There is a lot to love about the Star Wars movies. There’s some stuff to dislike, but a lot to love. I was raised and educated on them. I have watched all three Star Wars movies (there are only three) more times than I can remember or would like to admit.
Growing up my favourite movie of the three would change all the time. When I was very young it was Return of the Jedi, for the monsters and all the Jabba’s palace stuff. When I was a bit older, I decided I loved A New Hope, because I had a crush on Princess Leia and loved the final scenes. It wasn’t until I was older, wiser, and had watched more movies that I realised that The Empire Strikes Back was the masterpiece. Empire is sequel-making done to an art form and the perfect example of how to follow a great movie with something similar but different.
But we’re not talking about Empire today. In all my changing stances one constant has remained. My favourite sequence in any of the movies is the finale of Return of the Jedi. The space battle/lightsaber battle/Endor battle trifecta that finishes the movie still puts a lump in my throat and a goofy smile on my face. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta let my geek flag fly and tell you why I love these scenes.
Now, by this point in the story we have seen the stakes rise to a crescendo. Luke is finally face-to-face with his father and his father’s corrupter, and he knows that of the three men in that room, not everyone is going home. Han, Chewie, and Leia are tasked with destroying the shield generator on Endor in order to make the space assault happening above their heads succeed. Unfortunately, they had bad intel and are now embroiled in a guerrilla warfare battle with a platoon of elite Stormtroopers, and their only allies are basically teddy bears. Lando, the coolest man in the galaxy, is leading an assault on the Death Star and he has brought the entire Rebel Alliance with him. They know the Emperor is aboard the battle station and that destroying the Death Star could end the war, or at least tip it in the Rebellion’s favour.
I love this sequence so much for the dialogue: ‘It’s a trap’ – ‘Han’ll get that shield down, we’ve got to give him more time!’ – ‘I am a Jedi, like my father before me’ – ‘Tell your sister, you were right’ and so on and so on.
I love the juggling act between the three set-pieces. As one becomes stale it jumps into the next and then the next until they reach their climax with the Death Star exploding.
I love the cheesy bravado of Lando refusing to retreat because he trusts his friend will do the job he needs to do and get the shield down.
I love the Ewoks – yeah, I said it. Those little fuckers might look like teddy bears but they fight like the Viet Cong. And if you’re not heartbroken by the scene with the dead Ewok whose friend can’t wake him up, you’re dead inside.
I love the music (obviously) and finally, the look on Admiral Ackbar’s face when they bring down the Super Star Destroyer. There is something oddly satisfying about watching a giant fish creature, who before this had believed that all hope was lost, sit back in his chair, exhausted while his crew revel in the victory behind him.
Also, Jedi Knight Luke is the best Luke.