POV Edit: Star War’s Obi-Wan Kenobi

I’ve taken Star Wars I-VI and cut out every scene that Obi-Wan Kenobi didn’t directly witness. I wasn’t trying to make a movie, and the end result has some bumpy transitions, but in the spirit of this upcoming standalone film, I wanted to get to know Obi-Wan Kenobi’s life better.

I’m calling this a “POV Edit” because I think you could do this for any character, in any movie. The rules are simply to cut out any scenes the character doesn’t witness directly. If the character gets knocked out, the edit just jumps ahead to when they wake up again. I also cut out scenes that Obi-Wan didn’t witness directly, but heard about later.

This edit is the answer to the question “What does Obi-Wan experience and know about the world?” Parts of the final edit are just as disorienting to us and they would be to Obi-Wan, with major events happening off-screen and out of his control. Because I think a lot about non-linear narrative in theatre and games, this helped me think about how to use lack of information, or possibility for misinterpretation when designing this type of media.

But let’s talk about the edit. The final cut is 3:35.
48 minutes from The Phantom Menace
63 minutes from Attack of the Clones
64 minutes from Revenge of the Sith
33 minutes from A New Hope
6 minutes from The Empire Strikes Back
3 minutes from Return of the Jedi

Major stuff that Obi-Wan doesn’t see:
– Tatooine Qui Gonn/Anakin seduction
– Almost all awkward Jar Jar
– Padme/Anakin seduction scenes. It’s actually spookier because it seems like Anakin has magic seduced her. All Obi Wan has seen is Anakin confess he’s distracted by her.
– Anakin/Palpatine
– Lots of Yoda/Windu political context scenes
– C3PO/R2D2 misadventures

A recurring theme throughout Obi-Wan’s story is powerlessness despite best intentions. Anakin gets dropped in his lap, and seems to be able to do really creepy stuff when not in Obi-Wan’s presence. I use the term “seduction” above for both Qui-Gonn and Padme, because Obi-Wan hears second-hand about these people he knows well developing an infatuation with Anakin. There’s one funny sequence on Tatooine where all Obi-Wan is just hanging out on the Naboo royal ship, and gets a series of increasingly enthusiastic phone calls from Qui-Gonn about this kid he’s hanging out with.

– Especially in the prequel movies, lots of climactic movies involve cutting between simultaneous action scenes. For example in The Phantom Menace, it’s between the Duel of the Fates, the dogfight next to the Trade Federation station with Anakin, and the Gungan-Trade Federation battle. In these, we’re just spending time wherever Obi-Wan is, which often seems more boring, pacing-wise. I think this is more a general film note than a POV note.
– Sometimes characters show up at “just the right time”, which feels like a Deus Ex Machine, without having knowledge that Obi-Wan didn’t witness. e.g. Yoda has a feeling Dooku is escaping in Attack of the Clones, and then confronts him seemingly just in time. This sort of reminds me of some of the complaints of Neal Stephenson’s writing, where major events happen outside the main POVs. I think this is great – someone isn’t in pause mode if they aren’t in your life.
– Did Obi-Wan see Count Dooku fight Yoda? It seems like he passed out some time after Yoda entered the room, and woke up sprightily just as it was over. I left the fight out of the final edit, but it seems vague.
– It’s ambiguous whether General Grevious died in the intro of Revenge of the Sith. During his escape, all the escape pods are launched, which to Anakin & Obi-wan, seem like an unlucky malfunction at the time until Obi-Wan deduces that it’s Grevious. What a guy! The scariness of this POV is way cooler than in the original film, which shows both sides of this action sequences.
– Padme starts to go mad as she’s dying, while Anakin is also becoming Vader. Is our audience extra-smart to be able to tell that Vader is becoming Vader off-screen? I believe they can be.
– Obi-Wan’s first line ever is “I have a bad feeling about this”
– Obi-Wan is the first Jedi we see the Order 66 order given to.
– At the end of Episode 3, Yoda says to Obi-Wan, “I will teach you to commune with the spirit of Qui-Gonn”, and we cut to like two decades later in A New Hope as Obi-Wan creepily Jedi screams to spook some minor Jawas. So things have not been going hot for Obi-Wan.
– Obi-Wan never gets to talk to Leia as an adult.

Notes on the POV Edit process:
There’s some cuts I had to make which felt arbitrary. As Obi-Wan is a jedi, there are some scenes he doesn’t directly witnesses but he senses. For example, in A New Hope, I include the shot Alderaan blowing up because Obi-Wan directly reacts to it in the next scene.
Character vs Action scenes seem to have different rules
Establishing shots are okay and good. Establishing shots that feature other notable characters without Obi-Wan (e.g. Mace Windu) are not okay as they sometimes contain plot information Obi-Wan doesn’t have.
I haven’t bothered to make any smooth transitions at all. If I tried to make a couple elegant ones, then I’d have to do it everywhere. Lots of scene transitions have weird cuts with background audio and music because they’re taken out of the original movie. This type of edit is primarily informational.

If someone created metadata for movies on a per-scene basis for which characters were included, we could generate these edits automatically, which would be sweeeeet.

Other potentially interesting POV Edits:
Hans Gruber in Die Hard
Godzilla in any Godzilla movie
Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings
The Terminator in The Terminator
The Shark in Jaws
Prince Edward in Braveheart

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3 responses to “POV Edit: Star War’s Obi-Wan Kenobi”

  1. I also think Ezra fits into the Star Wars protagonist tradition pretty well as OG protagonist Luke was also an awkward, dumb kid who just happened to be Force Sensitive, as was Anakin in the prequels, so I don’t think Ezra breaks any boundaries there.

  2. I’m not a star wars magic expert, but when obi wan force-dies (becomes pure force?) In the first movie, doesn’t he become omniscient or something?

    If that’s true, then he sees the finale of episode 3, all of episodes 4 and 5!

    Combined with your heavily redacted episodes 1-3, that would be a pretty decent story arc.

  3. (Whoops, I misnumbered the episodes… My brain was switched to zero-based indexing. I hope the correct numbering is evident from the context.)