Return of the Jedi (1983)

PG | 133 mins | Fantasy, Science fiction, Adventure | 25 May 1983

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HISTORY

       The main title card is preceded by the statement: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....” Return of the Jedi was the third installment in the Star Wars series, and its prologue explains events that unfolded since the conclusion of its precursors, Star Wars (1977, see entry) and The Empire Stikes Back (1980, see entry): “Luke Skywalker has returned to his home planet of Tatooine in an attempt to rescue his friend Han Solo from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt. Little does Luke know that the GALACTIC EMPIRE has secretly begun construction on a new armored space station even more powerful than the first dreaded Death Star. When completed, this ultimate weapon will spell certain doom for the small band of rebels struggling to restore freedom to the galaxy…” The prologue heading “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” emphasized that the picture was a non-sequential, mid-way installment in a nine-part series. All three Star Wars films were later reissued with titles that indicated their episode number; for example, Return of the Jedi became known as Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
       Referring to the picture by its working title, Revenge of the Jedi, an 18 Oct 1980 LAT news item announced that production on the third Star Wars film was scheduled to begin fall 1981 on location in Europe and at EMI-Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England. At that time, no director had been hired and executive producer George Lucas was reportedly working on a first draft of ... More Less

       The main title card is preceded by the statement: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....” Return of the Jedi was the third installment in the Star Wars series, and its prologue explains events that unfolded since the conclusion of its precursors, Star Wars (1977, see entry) and The Empire Stikes Back (1980, see entry): “Luke Skywalker has returned to his home planet of Tatooine in an attempt to rescue his friend Han Solo from the clutches of the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt. Little does Luke know that the GALACTIC EMPIRE has secretly begun construction on a new armored space station even more powerful than the first dreaded Death Star. When completed, this ultimate weapon will spell certain doom for the small band of rebels struggling to restore freedom to the galaxy…” The prologue heading “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” emphasized that the picture was a non-sequential, mid-way installment in a nine-part series. All three Star Wars films were later reissued with titles that indicated their episode number; for example, Return of the Jedi became known as Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
       Referring to the picture by its working title, Revenge of the Jedi, an 18 Oct 1980 LAT news item announced that production on the third Star Wars film was scheduled to begin fall 1981 on location in Europe and at EMI-Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England. At that time, no director had been hired and executive producer George Lucas was reportedly working on a first draft of the script. Four days later, the 22 Oct 1980 Var stated that Gary Kurtz, producer of the first two Star Wars films, had been replaced by Howard Kazanjian. Although Var listed Kurtz as a consultant, he is not credited onscreen.
       On 15 May 1981, LAT reported that Lucasfilm Limited negotiated a special interim contract with the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which was in the midst of a strike. Lucas resigned from both the WGA and Directors Guild of America (DGA) the previous year due to “philosophical differences,” and had reportedly decided to neither write nor direct another film “in the near future.” LAT noted that the Return of the Jedi script was scheduled to be finalized in the summer of 1981, so production could begin Jan 1982 in preparation for a May 1983 release. A 28 May 1981 Var news item announced that Richard Marquand had been hired to direct, with preproduction set to start immediately at EMI-Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England, where the first two Star Wars pictures were also filmed. One month later, the 2 Jul 1981 Var reported that Lawrence Kasdan, who revised Leigh Brackett’s original script for The Empire Strikes Back, was hired as screenwriter. With preproduction underway, Lucas declared that he was unwilling to sell television rights to the Star Wars series, as stated in a 5 Nov 1981 Var news item.
