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Opinion: Return Of The Jedi is Very Underrated. Do You Agree?

“That feels like a lot of nitpicking, and I’m not sure if it’s really valid.”

I’m looking at how from a logical view the throne room scene works. Also, I read and skimmed through the production, including Lucas’s thoughts from The Making of Return of the Jedi. In addition, some snippets from the rough drafts to figure context. I’ve become more convinced over the years that Jedi doesn’t really add up.

Normally, most fans don’t really look at ROTJ’s script. I looked at imdsb’s third draft, which is extremely revealing about the film. Also, I’ve re-watched ROTJ fairly recently. Comparing the film’s dialogue between ROTJ and TESB shows a lot of repetition and borrowing from TESB, or warping the words around lazily, which I’ve seen TROS do recently (TFA: Rey: I’m not going to get you anything. Kylo Ren (cocky): We’ll see.; TROS: Rey: We’ll see.). Luke does a similar thing but with Vader on the bridge scene in multiple parts:

TESB Vader: Now release your anger, only your hatred can destroy me!
TESB Vader: Search your feelings, you know it to be true!
ROTJ Luke: Search your feelings, father, you can’t do this. I feel the conflict within you, let go of your hate!

TESB Vader: Son… come with me.
ROTJ Luke: Come with me.

The manner in which ROTJ Luke inverts the situation makes ROTJ Luke to be the supposedly more threatening one here, but it also insults TESB Vader at the same time, tbh.

It’s a bit cringy, honestly- it doesn’t feel like Luke is on even ground with Vader; it feels like he’s insulting Vader or forcing him to change, rather than a mutual understanding, which I got better during Luke’s duel with Vader in TESB.

TESB Bespin Cloud City:
Vader: Your destiny lies with me, Skywalker- Obi-Wan knew this to be true.
(Luke tries looking away once, probably for an opening to escape). Luke (looking straight at Vader again, then boldly): No.

Vader: With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
Luke (still distressed from the loss of his hand): I’ll never join you!

The general lack of emotion from Hamill in the bridge scene (with a questionable reliance on head nodding and shaking to convey non-verbal meaning) is hard for the audience to emphasize with. When David Prowse is doing a better job emoting in the Darth Vader suit than Hamill, something is off.

Luke acting actively by challenging Vader through generally emotionless gestures and cold, indifferent words likely to “punish” Vader (“Then, my father is truly dead.”) is rather inconsistent with Empire’s ending where Luke was scared by Vader nearly killing him and his emotions at the end- denial- fear, horror, acknowledgement of Vader’s relationship with him. Luke was trying to get away from Vader at the end, when Vader cut off his hand, since he was a threat, now Luke is threatening Vader.

“The whole point of that scene is that the audience can’t be sure if Palpatine is telling the truth. He’s manipulative, what he says to one person can be different from what he says to another.”

Unfortunately, from what I have discovered, the ROTJ emperor actually has part of Vader’s idea of “only your hatred can destroy me”- it was discussed during the production of the film, which means that the Emperor is part TESB Vader.

One could assert that the Emperor taught Vader this philosophy, but it wasn’t created until ROTJ’s production.

“He acts like he doesn’t care about Luke, but in reality he’s afraid.”

Can you cite evidence of this? Several-several times in the film- the emperor is unafraid of Luke- dismissing his guards in front of him, taking his lightsaber confidently, calling it a “Jedi weapon”, encouraging Luke to strike him down in order to start the fight (or is convinced that Luke will go to the dark side as soon as it happens), and calling Luke- the threat in Empire- “a young fool”.

“He knows the light is more powerful than the darkness, and tries his best to eliminate the closest threat to his power.”

No, he doesn’t. It’s because the emperor’s petty, and Luke’s a twerp to him.

Lucas:… "But Luke turns off his lazer sword, throws it at the Emperor. “I have controlled my hate;I don’t hate my father. If you are so much on the dark side, you kill me- I dare you.”

“The Emperor gets enraged. The Emperor has a temper. He is a hateful, angry person, and so he says, “You little twerp!” And maybe he does what I had in the other script [either the first rough summary or its revision] where he starts shooting lightning bolts and Luke starts gasping for breath.”- p. 73, The Making of Return of the Jedi

“But he didn’t realize that the closest threat to him was his own second-in-command. Him not realizing that Vader will betray him is a key plot point, it’s not a hole in the story or anything like that.”

It’s a forced plot point, actually. Long before Rian Johnson did his “plot twists”, which mostly do actually have set-ups proceeding the said twists, and these set-ups make sense. I can’t say the same for Return.

