Star Wars VI Return of the Jedi (1983) - Illustrated Reference
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi was directed by Richard Marquand and premiered on May 25th, 1983. Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Ian McDiarmid, Sebastian Shaw and Alec Guinness. Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan & George Lucas. Music by John Williams. 134mins.
After rescuing Han from Jabba the Hutt, our heroes learn that the Empire is building a new more powerful Death Star. They journey to the forest moon of Endor, their mission is to blow up the shield generator protecting the unfinished Death Star.
Star Wars Episode VI was first titled Revenge of the Jedi, and posters were printed with that title, until Lucas changed his mind deciding that the Jedi don’t seek revenge.
British director Richard Marquand (1938-1987) was picked to direct Return of the Jedi, Lucas was impressed with his last film Eye of the Needle (1981),
Marquand would direct one more hit film, Jagged Edge (1985) before dying of a heart attack aged 49.
Luke: Search your feelings father, you can't do this. I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your hate.
Darth Vader: It is too late for me, son. The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your master now.
Luke: Then my father is truly dead.
Mark Hamill (1951-) / Luke Skywalker
Born in Concord, California, Mark Hamill’s films include – Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), The Big Red One (1980), Slipstream (1989), Sleepwalkers (1992), Village of the Damned (1995), Wing Commander (1999) and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)
C-3PO: His high exaltedness, the Great Jabba the Hutt, has decreed that you are to be terminated immediately.
Han Solo: Good, I hate long waits.
C-3PO: You will therefore be taken to the Dune Sea, and cast into the pit of Carkoon, the nesting place of the all-powerful Sarlacc.
Han Solo: Doesn't sound so bad.
C-3PO: In his belly you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.
Han Solo: On second thought, let's pass on that, huh?
Harrison Ford (1942-) / Han Solo
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Harrison Ford's films include - American Graffiti (1973), Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Blade Runner (1982), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Witness (1985), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Patriot Games (1992), The Fugitive (1993), Clear and Present Danger (1994), Air Force One (1997), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) and Cowboys & Aliens (2011).
Carrie Fisher (1956-) / Princess Leia Organa
Born in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Carrie Fisher’s films include – Shampoo (1975), Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), The Blues Brothers (1980), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), The Burbs (1989), When Harry Met Sally (1989), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2000), Charlie’s Angel’s Full Throttle (2003) and Sorority Row (2009).
Lando Calrissian: That blast came from the Death Star! That thing's operational!
Billy Dee Williams (1937-) / Lando Calrissian
Born in New York City, Billy Dee Williams films include – Lady Sings the Blues (1972), Mahogany (1975), The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Nighthawks (1981), Batman (1989 as Harvey Dent) and Fanboys (2009).
Moff Jerjerrod: The Emperor's coming here?
Darth Vader: That is correct, Commander. And, he is most displeased with your apparent lack of progress.
Moff Jerjerrod: We shall double our efforts.
Darth Vader: I hope so, Commander, for your sake. The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.
David Prowse (1935-) / Darth Vader
Born in Bristol, England, David Prowse’s films include – The Horror of Frankenstein (1970), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Vampire Circus (1972), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), Star Wars (1977), Empire Strikes Back (1980)
James Earl Jones (1931-) / Voice of Darth Vader
Born in Arkabutla, Mississippi, James Earl Jones was Oscar nominated Best Actor for The Great White Hope (1970).
The Emperor: Come, boy, see for yourself. From here, you will witness the final destruction of the Alliance and the end of your insignificant rebellion... You want this, don't you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your Jedi weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant.
The Emperor: It is unavoidable. It is your destiny. You, like your father, are now mine.
Ian McDiarmid (1944-) / Emperor Palpatine
Born in Tayside, Scotland, Ian McDiarmid’s films include – Dragonslayer (1981), Gorky Park (1983), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), Restoration (1995), Star Wars I The Phantom Menace (1999), Star Wars II Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Sebastian Shaw (1905-1994) / Anakin Skywalker
Born in Norfolk, England, Sebastian Shaw’s films include – Brewster’s Millions (1935), The Spy in Black (1939), The Flying Squad (1940) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968).
Warwick Davis (1970-) / Wicket
Born in Surrey, England, now 3ft 6in tall Warwick Davies was just 2ft 11in tall when he played young Ewok, Wicket, in Jedi. His films include – Labyrinth (1986), Willow (1988), Leprechaun (1993), Star Wars I The Phantom Menace (1999), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), The Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian (2008) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows p.1-p.2 (2010-2011).
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 secretly 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...
- Episode VI - opening title roll -
Filming began in January 1982 and finished May 1982, that left Lucas nearly a year to complete the effects, editing and music.
The film was shot at Elstree studios, England and location work at Death Valley National Park and Redwood National Park, California.
David Lynch turned down an offer to direct Return of the Jedi, choosing instead to make Frank Herbert’s Dune (1984) for producer Dino de Laurentiis.
At one time during scripting it was a tribe of Wookies our team encounter during the film not Ewoks. Lucas probably decided Ewok teddy bears would sell a lot better than Wookie dolls.
