• DJ JD

    Nicely said and hear, hear. I loved the evolution of Luke to Ep 8, and I thought his criticisms of Rey’s (and by extension, the audience’s) expectations were just as on-target as his criticisms of the Jedi themselves. I loved where they went with the character, and I was a bit baffled that Hamill himself seemed to not be 100% on board with the premise.

  • True this.

    I think a lot of fans have alternate notions of who Luke is because of 30 years of novels, comics, cartoons, and video games that either make Luke or all Jedi into bad-ass warriors. Those works are sometimes very entertaining, and I have no problem with the collective of writers and artists and editors giving us the Luke they did. But within the narrow context of the original films and nothing else, Luke is a true student of Yoda, and Yoda rejected being a warrior. It’s as simple as that. And this is also why having Yoda pop up and bop Luke on the head in TLJ works so well.

  • Drunk Napoleon

    Excellent essay. As weary as I’ve grown of Star Wars The Multi-Billion Dollar Franchise, I still have a lot of time and affection for the original trilogy, because underneath the awkward acting, special effects, and storytelling is a genuine beating heart; the naivety of believing a mass murderer can be redeemed by a conversation crosses, for me, from charming to genuinely heartwarming. As unsophisticated as it is, the conversations between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor are the kinds of conversations I’ve been having all my life, so it hits me right in the heart.

    • Conor Malcolm Crockford

      Last Jedi made me totally, utterly re-invested in at least the Skywalker Saga (still think those new prequels are a mistake unless we get an Obi Wan Western with Sir Ewan). The whole movie is so invigorating.

  • Glorbes

    Return of the Jedi as a complete film suffers from pacing issues, and the technical and aesthetic aspects are much more workmanlike than Empire (especially how the film is lit). But Luke’s character arc is absolutely solid. The central core of the film is very strong, and the duel at the end is indeed a wonderful conclusion and counterpoint to what was started in Empire. And 100% agreed on how Johnson concluded Luke’s story. Adult life is full of disappointment and compromise, and having Luke choose the path he did is the type of bold creative direction that lends the new films way more depth and pathos than you would expect. Abrams, Kasdan, and Johnson gave way more to the stories than Disney perhaps deserve, but Star Wars still has some life left to it as a result.

  • Conor Malcolm Crockford

    I’ve never understood the hate for Jedi, maybe because Vader taking off his mask as he’s dying, revealing a withered, sick man is always so moving for me. The collective Father, scary, huge, intimidating, is a human being after all, and one the son can redeem for just a moment.

    • Glorbes

      I think the reason people hate the Ewoks is not because they are teddy bears, but because the grind the movie to a halt, suck up so much oxygen, and are a paltry excuse for what Lucas claimed was their thematic purpose. Up until the Ewoks, Lucas and his wizards managed to make some pretty wild and fantastical things work within this world, but the Ewoks looked like people in costumes, improbably defeating the Empire while also slowing the movie down for ill-defined reasons.

      Everything else in Jedi is strong enough to overcome the half-assed direction and Harrison Ford acting like a moron.

      • Conor Malcolm Crockford

        See on a recent rewatch I kinda liked the Ewoks? …I will now turn in my Star Wars Fan badge now, let the Walk of Shame commence.

        • Glorbes

          A lot of Star Wars fans like them.

          • Conor Malcolm Crockford

            Look I kinda teared up when the one Ewok got shot and his friend tried to wake him up but he’s dead little guy don’t you see?!

        • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

          Ewoks are cuddly bad asses. They were planning on eating Han, Luke and Chewie. Not many people mention that.

      • There’s also a long-standing rumor that it was supposed to be Wookies, but Lucas changed it to Ewoks for toy sales to kids. No idea if it’s true at all, but I’ve seen lingering animosity from those who believe that.

      • BurgundySuit

        I’m sorry, those dead-eyed, tiny-teethed little bastards are just fucking creepy.

  • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

    I’ve always loved ROTJ because it was the Star Wars movie I could relate to the most. A large portion of the action was set in the woods and I lived in the woods so I could pretend I was Luke riding on a speeder bike or one of the Ewoks fighting the storm troopers. I also thought Luke’s green light saber was awesome. At the time I didnt get the moral that you win by not fighting, but now it adds another layer to my favorite of the original trilogy.

    Here’s some delete scenes from the ROTJ blu ray if you’re interested: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3kCpa9sotvE

    • I always forget there’s a blu ray (or hell, DVD) release of the original Star Wars trilogy. For me, they forever exist only on these VHS copies:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/96e5a2cc569910ae73d4c5d2348e7ceacf9b17b076c1712a55b40c7a52d065ab.jpg

      • The Heart Of A Gnu Generation

        I have those too!

