Return of the Jedi 30th Anniversary: A Personal Reminisce

May 25, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Posted in Events, Movies, Opinion, Star Wars | 1 Comment

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi came out 30 years ago today. The third film in an epic series, ROTJ brought the redemption of Vader, the death of Boba Fett, and the unveiling of characters like Jabba the Hutt, Admiral Ackbar and the Emperor. Plus, who can forget the Ewoks? To celebrate the 30th anniversary, Geralyn and I are going to share our memories of seeing the film for the first time, it’s impact on us, and how the film holds up 30 years later.

Skuldren: Sadly, I was not able to see Return of the Jedi when it came out in theaters. ROTJ beat me into this world by about a year. The first time I was able to see it was on a bootleg VHS copy in my parent’s living room. I was very young, probably around four years old, but I loved it. Oddly enough, though, some of my favorite characters were not Han, Luke, Leia or Lando, but Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett and the Ewoks. For me, I loved seeing the strange creatures. Here was this strange place filled with weird monsters and at the center of them all is this giant slug like thing bossing them around and seemingly out smarting the good guys. Jabba drew me in and caught my interest. Plus he had the cool looking Boba Fett working for him. Sure Fett was a bad guy and got killed without really doing anything. But Fett looked cool! More importantly, though, ROTJ was a move that hit me emotionally. It’s the first movie that made me cry. When that furry little Ewok got blasted by the Empire, my little heart sobbed in dismay. For older generations, the Ewoks may or may not have worked, but for me, they worked perfectly. I instantly bonded with them, loved them, and couldn’t stand to see one of them killed.

Geralyn: I distinctly remember seeing Return of the Jedi in the theater when it premiered in ’83. Of course, like thousands of parents, I had my son with me, but it’s a toss up as to which of us was the bigger Star Wars fan.  It’s a good thing I brought him though because he remembers where we saw ROTJ.  While where we saw Star Wars (A New Hope to you latecomers and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) and ESB (The Egyptian) are firmly planted in my mind, the details on the where of ROTJ are a bit fuzzy.  In all fairness, I’d just finished up college and was in the process of moving from Los Angeles to Boston.  It turns out we saw it in Kansas City which was a bit prophetic since that’s where we both now live.  We both arrived here by different life routes and independent of each other.  It certainly seems like the Force is at work here, although the Force is a little vague on the purpose of why we need to be here.  Possibly it’s to ensure that we see ALL the Star Wars movies together, which we have.  Incidentally, thanks to the re-release in ’97, my second son and I have also seen all the Star Wars movies together in a theater.  But there’s something very special about that time with my oldest son when we saw the movies in their original release.

Skuldren: Looking back on ROTJ, I think the most significant impact the film had on me was one of imagination. More than any other film I can remember as a child, ROTJ had the most variety in bizarre creatures. There were all kinds of strange aliens in the film, and seeing all those weird monsters spurred my  imagination to reach out farther to the unexpected. I already had a pretty wild imagination, but I think ROTJ helped broaden the scope of what was possible. That spark of creative showed up in my drawings, the books I liked to read, and the movies I liked to watch.

In recent years, as I’ve reconnected with Star Wars, I’ve found a fondness for Ewoks and Hutts. Both of those can be laid solely on ROTJ. The foundation laid by the film has enriched my love of Star Wars. And who knows, maybe we’ll get to see some Ewoks and Hutts in the sequel trilogy.

Geralyn: Imagine seeing ESB for the first time in ’80 and then having to wait until ’83 to see ROTJ.  Star Wars left us giddily optimistic for this ragtag bunch of rebel, their triumph over the cold and evil Empire, and this amazing and mysterious power called The Force.  But ESB was a game changer and George Lucas had thrown us a real curve-ball.  After Empire there were no guarantees for the Rebellion or our heroes.  And then there was that little reveal about Vader being Luke’s father.  Or was he?  Maybe that was a lie…or not.  But here’s the thing, we didn’t know.  In 1983, there was no instant gratification of VHS or DVD.  Star Wars was a bright and sometimes grim new world, and we had to wait six years for the  entire story.

Besides all the other things that really distinguished Star Wars from all the scifi that came before it there was Jedi and the Force, and I’m all about the Jedi.  Luke’s pivotal moment in ROTJ where he declares himself a Jedi like his father before him is, for me, Star Wars.  It all comes down to that — the triumphant self-salvation amidst what is certainly going to be mortal destruction.  The Sith may be able to destroy the Rebellion and kill Luke’s body, but they cannot destroy his light.  I really did think Luke would die there at the hands of the Emperor.

Of course, that didn’t happen.  Luke redeemed his father and his father saved him.  At the time there was no prophecy of the Chosen One, but that hardly mattered.  We knew Anakin Skywalker had emerged triumphant and, through his son, the Jedi Order would reignite the galaxy.  That’s why my favorite ROTJ poster is the middle one above.  A single Jedi holding a lightsaber lights up a galaxy.  Again.

Skuldren: After 30 years and six Star Wars films, I think Return of the Jedi holds up pretty well. Out of all the movies, it’s my favorite. Character wise, it has almost everyone: Han, Luke, Leia, Vader, the Emperor, 3PO, R2, Lando, Wicket, Jabba, Boba Fett, Ackbar, Wedge, Yoda, Chewbacca, etc. And as far as scenery goes, there’s Tatooine, Endor, Dagobah and the space battle with the second Death Star. There’s action, humor, drama, it has it all.

Geralyn:  That about sums it up for me as well.  Except I’m still kicking myself for not snapping up that Revenge of the Jedi merchandise in the Alpha Beta (yes, in a grocery store) when I had the chance.

Posted By: Geralyn and Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

1 Comment »

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  1. Star Wars rules! Thanks for a great blog post.

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