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Vader Episode I: Shards of the Past
Directed byDanny Ramirez
Written by
  • Danny Ramirez
  • Star Wars Theory
  • Nikolaj Wejp-Olsen
Based onCharacters by George Lucas
Produced by
  • Ian McClellan
  • Brandon Hall
  • Star Wars Theory (executive producer)
  • Dupree Jones
  • Steven Bartlett
  • Catherine LaSalle
  • Marik Knight
  • Star Wars Theory
  • Andrew Branch
  • Jesse Gomez
  • Bradley Klein
CinematographyMatthew Halla (director of photography)
Edited byDanny Ramirez
Music by
  • Jacob A. Cadmus
  • J Scott Rakozy (additional music)
Release dates
  • December 20, 2018 (2018-12-20) (Los Angeles Premiere)
  • December 21, 2018 (2018-12-21)
Running time
CountriesUnited States
Budget$30,000 (initial)

Vader Episode I: Shards of the Past is a 2018 Star Wars fan film created by Star Wars Theory. On December 20, 2018, a screening was held at the Landmark's Regent Theatre in Los Angeles, CA,[1] and on December 21, 2018, it was released to YouTube. As of October 2022, a sequel, Vader Episode II: The Amethyst Blade is in pre-production. About six minutes of the episode have been released on YouTube via two cinematic teasers, and the full episode is expected to release within the next couple years with a planned third episode in early development.


The film takes place eight months after Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, and focuses around one of the main villains of the Star Wars saga, Darth Vader. Fighting between the loss of Padmé, and the new cursed life he now leads, Vader must do what must be done when a surviving Jedi Master from Order 66 has lured him to the home planet of his late wife's tomb.[2]


Copyright controversy

Prior to the film's release, Star Wars Theory exchanged emails with Lucasfilm asking permission to crowdfund the short film or make any revenue from it. Lucasfilm permitted its creation, but with no crowdfunding or revenue.[3]

After its release, Warner/Chappell Music gave the film a copyright claim on YouTube about its soundtrack. Star Wars Theory had hired a composer to make an original soundtrack, which was inspired by the Star Wars score. Instead of the video being unmonetized as Lucasfilm requested, it would generate ad revenue for Warner/Chappell. Star Wars Theory explained, "It's not about the money, it's the principle. When [Lucasfilm] come to me with these rules… but then someone goes in there and manually claims it… to me, that’s very vindictive and very rude. Disney makes billions of dollars. This is pennies to them. It seems that they really don't respect anything at all for the fandom."[4][5]

Over the Internet, Star Wars Theory received support including from Newsweek,[6] Syfy Wire,[7] fans, and other YouTubers. On January 16, 2019, Star Wars Theory announced that Lucasfilm had forced the copyright strike to come down, restoring the video to its original state.[8]


Vader Episode I: Shards of the Past has received positive critical reviews.[9] Luke Y. Thompson of Nerdist gave it a positive review, calling it "impressive", as he said Vader would have put it.[10] Ryan Chichester of Comic Book Resources stated, "The film boasts a high level of production, voice impersonations of multiple Star Wars characters, and an intriguing story".[11] Julie Muncy of io9 said, "...the star here is the visual design, which captures a live-action Star Wars look perfectly. It's particularly thrilling to see Clone Wars-style clone armor in live action. It's well worth a watch for that alone."[12] David Pountain of We Got This Covered says, "...with this unofficial new Darth Vader movie, we see a testament to the dedication of the [Star Wars] franchise's followers."[13] Corey Chichizola of Cinema Blend claims, "It helps make [Darth Vader's] actions in Return of The Jedi make more sense, and expands the franchise's signature character in a fascinating way."[14] Kristian Harloff of Collider said that the film encapsulated the spirit of Star Wars extremely well and expressed interest in wanting a second part. He also called the writing and dialogue being a bit weak. Ken Napzok, who was with Harloff at the time of recording, noted the amount of passion Star Wars Theory put into the film, and said that the film reminded him of other Star Wars fan films—in particular, Troops and Hardware Wars.[15]


  1. ^ "I RENTED OUT A THEATRE GET YOUR FREE TICKETS NOW!! (LIMITED) - Star Wars Theory Vader Fan Film". Star Wars Theory. December 11, 2018. YouTube.
  2. ^ "WATCH VADER EPISODE 1: SHARDS OF THE PAST – A STAR WARS THEORY FAN-FILM". December 23, 2018. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  3. ^ "LUCASFILM SUPPORTS MY VADER FAN FILM!! BUT... - Star Wars Theory Fan Film". Star Wars Theory. June 21, 2018. YouTube.
  4. ^ "Disney Files CLAIM on Vader fan film and is making money from it now...". Star Wars Theory. January 14, 2019. YouTube.
  5. ^ Katzowitz, Josh (January 15, 2019). "Disney files copyright claim on YouTuber's Darth Vader film—and the creator is devastated". The Daily Dot. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  6. ^ Asarch, Steven (January 15, 2019). "YOUTUBE STAR WARS THEORY HAS VADER FAN FILM STRUCK DOWN BY DISNEY MUSIC PUBLISHER (UPDATE)". Newsweek. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  7. ^ Young, Bryan (January 18, 2019). "STAR WARS WEEKLY: JOHN BOYEGA'S BLOODY EPISODE IX TEASE AND SOME FAN FILM DRAMA". Syfy Wire. Archived from the original on September 22, 2019. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  8. ^ "LUCASFILM STEPS IN! ORDERS THEM TO REMOVE CLAIM! JUSTICE!!". Star Wars Theory. January 16, 2019. YouTube.
  9. ^ "I think they liked it...Vader Fan-Film Reaction End Credits". Star Wars Theory. December 21, 2018. YouTube.
  10. ^ Thompson, Luke Y. (December 27, 2018). "STAR WARS DARTH VADER FAN FILM SEES HIM BATTLE PALPATINE". Nerdist. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  11. ^ Chichester, Ryan (December 24, 2018). "Dark Star Wars Fan Film Explores the Tortured Mind of Darth Vader". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  12. ^ Muncy, Julie (December 23, 2018). "This Dark Star Wars Fan Film Perfectly Captures the Feel of Darth Vader's World". io9. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  13. ^ Pountain, David (December 31, 2018). "New Star Wars Fan Film Explores The Early Years Of Darth Vader". We Got This Covered. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  14. ^ Chichizola, Corey (December 31, 2018). "Fan Made Darth Vader Movie Is Chilling And Epic". Cinema Blend. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  15. ^ "Thoughts on the Vader Fan Film". Jedi Council. January 3, 2019. Collider. Retrieved February 18, 2019 – via YouTube.