      • Yep. I have those. My parents got me my own set for Christmas because I wouldn’t stop taking my dad’s.

      • Glorbes

        I owned the VHS versions that came out before this set. I bought the original trilogy DVDs with the second disc that had the laserdisc rips on them, which turned to mud when I upgraded my TV nine years ago. Nowadays, it’s Harmy’s Despecialized all the way. Those are the ones my kids have grown up watching too.

        • I’ve never actually seen the Despecialized editions. My background with the movies is these THX-remastered VHS tapes with a smattering of Special Edition viewings.

          • Glorbes

            I have an older generation of them (I guess they keep on refining them), but I love them. They are mostly HD quality versions of the pre-special edition films, using a combination of sources.

          • I’m familiar with them–just never watched. Where can I get access to them?

          • Glorbes

            I think you have to google and hunt. They tend not to advertise “hey! we have free Star Wars movies!” They were a gift from a friend of mine, who burned them to a disc and created some really beautiful graphics for the tops of the discs.

      • lowRes_Triangle_Of_+1_Charisma

        OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

        I also have this. The very reason i purchased a refurbished VCR.

  • BurgundySuit

    Year of the Month update (from an idea by Elizabeth Lerner)!

    Here’s some things you can write up this month:

    https://letterboxd.com/films/year/1983/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_in_literature
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_in_music

    And here’s who’s writing!

    Feb 14th: Wallflower: Soundtracking – Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
    Feb 15th: John Bruni: Trouble in Paradise
    Feb 16th: Conor Malcolm Crockford: Videodrome
    Feb 19th: Balthazar Bee: Psycho II
    Feb 20th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: Local Hero
    Feb 21st: Clytie: Eddie and the Cruisers
    Feb 26th: Ruck Colchez: A Christmas Story
    Feb 27th: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: L’Argent/Trading Places

    And coming this March, we’re moving on to 2001!
    https://letterboxd.com/films/year/2001/
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_in_music
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_in_literature

    NO DATE: Joseph Finn: Not Another Teen Movie!
    NO DATE: Jacob Thomas Klemmer: Millenium Actress
    NO DATE: Gillianren: Atlantis – the Lost Empire

  • Margery Dickson

    I’ve never actually seen the Despecialized editions. My background with the movies is these THX-remastered VHS tapes with a smattering of Special Edition viewings.

  • kellyl

    Ewoks are cuddly bad asses. They were planning on eating Han, Luke and Chewie. Not many people mention that.

  • silverwheel

    I already mentioned this over in Facebook, but it bears mentioning again:
    “There was a feeling I had that I would like the fight to be bigger than the fight in Empire. And then George said that it doesn’t have to be bigger, because basically it can’t be. George is very blunt. He said, ‘it’s just a couple of guys banging sticks against each other. Don’t worry about that. It is bigger because of what is going on in their heads. That is what makes it bigger.'” – Richard Marquand, March 12, 1982.

    Clearly, the good George Lucas has been trapped over in Mirror Universe for a long time now. Next ion storm, I’m leading a rescue party.

  • silverwheel

    Thematically, i think this is the richest film of the OT. They really dove into Yoda’s lessons of the previous film and depicted what that would actually look like in practice. Luke repeatedly puts himself in vulnerable positions to avoid going on the attack – he could totally just barge into Jabba’s Palace and kick a bunch of asses and rescue Han that way, but he goes in vulnerable and offers a deal to avoid any conflict at all. He’s not stupid about it – he knows Jabba won’t take the deal, and he knows he’ll be using his backup plan instead, but he still offers the deal, up until the moment when fighting back becomes necessary. He allows them to be captured by the Ewoks and avoids a confrontation to get away, and in the process earns a valuable ally. And he really risks his life remaining that vulnerable before the Emperor, ultimately deciding that he’d rather sacrifice himself than to kill Vader in a dark fashion. The Emperor provides a clear contrast to Luke in that he’s all about prediction and manipulation, constantly forcing situations to be under his control, whereas Luke allows situations to play out before him, reacting instead of controlling. I feel like the prequels really didn’t understand this dichotomy: “dealing in absolutes” doesn’t have anything to do with it (such a statement is, at best, a gross oversimplification), and Qui-Gon was constantly using his Jedi talents to manipulate situations simply because it was expedient.

    For a film that’s often dismissed as “the kid’s one,” it’s centered around a very complex, very adult moral dilemma, and shows its characters leaving behind youthful brashness and naïveté and acquiring real wisdom (Even though Ford’s performance isn’t at the same level of the previous two films, I really like seeing Han mellow out, which is very believable considering what he’s been through – in its own way, his “I’m sorry” to Leia in the Ewok Village is one of the most important character beats of the film).