicited to buy Star Wars items, when i"m in the food aisles, in Burger King, in the games store, in Target, on television, pop-up ads, everywhere. I think it's completely cool to re-cut the prequels as an academic exercise and show it to a few friends.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  35. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Master Member

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    This. Where's the arrogance?
     
  36. steveo

    steveo Sr Member

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    I would love to see what he's done. It's always nice to see "fan" edits using only existing shot footage. What I'd really love to see is someone who could write and reshoot the prequels the way they should have been done.

    I can't believe that Lucas didn't take all the years, or even some of those years, in between Jedi and TPM to really construct a good cohesive written PT, or even a great outline for the entire storyline. It seems he didn't do much in between those years, and then just crapped out 3 films without much thought.

    I just watched AOTC last night and it really is more disappointing every time I watch it (same with TPM and ROTS). The characters reactions/motivations are never right, especially Anakin and Padme. Sometimes Obi's actions are just as wrong, for ex. when he jumps out the window to fly on that droid trying to find out who's trying to kill Padme. To me, that is a wreckless action which is better fitted to Anakin's character and, even by Obi Wan's own words, he says they're there to protect her, not find out who's trying to kill her. They usually contradict themselves, which is all about poor writing.

    I don't buy Padme's turn to "loving" Anakin throughout AOTC. The first time she sees him, her reaction to Anakin and line of "you'll always be that little boy on Tattooine" just don't look like there's a confused/hidden "love" at all. Also, if Anakin is so disrespected by Padme's decision about Naboo and basically belittling him in front of her Queen and officials, wouldn't he start hating her? Even a little bit? By his actions alone in that scene, you would think so, but in the next scene with him, he's all love struck again. :confused It really does just come down to terrible writing and directing as I'm sure the actors had different ways to act the scenes out, but GL most likely steered them wrong into what we eventually got.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
  37. Dave Ward

    Dave Ward Sr Member

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    Did ever leak?
     
  38. Nataku

    Nataku Sr Member

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    I was just wondering the same thing.
     
  39. JoMamma_Smurf

    JoMamma_Smurf Master Member

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    We can dream cant we?
     
  40. Java

    Java Sr Member

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    Maybe he can try the Matrix sequels next.
     
  41. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    Those are pretty easy to edit. Just rip the discs to your hard drive and press delete. Viola, a perfect Matrix saga!
     
  42. terryr

    terryr Sr Member

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  43. Java

    Java Sr Member

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    :lol

    I've never even seen the 2 sequels in their entirety. I've seen bits on cable and it looks atrocious.
     
  44. Darth_Knight1

    Darth_Knight1 Active Member

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    Thread bump. Months later I'm wondering the same thing. Anybody heard any news?
     
  45. Michael Bergeron

    Michael Bergeron Legendary Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I wish!

    Sadly not that I've heard...
     
  46. Dozer3677

    Dozer3677 Well-Known Member

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    I read this whole thing thinking it was a current event..... Well, it was an interesting read at least.
     
  47. trenchcoatpanda

    trenchcoatpanda Well-Known Member

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    I think we all know what must be done:

    [​IMG]
     
  48. Wakeem

    Wakeem Well-Known Member

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    I was curious about this edit but what we needed were good movies. Not good edits of bad movies. I've just about forgotten about the prequels. The only plus that came out of them are a few designs like Obi-Wan's lightsaber and a few female Jedi characters. Drew Struzan's posters are also cool. But I basically use the prequels as an example of what not to do and how to ruin a classic trilogy.
     
  49. Goodwolf

    Goodwolf Sr Member

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    So he edited... That 70's Film?

    GOTTA GO!
     
  50. Goodwolf

    Goodwolf Sr Member

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    On a more serious note, if the copyright laws were closer to what they were originally, we would all be able to watch Topher's edit no worries. And that was the intention with things entering the public domain... to allow people to play with them, remake them, whatever... usually to the better.

    Usually.
     

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