After two successful trips to a galaxy, far, far away, George Lucas and his team looked to close out (or so they thought) the Star Wars saga with 1983’s Return of the Jedi. After the critical and commercial success of both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, fans were eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the Skywalker saga. When first announced, the original title of the film was set to be Revenge of the Jedi, however, Lucas decided to change the title claiming that Jedi’s do not seek revenge, therefore, the title would be contradictory to a Jedi’s purpose. When the film was first released, Lucas stated that “these three “Star Wars” movies as the middle trilogy of a nine-part adventure saga. Even if he never makes the other six episodes.”
While Lucas was able to release the first 6 in his 9 part adventure saga, the final 3 are being written and released by Disney as Lucas sold the rights a few years ago. While nowhere near the level of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi is a fitting conclusion that ties all the key characters and events from the first two installments nicely.
The development of Luke, Han, and Leia is clearly visible throughout the film. Leia has taken her place is the resourceful leader who always handles every situation with a clear mind, Han is less selfish, however even more brilliantly sarcastic, while gone is the naive Luke, and enters Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Master. All 3 characters with their portrayals in Return of the Jedi cement themselves is 3 of the greatest characters in film history.
Speaking of Luke, Return of the Jedi provides fans with one of the greatest moments in the franchise’s history – the lightsaber battle between father and son. While Vader and Luke had a light saber battle in Empire, the reveal that they are father and son had yet to be revealed. The battle between Vader and Luke with the John William’s score in the backdrop fully captures the emotion of this moment which leads to the eventual turn to the light by Vader.
However, not everything is all rainbows and butterflies in The Return Of The Jedi. EWOKS! God damn EWOKS! I have been a fan of Star Wars for over 20 years, and while I have attempted to find a purpose for those muppets, I can’t fathom that the all-powerful Empire was pretty much taken down by muppets. Lucas has gone on to say that his intention was to create a world of wookies but was unable to, however, that does not justify the narrative of the EWOKS in this film.
The Return Of The Jedi offers enough moments that is not only a fitting entry into the franchise but what was thought of at the time as a fitting conclusion to it as well. The Luke-Vader light saber battle alone solidifies the original trilogies place as one of the greatest trilogies of all time.
Reel Talk gives The Return Of The Jedi 3.5 Reels