Further inebriated ILT Star Wars chat, as the most unnecessarily complicated rescue plot ever sparks into life at the long overdue behest of our old chum Mr. Skywalker…
Return of the Jedi
Dir: Richard Marquand
Original Release Date: 25 May 1983
Part Three of a Star Wars SceneKid series special.
There’s no doubt about it – as a kid, Return of the Jedi was by far the best instalment of the original Star Wars trilogy. There’s the final confrontation between good and evil, a space battle to end all space battles, plenty of dumb comedy, and action scenes galore across multiple theatres. Everyone wins, the bad dudes are defeated, and there’s a rave in the forest to round things off. As an adult, it swiftly became the weakest chapter – more a great big case of what if? What if an experienced director had been at the helm (Spielberg is rumoured to have been first choice, with Lynch and Cronenberg also queried)? What if Lucas had just let Richard Marquand get on with it instead of constantly casting his shadow during shooting? What if Han had been killed off? What if the ending had been a little more desperate? What if it has been Wookies instead of Ewoks? These are the sorts of answers to life’s great questions that a nerd demands during his downtime from real life.
Thankfully, watching Jedi while getting one’s drink on – part and parcel preparation for this, the third part of ILT’s Star Wars SceneKid special – resulted in a healthy shelving of such cynicism. One scene in particular that was siply a joy to behold, and will likely make the neck hairs stand up no matter how old I get – forever bridging the bitter/euphoric gap between man and kid – comes when Luke decides to spark the fuck up for the first time, rather than face a thousand years of longing to reach the Sarlaac’s arsehole…
Throughout this inebriated experiment a pattern has emerged in the form of Luke being the primary focus of each random, highly emotion scene in question, and with Jedi there’s no exception. However, unlike the sequences selected from ANH and Empire respectively, this time there was no sense of deep routed thematic undertones; conflict, desire, hope, or pain – no sir. This was all about Luke cutting lose and debuting full-on Jedi mode, a moment of pure ecstasy for my young self back in 1996, and still a great birth of a ‘superhero’-type fanboy scene to this day. It’s the close up as the lightsaber comes hurtling down that does it; Luke plucks it from the sky (having done a flip off a comedy pirate-style diving board/plank) like he’s taking the chilli powder off the rack, sparks it up with a cracking sound effect (that I’d later overuse to death while religiously playing Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II on PC), and turns to face his enemies – Hamill’s eyes lit up in such an aahh-yeah-fuck-you-the-ball’s-in-my-court-now sort of look that I actually burst out laughing watching it in HD for the first time. To shoehorn in some mention of character development, this is when, to us, Luke has all but made it following his epic trials of emotion and frustration during the previous scenes discussed. Even Chewie looks like he’s grinning his tits off in the background, and why not, it’s the long awaited Skywalker show, something Hamill evidently embraced as much as we.
A while back a good friend of mine, who first saw the original trilogy without the aid/hindrance of childhood blinkers, pointed out to me that the entire attempted rescue of Han and eventual destruction of Jabba is a convoluted mess of a plot on Luke and Co.’s part that, despite being unnecessarily dangerous to all involved, just happened to work out for the best. Now while I one hundred percent agree with him, the reason why I never really thought about it much before and still don’t mind now (it certainly hasn’t ruined it for me), is that as a kid every little moment during the opening thirty minutes just seemed so classic and intense because it was building up to this very scene. All the tension, all the threating – it’s all unleashed with a flick of a switch and a triumphant blast of John Williams’ score to follow one of the smartest, most iconic brass overtures of the series. Even the comically clear-as-day nods and signals between the rebels (what if some drunk dude just happened to be on the roof and knocked R2 away?!) don’t stunt the overwhelming degree of pure awesomeness emitted during the instances that immediately follow.
So that’s that. The original trilogy has been viewed under heavy intoxication – a rite of passage every fan has no doubt taken upon themselves to complete at least once. All sorts of in-no-way-childlike emotions were duly felt, acknowledged, and embraced. And now it’s all over. Until the potential revisiting of the prequel trilogy that is…
…which I actually don’t have that bad a feeling about :D (remember, booze).