Archive for Return of the Jedi

Do You Remember Your Mother?

Posted in Questions with tags , , , on 13 May 2018 by Megan

Happy Mother’s Day! Let’s take this as an opportunity to explore the only real continuity hiccup that exists in Lucas’ two-part saga.

LUKE: Do you remember your mother? Your real mother?

LEIA: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young. […] Images, really–feelings.

Now, the fact that there’s only one hiccup in a saga written over three decades, that’s impressive and nothing to knock Lucas over. But it still warrants explanation: who is Leia talking about here? Can she be referring to Padmé? I argue: no. In spite of anything you’ve heard or read, this line positively refers to Breha Organa. I’ll prove it.

First, to deal with authorial intention: Yes, in in 1983, George Lucas intended Leia to be recalling her biological mother who was also Luke’s mother. He once remarked that he had never considered the character of “Mrs. Skywalker,” who she was, what she was like, where she came from, not until he started writing the prequels. So when Return of the Jedi came out, he clearly had a loose idea of Leia having spent her first years with this “Mrs. Skywalker,” but by 2005, the story couldn’t sustain that. Padmé had to be dead at the end of Revenge of the Sith, and the line could no longer refer to her.

But to be frank about it, this didn’t introduce any sort of contradiction. At the end of E3, Bail Organa makes it clear that he and his wife will raise Leia as their own. Leia never had any idea that she was adopted, not until Luke said she was his sister and his father was Darth Vader. Her mourning in the Ewok village that night, and her struggle throughout the Bakura Crisis, revolved around her trying to reconcile her blood being Darth Vader’s and not Bail Organa’s. Furthermore, when such care had been taken to make Padmé still appear pregnant at her funeral, Bail would never have risked Leia’s anonymity by telling her she was adopted.

Not only can we be confident Leia never knew she was adopted, we can also be confident that Breha died sometime during Leia’s very early childhood. When Leia thinks back to the destruction of Alderaan, she mourns for her father, her aunts, and her cats, in that order — no mention of any mother, so Bail was a widower by the time Alderaan was destroyed, and the woman Leia thought was her mother died when she was “very young.”

It’s worth mentioning at this point that 2013’s Scoundrels makes a reference to suggest Breha and Bail both died at Alderaan’s destruction, but there’s 30 years of publications before it that emphasize Leia had no mother and felt the loss keenly. This was a merely unfortunate slip not uncommon in late publications of the EU.

Just because we knew who Leia and Luke’s mother was, it’s extreme on our part to insist that Leia’s “images, really–feelings” must refer to Padmé. Remember that statements must mean something to the characters who make them; we the audience are mere eavesdroppers, and characters do not automatically have access to the knowledge we do. So while we can look at the comic illustration there and say, “See! It’s a picture of Padmé!”, we need to remember that Leia doesn’t know who Padmé is, and the picture could just as easily (and far more logically) be of Breha.

Nevertheless, there are some extreme attempts to force “[I remember her] just a little bit” into meaning “I, Leia, have retained memory of Padmé Amidala.” So I’ll rebut those claims now.

One claim is that the Organas told Leia she was adopted and even go so far as to suggest Artoo even showed Leia pictures of Padmé. While this is an amusingly literal interpretation of “[I remember] images,” I feel I’ve already countered it: the Organas never told her she was adopted. It would be pointless to the point of foolishness. And while I’ll never understand why Lucas ham-fistedly had Artoo exempted from memory wipe at the end of E3, Leia never spoke to, communicated with, or even “met” Artoo before the events of E4. I’m confident Artoo was wiped at some point (why arbitrarily “spare” one computer from a defrag and not the other?), and he did not play clips from the PT for young Princess Leia.

The more common argument is that the Force, acting as an all-encompassing magic wand, somehow granted prenatal Leia with superhuman awareness and memory capability. Embryo Leia was therefore able, through the course of ~37 weeks long before the human mind develops long-term memory, to forge such a strong bond with her mother that she retained memories of Padmé’s kindness, beauty, and sadness well into adulthood, and keep those impressions fully separate from her impressions and memories of Breha. Breha, who was omnipresent in Leia’s life for some three years after the point when long-term memory develops, and who was also certainly kind, beautiful, and sad.

