Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Could Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi live up to the hype? With the huge plot-twist of Darth Vader dramatically claiming that he is Luke Skywalker’s father in the iconic scene from “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”, the second movie was an even greater success than “A New Hope”, and the Star Wars Box Office was raking in more than they had ever dreamed of. Audiences around the world were watching the second movie in their local cinemas and in their own language, and this made the film an international success, especially in Japan!
How to end the trilogy?
So where did this leave George Lucas and his team when trying to create an even greater level of excitement and surprise for Star Wars’ ever-growing fan-base with their plot for “Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi”? To end a legendary trilogy, they would need something big, something that would be memorable and exceed the expectations of everyone. As exciting as that sounds, the important question is: looking back at Return Of The Jedi, did they succeed in doing that? Let’s take a look.
The LOUD BRASS SOUND of 20th Century Fox plays, creating excitement for what’s about to come: the audience is about to read the words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” on the big cinema screen for the last time (well, for another 16 years anyway!). Once again, the iconic opening credits gloriously spread across the screen. The audience members who can read faster than the Millenium Falcon can make the Kessel Run, have now been informed that Luke Skywalker has returned home to Tatooine to rescue Han Solo from gangster Jabba the Hutt. All the while, the evil Galactic Emperor is back at it again, constructing the ultimate Death Star to destroy the rebels, once and for all.
The Emperor Is Not As Forgiving As I Am
The audience are blasted back into deep outer-space, as Darth Vader returns with “force”, along with his hardcore theme music; radiating power and inducing fear into his workers as he visits the Death Star during its construction. Although Commander Pennington tells Vader his visit is “an unexpected pleasure”, I’m pretty sure that this is a total lie. As Commander Pennington tells Vader that his men are working as fast as they can to rebuild the Death Star, the Sith Lord tells him that “perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them”, showing that he’s as powerful and ‘chokey’ as ever.
Not only are the Death Star employees under way more stress now that Darth Vader has arrived, the Sith Lord tells Commander Pennington that the Emperor is on his way. Probably not the best work day ever for these guys, but the audience is about to meet the evil galactic Emperor Palapatine, who Darth Vader claims “is not as forgiving as I am”. Who would have thought that there was someone more fearsome than Darth Vader? Most of us have already worked for a scary boss, but I honestly pity those Death Star workers because this is not going to be a good day for them, at all.
There Will Be No Bargain, Young Jedi
The audience once again find themselves on the dusty planet of Tatooine, as Luke Skywalker enters Jabba the Hutt’s palace, not long after his two loyal droids. The LucasFilm team ensure to return beloved C3PO and his incredible wit, as he tells R2D2: “If I told you half of the things I’ve heard about this Jabba the Hutt, you’d probably short-circuit!”, letting the audience know that this is about to be a pretty interesting encounter.
Jabba’s Palace, without question, rivals the Cantina scene from “A New Hope”; with alien dancers, untrustworthy characters at every corner and a man-eating monster through a drop-floor, the audience witnesses the seedy underground of a galactic gangsters hangout. This is also one of the most iconic Star Wars scenes from the original trilogy. Princess Leia wears a galactic bikini (showing almost everything), laying across Jabba the Hutt in chains, as a prisoner after being captured trying to free Han Solo from his carbonite imprisonment. It was a huge success with teenage boys, as it is commonly referred to in pop culture as being the scene that is plastered all over their bedroom walls in the 1980s.
“Return Of The Jedi” gets into full-swing with Jabba
Although the LucasFilm team would have you believe that there’s no way out of this mess, Luke Skywalker is still free and if we know the young Jedi Knight by now (which after 2 successful movies and a Christmas special, we probably should), he won’t stop until his friends are safe. As Luke Skywalker enters Jabba’s palace to rescue his friends, the audience sees that his mind-tricks don’t work on the gangster (maybe he is not as strong of a Jedi as he thinks?) and ends up facing a freaky cave-monster (a.k.a a rancor) under the drop-floor of Jabba’s dancefloor.
“Return Of The Jedi” gets into full-swing with Jabba the Hutt’s tyranny, the audience are treated to scene-after-scene of incredible Jedi-acrobatics, light-saber swings and new creatures threatening the lives of our heroes. Through all of this, Luke Skywalker and his friends gallantly free themselves of the desert Sarlacc (yet another monster of Jabba the Hutt!).
One of the best aspects of Star Wars is the continuous theme of feminism with Princess Leia; a strong theme that was long before it’s time in cinema history. Princess Leia reminds the audience that although she was forced to wear a bikini and put in chains by Jabba the Hutt, she is much tougher than she looks. During the chaos, she ironically strangles Jabba the Hutt to death with the chains that he imprisoned her in, leading to the ultimate defeat of the notorious galactic gangster. With the gang back together, there is now strong hope for the galaxy after all.
Strong With The Force, I Am
Taking a break from the action-packed scenes of Tatooine, the audience treated to the return of Yoda, as Luke Skywalker and R2D2 visit the Jedi Master before he dies. Yoda maintains his wit even in old age, as he tells Luke that “when 900 year old you reach, look as good you will not!”. The Yoda scenes are incredibly important for the storyline of Luke Skywalker’s true destiny, as he tells Luke that “your father, he is”, when referring to Darth Vader. This put to bed a lot of questions on Darth Vader’s integrity and credibility. After “The Empire Strikes Back”, audiences weren’t really convinced that he was telling Luke Skywalker the truth, in the iconic Cloud City scene.