       On 2 Dec 1981, Var announced that principal photography would begin 11 Jan 1982 at EMI-Elstree, with a $25 million budget. A distribution agreement with Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. was finalized the week of 7 Dec 1981, according to a 9 Dec 1981 DV brief. After one month of filming, the 24 Feb 1982 Var reported that the budget was increased to $32.5 million, and Alec Guinness recently agreed to return to his role of “Ben ‘Obi-Wan’ Kenobi.” As noted in a 9 Apr 1982 DV article, the production was still using the working title Revenge of the Jedi, and Lucasfilm Limited filed an “informal complaint” with Paramount Pictures, persuading the studio to change the title of their upcoming release, Star Trek II: The Vengeance of Khan to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, see entry). DV pointed out that the 1981 Paramount release of Raiders of the Lost Ark, executive produced by Lucas, was highly profitable for the studio, and it did not protest the filmmaker’s request. An 8 Aug 1983 People article stated that the picture was “code-named” Blue Harvest during production, to elude press and fans.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, the construction team alone consisted of over 500 crewmembers. EMI-Elstree’s Stage Six, also known as the “Star Wars” stage because it was built for The Empire Strikes Back, was the site of “Jabba the Hut’s” palace gate, as well as the location of the Death Star’s docking bay. A new, full-sized model of the Imperial Shuttle, with a five-ton undercarriage, was also positioned on the docking bay set, along with the full-scale Millenium Falcon, which was built for The Empire Strikes Back. Stage Four housed the Death Star’s “throne room,” which included an elevator and three levels. The rebel’s “main briefing room” and “captain’s bridge” were located on Stage Five.
       After filming for seventy-eight days at EMI-Elstree, the production moved abroad to become the first Star Wars picture to include U.S. locations. The desert planet, Tatooine, which was originally filmed in Tunisia, for Star Wars, was relocated to the Buttercup Valley, CA, at the state border near Yuma, AZ. There, shooting continued for two weeks, focusing on Jabba the Hut’s “sail barge,” a 30,000 square foot vessel that hovered above the desert floor. A 4 Jun 1982 DV news item noted that the barge set cost $1 million, and an additional $4 million was pumped into the Yuma economy. Principal photography then moved for two weeks to redwood tree forests near Crescent City, CA, which provided locations for planet Endor. The production concluded at a new blue-screen soundstage at Lucasfilm studios in Marin County, CA. The facility would later become known as “Skywalker Ranch.” On 28 May 1982, DV announced that principal photography ended 21 May 1982. Post-production continued for nearly one year at Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic, with “round-the-clock crew,” according to production notes.
       The 8 Aug 1983 People noted that the “Ewoks” were performed by sixty-six little people divided into two separate casts, those who worked at Elstree and another group used for location work in Crescent City. According to People, Lucas was initially displeased with the Ewok costumes, deeming them guilty of “terminal cuteness.” He was also dissatisfied that the Ewok mouths were unable to move, making the creatures appear stiff. However, the characters were specially designed for creating spinoff, merchandising products, and audiences ultimately complained that there were too few Ewok scenes in the picture.
       A 6 Feb 1983 LAT article reported the working title Revenge of the Jedi had changed to Return of the Jedi in “recent weeks.” Promotional posters with the original title were garnering record-high sale prices, as Lucasfilm executives reportedly descended on the poster distributor, National Screen Service, to ensure destruction of the remaining inventory. However, National Screen Service and Lucasfilm denied the claim.
       Return of the Jedi was released 25 May 1983, six years to the day after the first film in the series. Replicating the commercial campaigns of its predecessors, the film’s release was complimented by vast merchandising, with products including video games, toys, food items, and apparel. In addition to the fifty companies that were licensed to sell Return of the Jedi products, including Walt Disney Studios, 150 shopping malls paid thousands of dollars in licensing fees “for the privilege of promoting [the mechandise] in ‘Jedi Adventure Centers,’” from 1 Jul--17 Jul 1983. This tactic represented a departure from the first two pictures, as the filmmakers sought to convince consumers that they needed to continue investing in the Star Wars franchise.
       According to various contemporary sources, including the 18 May 1983 Long Beach, CA, Press-Telegram, theaters were sold out through advance ticket sales, and people lined up at pre-sale box-offices up to four days before the film’s Wednesday opening, willing to pay a $1.25 service fee on top of the $5--$6 ticket price. A 24 May 1983 LAHExam article stated that Twentieth Century-Fox budgeted $8 million on advertisements and deliberately limited the amount of opening-day exhibitors to 950 theaters, with runs of twelve to fifteen weeks each, to promote ticket lines.
       As noted in a 17 May 1983 LAT article, the release marked the debut of Lucasfilm’s new THX sound system, which was installed in select theaters with financing from the Lucas-sponsored “Theater Alignment Program” (TAP). THX was named after Lucas’ feature film directorial debut, THX 1138 (1971, see entry) and reflected the initials of its engineer-creator, Tomlinson Holman. Technicians were dispatched nationally to “tune up” sound systems with upgraded amplifiers and sound exciter lamps at a cost of approximately $23,000 per theater.
