Return of the Jedi

Some observations:

1. The Empire is back. With a new, formidable weapon. A weapon so powerful that it will finally crush the rebellion and make the Empire the reigning power for a thousand years.

This new weapon is —

THE DEATH STAR.

And THIS time — it’s UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

NOTHING will penetrate the defenses of this awesome, under-construction weapon.

Except, perhaps, a fleet of rebel fighters.

2. Jabba the Hutt: why doesn’t he wipe his chin? It’s disgusting.

I mean, apparently he NEVER wipes it. Because the spittle on his chin is in multiple layears, and it’s caked dry. He’s a wealthy slug, he’s got dozens of employees, flunkies and hangers-on. Why isn’t it someone’s job to wipe his chin? If it’s spilling down onto his chest, obviously it’s a chronic problem.

I understand he doesn’t need clothes, that’s fine. He’s a slug, he would find them constricting. And I understand that constant secretion of mucus comes part-and-parcel with being a giant slug. But then why would he allow it to dry and cake on his non-slimy skin? For that matter, why would a giant slug choose to live on a desert planet? Why doesn’t the giant slug do a property swap with Yoda? Jabba would have done very well on Dagobah and Yoda could have added years to his life in the dry heat of Tatooine. But no, the giant slug lives on a desert planet in a palace filled with stairs and narrow hallways far too small to accommodate his bulk. No wonder he spends all his time in his lair, he’s outgrown his hallway. How unhappy he must be.

3. How exactly does Leia manage to strangle a giant slug to death? He has a trachea? Lungs? Why not just dump a vat of salt onto him?

4. My favorite moment in the movie: Lando Calrissian enters Jabba’s lair and adjusts his mask. His eyes are already plainly visible, so obviously he can see, but he adjusts his mask, apparently so that his mustache can see.

5. There’s a scene between Vader and Sidious that goes something like this:

VADER: Those rebels that landed on Endor? My son is among them.
SIDIOUS: Really? How do you know?
VADER: I’ve felt his presence.
SIDIOUS: Really? That’s weird, I haven’t, and I’m ten times more psychic than you are. Oh well, what do you want to do about it?
VADER: Let me go find him.
SIDIOUS: No, I’ve got a better I idea. You stay put and let him come to you.
VADER: You think he’ll do that?
SIDIOUS: Yes. I have forseen it.

Now, I know ROTJ is a sitting duck, and I love these movies as much as anyone, but Huh? Sidious didn’t know Luke was there, but he has already forseen what Luke would do after he got there?

My guess is that there was another half-page of dialogue that got cut.

VADER: You — what — what do you mean?
SIDIOUS: I have FORSEEN it.
VADER: But — a minute ago —
SIDIOUS: Young Skywalker will seek you out and together we will DESTROY him.
VADER: But —
SIDIOUS: I have SPOKEN.
VADER: Well — okay —
SIDIOUS: You doubt my word?
VADER: I — well, your excellency, look, I know you’re the boss and all, but — I just, I gotta say, sometimes I think you’re just fucking with my head.

6. Now, as you all know, in the DVD edition os ROTJ, at the end of the movie (SPOILER ALERT) Darth Vader dies and Luke pries off his helmet, and there’s kindly old Humpty Du — er, Anakin Skywalker, and he and Luke have a moving little scene. Then, later, the teddy bears set Darth Vader’s body on fire and Luke looks over and hey, there’s Alec Guiness and — and — Hayden Christensen.

This isn’t a complaint against Mr. Christensen. He’s proven himself to be an actor of depth and range elsewhere and I’d work with him in a heartbeat. What I don’t understand is, how on earth does Old Anakin Skywalker suddenly get turned into Young Anakin Skywalker for the end of ROTJ? Oh, I suppose one could say that Hayden is the image of Anakin before he turned into Darth Vader, but, but, but —

Okay, I know I shouldn’t even spend my time worrying about this. But one day soon, I’ll be showing these movies I love to my children. And I will be the first to say that I prefer the DVD editions to the versions shown in theaters back in the day. I don’t miss the clunky special effects, the added sequences don’t bother me (well, one of them does) and the transfers are all jaw-droppingly beautiful.

But listen. When I show these movies to my kids, I will, obviously, show them Star Wars (that is, ANH) first. Not because it was the first one made, but because if a child is going to connect to these movies, they’re going to connect to the swift, involving, swashbuckling Episode 4, not the clunky, dense, confusing Episode 1. Besides which, it’s going to be a long time before they’re old enough to watch Revenge of the Sith.