The LucasFilm team ensures to close up any loose ties with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, as Obi-Wan Kenobi appears to Luke as a ghost, to confirm everything with the young Jedi Knight. Obi-Wan Kenobi informs Luke Skywalker that Princess Leia is, in fact, his twin sister, creating yet another huge plot-twist for the original 1983 audiences around the world. That kiss in “The Empire Strikes Back” seems a little more awkward now, doesn’t it?
The Ewoks Of Endor
It wouldn’t be right to review the “Return Of The Jedi” without a sizable mention of the iconic bear-like Ewok tribe of Endor. Luke Skywalker and the gang go with the Rebel Alliance to Endor: a moon that is now one of the many bases of the Empire. That can only mean two things for a Star Wars audience; a guaranteed stormtrooper shootout and Darth Vader is never far. However, what they didn’t expect was to see one of the most iconic creatures of the entire franchise for the first time.
One of the many impressive skills that the LucasFilm team have is that they can create new worlds and new creatures to thrill our imaginations, and by the end of the original trilogy, the 1983 audience thought they had seen it all. Although Tatooine and Dagobah are planets that the audience have seen many times by “Return Of The Jedi”, Endor is brand new, with dense woodland terrain that has never been shown in the Star Wars Universe until now.
A fan favorite amongst Star Wars fans
Endor became a favourite for Star Wars fans due to the native inhabitants of the forest that protected the land from the Empire: the Ewoks! These little hunter-gatherer style teddy-bear creatures became a huge hit with the Star Wars fanbase, leading to two spin-off movies and a cartoon series during the late 1980s.
The Ewoks are an incredible force to be reckoned with for the Rebel Alliance. Their cunning military-style tactics against the stormtroopers illustrates that, as always, looks can be deceiving in the galaxy far far away. The planet of Endor does not disappoint; with exhilarating high-speed chases through the forest on speeders, forest AT-AT’s, and militia-style maneuvers from the Ewok tribes against the Stormtroopers. The planet is packed with action and awesome hi-tech special effects that left the 1983 audience in complete awe, as the iconic original trilogy nears the end. Although it feels like a piece of harmony for the galaxy while with the Ewoks, with Darth Vader now on the planet searching for Luke Skywalker, everything is not all as it seems!
Obi-Wan Has Taught You Well
As Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker talk surprisingly on Endor, the young Jedi Knight begs his father to repent his Dark Side ways and change his loyalty. Naturally, the answer is a hard no, as that would be way too easy. Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker that “it is too late for me, son”, making it seem as though this was his way of telling Luke that as a Sith Lord, he doesn’t have a choice. Is this Darth Vader’s way of warning Luke Skywalker against the Emperor, or is there an ominous foreshadowing of what is about to happen when face-to-face with evil Palpatine?
Luke Skywalker will now be in the presence of the evil Emperor Palpatine. This is what the audience has been waiting for. Fans have been debating whether Luke Skywalker will join his father out of loyalty or Darth Vader will renounce the Dark Side. Every light-saber battle, stormtrooper blaster fight and Death Star obliteration throughout the whole original trilogy, have all led to this defining moment.
The Star Wars good versus bad plot is hard at play as Luke Skywalker meets with Emperor Palpatine. Refusing to join the evil Empire, a thrilling action-packed light-saber battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker begins in front of Emperor Palpatine, and the audience experiences just how truly evil the Empire really is!
Vaders true nature comes to light
The true nature of Darth Vader shines through, inspiring hope for the audience, as his priorities change and Anakin Skywalker is released. The Sith Lord turns his Dark Side power towards the evil Emperor before he has the chance to kill Luke, ultimately killing Palpatine in the process. With the Emperor killed, Luke Skywalker has freed the galaxy of it’s evil reign. So, where does this leave Darth Vader?
For the first time in cinema history, the 1983 audience sees who Anakin Skywalker really is, as Luke takes off the iconic helmet of Darth Vader. It is in this moment, that the audience see the powerful, fearsome Darth Vader, become more human and vulnerable in front of Luke Skywalker. It shows a huge strength in the dynamics that have played so heavily in the entire trilogy, as good versus evil.
Audiences were surely surprised with the scene, but this iconic moment in Star Wars illustrates that in the end, “the power of the force” truly outweighs “the power of the Dark Side”.
Return of the Jedi – The end of an era
With the evil Empire defeated at last, the trilogy comes to an iconic end. As Luke Skywalker, and his gang of mismatched friends celebrate their victory, the audience sees the different planets of the galaxy far far away, celebrating the success of the Rebel Alliance. With fireworks, music, dancing and laughter – the celebration of the Rebellion’s victory seems almost like a celebration for the end of the Star Wars original trilogy, yet just the beginning for cinema’s most successful franchises of all time. Now in 2020, it has been 37 years since “Return Of The Jedi” has seen the big screen, and “the force” still lives strong in the Star Wars fanbase, in a galaxy not so far far away.
An epic end to an even more epic trilogy. Star Wars episode VI - Return of the Jedi delivered on all levels, showing us that “the power of the force” truly outweighs “the power of the Dark Side”.
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