       Although critics generally complained that Return of the Jedi sacrificed the series’ human-interest story for special effects and marketable creature-characters, the film broke box-office records, grossing $6,291,629 in its first day, according to the 27 May 1983 DV. The article noted that the picture was playing at “836 physical theatres,” with a total of 1002 screens; the 150 70mm prints in circulation were set to be augmented by an additional twelve prints by Sunday, 29 May 1983. Twentieth Century-Fox planned to release the picture to 400 new screens by 24 Jun 1983, then increased the venues by another 450 screens on 15 Jul 1983. By 20 Jul 1983, DV reported that Return of the Jedi was already ranked within the top five grossing films in motion picture history seven weeks after its opening, earning $127 million by 12 Jul 1983.
       As noted in various contemporary sources, including the 9 Jul 1983 LAHExam, the first two weeks of release were marked by at least six print thefts; at that time, there were nearly 1300 prints circulating, internationally.
       A special edition of the film, with added visual effects, was reissued 7 Mar 1997. It was followed by a trilogy of prequels, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999, see entry), Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002, see entry), and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005, see entry). In addition, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released in 2008, and as of Dec 2013, the Walt Disney Company was in pre-production for Star Wars: Episode VII with the three stars of Star Wars, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford cast in their original roles. J. J. Abrams was set to direct the picture for a projected release date in 2015.
       Return of the Jedi was nominated for four Academy Awards in the categories: Art Direction, Music (Original Score), Sound, and Sound Effects Editing. In addition, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, Ken Ralston, and Phil Toppett won a Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects.

      End credits include the following acknowledgements and location information: “Thanks to the U.S. Department of Interior (and) Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service,” and, “Photographed in Buttercup Valley, Death Valley and Smith River, California, and EMI-Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, England.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Dec 1981.
---
Daily Variety
9 Apr 1982.
---
Daily Variety
27 May 1983.
---
Daily Variety
28 May 1982.
---
Daily Variety
4 Jun 1982.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 1983
p. 3, 53.
L.B. Press-Telegram
18 May 1983.
---
LAHExam
22 May 1983
Section E, p. 1, 9.
LAHExam
24 May 1983
Section C, p. 1, 5.
LAHExam
9 Jul 1983
Section C, p. 1, 7.
Los Angeles Times
18 Oct 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 May 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Feb 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 May 1983
p. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times
25 May 1983
p. 1.
New York Times
25 May 1983
p. 24.
New Yorker
30 May 1983
pp. 88-89.
People
8 Aug 1983
pp. 44-45.
