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Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983) Directed by Richard Marquand Story by George Lucas.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Luke Skywalker has returned to his home planet of Tatooine in an attempt to rescue his friend Han Solo from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt. Little does Luke know that the GALACTIC EMPIRE has begun construction on a new armored space station even more powerful than the first dreaded Death Star. When completed, this ultimate weapon will spell certain doom for the small band of rebels struggling to restore freedom to the galaxy...
And thus begins the (cinematic) final chapter in the Star Wars Saga. The empire is working fast and furious on completing the second Death Star; mean while the heroes are not doing quite so well. Han is encased in Carbonite, and the droids R2D2 and C3P0 have been sent to the old monastery on Tatooine to bargain with Jabba the Hut for their friend’s release.
The first effort involves a bounty on Solo’s Wookie friend Chewbacca. There is the wonderful scene with the bounty hunter extorting more money from Jabba. “Why should I pay you 50,000?” Yo do, yo doh, yo day. Because I have a Thermal Detonator.
Jabba laughs at this. “This bounty hunter is my kind of scum: fearless and inventive.” I think that line really sums up the crime lord, rather than the slug. Never let them see a moment’s weakness. He lived by it; it is why he felt he had to make an example out of Han Solo. It is what got him killed, that, and a length of chain attached to a very peeved princess in a very revealing little outfit. (Carrie Fisher had complained that the clothes she wore rather concealed the fact she was a girl. That was Lucas’ answer. Now she is the object of more teenaged hormonally driven admiration than Farrah Fawcett.)
The joy of it was it was a plan within a plan. Leah goes in, tries to free Han, while Lando releases Chewbacca. If this does not work (likely) Luke comes in and frees them all, his light saber smuggled in long before with R2D2.
And it works. But for every thing the light side does, there is a dark reply. The Empire has a plan within a plan. They know Luke will come for the Death Star, so their plan is to lure him to the Dark Side. If that should fail, well, they got the thing operational with just two thirds complete…so when the rebels arrive, and you know they have to try, they will be destroyed, caught between the anvil of the fleet, and the hammer of the Death Star.
There are many balances, and returns in this movie. Two Jedi, two Sith, a two pronged attack against Death Star 2, and the series started on Tatooine, and it returns to Tatooine to tie up loose ends. Luke returns to Dagobah to tie up his loose ends as a Jedi. And there is the balance between the high tech Empire installations versus the primitive Ewoks. Originally, the battle was to be between the Empire and the Wookies. But Chewbacca had proved to paint his race as too advanced, too sophisticated. So, they cut them in half, gave them a buzz cut, and rearranged the name; Wook-ee = Ee-Wok. And it worked. Certainly, the kids loved it.
Meanwhile, while his friends battle for the fate of the galaxy, Luke gives himself over to the Empire to battle for his father’s soul. Yoda told him the last thing he had to do to be a Jedi was to confront Vader. And he does. And it is a real help to the Rebels. The Emperor is far too interested in the outcome of the battle between father and son to direct the decimation of the Rebel Fleet, leaving his standing orders in place. The Fleet holds, the fighters attack, and the Death Star brings them down when it can get a clear shot. They never gave the Death Star a second clear shot.
From start to finish, the Star Wars saga is the Hero’s Journey. A boy is born in humble circumstance. He has known loss, but also is gifted. He is invited into the bigger world by a mentor, older and wise. At first he fears, but then accepts the invitation. There, he makes friends, he makes enemies, and he learns what is important to him. He is tempted. When he finally embraces his true self, he becomes self actualized.
