Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, Alec Guinness, Frank Oz (voice)
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas, based on a story by George Lucas
Directed by: Richard Marquand
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 132
Date: 25/05/1983
IMDB

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Father and Son

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The third Star Wars film, and the sixth in the series, begins with a bang as our heroes try to wrap up the threads left hanging at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. This exciting sequence, set on the desert planet of Tatooine, has the good sense to keep certain details from the audience, constantly surprising us with the breadth and depth of the elaborate rescue plan. As directed by Richard Marquand (Jagged Edge) and cleanly edited by Sean Barton, Duwayne Dunham and Marcia Lucas, the well-paced action adds up to one of the best sequences in the entire series, bursting with the characters' charisma and well-earned chemistry.

Unfortunately, from there the film takes a nosedive with careless exposition and with the much-hated introduction of the fuzzy Ewoks. (Though a chase sequence through the forest planet has a certain amount of totally visceral thrills.) The 1997 refurbished version of Return of the Jedi does away with the annoying, chirping Ewok victory song and replaces it with a more subdued, dramatic Mickey Hart-like drum song.

The original title was Revenge of the Jedi, which George Lucas changed because he didn't feel that revenge should be part of the Jedi code. A certain number of promotional items were issued under that title, and they instantly became valuable collector's items. Additionally, the secret cover-up title during production was the very dull sounding Blue Harvest, and the full-length, official title is Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.

DVD Details: In 2004, Lucas released the Star Wars trilogy on DVD, but only in their 1997 refurbished editions. The original theatrical releases from 1977, 1980 and 1983 are apparently lost to time. I still have my old mid-1990s laserdisc editions, and I'll be holding onto them for dear life. (In 2006, Lucas conceded and released three, two-disc special editions containing both the re-jiggered versions and the original theatrical releases, thereby rendering the 2004 editions useless. Will the fans never be satisfied?)

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