Return Of The Jedi

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RETURN OF THE JEDI, the third ‘Star Wars’ movie (chronologically the 6th), was easily the biggest hit of 1983, more than doubling the gross of the next on the list, a down-to-Earth no-quarter battlefield with the velocity-absent title Terms Of Endearment. Lawrence Kasdan returned as screenwriter, sharing that chore with the Jedi Master himself, George Lucas. New pick Richard Marquand (Eye Of The Needle, Jagged Edge) directed. Lucasian treasure expended amounted to $42,700,000, just Bantha-feed compared to the Rebellion’s global return of $476,000,000. So, divided by X-number of zapped Storm Troopers that’s…..(ask C-3PO)

Yes, this is the one with the furballs.

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With further Skywalking a distant 16 years in the future, fans assumed this was The (living) End, what with the rescue of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from ‘Jabba the Hutt’, a face-to-face faceoff between Luke (Mark Hamill) and supreme bad guy Dick Cheney Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid, superb), who’s related to who squared up, and a last-second kill-shot to the new Death Star. Plus, a whole tribe of money earning toys creatures for the Jawas among us to add to their sandbox—complete with hole for (a) something yucky to fall into,or (b) something big and gross to emerge from.

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Spirited, with Jabba’s crew properly disgusting, Leia/Carrie stripped down outfitted to elicit panting from 90% of guys over age 10, a cool speeder chase through the forests of Endor (thank you, Redwoods National Park), and a big finale battle, followed, like all mass-casualty events, by a rollicking party. The special effects (900 shots worth) are improved over those of The Empire Strikes Back. “Purists” (shudder) take umbrage at the Ewoks, obviously put there to out-cute Yoda and replace Teddy Bears on a million pillows, but they do manage a nice log-avalanche swiped from Swiss Family Robinson, so cut the little bas– critters some slack.

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Work outside studio settings was accomplished in the desert around Yuma, Arizona, for the Tatooine exteriors, and in the lordly Redwoods near Crescent City, California, for the speeder chase and Ewok escapades. The Oscars gave it a Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects, and nominations went up for Music Score, Art Direction, Sound and Sound Effects Editing. Femi Taylor is the unfortunate dancer/snack in Jabba’s lair, and Sebastian Shaw is unmasked as Annakin Skywalker.

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Returning to the fight for 132 minutes: Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Alec Guinness, James Earl Jones, David Prowse, Frank Oz, Kenny Baker. Claire Davenport is billed as ‘Fat Dancer’. Just so you don’t short out your Falcon, let’s go crystal: this is Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.  All better now? We leave good/bad/indifferent comment on all the changes/improvements/futzing Lucas made to this movie and the first two, on disc editions and re-releases: there’s enough detailed information and flustered two-digital-bits-worth argument available on-line to walk from here to Dagobah on keystrokes. It’s George’s Empire, we just live in it.

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