So they’ll watch ANH, then they’ll watch TESB, then they’ll watch ROTJ, and at the end of ROTJ, right when they’re supposed to be learning what this whole thing all means, they’re going to see a funeral for Darth Vader, and Luke looking over and seeing ghosts of Good Old Obi-Wan Kenobi, who turns and smiles at — some guy with long hair. Oh, I get it, everything’s okay because Obi-Wan’s not really dead and in the afterlife he’s reunited with, with some guy with long hair. Who is that? We’ve never seen him before. What was wrong with the scene before? Why does Obi-Wan get to come back as himself, but Anakin only appears as his young self? Why doesn’t Ewan McGregor appear next to Hayden Christensen? Why does Obi-Wan get stuck spending eternity as a seventy-year-old, but Anakin is eighteen forever?
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Comments

22 Responses to “Return of the Jedi”
  1. smiling_dog says:

    Gotta say I am enjoying your blog immensely!

  2. eronanke says:

    As for the last question:
    How can you replace Sir ALEC GUINNESS with Ewan McGregor? Not that Ewan McGregor is a bad actor or not worth referencing, but Guinness is of such caliber that if they did replace him, I feel the movie would not be giving him his due as an actor. He was one of the reasons the first Star Wars had credibility to begin with; I think Lucas owed him a great deal for all his following successes.

    • goodtoast says:

      Yeah, that’s how I felt too.

      But, I dunno. My love was for the original, awkward and clunky films. The ones I had on tape, and promptly watched so many times they died. Putting Hayden Christensen at the end was a stupid thing to do, and it barred me from buying them on DVD. Not to mention that taking out the original Anikins part, pretty much erased him from the film. The only scene he now gets is when Luke takes of that damn helmet.

      • eronanke says:

        Yeah, total booo-urns.
        And that extra Jabba scene Lucas tacked on? Total BS.
        In short, you CAN NOT buy the originals on DVD. Forever destroyed by revision. Lucas, if you touch Raiders of the Lost Ark, I will destroy you!

        • Anonymous says:

          The response to this is simple however. Post the uncut originals on the internet, await the slew of fans ready to watch them, and, as the price tag on the DVDs drop with a quiet drop in interest, the originals will be released due to the overwhelming popularity.
          -[robolizard]

  3. schwa242 says:

    Before the DVDs were released, I had been hoping that Old Anakin would have been replaced with Jake Lloyd jumping up and down yelling, “Yippee!” Sadly, this was not the case.

  4. robolizard says:

    Its quite a nice little irony. Star Wars was made to pay homage to second rate lengthy contrived serials, and it itself brought the culture alive into the modern age, making those odd cardboard legends become new tightfit blockbuster. The formula has become a bane to the industry, and in 1999 Lucas himself has failed to recreate the very behemoth he has unleashed, in a sense ringing in the death of the Hollywood blockbuster [w/o need or plot that is. LOtR is diffirent because of its beautiful emotionally resonant screenplay. It really is a literary film.] In fact, the new trilogy [TPM] is, if nothing else, too much like what we as a society perceive the serials to be, dense wordy overblown esoteric wingdings [example: too many of the plot points in Episode II and III require a lot of outside knowledge of the Star Wars Universe through the video games, books, Cartoon Network Show [which is actually, except for some human scenes here and there, nicer than nice. Its also where General Grievious gets his voicebox broken by Mace Windu as he was kidnapping the Emperor. So you see, as opposed to the transition between IV-V, where Solo’s freezing is the key transition level, here it is not Anakin’s marriage or Count Dooku’s escape, but rather it is a plot point which happened in a supplementary source.] In a sense, it is a return to the form.

    While we’re on the topic, who should shoot first? Solo or Greedo?

    • Todd says:

      One of the hallmarks of the second trilogy is its absurdly complicated plots.

      To pull an instant out of a hat, here is the first act of The Empire Strikes Back.

      1. Luke gets attacked by a Yeti. Han rescues him.
      2. The Empire finds the rebels on Hoth and stages an invasion. The rebels escape.

      Here is the first act of The Phantom Menace.

