Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Am a Jedi, Like My Father Before Me

I'm going to go into a full review of this film at the end of the week for my May the 4th series. However, since it is Star Wars, and it is a favorite of mine, I wanted to share some personal reflections before going into a hard critical look.

Return of the Jedi is 30.

Jedi was really my introduction to Star Wars.

I mentioned before that the first time I saw any of the films from beginning to end was when the Special Editions were released in 1997. I was turning 11 and I was instantly hooked. But I had some vague knowledge of Star Wars before that.

When I was a toddler, the VHS vs. Betamax war was winding down, with VHS beginning to come out the winner. My parents, naturally, had Betamax, which really was a better format even if VHS had better advertising.

Anyway, in my house there were a couple of things running constantly on Beta when I was three (possibly younger; I don't remember before 3). Oh, there where things we watched as a family, but some things were just on in the background and I'd watch when I wasn't otherwise distracted. The first was The Many adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

The other was Return of the Jedi.

Specifically, it was Jabba's Palace. Ooh, I'd watch that slug constantly. 3PO and R2 would come to him, Chewbacca would be sold to him by the creepy voiced dude who was really a lady (Princess-something-or-other? I was lead to believe she had cinnamon buns in her hair, and this woman clearly doesn't), the big monster would eat the piggy and his keeper would cry. I was fascinated. And then, once the Beta player conked out, I largely forgot about it until 1997.

I don't remember ever getting past that part, though the more I think about it I must have, since I was familiar with Admiral Ackbar and Unmasked Anakin (not by name in either case, of course). I also think I knew of the Ewoks, but mostly from the spin-off films; I didn't really connect them to Star Wars until sometime later.

In any case, while I was interested in seeing the other films finally when the Special Editions were released, it was Jedi that I was most looking forward to. And, as I'll point out in my May the 4th review later this week, while on a list of 1-2-3-4-5-6 regarding my personal order I always put Jedi 4th, in reality it's more tied for 3rd place.More about it bothers me now than any other, but some of my favorite scenes are in it, which I'll discuss later.

Jedi used to be the black sheep of the Star Wars family, a mantle sadly now taken by my beloved Phantom. Like Phantom, though, and the rest of the Saga, I loved Jedi from day 1 and will always love and, yes, defend it if necessary.

You were right about me...tell your were right...


  1. I'm a little embarrassed to ask...what is Betamax?

    1. It was a type of video tape that had a smaller cassette than VHS, but had greater information storage capacity. It pretty much disappeared by the late '80s.

  2. Wonderful article. I'm in a similar place with Jedi in that it's one of the ones I remember most fondly from when I was a kid (I recall being at a summer camp of sorts with my family where they played Return of the Jedi one night), and of my childhood memories of Star Wars, Jedi and Phantom Menace are generally the ones with the most positive resonances to me. By contrast, my memories of Empire resonate with fear and distress- watching this thing that was clearly Star Wars but was manifestly something more and different. Interesting that the things I remember fearing and disliking as a kid (Empire, The Secret of NIMH, Hook, the Burton Batman films) are what I appreciate most as an adult now.

    But anyways, Return. I've mentioned before that I have a host of problems with the film that really just grow the more I think about it objectively- the problems of morality, the copout ending to Luke & Leia, the way the script actively works against its own climax, etc. But like Phantom Menace after it the problems tend to dissipate when I watch it and am suddenly reminded of what it was like to be a kid. I don't think either of them are good movies, but goddamit if I don't love 'em to hell.

    1. I think they're all good movies for what they're supposed to be, and they do more right then they do wrong. Jedi's flaws are just a little more noticeable compared to its fellows. But I'll get into that later.

    2. Oh, and, uh, thanks for the compliment. Seriously, made my day.

  3. Return of the Jedi is my favorite Star Wars film.