Earlier this week, a disgruntled journalist began railing on Twitter about the tyrannies of editing. While there were some shades of David Graeber's "Bullshit Jobs" implied between the lines, that particular criticism took a backseat to other, more general ideas about authoritarianism and power.
But editors, of course, don't deserve to be lumped in with the greatest evils of the FBI and CIA. A good editor is a collaborator who can improve and even save a work. Without someone to bounce ideas off of, a writer or creator might make some sloppy mistakes that ultimately harm the takeaway from the piece. A heavy-handed editor is certainly a problem; but largely, the idea of having a trusted quality control agent is a positive for any thought-driven work.
Case in point: the original Star Wars, even before the moniker of A New Hope was added to it. As detailed in the video above, film editor Marcia Lucas — then the wife of writer/director George Lucas — was the true unsung hero of the film. Her edits saved George Lucas from his worst tendencies, and transformed the film from a schlocky gloss on Joseph Campbell into, well, Star Wars. Without the editing of Marcia Lucas, the original Star Wars would have been about as coherent and compelling of a story as The Phantom Menace. And that's not a world I would want to live in.
Check out the video above to see all the small, subtle, but hugely impact ways that Marcia Lucas saved the film. It's worth the 20 minutes.