Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

STAR WARS: EPISODE VI – RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)
Article 3657 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-4-2011
Posting Date: 8-19-2011
Directed by Richard Marquand
Featuring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Country: USA
What it is: Space opera

Luke Skywalker and his friends embark on a mission to save Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hut, and then they must face a final showdown with Darth Vader and the Empire.

A giant monster lies dead. Some men enter the room, and one big shirtless man, obviously the monster’s keeper, looks at it, turns to one of the other men and starts to cry.

If you’ve seen this final episode of the original trilogy in the Star Wars franchise, you probably remember that scene. I mention it specifically because when I was watching it this time, I realized how much light, humorous moments like this defined just how much fun the original trilogy was. This is the third time I’ve seen this movie. The second time was many years ago, and I watched it then with the sort of sad realization that it was the last and least of the series; this was long before the prequel trilogy emerged. This time, I found myself watching the movie with that later trilogy in mind, and I really found myself wondering that, when the time comes for me to revisit that later trilogy, if I was going to light on little favorite moments like this. Somehow, I don’t think so; to my mind, the later trilogy lost that lightness of touch and became mired in its own mythology to the point that the series just wasn’t much fun anymore. As a result, I found myself enjoying this one quite a bit.

Nevertheless, I do still think of it as the weakest of the original trilogy. The first third of the movie is for me the strongest part of it; I like the various creature designs, and I like the way the plot bit by bit weaves in all of the major characters one by one. I’m not quite as down on the Ewoks as some other people are, but then, I have a high tolerance for teddy bears as long as they don’t have rainbows on their bellies and the word “Care” in front of them. But they are a little more cute than is strictly necessary, and the middle of the movie does drag a bit. My biggest disappointment is that the climax of the movie involves another assault on another Death Star; it leaves me with the feeling that the series was really starting to run short of new ideas. And I do want to say that I really liked Ian McDiarmid’s performance as the Emperor, at least for the reason that I rarely hear any mention made of him or his performance in the movie. And, for the record, I watched the original theatrical release of the movie, rather than one of the “digitally enhanced” versions.

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