#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. 

Comments

  1. Only just discovered you're blog exists but you're too interesting to let me sleep. So congrats!

    This was the all time favourite film of my childhood. I agree that unbiased views of this film are hard to come by. I still remember my horror when I accidentally destroyed the video we had taped it on...I broke a lot of things as a child, but thats another story.

    I would disagree with your point on character development. In my experience trilogies have the luxury of stretching out their characters times of growth and change (so glad star wars is generally montage free). It's true, a lot of the character growth is slipped into the inbetween film gap (luke's extra training, leia's loneliness and prep for going undercover as a bounty hunter) and also that they could get by without much due to the happy feeling most viewers will have knowing of all the previous change (like Han's socialisation from smuggler to rebel general and Luke's progression from incorrigible youth to finally possessing a mature thought a long with deadly jedi skills). However the character of Darth Vader who had little previous development has a massive shocking turnover which this trilogy would be sadly empty without. I do need to sleep so I won't bore you further with my nerdy knowledge of star wars, but thank you for the blog and am missing you and old southampton times. Must catch up in the summer!

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  2. 1. I miss you too Mike!!! I shall fb message you - go check.
    2. I'm glad you found it interesting!
    3. You make a valid point. After I posted I kept thinking about what I said as I wasnt completely happy with it. I think I overly belittled the character development - it's certainly there. It's just that it's so... jolty that it's more of a convenient plot device. The characters' changes happen rather quickly after a specific event. For Han it's in the battle at the end of ep4, for Luke it's with Yoda, for Darth Vader it's in the last 20 minutes. So I disregarded it, but perhaps a little too strongly.

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    1. still think you're trivialising the character growth a bit, han didnt just become the good guy at the end of 4 and luke goes through a lot change before yoda, but i have appreciated your blog and the deeper insight you've given me as to just how deep and geeky my knowledge of star wars goes. looking forward to some of other blogs especially #1 shawshank, film of my life! as in one of my favourite films, i'm not claiming in anyway that my life has ever similied andy duframes.

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