In a way everybody thinks that George Lucas directed all the Star Wars films, he didn’t, he directed the original and then handed over the ropes to Irwin Kershner for The Empire Strikes Back for a more assured darker direction.
Although Lucas still firmly held a grip on the Star Wars films, he got a Britain, Richard Marquand, to direct the third (or sixth, if you like). After this he would only direct another two films, the excellent “Jagged Edge” with Jeff Bridges and Glenn Close followed by one for the Bobcats, “Hearts Of Fire”, featuring one of Bob Dylan’s rare acting performances. He died, aged 49 in 1987.
I suppose for me, you had to be there in 1983 for this one, it was going to be big! As I have said before I was 4 when I saw “Star Wars”, 7 for “The Empire Strikes Back” and 10 for “Return Of The Jedi”, so 30 years ago, Summer ’83 I was all geared up for “Jedi”
I was never that impressed with “Empire” growing up, I’d seen it on first release and then a year later with “Star Wars” (there was only three of us in the cinema that Sunday afternoon in 1982), but it never really held my attention. (Funny that now, it is the one I watch the most). Also, it seemed to disappear during the 80s (and 90s), “Star Wars” was always on TV, but it seemed Lucas ensured we couldn’t see “The Empire Strikes Back” until the Special Edition appeared in 1997.
So “Revenge Of The Jedi” had been announced, then the title was changed as Lucas believed that a Jedi would never take revenge, so it became “Return Of The Jedi” and at 10 I couldn’t wait for the merchandise. My dad had read the movie tie in and I’d read the comic book adaptation plus the storybook before I saw the film. Whilst on holiday in Whitby I’d bought a couple of figures (Biker Scout and Emperor’s Royal Guard), and it was due to be released the Friday we were on holiday, my dad said if we got packed up early we could go, it didn’t happen.
I waited a week and we went to watch it at the Fleapit that was “Bolton Studio 1-2-3”, rather than luxurious art-deco Odeon which had closed the previous year, so we had to slum it. As a 10 year old I was blown away by it and didn’t mind the Ewoks (little did I know that they were just a marketing gimmick so Lucas could try and sell them in their own film). Maybe the toys made the film seem better, I had all the figures and plenty more besides for a couple of years it seemed all there was WAS Jedi, however I only saw it once at the cinema and then I went to secondary school and forgot all about it.
In 1989 it premiered on ITV, Christmas Day. I was 16 by this time and a lot happens between 10 and 16, it now seemed juvenile and the Ewoks were really annoying. I haven’t seen this film much since then, but it still has a special place in my heart when I was 10 and all there was to worry about was whether I would ever get the Lando Calrissian (Skiff Guard) action figure.
- VOTD: Siskel and Ebert Defend ‘Star Wars’ on 1983 TV Show (slashfilm.com)
- Ewok attack! 30 years of Return Of The Jedi (georgesjournal.org)
- Lost ‘Return of the Jedi’ footage discovered on $699 LaserDisc (theverge.com)