Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi is the sixth and final chapter of the Star Wars film series by George Lucas (but the third film to be produced). It debuted in 1983, and was re-released with changes in 1997 and 2004.
- 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....
Return of the Jedi takes place in 4 ABY, one year after the events of The Empire Strikes Back. The Empire is working on the construction of a second Death Star, which is to be more powerful than the first.
Luke Skywalker and company arrive on Tatooine to rescue Han Solo, who is held prisoner in carbonite by the gangster Jabba the Hutt. R2-D2 and C-3PO arrive with a holographic message from Luke pleading Jabba to release Solo, but the droids end up slaves. That evening, Princess Leia, disguised as a bounty hunter, arrives with "prisoner" Chewbacca to collect bounty from Jabba. Jabba sends Chewie to the prisons. That night, Leia removes her disguise and frees Solo from the carbonite, only to be overseen by Jabba. Both Solo and Leia are captured.
The next morning, Luke arrives to make one final plea to Jabba to release Solo, but Jabba orders the Luke into the pit of the Rancor monster. Luke overpowers the Rancor, but is captured by Jabba's minions. As punishment, Jabba commands Luke and his friends to be destroyed by the Sarlacc.
Luke and his companions approach the Pit of Carkoon. With the help of R2-D2, Luke retrieves a lightsaber. A large battle ensues. Boba Fett falls into the Sarlacc pit, and Jabba is choked to death by Leia. Luke and crew manage to escape just before Jabba’s Sail Barge explodes. Luke and R2-D2 head for Dagobah to return to Yoda. The rest of the crew departs for the rendezvous point where the Rebel Alliance is assembling.
Luke and Artoo arrive on Dagobah to find Yoda ill. Luke has returned to complete his training, but Yoda says no further training is required. All that remains for Luke is to confront Vader. Yoda then reveals that Vader is indeed Luke's father. The Jedi Master gives one last mention of wisdom to the Luke before he dies.
As Luke approaches his X-Wing, the spirit form of Kenobi confirms that Vader was once Anakin Skywalker, a former Jedi who turned to the Dark Side. Kenobi also reveals that Luke has a twin sister, hidden from Luke at birth as protection from the Emperor. Luke senses that his sister is Princess Leia.
At the rendezvous point, the Rebel Alliance discusses plans to attack the Death Star. As part of the plans, Luke and his companions must penetrate the shield generator on the moon of Endor to deactivate the shield that protects the Death Star.
The crew land on Endor only to be discovered by stormtroopers. A landspeeder chase ensues, resulting in Leia being separated from Han and Luke. Leia is awakened by an Ewok, one of Endor's forest creatures.
Luke, Han, Chewie, and the droids fall into a trap set by Ewoks, who discover Threepio and treat him as their god. The droid's friends are taken prisoner. Luke cleverly uses the Force to get the Ewoks to set them free. The Ewoks agree to join the fight against the Empire.
Luke decides the time has come for him to leave Endor and face Darth Vader. He reveals the truth to Leia: That Vader is his father and Leia is his sister.
Luke surrenders peacefully to the Empire, and unsuccessfully tries to convince Vader to abandon the Dark Side. They go to the Death Star and meet the Emperor, who reveals that the Emperor himself coordinated the Rebels finding the secret plans and locating the shield generator so that the Alliance can fall into a trap.
On Endor, the Rebels enter the shield generator, only to be taken prisoner by waiting Imperial forces. Solo and company are led out of the bunker, but the Ewoks begin their attack. A battle begins with the Rebels and Ewoks against the Empire.
The Rebel fleet emerges from hyperspace for the battle, but discovers the shield is still up. An intense space battle begins. The Death Star is revealed to be fully operational.
On the Death Star, Luke attacks the Emperor fueled by anger, only to be deflected by Vader. Vader senses in his son's mind that Luke has a sister. Vader intends to turn her to the Dark Side if Luke won't, but Luke responds viciously, striking off Vader's right hand. The Emperor encourages Luke to kill his father so the young Jedi can take Vader's place alongside Palpatine. But Luke controls his anger and throws aside his lightsaber. He declares himself a Jedi.
Han, Leia and Chewie regain access to the bunker. They plant an explosive and escape the bunker before its destruction. With the shield down, the Death Star can be attacked.
Realizing that Luke cannot be turned to the Dark Side, the Emperor uses Force lightning against him to deliver the final blow. Vader is deeply affected by the sight of his son dying. Thus, the dramatic redemption of Anakin Skywalker begins as the former Dark Lord lifts the Emperor, and despite the deadly Force lightning surging through his suit, he drops his former master into a chasm, killing the Emperor.
