The Good

I still get the same feeling watching this film now as I got when I first saw it in 1983.

The Bad

I still get the same feeling watching this film now as I got when I first saw it in 1983.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi is a swan song of cinematic proportions rarely, if ever, achieved before or since this movie graced the silver screen. We open with Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia venturing to Tatooine to rescue the carbon frozen Han Solo from the evil clutches of Jabba the Hut. With this team of rebels brought back together, they soon travel to Endor where they join up ranks with the Ewoks to fight the Imperial Forces that wish to take over that planet. Luke soon realizes he has an even bigger fight in front of him as Darth Vader and the Emperor are doing everything they can to bring Luke over to the dark side of the Force. As Luke realizes he must battle his father in order to salvage the remnants of the Jedi that once was, a Galactic Civil War is playing out all around him. As the Rebels now lead a charge against the Imperial Empire, the still being built Death Star is where this final battle seems determined to play itself out.

Watching the 1997 and the 1983 version of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, it's very hard not to get back into the spirit of this film. Lucas did such a brilliant job of merging all of these stories, and at the same time creating a political allegory that it all still speaks volumes (and is maybe even more prescient) today.


Disc One:

Audio Commentary

George Lucas, Ben Burtt. Dennis Muren and Carrie Fisher give us their thoughts in this final film in the trilogy. There is a reflective tone to this track as it seems they knew something was ending, yet at the same time there are the three films in this story that also exist. Lucas gives his normal, almost detached look at this film, but I really got the sense that talking over all of these films has actually changed his perspective somewhat on his creation. It's almost as if going back and reflecting, he's had to face his mortality in some way. Perhaps that's why he keeps on tinkering with these films? If he works with them enough, maybe by the time he passes away they will complete? Or, it could be because working on something from his past allows him to delay facing his future? Whatever the case, all the voices on this track really do their best to offer interesting insights, but part of me wishes that Lucas had been left alone to talk about this final film. Just the thought of him sitting in a dark room, reflecting on the final portion of his life's work is enough to give any fan (big or small) a moment of pause.

Disc Two:

1983 Version of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

This extra feature was the subject of much debate. At first, the fans were told that they were getting cleaned up versions of the original trilogy. This had been something that supposedly Lucas said would never come to pass. Then, as the story had time to gestate it was revealed that Lucas and Co. considered offering this movie as a bonus feature only. Since it was only a bonus, they weren't going to spend the time to clean these films up and release them in anamorphic widescreen (which is exactly what the fans want). It was then realized that the original trilogy was merely being ported over to DVD from laserdisc. Now, there is talk talk of an Ultimate Star Wars set to be released in 2007, and that supposedly that set will contain versions of the original trilogy in anamorphic widescreen (or so it has been rumored).

In all honesty, I thought this "ported over" version looked pretty darn nice. It may have been a tad overcompressed in parts, but the images looked really clean and I didn't find that this film was lacking anything in an effects sense. I think the biggest complaint I have is that things in the background, which are very clear in the 1997 version, are not very clear in this one from 1983. All in all, I think it depends on your level of fandom. If you are a casual fan (like myself), you're just happy to have the older versions of these movies on DVD. If you are a rabid fan (meaning you dress like the characters at Comic-Con; or you come close), then you will probably have a problem with the supposed stretched image of these films. As I said, I didn't notice it.


In this section, I have only reviewed the version of Return of the Jedi from 1997. Okay, there are little changes over every single DVD in this collection. What viewers didn't know back in the 1970s and 1980s was these films that they loved, would eventually be released in forms different from those that they remembered. While for the most part, I don't have any problems with these technical enhancements (as I said here, these are Lucas's films and he is free to change them however he sees fit), I do have a problem with severely altering the movie like he did here. I know that Lucas is trying to rework all the films so that they play as one cohesive piece, but I think that that is an exercise in the impossible that actually takes away from the movies. These films will never be perfect and after awhile, all the tweaks do a lot more harm than they do good.


English Dolby 5.1 Surround EX - English, French and Spanish Dolby 2.0 Surround. Subtitled in English. The audio on both of these DVDs was quite sharp. These movies play in such a way that when the music comes in, it truly enhances everything about the film. This movie plays in such a straight forward manner and I never felt that the musical score was being used to guide my thinking. At their core, these films are really just well told stories that manage to capture our imaginations in ways that few films can. The audio is such that it really compliments the images on screen, and as a result we get the total film experience with this two disc DVD set.


They have juxtaposed newly redone artwork with older drawings on both the front and back covers. While the background on the cover is purple, the one utilized on the back is blue. I think this is a really nice way of bridging both worlds of these DVDs, both from a historical and an artistic standpoint. This really wasn't done on the covers of the other DVDs. There is a very well written description of what this movie is about, a breakdown of what is on both discs, a cast list, and technical specs are also strewn around. Both discs are neatly stored inside this amaray case and all in all this packaging does a very nice job of servicing this movie.

Final Word

I remember going to see this movie at a place that has now become a Babies "R" Us. I had heard all the talk, I had friends come over and act out the final scene between Darth Vader, Luke and the Emperor and even knowing everything that was going to happen, this movie still hit me like a ton of bricks. As I was only 10 when this movie came out, I really can't say that I totally understood everything that was going on. As I am 23 years removed from that time in my life, I now understand not only the story, but also the broader subtext of what Lucas was going for. Even though this movie came out in 1983, it was very much layered with aspects of Vietnam. Of course, during the 1980s those weren't messages that the country really wanted to hear or deal with, so discussion of them did not come to pass until later (at least I didn't get to those discussions until later).

All that said, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi is a terrific farewell to one of the most enduring and beloved film franchises in the history of the medium.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi was released May 25, 1983.