Variety
22 Oct 1980.
---
Variety
28 May 1981.
---
Variety
2 Jul 1981.
---
Variety
5 Nov 1981.
---
Variety
2 Dec 1981.
---
Variety
24 Feb 1982.
---
Variety
18 May 1983
p. 14.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Starring
as
Starring
as
Co-starring
as
Co-starring
as
Co-starring
performing
+

NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Starring
as
Starring
as
Co-starring
as
Co-starring
as
Co-starring
performing
Co-starring
as
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir/2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr
Asst prod mgr
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Loc dir of photog
Addl photog
Aerial photog
Aerial photog
Matte photog consultant
Steadicam® plate photog
Ultra high speed photog
Op cam
Op cam
Focus puller
Focus puller
Asst cam
Asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Gaffer
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Dolly grip
Rigging gaffer
Rigging gaffer
Still photog
Still photog
Aerial cam systems by
Lighting equip and crew from
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Conceptual artist
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Sketch artist
Decor and lettering artist
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Prop supv
Prop supv
Props
Propmaker
Propmaker
Set dresser
Const mgr
Asst const mgr
Const supv
Gen foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Paint foreman
Scenic artist
Set draftsman
Set draftsman
Set draftsman
Prod buyer
Const storeman
Master carpenter
Master plasterer
Master painter
Supv rigger
Supv stagehand
Sail co-ord
Sail co-ord
Sails eng
Sails eng
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Ward mistress
Shop mgr
Jeweler
Creature costumer
Creature costumer
Creature costumer
Creature costumer
MUSIC
Supv mus ed
Mus rec
English lyrics
Huttese lyrics
Ewokese lyrics
SOUND
Sd des
Prod sd
Prod sd
Boom op
Boom op
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec eng
Sd asst
Sd asst
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Audio eng
Rerec at
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff
Visual eff
Visual eff
Mech eff supv
Chief articulation eng
Asst articulation eng
Armature des
Plastic des
Sculptural des
Sculptural des
Key sculptor
Key sculptor
Key sculptor
Key sculptor
Key sculptor
Chief moldmaker
Moldmaker
Creature tech
Creature tech
Creature tech
Creature tech
Creature tech
Creature tech
Creature tech
Creature tech
Creature consultant
Creature consultant
Prod/Creature co-ord
Latex foam lab supv
Animatronics eng
Spec eff supv
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff floor controller
Sr eff tech
Chief electronics tech
Wire specialist
Loc spec eff
Loc spec eff
Miniature and opt eff unit
Art dir-Visual eff, ILM
Opt photog supv, ILM
General mgr, ILM
Prod supv, ILM
Matte painting supv, ILM
Modelshop supv, ILM
Modelshop supv, ILM
Anim supv, ILM
Supv visual eff ed, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Eff cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Asst cam, ILM
Prod co-ord, ILM
Prod co-ord, ILM
Opt printer op, ILM
Opt printer op, ILM
Opt printer op, ILM
Opt printer op, ILM
Opt printer op, ILM
Opt printer op, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Opt line-up, ILM
Lab tech, ILM
Lab tech, ILM
Lab tech, ILM
Prod illustrator, ILM
Matte painting artist, ILM
Matte painting artist, ILM
Matte photog, ILM
Matte photog, ILM
Stop motion anim, ILM
Chief model maker, ILM
Chief model maker, ILM
Chief model maker, ILM
Chief model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Model maker, ILM
Head eff anim, ILM
Head eff anim, ILM
Eff anim, ILM
Eff anim, ILM
Eff anim, ILM
Eff anim, ILM
Eff anim, ILM
Eff anim, ILM
Eff anim, ILM
Eff anim, ILM
Visual eff ed, ILM
Visual eff ed, ILM
Visual eff ed, ILM
Asst visual eff ed, ILM
Asst visual eff ed, ILM
Asst visual eff ed, ILM
Asst visual eff ed, ILM
Supv stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Stage tech, ILM
Pyrotechnician, ILM
Pyrotechnician, ILM
Supv-Still photog, ILM
Still photog, ILM
Still photog, ILM
Electronic system des, ILM
Electronic system des, ILM
Electronic eng, ILM
Electronic eng, ILM
Computer graphics, ILM
Computer graphics, ILM
Equip eng supv, ILM
Machinist, ILM
Machinist, ILM
Apprentice machinist, ILM
Apprentice machinist, ILM
Des eng, ILM
Equip support staff, ILM
Equip support staff, ILM
Equip support staff, ILM
Equip support staff, ILM
Admin staff, ILM
Admin staff, ILM
Admin staff, ILM
Admin staff, ILM
Admin staff, ILM
Admin staff, ILM
Prod asst, ILM
Prod asst, ILM
Addl opt eff
Addl opt eff
Addl opt eff
Addl opt eff
Addl opt eff
Spec visual eff prod at
Marin County, CA
DANCE
Choreog
Loc choreog
MAKEUP
Make-up and creature des
Make-up and creature des
Chief make-up artist
Chief make-up artist
Make-up artist
Make-up artist
Make-up artist
Make-up artist
Chief hairdresser
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Jabba puppeteer