      1. There is a race of fish people who, for some reason, are blockading Naboo. (Anyone out there know why? I know that it’s all a ruse, but what was the “official” reason for the blockade? I just watched it last night and I still can’t figure it out.)
      2. A couple of Jedi have been dispatched to head negotiations between the fish people and the Naboonians.
      3. The fish people, we learn, are in the thrall of Darth Sidious, who tells them to kill the Jedi negotiators and invade Naboo. The fish people seem reluctant to do so, even though they have brought a droid army with them to do just that.
      3. The Jedi escape their assassination attempt and flee to the forests of Naboo, where they meet an amphibian local named Jar Jar.
      4. Jar Jar takes them to the underwater city of Gungan. We learn something about the interconnectedness of all creatures. (Incidentally, I have a question about the Jedi Mind Trick: if a Jedi waves his hand whenever he’s performing the Jedi Mind Trick, aren’t people going to catch on pretty quick that they’re being Jedi Mind Tricked?)
      5. Meanwhile, the droid army invades Naboo, rounds up the Queen and her Senate and takes them prisoner. They impose a quarantine that will eventually starve out the Naboonians.
      6. The Jedi and Jar Jar travel via submarine through the planetary core of Naboo. They are almost eaten by a large fish, but luckily an even larger fish comes along and eats the first fish. This beat works so well, it is repeated two minutes later, with even bigger fish. It works because the fish keep getting bigger.
      7. The Jedi surface in the capitol city of Naboo. They rescue the Queen from her droid captors and whisk her away into space.

      If memory serves, that takes us to Tatooine, where Act II begins.

      I don’t mind the change in form, but this feels unwieldy and sluggish in execution, starting with the fact that we have no idea who the fish people are (The Trade Federation? What the heck is that?) and why they’re angry at the Naboonians.

      I suppose Han should shoot first. And while we’re at it, I miss the FBI holding shotguns in E.T. The shot that they changed looks weird. The agents are holding walkie-talkies but they still have the same weight as shotguns.

      “Stop, or I’ll communicate with someone!”

  5. urbaniak says:

    My favorite moment in the movie: Lando Calrissian enters Jabba’s lair and adjusts his mask. His eyes are already plainly visible, so obviously he can see, but he adjusts his mask, apparently so that his mustache can see.

    He obviously possessed The Moustache of Understanding.

  6. rennameeks says:

    I think I ruptured something laughing, especially at #4.

    I have a few theories regarding Jabba’s drooling problem:

    1) Jabba needs to stay wet so he doesn’t shrivel up into a dried husk, which means that having a lackey wipe his drool away would only shorten his life.
    2) Jabba doesn’t realize that he has a problem and, wisely not wanting to be dropped into the rancor pit, none of his lackeys have bothered pointing it out to him.
    3) All of the villains in RotJ have to be drooling at some point during the course of the film. The rancor drools even more disgustingly than Jabba. Vader’s undoubtedly drooling behind his mask and ol’ Palpatine is a drooling, wrinkly old man.

    On a related note, Jabba must have had all of Tatooine’s salt destroyed, since the stuff is like kryptonite to him.

    The missing dialogue between Vader and Sidiasus was cut in favor of the Ewok dance scene at the end of the film, because that was obviously more important to the advancement of the plot. Duh.

    I’m glad that you mentioned one of the most ludicrous changes in the DVD version of the original trilogy. It makes no sense that Anakin would be young Anakin. Obi-Wan stayed old. Yoda stayed old. Why is Anakin suddenly young? Lucas is fixing something that doesn’t need to be fixed. Why? In the name of continuity with the prequels. But it screws up the continuity of the original three movies.

    One of my favorite positive changes is the beautiful sunset behind the Jawa sandcrawler in ANH. Very subtle, but a good change that helps show the passage of time.

    I wish that we could vote on which of the changes get to stay in and make the fans’ ultimate edition of the original trilogy of Star Wars. The DVD quality is a vast improvement, but it would be nice to have RotJ without young Anakin and ANH without Greedo shooting first (etc., etc.; there are others).

    Again, I digress. Since these films have worked their way into cinematic history and we want to show them to our kids, we should at the very least be able to get our hands on the original versions, even with all of their faults. Heck, plenty of now-classic movies have been released on DVD with extra footage…but the original versions are usually there too.

    *hops off her soapbox*

    By the way, the Indiana Jones DVDs look fantastic, if you haven’t seen them. They’ve been cleaned up beautifully.

    • Todd says:

      the Indiana Jones DVDs look fantastic, if you haven’t seen them.

      I thought Raiders looked just okay, and strangely, The Phantom Menace didn’t look that good either.

      I should mention that I recently inherited a gigantic, hugely expensive, high-definition home theater with a screen nine feet wide, and it is sometimes cruel to films that probably look dazzlingly brilliant on regular TV. A friend mine walked into my screening room today and said “Jesus, this is bigger than James Urbaniak’s apartment.”