Leia’s connection with her prenatal twins is often used as evidence to show that this is possible, though what gets ignored in that it is Leia, as a mother who is Force-sensitive, who forms that bond. It doesn’t originate from the twins, but rather the twins develop it after her influence. Padmé was not Force-sensitive, and while I’m confident Luke and Leia had a strong bond through the Force while they were in the womb, there’s simply no way Padmé entered into the equation.

Speaking of Luke — I’m actually not skeptical about the ability of Jedi-in-embryo to use the Force to create bonds and even form memories, even to the extent of maintaining those memories after a span of time medical science would consider impossible. But Luke’s emphatic statement of “I have no memory of my mother; I never knew her” precludes any possibility that Leia could have performed this incredible feat of Force-sensitivity.

Throughout the EU, Leia expresses frustration that her Jedi training is waylaid, that she can’t do the things Luke can, that her skills in the Force are weak. And while Luke eventually realizes that she is simply talented in a different aspect of the Force, for embryonic Leia to accomplish this amazing thing would have made her a Jedi prodigy of unbelievable skill! For Leia to instinctively use the Force, without training, before conscious human reasoning has even developed, to filter and separate her memories of Padmé and Breha–to say “this memory is of the dark-haired, dark-eyed, sad-looking woman who taught me to walk, and this memory is of the dark-haired, dark-eyed, sad-looking woman who died one second after I was born”–she would never have doubted her skill or connection to the Force! In reality, five years after this conversation, she lamented never having time to hone her skills at all.

So in conclusion, the simplest explanation, the explanation that would have the most meaning in context for the characters who actually speak the lines, is that Leia is remembering Breha Organa. Neither Luke nor Leia have any recollection or knowledge of their mother, who remains as unknown to her children as she did to all fans before 1999. And that is the tragedy of Padmé.

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Twenty Years, Part 2

Posted in Fun, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 22 February 2017 by Megan

It’s amazing what things stick with you and how clearly they stick. As I said in the last post, I remember with absolute clarity the first time I saw Star Wars: A New Hope. I even remember when I saw E4 for the second time and, with similar exact clarity, when I saw The Phantom Menace in the theater two years later. Ditto Revenge of the Sith. Yet for all that, I don’t remember the first time I saw Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, even though E6 is my favorite and the most important of the six.

1997vide

The first Star Wars I ever saw!

As I said last time, the first time I ever saw E4 was February 12, 1997. We watched it again the next day — 10 AM on a Thursday, my older sister grabbed me and said, “Hey, see if Mom will let us watch that movie from last night again.” A third, but partial, rewatch occurred again on February 18th, so already there was something major and significant about this movie.

Then, nine days after I saw A New Hope for the first time, Mom rented The Empire Strikes Back. I must have been after her to see it; I’d been watching anniversary interviews with the cast on Rosie and Oprah, not knowing who Billy Dee Williams was as he described angry kids yelling at him for betraying Han Solo. Han Solo got betrayed?! Was he killed?! I had to see this movie! Kroger — which did video rentals back then, if you can believe it — didn’t have any, so I remember Dad pulling a few doors down to the West Coast Video where Mom ran inside. It was raining. Can you believe I remember rain from 20 years ago? Yet I don’t remember the actual moment we sat down to watch the movie.

dscn5197

I didn’t have much to say about it in my diary that night, either. The most significant thing was “It was almost 70 degrees!!!!” followed by how much I hated doing English (ironic given that I later majored in English…)

Then the bombshell. Then Return of the Jedi.

1983 ROTJ Poster

It was partly a bombshell because of how clever my mom is. She went into the video store alone because it was raining and we had groceries in the car. She let me hold the E5 VHS on the way home and put it on top of the TV for viewing. I absolutely took for granted that it would be at least one week before we could get E6. (“Town” was 18 miles away and going in for groceries was a weekly thing.) So I was pretty nonchalant about the cliffhanger ending.

The next day was February 22, a Saturday, and I was replaying The Island of Doctor Brain on our Windows 3.0 Compaq in Dad’s office.

office2

Even though that picture was taken in 2003, Dad’s office pretty much never changed the entire 16 years they lived there. Same computer! So the point is that’s where I was sitting sometime after lunch when I got to this screen:

doctorbrainisland

I’d played the game before, so I knew where all the Easter eggs were — the best thing about Sierra computer games was that you could right-click for jokes. And I called for Mom, always my first response upon a new discovery, and said, “LOOK! I never got that before!!” Right-clicking on the hut at the top left of the screen produced a box of text reading Don’t mess with Jabba the Hut.

