A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…
Unlike the other two entries in the original trilogy, this is the one I remember watching the most. For me Return of the Jedi was the one which made me idolise the character of Luke Skywalker as a kid. This was set to be the big final battle between the Empire and Rebel Alliance. But more than that it was to be a battle between Father and Son.
Mind you, Luke was pretty bad-ass at this point and could put up a good fight compared to his performance in Empire. As soon as I saw Luke rocking that green saber and black tunic I just fell in love with how awesome he was. Mainly for this reason, Return was my favourite Star Wars as a kid. It hits a lot of emotional high notes and soft spots which was too much for my puny child brain.
Imagine my shock to grow up and see that Return is regarded as the worst of the original trilogy, but more than that it was called a bad film as well. While it is fair to critique a film based on its techniques and story telling, being a kid I didn’t understand this at all. I thought the Ewoks were pretty cool! Okay maybe I know that’s not really a respected opinion anymore, and I can see why. Looking back at the Ewoks makes me just think about them being cash machines made for children. Which can be seen a lot in the modern Star Wars films with BB8 and the Porgs.
We’ll leave the Ewok discussion for another day, as I’m here for as a fanboy than a critic. But for me my favourite scenes are all in the second half of the movie. However we have to cover the start of this adventure. If you remember all the odds were against our heroes as Han Solo was taken away to Jabba the Hutt. At the start of Return it feels like everyone has given up on the old dog. Luke is no where to be seen, in fact the only familiar faces we’ve got so far is R2 and 3P0. It’s not long however until things start getting exciting as you’ve got Leia being a cold ass gal holding a live grenade in her hand.
It doesn’t take very long for our gang to be back together as they hover over the sarlacc pit.Then there’s that really cool nodding scene with the trumpet going in the background. It’s scenes like this that get me excited, in the knowledge that everyone is about to get wiped out by this gang of rebels. However watching this just makes me a bit sad now, the new Star Wars films have never been able to hit the same magic notes as these original ones did. While I don’t resent the newer films, I just can’t enjoy them with the same level of magic I did back then.
Onto my favourite area, being the battle of Endor and the quest to destroy Death Star 2. Being the Luke fan that I am, nothing beats the chilling fight between him and Vader at the end. There’s also the physical presence of the emperor, who’s just as evil and cool as I expected. You can see the mind games he’s trying to play as he works his way into Luke’s head. Because of this there’s a lot of moments without dialogue as the camera shows you what the characters are thinking. Then you have the epic moment when the fight begins.
For me it’s not the fight itself that gets me, It’s a combination of the lighting and music. For a moment we think Luke is going to kill Vader and join the dark side. But he looks at his beaten father in his weak state and makes the bigger decision. “I’ll never join you, I’m a Jedi, like my father before me.” In that moment, the Emperor has lost. For me as a kid to see Luke be so strong in this moment and fling his lightsaber aside was one of the most amazing film moments I can remember. To make me even more excited, we see the change of heart from Vader himself as he saves his son and for one last time, becomes Anakin Skywalker once again.
Oh man I didn’t think I’d feel this sentimental watching this one. For ages I always thought that Empire was the one that shone the most out of my childhood, and while it might be a better film, Return just hits a lot of personal notes. But that now leaves us in 1983 and the Star Wars saga has ended. That would be until George Lucas gets a bit bored one day and writes the prequels. To not bash on them too much yet, there’s no way he was going to top what he did with these 3 films.
When people talk about their love for Star Wars I doubt they’re gonna say it was Attack of the Clones that makes them cry. It’s always going to be one of the originals. A lot of success of the current sequel trilogy is built upon our love for these old characters. Now that we’ve lost Carrie Fisher the emotions are higher than ever and that’s going to feed into the release of The Last Jedi.
God dammit I’m putting off the end of this piece so I don’t have to think about The Phantom Menace. Anyway… I’ll see you next Friday for our look into the Prequels!