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A Six-Hour Cut Of The Phantom Menace Is Out There (And General Grievous Has Seen It)

All news is good news to someone. That's the beauty of this magnificent tapestry we call life. There's an upside-down smile in every frown, if you just know the right angle from which to look.

Take, for example, the revelation that there's a six-hour version of 1999's "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace." Lots of people would see that as a negative. "Who needs more 'Phantom Menace?'" they might well ask. Or "Didn't we get more than enough the first time?" Or "Was anyone chomping at the bit for more of this?" Or "Is this our penance for stealing fire from the jealous gods of Olympus?" Or "Why, father? Why have you abandoned your little boy?"

But consider, conversely, that this might be great news. Maybe a 270% increase in the runtime of a movie that Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian once called "a pop culture calamity" is just the shot in the arm that the oft-maligned prequel needs. Maybe it gives the story the space it needs to breathe and really solidifies folks like Yaddle and the "That costs seven wupiupi!" guy as concrete characters with a place in the universe.

Why are we doing this? Dunking on the prequels is the "eating because you're bored" of internet commentary. Let's get on with it.

Surrender to the glory of a six-hour Episode I

The existence of a version of "The Phantom Menace" with a runtime of a double-stuffed "Avatar: The Way of Water" is not a new discovery. Its terrible shadow was first cast during a 2011 interview between Anakin Skywalker actor Jake Lloyd and the website That Shelf (né Dork Shelf).

Asked about his hypothetical preference regarding alternate cuts of the movie, Lloyd mused that he'd want to watch "the original, six-hour cut." Understandably shaken by this bombshell, the interviewer asked if Lloyd got a chance to see this behemoth. "No," said Lloyd, "but if you ever get the chance to talk to Matthew Wood, the guy who did the voice of Grievous, he was one of the first people to watch the six-hour cut and said it was mind-blowingly awesome."

If it seems bananas that the voice of a character in "Episode III" would get to watch an extended version of "Episode I" instead of the star of "Episode I," it's worth mentioning that Wood has been a mainstay of Lucasfilm projects going as far back as "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles." The veteran sound department regular even made his big screen debut in "The Phantom Menace" playing Bib Fortuna, a part that he would eventually reprise in the second season of "The Mandalorian." The point is, the guy had an in, and it opened doors for him. Those doors led to a six-hour cut of "The Phantom Menace." Not all doors are good.