We laughed and then Mom got a mischievous glint in her eye. “You want to see what he looks like?” she asked. I was like, Huh? and followed her out of the office, which was right next to their room, and she opened their closet and pulled out the opaque rental case for Return of the Jedi. My mind was absolutely blown that she’d rented both at once and kept it a secret.

So late in the afternoon, before dinner, I tore around the house rounding up Dad and my sister and we started to watch Return of the Jedi as the sun was going down. Huh, guess I remember more than I thought about the moment I first saw E6!

My diary couldn’t even handle all the information I had to unload:

Dear Pal,

We saw return of the Jedi. Lai is Luke’s sister! And Darth Vader is Luke’s father. But the Emperor was killed and Darth became good, only he was killed.

Love Megan

I like Luke, Leia, C3Po R2D2 Ham Solo best.

The clearest thing I remember is that when it was over, I passed by the front door to go upstairs and I stopped to watch the moon rising through the cut glass windows. It was nearly full, huge, and felt closer than ever. No movie had ever made me feel that way before. I loved stories, I loved reading and telling stories, but not even any of them had ever made me feel like that.

I wrote that Han Solo was my favorite, but even then, even before I bothered to notice Luke, he was the reason my imagination caught fire — the hero whose journey was the reason Star Wars changed my life.

Favorite ROTJ Moment

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , on 5 June 2014 by Megan

The way I carry on about every one of these being so difficult, and the way I go on about ROTJ being my favorite everything in the whole world, you’d think that this one would be the hardest part of the challenge to date! But no, it’s not. I know exactly what scene to give you. Because not only is it the best moment in Return of the Jedi, it is the best scene in the entire saga.

So, you have accepted the truth...

So, you have accepted the truth…

I mean, yes, I’ve never talked about what I call “the bridge scene,” and you were probably expecting me to say “when Luke gets Force lightninged,” because, let’s face it, Force lightning is the coolest thing ever. But there’s so much to this scene, and I love absolutely every part of it.

Landing platform at night

Landing platform at night

I call it “the bridge scene” because the thing they’re standing in looks like a bridge, okay? It’s situated below the landing platform and is apparently where troops load onto AT-ATs. It is deep night; an Imperial shuttle lands, Vader emerges. We already know that Luke is intending to face his father, so this must be the awaited confrontation. What will happen? What does Luke mean when he says he must face Vader? The last time they met, Luke flung himself into battle.

Though he denies it, there may be more of them

Though he denies it, there may be more of them

An AT-AT docks with the bridge and this time, perhaps unexpectedly, Luke enters in binders — he is, for the moment, a willing prisoner of the Empire. Flanked by troopers, vastly outgunned for a man who brought only a peculiar cylindrical weapon, Luke stands in silence but there is challenge in his eyes as he takes in the sight of Vader. This sight is almost for the first time, for now he knows who he is, who they both are.

He was armed, only with this.

He was armed, only with this.

The officer hands over Luke’s lightsaber. This is what I mean about Star Wars being a coloring book, the outlines that allow the willing viewer to plug in whatever they want — I can all but picture the moment of Luke’s “capture.” The young Jedi steps out of the trees, out of the darkness to flag down a patrol, maybe an AT-ST. “I surrender,” he calls. “No, I’m alone. There’s no one with me.” They summon Vader. How long was he on the AT-AT? Did they question him, or was he left to sit in silence?

Luke’s mouth opens just slightly when he steps toward Vader, as though he might say something. But then his expression changes; he closes his mouth and waits in silence. The Dark Lord of the Sith, his father, may make the first move.

Vader and Luke are left alone on the platform, this island of light in the forest. Luke looks up into the emotionless face of the dark mask and does not see Vader, the murderer of his father and Obi-Wan. He sees Anakin Skywalker, somehow, through all the armor. He is confident. He knows exactly how this will turn out. When Vader speaks, the young man calls the towering man in black armor “Father.”