Vader’s Motivation, Part II
Lucas: I don’t like the idea of Vader saying to Luke, “Come on over to our side.” Let’s forget what Vader is really trying to do, kill the Emperor.- p. 73, The Making of Return of the Jedi

Vader’s motivation of having Luke join him is almost entirely absent from the film, except for a deleted scene in ROTJ, with Vader calling out to Luke to join him. Even then, Vader doesn’t go into specifics-i.e. kill the Emperor, train with me more, rule the whole galaxy, etc. It is mostly implied “give yourself to the dark side” and is extremely vague.

When Vader has the opportunity to destroy the Emperor early on when Luke decides to full-on attack the Emperor, he chickens out, even though “Luke’s skills are complete?” Luke is now the foreseen threat to the Emperor, and if we are to take the Emperor seriously at his declaration that Luke will complete his training to the dark side; he was only an act away from the dark side (doesn’t make sense, but if it’s true, then Luke is extremely powerful). Vader: “You don’t know the power of the dark side!” Sometimes the comments are leaning towards favoring the Emperor “It is pointless to resist, my son.” [i.e. The emperor’s offer to the dark side] “The emperor is your master now”.

“He claimed that Luke had a lack of vision, but in reality he was the one who couldn’t forsee his own demise.”"
True- fair enough.

Opinion: Return Of The Jedi is Very Underrated. Do You Agree?

OutboundFlight said:

I have to admit, I’ve been in the “ROTJ isn’t good” camp for a while now… but lately I rewatched it and I remembered how good it really was.

It’s the type of movie that sounds bad on paper but when you watch it it somehow works. A lot of moments require you turn your brain off (Luke’s plan, the Ewoks, the 2nd Death Star etc) but these all lead to payoffs that make it worthwhile (unlike some other movies cough cough). It’s also probably the most emotional of the Star Wars movies. Possibly tied with Empire. But you can really feel for Luke’s struggle with the dark side in the final confrontation, mirrored with the complete hopelessness of the situation outside. That’s something neither the PT or ST ever come close too, and boy did they try.

I wouldn’t call it a good “film”, but it is a good “movie”, and a great “blockbuster”.

I’ve been studying and really, really trying to analyze and watch parts of Return of the Jedi for some time now. I think, despite the impressive amount of work on it, the plot does not hold up, not even really in the throne room scene or the bridge scene between Luke and Vader, which was Marquand’s favorite scene in the whole film. The bridge scene might even be the worst scene in the film in terms of continuity with Empire.

The throne room scene is overrated- super, super overrated. Maybe it’s point in the plot was different, but it’s worth noting that this is not like Empire’s set piece by set piece or art to art confrontation like between Luke and Vader in Bespin, so much alive and dynamic compared to throne room.

Okay, so the majority of the throne room scene is like this:
Luke and Vader walk up to the Emperor, who foolishly dismisses his guards out of ego (remember he was afraid in Empire that Luke could destroy him). The emperor then hammers home that Vader can’t be turned from the dark side (well, emperor, it’s up to Vader to decide that. And even so, I think Vader has good in him (out of choice to spare the last general in Empire) or is just corrupted by the dark side- I don’t think that he actually belongs to it.) Luke then says that anything that they do here is irrelevant because the emperor and Luke (and Vader) are going to both be dead [the rebels will blow up the Death Star II].

Now this is an important line because Luke, apparently, believes it at the moment and fully expected it going into the throne room.

Now the emperor dismisses this, saying that they are safe from the attack (how would Luke even know if he’s telling the truth here?), commands an attack from a button on his large chair that can spin (did Vader’s chair even do this in Empire?), and the DS II starts blowing up… a few large ships. Not everyone, just a few large ships. Wait, the rebels are in a trap with the Empire’s fleet. So, the emperor says that ALL THE REBELS will die. However, from what I remember, the rebels could actually leave, but they were staying around to wait for the rebels to break down the shield barrier on Endor “We’ve gotta give them more time!- Lando”. So, they really weren’t being destroyed entirely- they could just leave (with some casualties) if push came to shove.

So, Luke decides to defend himself, but the emperor causes him to doubt and says that it’s inevitable, which causes Luke to finally cave in, despite initially having the confidence that ANYTHING that they did here was pointless because THEY WERE ALL going to die.

Also, it’s weird that Luke doesn’t believe that the emperor’s lying to him and that he’s witnessing that destruction happening quickly in outer space. Luke’s usually skeptical of other claims- Luke’s destiny being with Vader and the revelation scene with Vader. While he denies that the emperor would convert him, I am surprised that an emotional conflict [death of the rebels] doesn’t come with more doubt or skepticism from Luke.

