Star Wars Episode VI

Return of the Jedi

Return of the Jedi Star Wars Movie Poster
Released
Directed by
Richard Marquand
Produced by
Howard Kazanjian
Screenplay by
Music by
John Williams
Starring
Mark Hamill
Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher
Billy Dee Williams
Anthony Daniels
David Prowse
James Earl Jones
Kenny Baker
Peter Mayhew
Frank Oz
Ian McDiarmid

Return of the Jedi (later retitled Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) is the thrid film in the original Star Wars Trilogy and is the sixth episode in the Star Wars Saga.

Return of the Jedi was released in theaters on May 25, 1983, exactly six years after the release of Star Wars, receiving mostly positive reviews. The film grossed over $475 million worldwide. Several home video and theatrical releases and revisions to the film followed over the next 20 years. It was the last Star Wars film released theatrically until Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace began the prequel trilogy in 1999.

The Galactic Empire, under the direction of the ruthless Emperor, is constructing a second Death Star in order to crush the Rebel Alliance once and for all. Since the Emperor plans to personally oversee the final stages of its construction, the Rebel Fleet launches a full-scale attack on the Death Star in order to prevent its completion and kill the Emperor, effectively bringing an end to the Empire's hold over the galaxy. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker, a Jedi apprentice, struggles to bring Darth Vader, who, he finds out, is actually his father Anakin Skywalker and a fallen Jedi, back from the Dark Side of the Force.

In 1997, for the 20th anniversary of the release of Star Wars (retitled Episode IV: A New Hope), Lucas released The Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. Along with the two other films in the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi was re-released on March 14, 1997, with a number of changes and additions, which included the insertion of several alien band members in Jabba's throne room, the modification of the Sarlacc to include a beak, the replacement of music at the closing scene, and a montage of different alien worlds celebrating the fall of the Empire.

Luke Skywalker, having fashioned himself as a Jedi Knight, initiates a plan to rescue the frozen Han Solo from the crime lord Jabba the Hutt with the help of Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Leia infiltrates Jabba's palace on Tatooine disguised as a bounty hunter and releases Han from his carbonite prison, but is caught and forced to serve as Jabba's slave. Luke arrives the next morning and allows himself to be captured, after surviving an attempted feeding to the Rancor. Jabba sentences Luke and Han to be fed to the monstrous Sarlacc. As he is about to be put to death, Luke breaks free, receives a new lightsaber from R2-D2, and a large battle erupts; in the ensuing chaos, Leia strangles Jabba to death with her slave chains, Han inadvertently knocks Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who captured him, into the gaping maw of the Sarlacc, and Luke, escaping with his allies, destroys Jabba's sail barge. As Han and Leia rendezvous with the other Rebels, Luke returns to Dagobah where he finds that Yoda is dying. With his last breaths, Yoda confirms that the evil Darth Vader is Luke's father, that Luke must confront him again to become a true Jedi Knight and mentions "another Skywalker". The spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi reveals that Vader was once Anakin Skywalker and that the "other Skywalker" Yoda spoke of is Luke's twin sister. Luke then realises that Leia is his sister, and this is confimed by Obi-Wan who congratulates Luke for his intuition whilst warning Luke to hide this realisation from his conscious mind as these thoughts may be read by his enemies. His concern proves to be justfied, when Vader reads Luke's thoughts during their final confrontation.

The Rebel Alliance learn that the Empire has been constructing a new Death Star, larger and more powerful than the first. In a plan to destroy the new weapon, Han is elected to lead a strike team to destroy the battle station's shield generator on the forest moon of Endor, allowing a squadron of starfighters to enter the incomplete superstructure and destroy the station from within. Returning from Dagobah, Luke joins the strike team along with Leia and the others. The strike team uses a captured Imperial shuttle to get to Endor, so that the Imperial ships they pass will think they're one of them. However, because they use an old code to gain passage, Darth Vader knows they're Rebels, but lets them through anyway so that they will be ambushed by the Imperial forces expecting them and lying in wait on Endor. Luke, sensing Darth Vader's presence, fears he may be endangering the mission by his presence.

On Endor, Luke and his companions encounter a primitive yet intelligent tribe of Ewoks (who mistake C-3PO for a god, so that when Luke uses the force to make C-3PO levitate, the Ewoks free Luke, Han, and R2D2) and form an alliance with them. Later, Luke confesses to Leia that Vader is their father, that she is his sister, and that he is leaving to confront Vader one more time, believing that there is still good in him. Leia tells Luke that she has somehow always sensed and known that he was her brother. Luke surrenders to Imperial troops, so that they will bring him to Vader. He then tries to convince Vader to turn from the dark side, but Vader says it is too late for him, and so he takes Luke to the Death Star to meet the evil Emperor Palpatine.

Palpatine reveals to Luke that his allies on Endor, as well as Lando's flight team trying to penetrate the Death Star, are both walking into traps. Back on Endor, the Rebels are captured by Imperial forces, but a surprise counterattack by the Ewoks allows the Rebels to fight back. During the strike team's assault, Lando leads the Rebel fleet in the Millennium Falcon to the Death Star, only to find the station's shield is still up, and the Imperial Fleet waiting for them. As fighting between the fleets ensue, Palpatine tempts Luke to give in to his anger and join the dark side of the Force. A lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader erupts, during which Vader throws his lightsaber at Luke, who is on a higher platform, and causes the platform to collapse. It is during his search for Luke, that Vader probes Luke's mind and learns that Luke has a sister. When Vader suggests she would turn to the dark side instead, Luke responds with an impassioned attack, slicing off his hand. However, realising that his attack is acquiring a dark character unbecoming his status as a Jedi Knight he breaks off his attack and, despite Palpatine's goading, spares his father and declares himself to be a Jedi. Enraged, Palpatine begins to slowly kill Luke with Force lightning. Unable to bear the sight of his son's torture any longer, Vader comes to Luke's assistance. He grasps Palpatine and casts him down a reactor shaft to his death, but is mortally wounded by Palpatine's lightning. At his request, Luke removes Vader's mask to look into the eyes of the pale, withered man that is his father. Despite Luke's promise that he will save his father, Vader declines, stating that "you already have". Having seen his son with his own eyes for the first, last and only time, Anakin Skywalker dies, finally at peace.

Meanwhile, on Endor, the strike team, with the help of the Ewoks, defeats the Imperial forces (after a long battle during which many Ewoks and Stormtroopers are killed) and finally destroys the shield generator, allowing the Rebel fleet to launch a final assault on the Death Star. Lando leads the remaining ships deep into the station's core and fires at the main reactor, causing it to collapse, which slowly engulfs the Death Star in exploding flames. Luke escapes on an Imperial shuttle with his father's armor before the Death Star explodes, and Lando escapes in the Millennium Falcon. On Endor, Han begins to think that Leia is in love with Luke rather than him, however, Leia tells him that Luke is her brother, relieving Han, and they share a kiss. That evening, Luke returns to Endor and cremates his father's armor on a funeral pyre. The entire galaxy celebrates the fall of the Empire. During the Rebels' own celebration on Endor, Luke catches sight of the spiritual figures of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and his redeemed father Anakin Skywalker, who watch over them with pride.