Harrison Ford wanted Han Solo to be killed off in Episode VI, heroically sacrificing his life to save his friends, Lucas rejected the idea.
During filming the movie was given a false title to ward off snooping fans, the studio was pretending to make a horror film called Blue Harvest with the tagline “Horror Beyond Imagination”.
Despite the Ewok-packed last hour of the film, the name “Ewok” is never used in the film.
In the movie Jabba the Hutt is a 600 year old slug-like crime lord living on Tatooine. In reality it was a large puppet weighing 2000lbs and operated from inside by three puppeteers, Jabba cost $500,000 to create.
Bounty hunter Boba Fett became a big favourite with Star Wars fans despite not actually doing that much in the movies and gets eaten by the Sarlacc in Episode VI.
Lucas regretted killing off Boba Fett so lamely and considered adding a new scene in the 2004 DVD edition showing Fett climbing out of the Sarlacc pit. Thankfully he changed his mind.
Darth Vader: Luke... help me take this mask off.
Luke: But you'll die.
Darth Vader: Nothing can stop that now. Just for once let me look on you with my own eyes.
When Luke takes the mask off the fallen Vader it is 77 year old actor Sebastian Shaw we see playing the scarred Sith Lord. And in the original finale Luke sees his ghostly form alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda.
Unfortunately George Lucas decided to replace Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen as young Anakin for the finale in Jedi's 2004 DVD release. Another poke in the eye to the fans.
Characters who say "I have a bad feeling about this” in the Star Wars Saga – Luke and Han in Episode IV, Leia in Episode V, Han and C-3PO in Episode VI, Obi-Wan in Episode I, Anakin in Episode II and Obi-Wan in Episode III.
Jedi was to have ended with the marriage of Han and Leia and there are rumours that this scene was shot but discarded.
Lando Calrissian: Break off the attack! The shield is still up!
Wedge Antilles: I get no reading. Are you sure?
Lando Calrissian: Pull up! All craft, pull up!
Mon Calamari: Admiral! We have enemy ships in sector 47!
Admiral Ackbar: It's a trap!
Return of the Jedi contains 900 special effects shots, a record at the time. The final space battle around (and inside) the unfinished Death Star is arguably the greatest space battle ever put on film.
Jedi was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, deservedly winning for Best Visual Effects, also nominated for Best Music Score (John Williams), Best Art Direction, Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing.
Nominated for 10 Saturn Awards, winning 5 – Best Science Fiction Film, Best Actor (Mark Hamill), Best Costumes, Best Make Up and Best Visual Effects.
Return of the Jedi cost $32m and went on to gross $252m in the U.S. becoming the biggest film of 1983, grossing $475m worldwide.
The 1997 Special Edition included a few changes – the song at Jabba’s palace 'Lapti Nek' was replaced with a new number 'Jedi Rocks' featuring CG instead of puppet singers. The Sarlacc no longer looks like a large bum hole in the middle of the desert and now features a squealing worm like creature.
The final Ewok Celebration theme has been replaced with a new “Victory Celebration” composed by John Williams playing over a montage of celebrations on different worlds – Tatooine, Bespin and Coruscant.
Not as well regarded as the previous two Star Wars films and Jedi has far too many muppets, puppets and teddy bears for my taste, but it does have Ian McDiarmid, brilliantly nasty as the Emperor Palpatine, another terrific score by John Williams, and that final half hour of spectacular sci-fi action has few equals.
The Critics Wrote -
“Fabulous entertainment for all.” (Quinlan)
“Only the effects are special.” (Sight & Sound)
“An impersonal and rather junky piece of moviemaking... In The Empire Strikes Back, the three central figures seemed capable of real exhilaration and suffering. Here, they’re back to being what they were in the first film - comic-strip characters wandering through a jokey pastiche of the Arthurian legends” (Pauline Kael)
“Hamill is not enough of a dramatic actor to carry the plot load here, especially when his partner in so many scenes is really little more than an oversized gas pump, even if splendidly voiced by James Earl Jones. But Lucas and director Richard Marquand have overwhelmed these flaws with a truly amazing array of creatures, old and new, plus the familiar space hardware.” (Variety)
"If the revels of Star Wars are indeed now ended, Jedi couldn't have been a better resolution for them. The film sparkles crisply from one peak of action to the next. The acrobatic struggle in mid-air over the lethal creature in its sand pit, with Luke doing a Fairbanks with his light-sabre, Leia in lots of skin busy strangling the villain with a chain, while Han, Chewie and Calrissian almost slide to their doom, has no equivalent in excitement this side of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The sequence is then smartly outpaced by the vertiginous pursuits through the forest of Endor, and an intermingling of Tron with Hell's Angels, in which one twitch of the handlebars on the rocket-driven javelin bikes sends us straight into a tree trunk." (Monthly Film Bulletin)
“Return of the Jedi is fun, magnificent fun. The movie is a complete entertainment, a feast for the eyes and a delight for the fancy. It's a little amazing how Lucas and his associates keep topping themselves.” (Roger Ebert, 1983)