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Finally! The 'Star Wars Uncut' director's cut is here

After more than two years of accepting user-submitted 15-second clips, the creators of the crowdsourced--and Lucas approved--fan-made film have at long last released their full version.

It may look like the normal end of the scrolling text at the beginning of 'Star Wars,' but when George Lucas released the film in 1977, there was no blog commenter declaring First!
Screenshot by CNET

For nearly three years, "Star Wars" fans everywhere have been coming up with their own takes on the beloved film's many famous scenes--15 seconds at a time.

This is "Star Wars Uncut," a project to remake George Lucas' 1977 classic, entirely from fan-made scenes. And while the in-progress results have been available all along for all to see, the project's developers had never publicly released their finished product. Until now.

Today, as Laughing Squid wrote, Casey Pugh, who conceived of the "Star Wars Uncut" project, finally released his director's cut of the work. And while you're no doubt intimately familiar with Lucas' original version, the crowdsourced approach may leave you feeling like you've seen a film that's at once very familiar and altogether new.

Since Pugh began the project in 2009, fans have been invited to submit their 15-second scenes, and thousands have done so. Along the way, the project has been both very popular, and very well received. In fact, it won an Emmy Award. And what work it is. Think R2-D2 as a Red Bull can, 8-bit graphics, Stormtrooper babies, a Barbie version of the Jawa's transport, and so much more. All done by fans.

And all essentially approved by Lucas. At the South by Southwest Interactive festival last year, Pugh and co-producer Jamie Wilkinson explained that Lucas loved the idea for the project and even invited them to his offices in San Francisco to talk it over. But they also said that Lucasfilm had been concerned about branding problems that might arise if a fan-made scene included commercial logos. As a result, the project has always been commercial-free and not for profit.

One of the first hilarious moments in the Star Wars Uncut director's cut, which was released today. Screenshot by CNET

At SXSW, Pugh and Wiklinson showed the first 15 minutes of the then-unfinished director's cut. What we saw there--and what you'll see if you watch the whole thing now--is a wonderful piece of filmmaking. It begins, of course, with John Williams' familiar score, and then the first in a long list of surprises: The @StarWarsUncut Twitter page, with someone typing in "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" in the "What's happening" box.

Then, the also familiar "Episode IV" scrolling text setting the context for the film appears. You might wonder why that's included, since it's actual footage from the original movie. Until the end of the text, that is. And then, a classic moment: "First!" followed by a short blog comment thread. The audience lost it. And now you can too.

Correction (Saturday, 3:24 p.m. PT): This article originally credited Jamie Wilkinson as being a co-creator of the project.