Diego Crespo on Return of the Jedi
“I am a Jedi like my father before me.”
That right there is why Luke Skywalker is one of cinema’s all-time great characters and why Return of the Jedi is, for lack of a better term, the shit. The conflict brewing for two prior movies each work on their own merits, but how they factor into boosting the conflict of Return is unprecedented. Luke learns to become a Jedi by not defeating evil in a physical confrontation but rather shining a bright light on the dark side.
Even on the most superficial level, how can one not completely love Return of the Jedi? We open with a swashbuckling adventure on Tattooine with our heroes rescuing Han Solo from the clutches of galactic criminal warlord Jabba the Hutt. The rousing escape that follows has everything from Flash Gordon style action with a chained beast beneath a crime palace to fighting thugs over the pit of a beast which slowly digests people over the course of 1,000 years. That’s just the opening act.
It’s also the movie where we spend time with our lead characters simply having fun interplay and banter with one another. Han Solo also gives his closest materialistic treasure, the Millennium Falcon, over to Lando Calrissian, the man who betrayed him in the previous film to save his own ass, because he knows it will help them win the final battle. That’s character development.
Leia chokes Jabba to death with the same chain he with which he intended to objectify her. Outside of that debacle, Leia gets the “I know” moment and just lays out several Stormtroopers with her blaster. Leia for Queen of the Universe, 1983.
Want some epic space battles? BAM! Here’s a space battle tying in with the ground fight on Endor and the philosophical battle in the Death Star between the forces of good and evil.
In all sincerity, it’s a testament to Star Wars‘ greater filmmaking craft as the weightiest portion of the battle lies within the Emperor’s throne room. Luke, Vader, and the Emperor duke it out with their knowledge of the force in an attempt to usurp both sides of the force. The Emperor is in it for greed. Vader is seemingly too far gone down the path of the dark side. Luke is doing his best to maintain his purity of heart. Lo and behold, the Jedi stands up to the two pillars of galactic evil to defend all that is good in the universe. That’s what Star Wars is all about. No movie encapsulates this in the franchise as well as Return of the Jedi.