Return of the Jedi

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The Empire Falls....


Return of the Jedi was the third Star Wars movie to be released, and is the sixth episode in the Star Wars Universe. Jedi was never as popular as the other two movies of the first trilogy, Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, largely due to Lucas' shift in focus. For Jedi, George Lucas switched his target audience somewhat from science fiction fans and concentrated on a younger market, a trend that you can see continuing in the recent Episode 1 and 2. Hence, Ewoks, cuddly little mini-Chewbaccas - living teddy bears that inspired their own made for tv movie and pissed off the hardcore science fiction fans.

Jedi also has much more of a Hollywood feel than the other two movies. It concentrated more on action and adventure than the storytelling and world-builing of Star Wars and Empire. Despite the focus on younger audiences, Jedi still did very well, grossing $24.4 million opening weekend, and $309.2 million overall. It remains very popular - #122 on IMDB's top 250 list, though not nearly as high as Star Wars (#9) or even Empire (#16).

Return of the Jedi wasn't always called that, however. The movie was originally filmed under the title Blue Harvest to keep third-party merchandisers from flooding the market, and to keep attention away from the filming. Even after the Blue Harvest ruse was dropped, Jedi didn't quite have its name. The movie was going to be released as Revenge of the Jedi, until Lucas decided - so late into the game that Revenge posters had already been sent to theaters - that revenge wasn't really something a jedi was into.

Although the Star Wars cycle was originally planned as a nine movie cycle to be completed by 1997, Jedi (released in 1983) was to be the last Star Wars movie to be released for the next 16 years.

It is also worth pointing out the Jedi was the first movie to be shown in a THX-certified theater.

Basic Info

Released: 1983
Directed by: Richard Marquand
Written By: Lawrence Kasdan & George Lucas
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox
Rated: PG

Plot Outline

Warning - spoilers! I'm going to consider Star Wars a classic. Just as I have no qualms telling you, for example, Rosebud is a sled, I have no qualms telling you, for example, that Darth Vader eventually renounces the dark side. I hope this doesn't bother you.

Our movie opens. Han Solo has been imprisoned by the gangster Jabba the Hut, and hangs out in his den encased in carbonite, a sort of art deco wall-hanging. Princess Leia and Lando Calrissian, disguised as bounty hunters, manage to weasel in and get Han unfrozen, aided by Chewbacca. But that's as far as they get before Jabba puts and en to their shenanigans, imprisons them all, and makes Leia his personal slave-dancer - a position that involves the infamous gold bikini.

Rescue attempt two: Luke Skywalker rolls up, pronounces himself a Jedi, and proceeds to get himself captured by Jabba as well. But that's ok, he's a Jedi, remember?

So Jabba's got an evil plan. He's gonna take Luke, Chewwy, Han, and Lando, and toss them into The Sarlacc Pit where they'll be painfully digested over 1,000 years. You know the routine. A big fight scene ensues, and we see the end of Jabba the Hut, Boba Fett, and countless of Jabba's cronies. Thus ends the first act of the movie.

Luke now returns to Dagobah to meet up with Yoda and complete his training, like he promised back in Empire. He learns from Yoda that he has learned all he can. But is he a Jedi yet? No. One task remains: confront imperial bad-ass Darth Vader, who happens to be Luke's father. Yoda dies, does the classic jedi dissolve, and Luke is off. Oh, somewhere in there Luke learned that Leia is his sister. Thus ends act two.

Now for the final act of the movie, and the original trilogy. As it turns out, the empire is building another Death Star. Luckily for the rebels this Death Star is (supposedly) non-operational, being still under construction. Unfortunately, it's also gaurded be a giant energy shield thingy being projected from the sentry moon of Endor.

In order to destroy the shield generator, Han Solo volunteers to lead a strike force, bringing along his buddies Chewwy, Luke, Leia, and some other random rebels. Wackiness ensues on the sentry moon: speeder bike fights, a weird love triangle between Luke, Leia, and Han (as far as Han and Leia can tell, Luke hasn't brought up the whole sister thing yet), and mostly Ewoks, Ewoks, Ewoks.

While on the moon, Luke realizes that Vader can sense his presence. He's endangering the mission, and so goes alone to surrender to the Empire, so Vader will leave his buddies alone. This opens up a whole new can of worms because Emperor Palpatine can now attempt to lure him to the dark side of the force.

Back down on the Endor, after a cute misundertanding with the Ewoks, the rebels manage to enlist their aid. They attack the shield generator, but our thwarted by a legion of the empire's best men.

Meanwhile, is space, the attack on the Death Star is beginning. But wait, the shield is still up! This prompts Admiral Ackbar, a fishy looking dude, to utter his (in)famous line:

"It's a trap!"

Back on Endor, the Ewoks show up in full force, and the battle is joined. The rebels eventually manage to get the shield down, and Ackbar sends his men in full force. This is a good thing, because as it turns out, the Death Star was in fact fully functional, and has spent a good fifteen minutes tearing the rebel fleet apart.

The rebels manage to destroy the Death Star, but not before Luke manages to defeat the emperor's will and win his father away from the dark side, minutes before the whole things goes up in a glorious, sparkly explosion.

Luckily for Luke, he manages to catch an escape shuttle down to Endor with his dying father just in the nick of time.

The whole thing ends with Vader's funeral, Leia falling in love with Han once and for all, and party, Ewok-style, complete with worldbeat music and fireworks.


Mark Hamill         as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford       as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher       as Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams  as Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels     as C-3PO 
Peter Mayhew        as Chewbacca 
Sebastian Shaw      as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid       as The Emperor 
Frank Oz            as Yoda
James Earl Jones    as Voice of Darth Vader
David Prowse        as Darth Vader
Alec Guinness       as Obi-Wan Kenobi 
Kenny Baker         as R2-D2
Michael Pennington  as Moff Jerjerrod 
Kenneth Colley      as Admiral Piett
Michael Carter      as Bib Fortuna
Denis Lawson        as Wedge
Timothy M. Rose     as Admiral Ackbar
Dermot Crowley      as General Madine 
Caroline Blakiston  as Mon Mothma 
Warwick Davis       as Wicket
Jeremy Bulloch      as Boba Fett

Many Bothans died to bring you this information