Luke is an orphan, raised by his Aunt and Uncle. He is a talented mechanic, excellent pilot, and a crack shot. He meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, refuses to go, putting his responsibilities to Uncle Owen first. But when his entire world is destroyed, by the exact evil Obi-Wan had asked him to fight, Luke signs on, body and soul. He meets a pair of
Scoundrels, Han Solo, the captain of the Millennium Falcon, and Chewbacca, his first mate. In escaping the empire, they bond. Their fates are bound together further when they are captured by the Empire they are hoping to avoid. They rescue the Princess, and face the horrible villain, Darth Vader, the man Obi-Wan claimed his father. They escape, loosing the Mentor, who sacrificed himself for the boy. Luke becomes part of the rebellion, gaining skill as a warrior. To gain skill as a Jedi, he seeks out the Last Jedi, Yoda. There he learns humility and much of the force. But evil forces his hand, and he leaves, his training incomplete, to save his friends. Once more, he faces Vader, and learns a terrible truth. Like all Mythic Knowledge, it has a price; Luke’s hand. Luke chooses death over corruption, and thus escapes. Then he returns to keep his word, and finish his training. His second mentor also dies, giving him the last piece of advice, he must face Vader before he will be a Jedi, and an important piece of information that he deserves to know; Leia is his sister. Luke faces his father. He defeats him but rejects his hatred and pain, and thus proves himself to be a Jedi, the epitome of Self Actualization.
But this is not the only Hero’s Journey. The Prequels tell the even more complex tale of Anakin Skywalker. Born in slavery, freed by the Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin is scared to leave his mother, and his life, but encouraged by her, he embarks on the quest. He makes friends, Obi-Won Kenobi, and Queen Amidala, in her guise as the handmaiden Padme, Jar Jar Binks, and R2D2, the replacement the first friend he made, literally, C3PO. He learns all he can, and does what he can to help his friends. Their enemies become his enemies.
He learns what is important to him, and unfortunately that is what tempts him. He wants what he can not have and his love of the forbidden leads to his destruction. He is of course, helped along by his greatest enemy, posing as his greatest friend. So scared of loosing what is important to him, he falls into fatal error, becoming selfish, and loosing control of his emotions, becomes controlled by them. When he looses his love, his fear turns to hate, and he is lost. Disfigured as much physically as he is spiritually, he exists for years, serving a man he despises, the very one who caused the death of the woman and the Republic he so loved. It was not until he was forced to fight Luke, his own son, the last like he had to Padme, that he examined his own motivations. His motivation had always been not loosing the people he loved. And now, he was being asked to kill his only son. And when he failed to best him, when he was at his mercy, his son refused to kill him, proving he was a worthy Jedi, a goal that had once meant everything to Anakin. And in that moment, he found his redemption, and as the Emperor tired to kill his son, the last living Jedi, Anakin Skywalker destroyed his Emperor. It cost his life, but a price well worth paying for a man who valued family and love over all. Redeemed, he entered death as a force ghost, ready to guide the next generation of Jedi.
And once again, a saga within a saga; Lucas’ plan within a plan.
There is nothing that compares with Star Wars. Only The Lord of the Rings comes close, but it was made for the medium of print. Star Wars was created for the movies. There was never anything like it before. And though it has inspired thousands who followed, nothing has rivaled it. I just hope something will.
May The Force Be With You.
The New Frontier: Younglings.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season One
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Two
Check out the other completely different Clone Wars cartoons.
Star Wars Clone Wars Volume One. and
Star Wars Clone Wars Volume Two.
Check out these Star Wars Novels:
Star Wars Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice
Star Wars Legacy of the Force: Invincible
The Cestus Deception.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor
Republic Commando Order 66
Check out these Star Wars Comics:
Tag and Bink Were Here
Jango Fett: Open Season.
Rites of Passage
Star Wars Rebellion: My Brother, My Enemy.
Check out my reviews on Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic.
Days of Fear, Nights of Anger.
Check out the Future of Star Wars in Legacy:
Star Wars Legacy: Broken.
Star Wars Legacy: Shards
Star Wars Legacy: Claws of the Dragon
Star Wars Legacy: Alliance
The Star Wars Role Playing Game:
Star Wars Role Playing Game
Star Ships of the Galaxy
Threats of the Galaxy
Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide
The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
Scum and Villainy
The Clone Wars Campaign Guide
Check out all the Star Wars Saga:
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8