      This is, of course, an exaggeration. For one thing, James’s apartment has higher ceilings. And a skylight. What would I do with a skylight in a screening room?

      • rennameeks says:

        Not having access to such wonderful toys, I’ll have to take your word for it. 😉

        And yes, a skylight would be a rather silly feature for a screening room.

    • Todd says:

      One of my favorite positive changes is the beautiful sunset behind the Jawa sandcrawler in ANH. Very subtle, but a good change that helps show the passage of time.

      In ROTJ, there’s an establishing shot of Jabba’s palace with the sun going down, where a frog-like creature in the foreground eats a crawly-kind of creature. You know the shot. (yet another pond creature living on a desert planet.)

      Anyway, on the DVD I almost didn’t see the frog creature at all, because the sunset is so beautifully rendered that it took all my attention to marvel at it. And it seemed so unlikely that I went back and watched the shot again, and, to my amazement, THE SUNSET IS ANIMATED. We actually WATCH the sun set a degree or two and the daylight dissipate a little for a simple establishing shot, where a painted matte would have done the job (and, I’m guessing, sufficed back in 1983).

      Anyone out there in internet land have an old copy of the 1983 ROTJ that can confirm that this is a change?

      • rennameeks says:

        That’s one of the coolest establishing shots in the original trilogy (only slightly marred by knowing that the creature is disappointingly called a frog-dog). 🙂

        I seem to recall the sunset being in the original shot, but I bet you’re right about the animation being added. *pops in the tape* Let’s find out!

        Since I accidentally overshot the moment in question, let me take this moment to say that Boba Fett’s death is even lamer after seeing Jango’s.

        Okay, now that I’m at the right spot on the tape, I have discovered that the results are….inconclusive. Because the VHS copies of the original trilogy were incredibly crappy quality and from the days before letterboxing was championed, the original trilogy was panned and scanned. This shot is no exception. The video copy starts out on the right side of the frame, including the suns, but then pans over to the frog-dog almost immediately afterwards, so it’s virtually impossible to tell if there was any movement of the suns in the original shot.

        However, since the amount of daylight within the shot remains the same, it’s reasonable to assume that the shot was cleaned up and improved upon for either the special edition or DVD version.

  7. Todd says:

    In another part of the forest, I’m concerned about one of the Stormtroopers.

    In the pulse-pounding speeder-bike chase, Luke and Leia kill (I assume) all their pursuers in fiery explosions, except one. The first one, Luke throws off his bike, and the guy smacks into a tree and falls into the grass.

    He could have survived, and I sometimes wonder if he did. Did he wake up confused? Did he have broken limbs? Did he wander the forests of Endor with amnesia, surviving on roots and berries? Did he finally arrive back at his post, only to find that his comrades were slain by rebels and teddy bears? Did he look up in the sky to see the Unfinished Death Star explode and realize that he was now free? Or did he only despair that he now had no connection to his old life, the only life he’d ever known? Did he ever get off Endor? Did he go on to live and love, perhaps to even father children? Or was he hunted down in a post-Empire collapse by the Jedi Council and their Wiesenthal-like Empire Hunters?

    Come to think of it, do we know what happens after the Jedi return to power? What do they do with the mighty war machine that the Empire constructed? Did they dismantle it, liquidate all the millions of Stormtroopers, form a Nuremberg-style court system to round up and punish anyone associated with the Empire? Or did they look at all the power that they now had and say “Well, now that we look at it, the Empire was at least an efficient bureaucracy, I suppose it wouldn’t be the worst thing to keep this army together, you know, just for the time being…”

  8. chebghobbi says:

    Someone needs to chop up all the different versions to make a definitive edition of the original trilogy (I wouldn’t personally trust Lucas to do it!) – take the latest version of the Jabba scene from Episode IV, give Boba Fett his original voice in V (Boba is older in TESB than Jango is in AOTC, and there’s no reason for him to have the same accent in any case), bring back the original Anakin ghost…I could probably think of a bunch of other things that could be done as well. Everything else I’d leave the same as the latest version.

    You’re exactly right to want to show your kids the original trilogy first – otherwise TESB is ruined – the kids already know who Yoda is when he first shows up, and the Vader-is-Luke’s-father shock ending is ruined if the films are watched from I to VI.

    Just remembered some more changes for the final, perfect version of the original trilogy – HAN SHOOTS FIRST, the original Vader-talks-to-the-Emperor scene, and there was a third but I’ve forgotten it again.