The original trilogy comes together in a massive galactic finale. Star Wars – Return of the Jedi pits our heroes once again against a fully-charged Empire that wants to wipe them out for good. The film served as a climax for a series of films that captured the hearts of the world, young and old, male and female. There was something about the series that despite it being set in a galaxy far, far away, was so relatable but also, very exciting.
Return of the Jedi opens on the familiar planet of Tatooine (Luke’s homeworld) in an attempt to rescue Han Solo (who is still in Carbon Freeze) from Jabba the Hutt. After a rather long series of events, a big set piece and a Q & A session with Yoda, the team reunites with the Rebel Alliance as they are about to take on their biggest mission yet, to destroy another Death Star. But things are a bit different this time. They have a much bigger fleet ready to go on the offensive and there is word that not only is the under construction project not yet armed but that the Emperor himself is on the battle station.
The final battle is a culmination of what we had seen in the pervious movies and then some. It cuts nicely between three simultaneous struggles; A ground battle: the Rebels and their new found friends the Ewoks against garrisons of Storm troopers, a massive space battle between a surprised Rebel fleet and the Empire’s Star Destroyers and a Lightsaber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader as the Emperor looks on. The film puts our main characters exactly where they need to be, split up between these fights so we have people to follow in each. Return of the Jedi doesn’t necessarily take the time as in the other films to dwell on that characters, by now if you have been following the films we already know a lot about them and the only real character development is shared between the characters in the Death Star’s throne room, Luke, Vader and the Emperor. That isn’t a bad thing though because the film is able to focus more on the battles at hand, the twists, turns and traps of all three of these skirmishes get you to care about the heroes’ plight and wonder if they will all make it out alive.
Welsh director, Richard Marquand took over directorial duties for Return of the Jedi as Lucas continued to produce and assist with the visual effects and story. This aided the film a lot as Marquand was very much an actors director and was able to get good performances out of everyone in the cast. The main new addition to the cast was Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor, a quintessential evil character with a subtle Shakespearian vibe. He was very much a stand out in this film as he injected something new into the story and terrified children around the world.
In Return of the Jedi, Star Wars cemented itself as the franchise that pushed the boundaries of what you could put on screen. Character costumes like the Ewoks, Jabba and Nein Numb were beautiful realisations of how puppetry could work along with human movement while the space battles showed progress from the first film a few short years ago. John Williams returned to score the film, his track Ewok Celebration (aka Yub Nub) was one of my favourite pieces from the soundtrack and it was brutally cut from the Special Edition versions.
There isn’t much else to write for this film other than I felt it was a great way to end the trilogy and start a long wait before we might one day see episodes 1, 2, and 3.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Above Average