Meanwhile, in an intense battle, Lando leads Wedge and his fighter group into the bowels of the Death Star. One by one the Rebel fighters are killed. Other Rebel fighters attack point blank at the Super Star Destroyer, leading to the lead Imperial ship's destruction.
Realizing there is no hope for his survival, Anakin asks Luke to take his mask off so he can look upon his son with his own eyes. Luke removes the helmet, revealing the pale face of his father. Anakin says Luke was right about him, and asks him to tell his sister the same. With that, Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker dies.
Lando and Wedge Antilles, now the last surviving Rebel fighters inside the Death Star, fire at the Death Star's main reactor, causing its collapse. Luke and the body of his father Anakin escape the Death Star, and moments later, so do Lando and Wedge just as the Death Star explodes.
Sensing that Leia has feelings for Luke, Han tells her he will not interfere. Leia divulges that Luke is her brother. Han and Leia engage in a passionate kiss.
That evening, Luke cremates what remains of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker. The entire galaxy celebrates the downfall of the Empire and the end of the Galactic Civil War. Amidst the celebrations, Luke catches sight of the spirit figures of Ben Kenobi, Yoda, and the redeemed Anakin Skywalker.
Direction is credited to the late Richard Marquand. However, reports have suggested that Marquand's involvement in the creative process was minimal, and George Lucas effectively took over the making of the film. The screenplay was written by Lawrence Kasdan and Lucas (with uncredited contributions by David Webb Peoples ), based on Lucas' story. Howard Kazanjian served as producer.
The film was originally named Revenge of the Jedi until it was pointed out that revenge is contrary to the Jedi code, though many speculate that the change was always planned to throw fans off. But it has also been claimed that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was originally subtitled The Vengeance of Khan, and that the title was changed because of its similarity to Revenge of the Jedi. In any event, the original title was partially reused for the sixth film (Episode III), Revenge of the Sith.
During production, in an attempt to maintain secrecy and disguise the filming from fans and press, it was alleged it was a horror film entitled Blue Harvest and utilizing the slogan "Horror Beyond Imagination".
The space battle between the Rebel and Imperial fleets, and the starfighter attack on the Death Star, were well-regarded by critics.
The first two Star Wars movies were adapted for National Public Radio in the early 1980s, but it was not until 1996 that a radio version of Return of the Jedi was heard. See Star Wars (radio) for details.
With a massive worldwide marketing campaign, Star Wars series artist Drew Struzan created the iconic and distinctive images for the movie posters and other advertising.
A serious wardrobe problem was present in the film in that all Imperial characters, regardless of rank, are shown wearing identical rank insignia, being that of an Imperial Navy Commander. This was not recognized by the production staff until halfway through the film's shooting and the error remained uncorrected in the final version of the film. However, there are two extras in the scene where the Emperor arrives who are wearing the rank of lieutenant.
As with the other two films of his original trilogy, Lucas issued a Special Edition of Return of the Jedi in 1997, making a number of cosmetic changes and additions, including replacing a piece of music from the closing scene.
The DVD release
On September 20, 2004 the three original movies were finally released on DVD. There have a few further minor changes to the film on this release - such as sound effects and improvements to the visual quality of the film.
During the sequence when the Emperor's defeat at Endor is announced to the galaxy, an additional scene showing the celebrations on Theed, Naboo was shown. A Gungan (a race from the first two episodes) can be heard yelling "Wesa free" in this scene.
Sebastian Shaw played Anakin in the hanger bay and in the final celebration scene in the original film. In the DVD release, Shaw continued to be Anakin in the hanger bay scene. However, during the final celebration, Shaw was replaced by Hayden Christensen. In this release Anakin appeared as he did in Episode III.
The Expanded Universe
In the Expanded Universe, the Battle of Endor was not the end of the story. The destruction of the Death Star, the loss of Vader and the Emperor, and the defeat of the Imperial fleet represented a major turning point in the war. Within five years, well over half of what was Imperial space was under the control of the New Republic.
The war continued for another 15 years. The New Republic would be challenged by Imperial commanders, such as Grand Admiral Thrawn, Admiral Daala, Admiral Pellaeon, and Ysanne Isard. The New Republic would even be challenged by the Reborn Emperor - the spirit of Palpatine in a new clone body. But the New Republic would weather all these storms.
Fifteen years after the Battle of Endor Admiral Pellaeon and the other Imperial leaders realized that further military conflict with the New Republic would be fruitless. The remnants of the Imperial forces signed a peace treaty with the New Republic. The decades long Galactic Civil War was finally over.
As several of these stories were written during the period after Return of the Jedi hit theaters and before The Phantom Menace was made, numerous potential errors in the Expanded Universe continue to exist and several of the tales have been deemed apocryphal with regards to the continuity of the six films.
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