Lately, I’ve being thinking that I may embark on a ROTJ re-write eventually. The film as-is is, IMO, not far removed from the PT quality-wise. The acting is better, the dialogue is better, and it isn’t a video game, but those are the film’s only saving graces. In all other regards, it’s just as sloppy with its plotting, characterization, and tone. Fan-edits may be able to patch up the surface flaws and apply a fresh coat of paint to the facade, but at its core, it’s a fundamentally broken film which cannot be repaired without a massive reshoot.
Since I’d be working with some EU in mind, this wouldn’t be as liberal a re-write as I’d prefer. Some things I’d rather do differently – the location of Jabba’s palace; the physical depiction and characterization of Palpatine; Leia’s status as Luke’s sister; etc. – I’d have to stick and work with. Other things, though – the nature of the second Death Star; Han’s rescue from Jabba’s palace; the portrayal of the Ewoks; Vader’s loyalties to Palpatine; Palpatine’s arguments to sway Luke to the dark side; Vader’s redemption – I’d have carte blanche on.
Below is the one scene I’ve re-written. It’s purpose is threefold: to reassert Vader’s desire to overthrow Palpatine, to emphasize his tragic nature, and to remove Luke’s unfounded conviction that Vader has good in him.
EXT. FOREST – IMPERIAL LANDING PLATFORM – EVENING
A Lambda-class shuttle floats down from space and lands gracefully on the huge platform. Concurrently, an AT-AT walker approaches the platform from the darkness of the forest. The whole outpost – platform, walkers, military – looks particularly offensive in the midst of this verdant beauty.
Darth Vader as he walks down the ramp of the shuttle onto the platform.
INT. IMPERIAL LANDING PLATFORM/LOWER DECK – EVENING
Vader takes a turbolift down to a lower level. Walking to the opposite end of the deck, he is met by CMDR. IGAR and three stormtroopers with Luke, in binders, at their centre. The young Jedi gazes at Vader with complete calm.
CMDR. IGAR: This is the Rebel who surrendered to us. Although he denies it, I believe there may be more of them, and I request permission to conduct a further search of the area. He was armed only with this.
The commander extends his hand, revealing Luke’s lightsaber. Vader takes the weapon from the commander’s hand.
DARTH VADER: Good work, Commander. Leave us. Conduct your search and bring his companions to me.
CMDR. IGAR: Yes, milord.
The officer and troops withdraw. Vader and Luke are left alone, the oddly tranquil beauty of the place surrounding them, the sounds of the forest filtering in upon them.
Together, father and son cross the deck.
DARTH VADER: The emperor has been expecting you.
LUKE: I know, Father.
DARTH VADER: So, you have accepted the truth.
LUKE: I’ve accepted the truth that you were once Anakin Skywalker, my father.
DARTH VADER: (turns to Luke) That name no longer has any meaning for me.
LUKE: It is the name of your true self. You’ve only forgotten.
Vader looks down from Luke to the lightsaber in his own black-gloved hand. Vader ignites the lightsaber and holds it to examine its humming, brilliant emerald blade.
DARTH VADER: I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. (beat) Your skills are complete.
Vader extinguishes the lightsaber, then turns away from Luke.
DARTH VADER: Indeed, you are powerful as the emperor has foreseen.
LUKE: Is there any good in you, or has the emperor driven it from you fully?
DARTH VADER: Palpatine had promised an order for the Galaxy, a vision for the future I had believed in and fought for. That promised future is now, and the promise has been broken. (turns to Luke) The Empire has brought more chaos than it has order. Together, we will correct its course.
LUKE: I will not turn, and you’ll be forced to kill me.
DARTH VADER: That is not your destiny.
LUKE: (approaches Vader) Search your feelings, Father. You can’t do this. I feel the conflict within you! Let go of your lust!
Vader signals to a pair of hidden stormtroopers, who emerge from the turbolift.
DARTH VADER: The emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your master now.
He and Luke stand staring at one another for a long moment.
LUKE: Then my father is truly dead.
The stormtroopers escort Luke into the turbolift. They are gone, leaving the Dark Lord of the Sith alone with his thoughts.