Now, here’s a treat! Much to my astonishment, I saw that I have never on this blog talked about my favorite Star Wars movie. This means I don’t have to acknowledge an earlier answer, apologize for repeating myself, and find some way to answer truthfully as well as originally — I can just answer.
My favorite movie of the Original Trilogy is Return of the Jedi. This probably could have been inferred from my enthusiastic post on “the moment that made me fall in love,” it’s true, but that’s love and this is favorites.
I was indifferent to Star Wars up until ROTJ because my enthusiasm for it was the same as my enthusiasm for every single movie we watched on pizza-and-movie nights, movies that I usually watched again the next day over leftovers just as a matter of course. Return of the Jedi grabbed my imagination by the collar and said, “Look how cool space is!” In fact, as I consider what my life was before and after ROTJ, I realize that until that moment, I was not a geek.
If I only got one movie to have on a desert island, I’d probably say ROTJ, even if I didn’t have the capability to play it on said desert island. The sound effects, music, artwork — the mature characters, the hero’s dilemma — Luke Skywalker’s glistening boots — the mystique and draw of the word Jedi — all of this stuff worked down into my brain and I really believe I never could have gotten interested in Star Wars if not for this final installment.
It doesn’t help that ROTJ stirs up my natural desire to protect and nurture as well. For three decades, Star Warriors have roared and whined about this film, and I wish I could say the mockery was good-natured. It’s not. A majority either genuinely hate the film or they want people to. While I can’t comprehend self-identifying as a Star Wars fan and at the same time despising 1/3rd of the Trilogy, apparently these people don’t see the dichotomy. So I plant a foot on either side of Return of the Jedi, grip my saber, and stand to defend him against these bitter naysayers who could not be pleased no matter what they were given.
An Unauthorized Compendium my aunt once gave me contained a long list of “50 Reasons Why Jedi Sucks,” which grudgingly admitted the space battles “were kind of cool.” A huge number of these “reasons” were repetitions, more of them could apply to the first two films as well, and the vast majority just showed off the authors’ extreme ignorance about the Trilogy in general. You can read my rebuttal here.
My point is that I love this movie, and if Star Wars fans stopped being petulant twelve-year-old boys for one second of their lives, they’d love it, too. Ben Burtt, in The Sound of Star Wars, observes that people hated The Empire Strikes Back when it came out; for those people, what they loved was the way A New Hope made them feel, the way it struck them at that moment in time. They wanted that moment to come back, but that is of course impossible. So they all forgot how disappointing ESB was when they could pour their discontent on ROTJ. The prequels offered three new scapegoats. Even now these neophiliacs are pounding down the doors of their excitement for three more movies that will just crystallize their disappointments even further. Madness, if you ask me.
I got side tracked. Sorry. One of two things happen when I effervesce about the Star Wars movie I’ve watched more than the rest — either I begin defending it with great passion, or I start just describing and rehearsing all the moments we all know so well. I leave you with this alone . . . Return of the Jedi is a grand movie, and those last 45 minutes are all I would require on a desert island, for real.