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Star Wars - Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi

original title: Star Wars - Episode VI: Return of the Jedi


  • Theatrical Version
  • Special Edition
Release: Feb 23, 2011 - Author: VideoRaider - Translator: Tony Montana - external link: IMDB

In comparison to the productions of "Star Wars" and "The Empire Strikes Back", the production of "Return Of The Jedi" wa pretty uncomplicated. Suffering the sun of Tunesia and the tight budget during the shooting of Episode IV, having to deal with fires in the studios or snowstorms during the shooting of Episode V, Episode VI could be shot at domestic sets. Endor rised in the Redwood National Park in California and Dagobah in a studio, the few exterior shots of Tattoine were shot in Arizona. That makes "Return Of The Jedi" the only movie of the "Star Wars" saga which was entirely produced in the US. The production for the prequels will be moved to Australia. Due to the made experiences, the team was able to fulfill the budget and time restrictions of the SFX post-production, though the actual battle of Endor was originally bigger. George Lucas, the father figure of the saga, watched the entire production and needed director Richard Marquand "only" for the shooting of the many dialog scenes. Each spaceship, each part of the plot had to be confirmed by Lucas beforehand. Lucas always considered himself a filmmaker and he's convinced that the job as director is only one tiny peace of a huge jigsaw puzzle. For that reason and beuse he never really liked the job as director, he often hired people to do it. But he didn't like the job Irvin Kershner did for "The Empire Strikes Back" because, according to Lucas, Kershner used to mwork too much on his own. They say that Marquand always kept in touch with Lucas and that his way of shooting had much more in common with Lucas' visions. It's also conspicious that Gary Kurtz, producer of "Star Wars" and "The Empire Strikes Back", wasn't on board anymore. His job was done by Howard G. Kazanjian who had a better rapport with Lucas as well. A lot of Star Wars fans think that this is the reason why the final part of the saga is the worst of the old trilogy because didn't have anyone around who challenged him creatively.

Though "Return Of The Jedi" wasn't roughly as successful as "Star Wars", it was still a satisfying ending of the saga for anyone involved. The movie made 475.106.177 USD (inflation-adjusted 2010: 933.180.769 USD) at box offices worldwide, was nominated for 5 Oscars and finally got the Oscar foe best SFX. But when it comes to the actors, only Harrison Ford could make it to the top and hold that level. At least Mark Hamill became one of the most favored voice actors for cartoons in the 90s and Carrie Fisher is an accepted novel writer these days. She likes to deal with her own addiction to alcohol in a funny way in her own books.

George Lucas could finally finish his saga and turn to new challenges in filmmaking. Thanks to his smart licensing of the saga, "Star Wars" was longer in mind of children and fans as supposed. That's why several spin-offs followed in the 80s. There were also two cartoon series, two movies for TV, many novels and comics. Until the release of the Special Edition in 1997 and the prequels in 1999, the saga became a worldwide phenomenon, no end in sight. The pre-production (April 2010) for the first Live Action Series has alreasy started - 27 years after the final part of the saga...

In the following section, I'd like to talk about the original concept of the "Star Wars" saga. As already mentioned in the introduction, George Lucas didn't work with producer Gary Kurtz anymore. Official reasons were creative differences. Kurtz didn't want the Death Star in the final sequence again. He also didn't like the idea with the Ewoks, which were originally supposed to be Wookies, very much. That means the final battle would have taken place on Kashyyyk instead of Endor. Furthermore Kurtz proposed Irvin Kirshner as director once again but Lucas wasn't very happy about that because he didn't like the way he worked. All these differences, which ended with Gary Kurtz' quitting, already show that the original concept for "Return Of The Jedi" was different as well. Actually Episode VI was just supposed to be another sequel of the saga that was supposed to end with Episode IX. Lucas also had a completely different title in mind. Instead of "Return", the Jedi would take "Revenge" - but that idea was rejeted because a Jedi never takes revenge. Nevertheless, several merchandise with "Revenge" in the title had already been produced and among collectors, it's worth a fortune these days.

How far the saga has changed due to the fact that Episode VI is the final movie, will be illustrated in the following section. The original second trilogy transformed into the final sequence of "Star Wars"...

