George Lucas’ Weirdest ‘Star Wars’ Change Involved a Fart Joke
It’s May the 4th, aka Star Wars Day, that special time when fans of the beloved sci-fi franchise cease squabbling about The Last Jedi for 24 hours in order to spend money on pointless merchandise, all in the service of a dad joke-tier pun.
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So we’d like to honor this bogus holiday by momentarily reflecting on one of the oddest, most controversial, most flatulent moments in Star Wars history — that scene in The Phantom Menace in which some kind of alien camel creature straight-up farts in Jar Jar Binks’ face.
Critics, not surprisingly, bristled at the gaseous gag (not to mention Jar Jar’s “Pee-Yousa!” reaction) singling out this particular scene as evidence of the franchise’s descent from an epic space opera to a toilet humor-filled cartoon for children. “Fart jokes and a two-headed sportscaster help make The Phantom Menace a tad more terrestrial than it probably ought to be,” wrote The A.V. Club at the time.
Fans, too, have been divided over the controversial “Eopie fart” scene — an Eopie, of course, being the “quadruped mammalian herbivores native to the planet Tatooine.” Some find it “funny,” while others believe it to be “totally unnecessary.”
Weirdly, the scene was very nearly even longer. For the Phantom Menace DVD, Lucas included an alternate “extended” cut of the pod race, which was thankfully included as a separate feature and not awkwardly crammed into the film itself. Lucas’ original vision for the sequence featured a number of bizarre additions, including the revelation that one lizard-like alien’s hilarious death tragically orphaned several children, including a newborn baby.
For some reason, Lucas also felt compelled to draw out the Eopie fart scene. In the extended version, we get several additional seconds of the poor creature realizing that it has to fart, struggling to push out the gas before it’s ultimately successful in blowing its Death Star.
George Lucas is, of course, notorious for tinkering with his movies long after they’ve been released, whether it was introducing CGI “upgrades” to the original Star Wars trilogy or shoehorning a digital sunset into the DVD release of American Graffiti. And, bizarrely, as some fans have pointed out, his subsequent re-edits of The Phantom Menace have completely robbed the fart joke of its narrative purpose.
In the movie’s theatrical cut, the fart was arguably an important story beat because it momentarily distracted Jar Jar, allowing the villainous Sebulba to sabotage Anakin’s vehicle.
But in the “extended” cut and every subsequent home video release, including the version currently on Disney+, the scenes have been shuffled around, placing Sebulba’s sneaky move several minutes after Jar Jar gets a face full of fart. That’s right, George Lucas actually had a very good reason for including a fart joke in a Star Wars movie, but thanks to his uncontrollable urge to continue meddling with his own work, that reason has effectively been erased from the movie that’s available today.
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