#95: Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi [1983]

I don’t think anybody really watches Star Wars anymore: we re-watch it. If you haven’t seen Star Wars yet, then I’m assuming that no heavier barrage of complaint could be launched against you and the argument has been dropped forever. However, if you have, like me, re-watched these films countless times, then you’ll know how incredibly hard it is to re-watch them with any semblance of objectivity. I’m aware that I’m talking about these movies as if they were one entity. While they are not, this saga strikes me as an all or nothing type affair.
This final instalment (within the films’ internal chronology) throws me back to my childhood. As I re-watched Return of the Jedi yet again, I found that I not only remembered each and every line and scene, but also how I watched them originally in my pre-teen years. I remember crying with that Ewok when his friend gets blasted. I remember the complete and utter joy when the second Death Star is obliterated. I remember my brother and I rewinding the VHS about ten times in a row to hear Lando’s hilarious scream as a Sarlacc tentacle grabs his leg, again and again and again. As I said, I can’t watch this film objectively.
But then, I guess no one can really. The Star Wars phenomenon is phenomenal in its own right. You’re either confused by all the hype, or lost in the nostalgia. Either way, no one really pays attention to normal cinematic devices like plot or character development (let’s face it, there’s not much of it anyway). Star Wars is all about the questionable scriptwriting, the incomparable sound effects and that incredible musical score. In my family, we don’t even need to utter the film title; a bar of hummed music is an adequate reference.
Perhaps I’m overly romanticising this film. While Return of the Jedi is my personal favourite in the Star Wars saga, it’s not often considered in so high a regard by critics. Yes, I love the cute little Ewoks and yes, I make the sound effects along with the blasters, but that doesn’t make this a good film. In fact, it’s a rather bad one. In all honesty, the script is sketchy and the acting more so. Clumsy Stormtroopers stand in for the ever-maligned Nazis (the link being obvious in the terminology) and face the brunt of the wanton (but hilariously PG-rated) violence, ticking the contemptible ‘easy-laugh’ box. Indeed, much of the action is pointless in terms of plot. For me though, these all count as bonuses, invaluably adding to the viewing experience.
All in all, I can’t really give you an intelligent reading of this film. To be honest, I doubt there are any available. Suffice it to say that if you haven’t caught onto this particular cultural spectacle in your infancy, then it’s already too late, and for that, I pity you.