Then, Luke tries to kill the emperor [the smart thing because the Emperor sent a command to kill the rebels, in doing so, he is preventing more deaths from occurring], and this is blocked by Vader because the fight is pre-arranged. Apparently, according to The Making of ROTJ book, the emperor would have struck Luke down if Vader hadn’t moved. This begs the question though, how is Luke even a threat to the Emperor (which is why the Emperor was afraid of him in Empire and wanted him as an ally- to prevent himself from being destroyed by Luke) if the Emperor would have struck him down, anyway? And then, the Emperor would have been angry with Vader.

Then, Vader and Luke fight, I guess- [or it’s hide-and-seek] with the Emperor giving his rather inane taunts in the background (Use your aggressive feelings, boy! Let the hate flow within you.). I think it’s overrated to see the Emperor as the mastermind villain in Return, I really do. The whole fight seems bogus to me, especially when Vader could have aided Luke when he tried to strike at the Emperor earlier.

Then, we have Luke going into his stoic (insane) mode where he proclaims his view [or delusion, since his desire to save Vader is only present in Return. He gave no indication of it in Empire, and he didn’t have a conflict over killing his father or not.] that Vader is good still, which is besides the point; Vader can be both incredibly bad AND good. The horror lies in what Vader has already accomplished (killing most of the Jedi, some of the rebels, Biggs, torturing Han and Leia, etc.).

Then, Vader and Luke try to seek each other out. Luke trying to keep his emotions in check is ridiculous, if I must be the first person to say this. In Empire, he didn’t care about his feelings, besides avoiding to hate, and he did so maturely by focusing on the right thing- defending his friends. Honestly, it makes Luke look juvenile when he’s supposed to be a man in this film to have him hiding in the background trying to suppress his feelings. Who cares, honestly?

Then Vader gives Luke a reason to hate, except that this reason is actually poor- it’s Leia may somehow turn to the dark side. Not- “I killed your best friend. I killed the rebels. I tortured Han and Leia. I indirectly killed your aunt and uncle. I killed Obi-wan.”. It’s a vague reason, and the only reason that Luke cares is because he believed that Leia was the only hope for the rebels, even though they could have found someone else who was force-sensitive or else to connect with the force. Even in Final Fantasy XII, where there’s a similar scene, it’s revealing that a death occurred from a specific person.

So, Luke looses it, complete with hell imagery from the red lights on the elevator shaft. Luke’s going dark? Okay. I guess we go all in with this, even though Luke threw himself off of a pillar in Empire to prevent himself from joining Vader and the dark side.

Anyway, the “awesome” music, which is actually and probably a more somber music and horrifying, as Luke is finally losing it.

Then, the Emperor congratulates him, as a smarter villain would have simply stayed quiet. There’s a nice moment where Luke realizes who he’s almost become- a monster without compassion.

Then, Luke transitions into stoic/proud Luke again, ruining the moment with a monologue about how, again, he will not turn to the dark side.

(I remember how a person in my class during gym/P.E. in a game of tag said SW-style that he wouldn’t turn to the dark side. I made sure that I tagged him.).

Also, Luke tosses his lightsaber away, instead of keeping it, because… he was warned by Yoda to beware of the Emperor’s abilities? Also, did Luke not realize that the Emperor could use/sense the force by knowing his emotions?
In addition, Luke’s tense breathing here indicates danger, so Luke KNOWS that he is doing something risky. Why not keep the lightsaber for safety? Is Luke intending to die here? What is going on?

Then, the Emperor shocks Luke because Luke is a punk (young fool), apparently, and young fools who defy the Emperor must die. If Luke isn’t that powerful (by rejecting the dark side) why kill Luke, though? Couldn’t you just leave the guy alone? If he’s of not much help by not being of the dark side according to your perspective, why even kill him? If you were confident in DS II destroying ALL OF THE REBEL ALLIANCE, why is Luke even a concern to you?

Then, Vader watches [sadistically] with little remorse [by stalling when he had ample opportunity to kill the Emperor through any other means than lifting him up- tossing objects at him from a distance, force choking, tossing an ignited lightsaber at him, etc.]. There’s a rough draft where Vader is reluctant to kill Luke when the Emperor orders it after Luke makes his stand, and it’s only when Luke is threatened that Vader takes action, as far as I remember. Here, Vader watches for a … while.

Then, Luke begs for Vader to save him (ala begging Obi-wan to save him in Empire). Luke, you made your stand to defy the Emperor, you threw away your lightsaber, did you not expect the Emperor to retaliate or at least send in some guards to hurt you? Why even make your stand (to die) if you’re going to beg Vader to save you?

Then, Vader saves Luke by using a method which hurts his suit. But it’s done, it’s over.