II. a) Return of the Jedi
As already mentioned in the report to "The Empire Strikes Back", there were initally 9 movies planned to be part of the Star Wars saga. This can be seen from several statements of George Lucas („As the saga of the Skywalkers and Jedi Knights unfolded, I began to see it as a tale that could take at least nine films to tell - three trilogies.“) as well as Gary Kurtz („...before the first screenplay, there was a lot more material – a lot more convoluted story structure and stuff about the long history. In the end, we opted to pick what we thought was a good, rousing adventure story out of the middle of all this material.“). Based on different reliable statements, this ennealogy probably was supposed to look approximately like this:

Episode I: A movie about the old Jedi order
Episode II: Introduction of Obi-Wan Kenobi (apprenticeship, adventures, etc.)
Episode III: Introduction of Anakin Skywalker (rise and fall)
Episode IV: -
Episode V: -
Episode VI: Leia becomes queen, Han dies. Eventually, Luke kills Darth Vader and travels through the galaxy as the last Jedi.
Episode VII: Luke's life and adventure as Jedi. The empire and the emperor still exist.
Episode VIII:< Luke is looking for his sister (not Leia)
Episode IX: Big finale: Luke destroys the emperor and the empire.

This was the raw scheme before production began for "The Empire Strikes Back". After Episode V, which was a professionally and personally very demanding project for Lucas, he decided to cut it down to 6 parts. He did not want to devote the rest of his career solely to the "Star Wars" saga, especially because he knew that, with the following 4 movies he had already announced, at least 12 more years of work for it were waiting for him. Furthermore, he established another successflu franchise with the Indiana Jones movies and expanded his multimedia empire, e.g. with the foundation of LucasGames. Now, as it was clear that “Return of the Jedi” was the ending point of the story, the storylines started in the first movie and designed for a 9 movie concept had to be brought to a satisfactory ending in this movie.

As you can see in the chart, Luke was only supposed to face Darth Vader, his father, in Episodde VI and destroy him (resp. Bring him back to the good side). Emperor Palpatine was still to be only mentioned or maybe seen in holographs. He was supposed to be the ultimate evil, the dark power whose shadow was supposed to be cast over all the movies. Luke was not supposed to fight him before the last movie. This does make sense because you would not expect Luke to be powerful enough in episode VI to defeat the most powerful Sith lord in the history of the universe. His following adventures and the regular jedi training would have made him strong enough for this. This had to be changed now, and the final battle was between Luke, Darth Vader and the emperor. The writers were aware of that and so it was eventually Darth Vader who killed the emperor by throwing him down the reactor shaft. The writers knew that it would seem illogical if someone who had been a farmer just three years earlier was able to defeat the emperor, that is why they implemented a classic father-son conflict. If you look at the final version closely you can see that Luke's perspective is always on Vader. He tries to convince him to join the light side again because he knows that only he is strong enough to kill the emperor. This seems to work perfectly at first glance, but it also degrades Luke Skywalker, because now he only is the key to the ending, but the door has to be opened by Vader.

This means for the character of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader that he now completely becomes the central figure in the series, which was never planned like that. I already mention that in the first comparison for "Star Wars". During the genesis of the movies, Vader was first only a general, then a dark lord of the sith. Hi rose even further and became not only the emperor's right hand but THE character in the trilogy, as George Lucas emphasizes until today. However, must fans probably know that in Episode IV Vader was not even supposed to be Luke's father. The connection Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader was only established when Lawrence Kasdan, screenplay writer for "The Empire Strikes Back" came up with it. Vader's development from the bad killer (First Draft, 1974) over sidekick for the ultimate evil "Star Wars" and right hand of the emperor "The Empire Strikes Back" to the savior of the universe (Return of the Jedi) and central figure in the saga (Episodes I-III) is unique in the history of this saga.

The original plan was of course that Luke Skywalker would be the central character, who - as prophesied savior – was to bring the balance between light and dark side back. After killing Vader in Episode VI he would have intensified his training as well as searched actively for his sister (who could maybe have helped him against the emperor). In "The Empire Strikes Back", Yoda mentions another hope when Luke departs towards Bespin despite the warnings. This other hope was to be Luke's sister, who, far away, also was trained to be a jedi. The travel through the universe and the search for the sister would have given a lot of interesting possibilities, not only because the storyline about Han Solo and Princess Leia would have been finished with “Return of the Jedi“ (Harrison Ford asked for Han Solo to die in this episode, Leia was to become queen of her people). New worlds, new heroes, new villains would have been waiting for Luke and the viewership before the third trilogy would have tied up all lose binds and finished all the storylines. Because of the surprisingly early end of the saga, this part of the story had to be reduced to a minimum. Now we get to know that Leia is Luke's sister, but this is only being mentioned rather shortly and does not benefit the story. And in hindsight, the relation between Luke and Leia does make some situations seem a bit strange...