Awkward family get togethers

Awkward family get togethers

But Vader doesn’t bend. There is shock in Luke’s eyes; you can catch it. He thought this would work! But turning Vader from a lifetime of hate will be much more difficult than reminding him of his name. Luke grows more desperate. They go back and forth, Vader quite possibly probing the depth of the young man’s resolve, to see how he can work this situation for his own good even as Luke struggles to find the magic word that will free Anakin Skywalker from his prison of hate. Vader has spent more than a quarter of a century trying to get someone to take out the Emperor with him — ever since his first impassioned plea to Padmé, “I am stronger than the Emperor, I can overthrow him!” — and he hasn’t given up yet.

He almost says something

My father is truly dead

But Luke gives up. When he says, “Then my father is truly dead,” his eyes have grown cold, his features slack with disappointed failure. Was Obi-Wan right? Is there nothing to reach out to in Vader’s black heart?

But Luke does not know that Vader stays on the platform, meditating over the green saber — green like Qui-Gon’s, green like the first blade he ever saw.

What do they think about, father and son, Vader looking out over the forest with Luke’s words ringing in his ears — it is the name of your true self, you’ve only forgotten! Luke, sitting in the shuttle, Leia’s words echoing in his mind — Luke, run away! Far away! No doubt, Luke prepares himself for imminent death, not knowing that he has already driven a wedge into the slowly developing fractures of Anakin Skywalker’s prison.

As you can see, there is so much not said in this scene, and that is why I love it. It really is one of the best scenes in the trilogy. And it leads to this, one of the most iconic moments of ROTJ in my opinion —

Worst. Elevator ride. Ever.

Worst. Elevator ride. Ever.

It Makes Me Happy

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , on 10 April 2014 by Megan

I’m supposed to tell you a scene in Star Wars that makes me happy. I think that was the original sense of the question, not just what about Star Wars makes me happy in general.

No doubt you will be totally astonished to learn that the moments in Star Wars that make me the happiest occur in Return of the Jedi.

There’s the scene where Han has all these rapid-fire requests for the Ewoks and keeps interrupting Threepio as the droid tries to hurry up and translate. I always laugh out loud at this. It’s just one of the funniest scenes in anything, however kitschy it is.

But the thing in ROTJ that makes me happy, apart from the closing shot, is Luke’s “I Don’t Smile.”

I don't. I don't smile. I DON'T!

I don’t. I don’t smile. I DON’T!

I love Luke Skywalker and I love ROTJ. You should know those two things if you’ve never managed to figure anything else out about me based on this blog. He’s the hero, but oddly he doesn’t seem to get much love — not compared to the others, anyway. Maybe people take him for granted?

But the hero is a lonely gig. It’s that way in Joseph Campbell, which is what Lucas was using as he wove mythology into a space western. The hero can never have anyone else, because no one else can walk where he’s walked. (PS, the fact that the hero must be alone is why I never liked Luke and Mara ending up together.) He doesn’t start the journey alone, since the old mentor starts him off on it, but he does make the journey alone. In ANH, Leia says that Han must choose his own path; in the radio drama, Aunt Beru says very much the same thing to Owen about Luke.

Monk.

Monk.

And yet, heroes don’t choose their own paths. That’s why Luke is so frustrated at Han’s insisting that he’ll take the money and run, because Luke never does have a choice from the moment Artoo calls to him from the line of droids for sale. Here’s this young man — 22 years old — who has never been anywhere, not further than the dusty town of Anchorhead — who is suddenly handed the legacy of knighthood and the burden of vengeance without any previous preparation for it. He’s like Prince Hal (warrior king) and Hamlet (blood revenger) combined with Miranda (sheltered girl with no knowledge of her own past) — and how’s he supposed to deal?

He grins at the end of ANH, rocking on his feet, a young brash pilot ready to take on the Empire singlehandedly. Three years later, though, when his gunner says that very thing, there is a weariness to Luke’s reply: “I know how you feel.” There’s no canonical answer to what happened in those three years, but he’s become a far more independent person than Yoda ever intended to train. He’s taught himself to use a lightsaber (clearly, since Yoda never has time or inclination to teach him and he holds his own against Vader to the point the Sith lord has to cheat) and has led men into combat (look at his rank). He is absolutely grim with purpose when he goes up against Vader — at last! Time to cut down his father’s murderer! — but Vader’s announcement cuts his legs out from under him far more effectively than his saber cut Luke’s hand off.

