Site Specifics: StarWarsUncut
By Jesse P. Finnegan
Brainchild of Casey Pugh, the crowdsourced masterpiece that is StarWarsUncut was realized with the help of a handful of developers and designers and hundreds of fanatical contributors. Pugh’s team parceled the original 121 minutes of “A New Hope” into 15-second segments to be claimed by eager volunteers, each charged with the task (nay, honor) of remaking a given scene however they saw fit. With the 473 submissions laid end to end (and subject to change at any time based on voter ratings), the resulting movie is one of the Internet’s true cinematic wonders.
Taken together, Uncut is manic spectacle, a giddy, bewildering bricolage of Lego stormtroopers, stop-motion Star Destoyers, tin-foil C-3POs, canine Chewies, and trash-can R2s. There’s an impressive number of illustrated entries and handmade animations, but it’s the backyard reenactments, with their moppet Princess Leias and minivan Millennium Falcons, that anchor the project in a shared love, the scope of which transcends the polish or perfectionism of any single segment.
Stumbling in and out of such disparate worlds of representation every 15 seconds might make for a disjunctive, viewing experience. But the universal language of Star Wars provides the syntax necessary to make such a project legible—the only glue strong enough to hold this frantic a cut-up together. More than that, only a cultural phenomenon as widely beloved as Uncut’s urtext (if any other exists) could so elegantly make our participatory digital connectedness manifest, and so intimately knit the strands of a World Wide Web. The achievement of StarWarsUncut is born of a faith in those rare things that surround us, penetrate us, and, indeed, bind the galaxy together.
Go to starwarsuncut.com.
© 2011 by The Film Society of Lincoln Center