To Cut Or Not To Cut?
Like any Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens had scenes deleted. We saw some of them debut with the first Home Cinema release of the movie and more were released with the Collector Edition release. Despite The Force Awakens being in my top three favorite Star Wars movies (the two others in my list being Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One), I do think some of these scenes should have stayed in the movie and would have make it even better.
Among these scenes, there are obviously some where I can understand the reasons given for cutting, but I still think they some brought something important to a character, or context that was important to the story. That’s why I want to talk about these scenes.
Finn and the Villager
The first scene I want to talk about is “Finn and the Villager.” This scene takes place after Finn witnesses the death of a fellow First Order Trooper and he is confronted with letting go a woman villager or killing her. He lets her go. This is a powerful scene that carries a lot of tension and emotion. We can’t see through Finn’s helmet but we can still understand his hesitation and finally his decision to let this woman go (or at the least his indecision in relation to detaining her). It’s a one-on-one confrontation and it’s personal — there is no one around him, he is on his own in this moment.
This segment then bridges into the scene where Finn refuses to execute the villagers in the movie. I think it’s a scene that should have been kept, because it prepares the viewer more naturally for what happens next. It doesn’t come out of nowhere; it adds to the development of Finn’s character.
Next are two scenes featuring Leia. In the commentary of The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams reveals that it was Michael Arndt who told him to cut every Leia scene prior to her reunion scene with Han Solo on Takodana, claiming this would create more emotions.
I have to respectfully disagree with that decision. Leia’s role in The Force Awakens is small and in many ways is not really significant, putting her too far into the background. The two deleted scenes didn’t make her appearance depend on her reunion with a man (even if it is Han Solo) but based it on her role of General of the Resistance. I’m pretty sure that Leia had more scenes cut than these two scenes, maybe one day we will be able to see them. This is a short scene but it features Leia in charge and giving orders, being a General. Plus, it gives more context as to how the Resistance came to be looking for BB-8.
On Takodana, we see a droid contacting someone to tell the Resistance that BB-8 has been found but we didn’t even know they were actively searching for BB-8, while this scene actually shows Leia giving the order to search for BB-8 and the Resistance learning about the situation on Jakku. It’s often small scenes like these that help the viewer connect everything together. This scene also makes a mention of the Republic…and I will keep my comment for discussion of the next scene.
Leia And The Resistance
This scene is only to be found in the Collector Edition of The Force Awakens. I think the movie was lacking some political context of the galaxy. Context of what was going on between the Resistance, the Republic and the First Order. Yes, it’s been explained in the Visual Dictionary of the movie but this is the kind of things that should be explained in the actual movie and not some guide book.
I know plenty of people (not necessarily avid fans but general audience) who were confused by this lack of context. In A New Hope, there isn’t much politics but there are some lines of context about the Senate and it sheds light on the situation. Just a few lines are enough to explain a context. I would contend that “Leia and the Resistance” and “Jakku Message” did that job but were cut.
They show that Republic and Resistance are different factions and that the Republic is not necessarily very supportive of Leia. That is why Leia has created the Resistance because someone had to act and these scenes serve to illustrate this. This second Leia scene also helps understanding why a Resistance officer (Korr Sella) was on Hosnian Prime when Starkiller base destroyed it, she was there to try to get help from the Republic. Once again, it’s a scene that makes a difference.
Kylo Ren Searches The Falcon
The last scene that I think didn’t deserve to be cut is a Kylo Ren scene. It features him in the Millennium Falcon after it crashed on Starkiller base. Nothing really happens in this scene but it brings more tension and builds up to the eventual confrontation between Kylo and his father, Han, later on in the movie. It’s an emotional scene — Kylo going on to the Falcon, bringing him into contact with his father’s ship. I think it brings more confusion to his already tormented mind.
These four scenes, I think, deserved to be in The Force Awakens. They may be small in terms of running time but they’re big in what they bring to the movie.