Luke has embraced the monk’s identity by the time we first see him in ROTJ. He is the son of Darth Vader, and this means it is his responsibility, not to avenge his father’s murder, but to redeem his father’s evil. He must end the Empire and save his father. He has aged far more in the three months between ESB and ROTJ than in the three years separating ANH and ESB. He is a Jedi, with or without the assistance of bloody Yoda.

I love his grim face as much as his grin face though.

I love his grim face as much as his grin face though.

But Yoda told him Jedi must have an absolutely serious mind. Not only does he not have the time for humor, he doesn’t have the will, either — he has a grim life, filled with loss (again, the radio drama emphasizes far more just how much Luke lost with the deaths of his aunt and uncle).

Which is why it is beyond delightful to me that at this point in ROTJ, with so much riding on the success of their mission, with the knowledge that Vader knows he’s in the system and could be on them any minute, Luke breaks down laughing at their capture by diminutive fuzzy bear creatures.

Even better, he can’t let anyone know he’s laughing. So he hides it in his hand, not once, but twice, trying for all the world to disguise the fact that he has a light soul somewhere in his traumatized body. It’s the kind of thing you could miss no matter how many times you watched ROTJ, but once I finally saw it, it became the scene I always have to see — and sometimes backtrack to see it more than once.

Favorite Battle

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , , on 20 March 2014 by Megan

It is Star Wars, after all! Where are the wars? If you’re bored with me answering Return of the Jedi to every question, well, you might as well pack it in now and go home without reading the rest of this, because my favorite battle is the Battle of Endor!

Raise your saber if you're surprised!

Raise your saber if you’re surprised!

See, as I’m sure I’ve made clear, A New Hope has just never done it for me. It’s consistently been at the bottom of my preferred SW movies, and if you tempt me, I can give you a lengthy treatise on its general weakness and other et ceteras. I will concede, though, that recently the Battle of Yavin has been climbing in my estimation. Yavin is one of my favorite systems, and ever since Fanboys pointed out that “the greatest thing Luke Skywalker ever did was take down the Death Star — and that’s all you’ve got to do, just find your Death Star,” I’ve been more attracted to the whole thing. I got cold chills when I listened to it the last few times on the radio drama, even.

But, it’s not favorite material. It’s just honorable mention material. Favorite is and always will be the Battle of Endor, which is the reason I love Star Wars in the first place.

Here’s what we’ve got. The Battle of Yavin consists of three threads, plaited skillfully into an ultimate climax that is able to touch on, echo, or tie off themes and concepts throughout the entire saga. First, there’s the fleet.

Space battles: the nougat of SciFi

Space battles: the nougat of SciFi

It’s all come down to this. The rebel administration have been trying for decades to bring the Emperor down (ignorant of the fact that a little green toad prevented them from nipping the Empire off in the bud at its inception!) — they’ve had a few successes since the dissolution of the Senate, increasing sympathy throughout star systems, and they’ve also managed to build up a respectable fleet. It’s now an echo of their first major victory three years previous, another Death Star, but the stakes are even higher. The Emperor himself is overseeing the final stages of construction, which means that if they can repeat their feat of total destruction of the planet killer, they can defeat the Empire!

(Because there is no contingency plan for Imperial rule once the Emperor is dead. Because it’s not suspicious at all that the Empire allowed its super secret plans to leak, allowing the rebels to find an even more convenient self-destruct button than the last one. Because the Emperor sitting on this half-completed and relatively unprotected planet destroyer isn’t a bit of juicy live bait. You know, I think Ackbar could’ve squealed, “It’s a trap!” pretty much right after the rebel briefing started . . .)

But the point is that everything rides on this final battle! And with the unexpected functionality of the Death Star, it’s even more dire. Good thing the Emperor is too hyper-focused on his project of replacing his worn-out apprentice for the newer model, because otherwise he might’ve focused on his military strategy for two seconds and simply blown up the moon as soon as the prime weapon was functional! (SWL, stop poking holes in Imperial strategy!! Well! It’s not my fault!)

Then we’ve got the “pitiful little band” on the Sanctuary Moon.