Jabba puppeteer
Jabba puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Puppeteer
Loc casting
Loc casting
Prod supv
Assoc to prod
Prod controller
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Loc accountant
Loc accountant
Prod asst
Prod co-ord
Co-ord asst
Co-ord asst
Loc scr supv
Asst to Mr. Kazanjian
Asst to Mr. Bloom
Asst to Mr. Lucas
Helicopter pilot
Transportation co-ord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Studio transportation mgr
Studio transportation mgr
Loc contact
Unit pub
Asst pub
Research
Mime artist
Mime artist
Mime artist
Mime artist
Mime artist
Mime artist
Mime artist
Mime artist
Mime artist
Prod vehicles courtesy of
Prod vehicles courtesy of
Loc service by
Air transportation by
STAND INS
Stunt co-ord
Stunt arr
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col timer
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Titles:
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Revenge of the Jedi
Release Date:
25 May 1983
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 May 1983
Production Date:
11 January--21 May 1982 in England, Arizona, and California
Copyright Claimant:
Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
27 May 1983
Copyright Number:
PA172810
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Dolby Stereo™
Color
Col by Rank Film Laboratories®
Lenses/Prints
Cameras and lenses by Joe Dunton Cameras Ltd.; Prints by Deluxe®
Duration(in mins):
133
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26991
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During an interstellar civil war, freedom fighters battle an evil empire that is rebuilding its ultimate weapon, a planet-sized battleship called the Death Star. Displeased by delays in construction, Imperial leader Darth Vader unexpectedly visits the Death Star and warns that the Emperor will soon arrive. On planet Tatooine, rebel fighter Luke Skywalker searches for his comrade, Han Solo, who was put in a carbonite hybernation mold as punishment for defying Darth Vader. Han is trapped within a monolith, and is being held hostage by his former gambling creditor, Jabba the Hut. Luke’s two robot “droids,” C-3PO and D2-D2, bring the obese Jabba a message from Luke; the boy challenges Jabba to a bet, using Han as a wager, but Jabba is obstinate. Entertained by a harem of musicians and exotic dancers, Jabba is later visited by masked bounty hunters, who wish to pawn off Han’s former first-mate, a tall, hairy Wookie named Chewbacca. Unbeknown to Jabba, the bounty hunters are Han’s rebel companions, Princess Leia and Lando Calrissian. That night, when Jabba’s revelers retire, Leia frees Han from the carbonite, but Jabba captures the two rebels. While Han later reunites with Chewbacca in a prison cell, Luke uses his Jedi knight mastery of a metaphysical power called “the Force” to get past Jabba’s guards. He finds the creature with Leia ensnared at his side, serving as a sex slave. Luke offers Jabba a deal to liberate the rebels or face certain death, but plummets through a grate in ... +


During an interstellar civil war, freedom fighters battle an evil empire that is rebuilding its ultimate weapon, a planet-sized battleship called the Death Star. Displeased by delays in construction, Imperial leader Darth Vader unexpectedly visits the Death Star and warns that the Emperor will soon arrive. On planet Tatooine, rebel fighter Luke Skywalker searches for his comrade, Han Solo, who was put in a carbonite hybernation mold as punishment for defying Darth Vader. Han is trapped within a monolith, and is being held hostage by his former gambling creditor, Jabba the Hut. Luke’s two robot “droids,” C-3PO and D2-D2, bring the obese Jabba a message from Luke; the boy challenges Jabba to a bet, using Han as a wager, but Jabba is obstinate. Entertained by a harem of musicians and exotic dancers, Jabba is later visited by masked bounty hunters, who wish to pawn off Han’s former first-mate, a tall, hairy Wookie named Chewbacca. Unbeknown to Jabba, the bounty hunters are Han’s rebel companions, Princess Leia and Lando Calrissian. That night, when Jabba’s revelers retire, Leia frees Han from the carbonite, but Jabba captures the two rebels. While Han later reunites with Chewbacca in a prison cell, Luke uses his Jedi knight mastery of a metaphysical power called “the Force” to get past Jabba’s guards. He finds the creature with Leia ensnared at his side, serving as a sex slave. Luke offers Jabba a deal to liberate the rebels or face certain death, but plummets through a grate in the floor. Trapped in a dungeon, Luke conquers a hideous monster as Jabba and his entourage watch from above. Jabba vows revenge and banishes Luke, Han, and Chewbacca to the Dune Sea’s pit of Carkoon, where they will be digested by a creature called Sarlacc for 1,000 years. There, a battle ensues. Leia strangles Jabba to death, and the friends