Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Star Wars

Released: 1983
Director: Richard Marquand
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford


A strong finale to the epic saga

Star Wars comes to an end.  In Return of the Jedi we say goodbye to characters which cinema and this franchise have ensured will remain in our hearts for eternity.

The film picks up straight after the end of The Empire Strikes Back.  Han Solo is still encased in carbonite and imprisoned by Jabba the Hutt.  Luke Skywalker leads a rescue mission which sees Princess Leia wearing her famous gold bikini.  I’ve never found it particularly sexy myself but a generation of nerds go weak at the knees at the very thought of it.

The Rebel Alliance forces are soon back in action with a dangerous attack on a new Death Star planned.  The mission is made more dangerous by the connection between Luke and Darth Vader and the ensuing confrontation.  Will the Rebels defeat the Empire?  Will Darth Vadar find redemption?  Are Ewoks cute or irritating?  All of these questions are answered and the story is brought to an end.  Hopefully….

I know that many people find Return of the Jedi the weakest film in the original trilogy.  I suppose I agree but it’s hardly a poor movie, quite the opposite.  The opening sequence in Jabba the Hutt’s palace goes on for slightly too long, especially in the remastered version.  The Ewoks (little bear like creatures) split opinions but I’ve always found them pretty cute.  Perhaps I was just the right teddy-bear loving age when Return of the Jedi came out.

The performances are as strong as ever.  Mark Hamill utterly convinces as a young man struggling with his conflicting feelings and trying to control his anger.  Carrie Fisher is a great heroine and Harrison Ford fits the role of the cynical and heroic Han Solo perfectly.  Billy Dee Williams is great as Lando Calrissian – it’s a real shame that he’s not been seen in much since, but then neither has Mark Hamill.  Ian McDiarmid impresses as the Emperor, bringing real malice to the part.

The performances of the actors playing the non-human characters are also top-notch.  My favourite performance is by Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca – how can a walking carpet have quite so much personality?  There are more touching scenes in Return of the Jedi than in any of the previous films.  I will admit to shedding a little tear every time an Ewok dies.

The action sequences are amongst the best in the series.  The space battle between the Imperial and Rebellion ships is fantastic but the real excitement comes yet again in the confrontation between Luke and Vadar.  An emotional punch is packed and even the lighting adds to the drama.  Watch Vadar’s eyes – they move from soulless to full of compassion thanks entirely to the lighting effects.

Return of the Jedi  brings everything to a satisfying conclusion and even has evidence of my “one quiet man” theory of action films – when everyone is cheering a great success, there’s always at least one (and often only one) person who remains calm, contemplative and even a little sad.

George Lucas has an unparalleled imagination and while he sometimes gets things wrong in his quest for perfection he has created the greatest science fiction series of all time.

Tomorrow morning I’ll post the final part in this series, a review of the entire saga as a single unit.

Previous and next posts in this series:<< Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes BackStar Wars: The Complete Saga >>
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  1. Congratulations on getting through the series Louise. I would love to revisit them, but having 2 young girls they really couldn’t give a stuff about them LOL

    Thanks for reviewing them all for us.

    You are a star

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