Sneaky rebel scum

Sneaky rebel scum

This intrepid crew was sent down to knock out the power generator that keeps the Death Star II shielded. Without that shield, they can get in and take out the main reactor, oddly built even more exposed than on the previous model. (Perhaps the completed Death Star II would’ve been more protected?) Han leads them through the forests of this alien moon and, while they pick up some diminutive allies, they also find themselves confronting a huge threat by way of an entire legion of his majesty’s best troops. If they fail, the fleet fails. The Galaxy falls.

And finally, the irresistible chocolate ganache on the franchise, the Showdown in the Emperor’s Throne Room!

CLASH

CLASH

Now, the other two battle scenes rely heavily on each other. If Han’s commandos fail, the fleet fails and all is lost. But what happens if Luke loses? Well, then all is lost again. Because if Luke loses and turns to the dark side, he will become the most powerful enemy the Alliance can face. You know how Vader’s always going on about how the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force? I bet Luke could pull a Professor X and kill every enemy of the Emperor’s with his mind, he’d be that powerful.

But this is where the whole series has been going, the whole time. Luke and Vader — Yoda wanted Luke to crush Vader, but Luke wanted to redeem him. Luke isn’t a Jedi, he’s a son, a son who believes no one is truly lost. And while he walks along the slippery abyss to the dark side, he embraces his father’s legacy of light at the end. When he says “I am a Jedi like my father before me,” he holds out the hand of redemption to Anakin, who realizes (unlike Marlowe’s Faust) that he is not required to let the demons take him to hell. He can seize heaven in the last minutes of his life.

It’s probable that if Luke didn’t win — if Vader didn’t destroy the Emperor — that no amount of reactor core smashing would have destroyed the Death Star or saved the Alliance. (Remember all that “the Force is so much more powerful than blowing up planets”? The Emperor’s got to be good for something! He was so powerful, he made a Dark Side explosion happen at his death!)

So you see, all the parts are neatly connected and woven together. And the good guys win, and the bad guy is dead, and the other bad guy is a good guy, and all the neutral guys somehow end up losing and acquiescing the Empire because there’s no contingency in place for “death of the commander in chief” . . . okay, I won’t pursue that line.

Instead, why don’t you go read my post about Vader’s final moments, just to conclude all this neatly?

Favorite Photo

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , on 13 March 2014 by Megan

When I first found this challenge, I was very nearly put off by a blogger who had posted, as near as I could tell, about 3,000 pictures to answer this question. I don’t think I’m even exaggerating; I was holding the scroll button down for nearly ten minutes before I gave up and ctrl+ended to get to the bottom. It took me 5 hours to pin 490 pictures on Pinterest, so I can’t even comprehend the time this guy spent on a collection no one will ever look at because, frankly, too much is too much.

All that just to explain why I am absolutely going to discipline myself here and pick one photo. I’ll have a chance in upcoming weeks to talk about favorite scenes, battles, moments, and quotations, so why cheapen this moment by belaboring it with what it isn’t? So, simply, my favorite Star Wars photo:

Harrison Ford on the set for Return of the Jed

Harrison Ford on the set for Return of the Jedi

I know, it kind of surprised me, too. Not  that my favorite photo comes from ROTJ, of course. But here we’ve got a young Harrison Ford sitting in the desert sun of Tunisia between takes. And, he fine. Mrow.

As just some fun trivia, I’ve actually seen a couple of production stills from A New Hope; they’re in a film collection at the Lilly Library where I worked and feature Leia being marched by Stormtroopers and the lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Vader. So that’s cool, having held them in my white-gloved hands, but I still wouldn’t want to look at them for a long time or anything.

Favorite OT Movie

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , on 27 February 2014 by Megan

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.

1983 ROTJ Poster

1983 ROTJ Poster

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.

Luke tries to take a Hutt with a blaster.

Luke tries to take a Hutt with a blaster.

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.

The intrepid pack of rebels

The intrepid pack of rebels

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.

Worst elevator ride ever?

Worst elevator ride ever?

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.

A great moment -- a great actor, too

A great moment — a great actor, too

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.

Oh, man, I gotta watch this movie...

Oh, man, I gotta watch this movie…

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.

The novelization, BTW, does not do it justice.

The novelization, BTW, does not do it justice.

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.

The final showdown is final

The final showdown is final