Preparing for the Rise of Skywalker – Part VIII: Return of the Jedi
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi is the sixth chapter in the Skywalker saga, and is one of those Star Wars films that seems to divide parts of the fandom. Regardless of what you might think of Ewoks, or Jedi Rock musical numbers, of the Star Wars films, this one might be the one that most profoundly affected… no, shaped, my childhood.
But what kind of film is it really? Directed by Richard Marquand and released in 1983, Return of the Jedi sees is the final chapter of Luke Skywalker’s hero’s journey. Of course, there is a trilogy after this too, and I’ll get back to how these fit into the whole in a later review, but Return of the Jedi is the story about Luke Skywalker and the redemption of his father, Anakin Skywalker. It is a hero’s journey, the monomyth, on full display.
The cast from the two previous episodes are all back, and even though Return of the Jedi feels larger, more epic in scale, it is also, especially in the first act, weirder. This didn’t bother me as I watched this again and again growing up, but in later viewings I found the first part, where the story takes place in the palace of the alien gangster Jabba the Hutt, to be almost uncomfortably weird and uneven.
For me, the film picks up after this first part. The Battle of Endor and the confrontation with the Emperor are still some of the best best parts in the entire franchise, and the redemption of Anakin Skywalker still brings tears to my eyes. Although it is still showing its age when it comes to visual effects and film making in general, the acting is in many ways more convincing than in the previous installments, with the cast really comfortable in their roles this time around.
Return of the Jedi is a story about endings, and new beginnings. In a word, it is about redemption. I have been a fan of Star Wars all my life. Star Wars was the inspiration and driving force behind my strong interest in film. Despite this, I’m not one of those fans who think “old is always better”. The original trilogy are not my favorite Star Wars films, despite having had them in my life, shaping my identitly the way it did. I for one, welcome most of the changes George Lucas did with his films over the years. In risk of speaking heresy, I actually wish these films could get another overhaul to touch up on the effects, sound and picture.
And those Ewoks, aka the diminutive, cannibalistic teddy bears? No, I really don’t mind them. But I won’t review the Ewok adventure movies any time soon either…