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'Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi' (1983)

Essential Information

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Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker

Darth Vader brings Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to the Emperor's throne room on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

What Return of the Jedi is About

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi is the final film in the Star Wars Original Trilogy. After wrapping up some of the storylines from the previous film, The Empire Strikes Back, the story of Return of the Jedi pits the heroes of the Rebellion against the Empire's new weapon: a second Death Star, a battle station capable of destroying planets. In a final confrontation, Luke Skywalker, now a Jedi Knight, must face not only Darth Vader, but the Emperor himself.

Releases of Return of the Jedi

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi premiered in theaters on May 25, 1983, the sixth anniversary of the release of Episode IV: A New Hope. The Return of the Jedi Special Edition, which featured new music and several other changes, premiered on March 14, 1997. A DVD boxed set of the Original Trilogy, further altered from the Special Editions, was released in September 2004. In December 2006, the original version of the film first became available on DVD.

Cast and Crew of Return of the Jedi

Written by Lawrence Kasdan, with a story by George Lucas. Directed by Richard Marquand. Cast: Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia Organa), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Frank Oz (Yoda), Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi), David Prowse (Darth Vader), Sebastian Shaw (Anakin Skywalker), James Earl Jones (Darth Vader (voice)), Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Warwick Davis (Wicket), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), Michael Carter (Bib Fortuna), Denis Lawson (Wedge Antilles), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), Dermot Crowley (General Madine), Caroline Blakiston (Mon Mothma), Kenneth Colley (Admiral Piett).

Origins of Return of the Jedi

Like most of the Star Wars films, Return of the Jedi went through a number of drafts and changes before it reached the version we know today. Among the rejected plot points: Han Solo's heroic death to save his friends; the final battle taking place over Kashyyyk, with Wookiees aiding the Rebels instead of Ewoks; and Obi-Wan Kenobi returning from the dead as a flesh-and-blood person, not just a Force ghost. The movie's code name during filming, Blue Harvest, was intended to hide Return of the Jedi from nosy fans and reporters.

Key Return of the Jedi Characters

In addition to the old favorites, Return of the Jedi introduces several new important characters to the story. The Emperor, who previously appeared for only a short hologram message in The Empire Strikes Back, is revealed as a political mastermind and Sith Lord. Jabba the Hutt, the Tatooine crime lord who put a bounty on Han's head, made his first appearance in Return of the Jedi (although he appeared in an added scene in the A New Hope Special Edition). Leia's first ally on the forest moon of Endor is Wicket W. Warrick, an Ewok who later became a main character in the Ewoks animated series and the Ewok Adventures made-for-TV movies.

Flavor of Return of the Jedi

The cliffhanger ending of The Empire Strikes Back left many threads to be resolved. Han Solo was frozen in carbonite (and might have been left to die, had Harrison Ford not signed on for the final film); Luke had just uncovered the secret of his parentage, and needed to confirm that Darth Vader was telling the truth; and the Rebels, now scattered and weakened, still needed to overcome the evil Empire. After the darker feel of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi provides a more upbeat ending for the saga, outlining the redemption of Darth Vader and the Rebels' final victory over the Empire.

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