escape. Sometime later, Han, Leia, and C-3PO return to Han’s spaceship, the Millenium Falcon, as Luke voyages to the Dagobah System, where he plans to continue training with 900-year-old Jedi master, Yoda. The old warrior announces that he will soon die, but assures Luke that he has reached the extent of his training. However, Luke will not be a full-fledged Jedi until he confronts his long-lost father, Darth Vader, who was once known as Anakin Skywalker. Yoda warns Luke to be wary of anger and aggression, for negative feelings will trump his spiritual power. As Yoda dies, he declares Luke the last Jedi in the universe, but reveals: “There is another Skywalker.” Luke doubts he can go on without Yoda, but he has a vision of his deceased Jedi mentor, Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi. Obi-Wan tells the boy it is his “destiny” to kill his father, and explains that Luke has a twin sister, Princess Leia: the two were separated at birth so Darth Vader would remain unaware of his daughter’s existence. Meanwhile, Han, Lando, and the rebel forces plan to attack the Emperor, who is now aboard the undefended Death Star. Although still under construction, the Death Star is protected by an energy shield generated by a power station on the forest planet Endor. Han volunteers to pilot a captured Imperial space shuttle to Endor and deactivate the shield. This will allow Lando to attack the Death Star in space, using Han’s Millenium Falcon. As the rebels strategize, Luke unexpectedly returns to the base and offers to join Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2 on Han’s covert mission. As the friends navigate toward Endor, Darth Vader senses his son aboard the shuttle, and Luke realizes he has put the operation at risk. However, the rebels continue, land on Endor, and dodge an ambush of Imperial guards. Leia is separated from the group, but is befriended by furry creatures called Ewoks, and is later reunited with her friends. With much coaxing from C-3PO, who is mistakenly deemed an Ewok deity, the rebels and Ewoks form an alliance. The night before the battle for the power station, Luke tells Leia that he must confront Darth Vader. He announces that Darth Vader is his father, and vows to coax the evil leader into righteousness. If Luke’s mission should fail, Leia must continue in his place, as she shares “the Force”: Luke reveals they are twins. Unsurprised, Leia begs Luke to run away, but he is intent on saving their father from “the dark side.” Luke is soon captured by Darth Vader and gives his father two choices: join forces or kill his own son. Darth Vader remains true to his evil intent and turns Luke over to the Emperor, who announces that the rebels have fallen into a trap. To demonstrate the Death Star is fully operational, after all, the Emperor destroys a rebel space station. Meanwhile, the Ewoks lead the rebels to Endor’s energy shield generator. In outer space, Lando and his colleagues approach the Death Star, but realize the station’s deflector has not been deactivated, as planned. The rebels are ambushed in space and on land. Watching helplessly from a Death Star lookout, Luke becomes angered at the destruction. The Emperor offers to return Luke’s Jedi sword lightsaber, convinced the boy’s rage will ensure his conversion to “the dark side.” Luke seizes his weapon to fight Darth Vader as the Emperor chuckles with pleasure. However, Luke believes his father will be unable to murder own his son. Declaring that Luke can only rescue his friends by becoming evil, Darth Vader reads his son’s mind to discover that Leia is also his daughter. He suggests that Leia may also be guided to “the dark side,” and Luke loses composure, severing the man’s lightsaber-bearing hand. The Emperor is delighted, but Luke refuses to kill his father and give up his idealism. Meanwhile, the Ewoks rescue Luke’s rebel companions and they deactivate the Death Star’s security shield. The Emperor grows tired of Luke’s resilience and tortures the boy, but Darth Vader intervenes and kills his evil master. At the same time, Lando navigates toward the Death Star and attacks. Luke tries to save his father, but Darth Vader orders his own oxygen mask removed, and ends his life. Father and son gaze into each other’s eyes for the first and last time before Luke escapes and the Death Star explodes. Back on Endor, the Ewoks and rebels see a blast in the sky and celebrate their victory. When Han assures Leia that Luke is safe, she admits feeling a spiritual connection with him, and Han suspects that Luke has stolen her affections. Dejected, Han promises Leia he will not stand in the way of her relationship with Luke, but is delighted to learn the two are brother and sister. Luke mourns his father with a funeral pyre, and the citizens of the universe rejoice in their newfound freedom. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.