By the way, this other plan would not have marked the end of the empire after episode VI. The second death star and Darth Vader were surely important cornerstones of the empire, but it would have survived without question as long as the emperor was alive. Afterwards, the lins would have been drawn and instead of civil war/rebellion there would have been open war against the empire with two distinct sides, which would have been another aspect beneficial for the story.

II. b) Screenplays
After the final direction was clear and "Return Of The Jedi" scheduled as grand finale of the saga, the main structure was already planned - similar to "The Empire Strikes Back". The movie was supposed to begin with Han Solo's rescue from Jabba The Hutt. This subplot needed a conclusion because no one wanted to abandon that character, which was never an issue of course. Furthermore a lot of story elements in the middle had to come to an end and characters had to be positioned for the final. The questions about Luke's sister and Vader's fatherhood needed an answer. Luke's Jedi training needed to come to a meaningful end, so Yoda had to return as well. The empire needed to be defeated once and for all (though, as it turns out later, the victory only counts for the movies - it still lives for many decades in the Expanded universe) and the Emperor needed also to be defeated and Vader proselyted. Even the last story part has enough substance for a third trilogy - now it takes 80 min, Han's rescue deducted. Fortunately, George Lucas could get Lawrance Kasdan for the screenplay. Kasdan could help Lucas to find the right dramatic balance and a satisfying conclusion for each of the characters. Also Kaskan originally wanted one of the heroes sacrificing himself for victory. Rumor has it Han Solo was supposed the one, which was also prefered by Harrison Ford. But according to some sources, Lando Calrissian couldn't make it out of the Death Star in time after the destruction of the reactor core in an earlier version (which colorably has also been shot). Although that's just a rumor, it nevertheless shows that Kasdan always had an eye on the characters - apart from Lucas' vision of a space opera.

It finally ended with Kasdan having the thought that Luke Skywalker dies at the end. Anyone would have thought that Lucas didn't like the idea but he did for some reason. Under these circumstances, it would have been Leia's job to convert Vader from the dark side. But finally the idea was rejeted by Lucas but he never liked it as a kid when the hero in his favorite shows finally died. Apart from the fact that there wouldn't have been enough time to make Leia fit in the plot on the Death Star without being pointless (though her unexcepted relationship would have made much more sense but it technically doesn't now because her relation to Luke is irrelevant to the plot), the saga would have ended more epic because Vader only would have left the dark side because of his son's death which ends in a final fight with the Emperor.

Another sinister of idea of Kusdan was letting Vader die first. Luke would have put on Vader's mask symboliccally (to illustrate that he's with the dark side now) and go after the Death Star due to Pelpatine's order. But instead Luke destroys Palpatine's home planet Had Abbadon (which became Imperial City/Coruscant later). To sum it up, it was just a trick to distract and kill the Emperor. Also in interesting thought but it is least doubtful that Vader's giant helmet would have look fine on Luke's slim body...

Speaking of Had Abbadon. As already mentioned, Had Abbadon originally was Imperial City from the novel spin-off "Heirs of the Empire" (also established in the movie saga since the prequels). This world, which represents one huge single city, was supposed to the setting for the final sequence. Instead of the Deat Star, Luke, Vader and the Emperor would fight on Corsucant. Many concepts had already been prepared (please see 'II. c) Further concepts') but the final was supposed to take place near the Earth's core. Palpatine's actual throne room was placed at the interior of the earth, above a lake, and could only be reached through a long hallway.

In the Revised Rough Draft, dated June 1981, even Obi-Wan and Yoda were fighting on Corsucant with Luke. Obi-Wan would have materialized to reality while Yoda would have fought mentally from the nirvana...

But the characters shouldn't be seperated too much and their destiny ought to depend on the others' destiny, so the idea was dropped again. Chronologically, it would have been a repeating of the upcoming final in Episode III. At that point, Lucas had already made his decision that Vader got his wounds because molt lava (and/or molt steel), so it was already clear that the epic fight between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan-Kenobi would take place at a similar setting.

Lucas about the Imperial City concept:

"In the end it didn’t seem necessary to show the home planet of the Empire. It seemed more important that we focus on the major target of what we were going after in the movie. So to show Vader and the Emperor in an area that didn’t relate to the story didn’t seem necessary. Of course, I had a million different names for the home planet of the Empire, but Coruscant came out of publishing."
- George Lucas

It's also interesting that the lava lake unerneath Coruscant wasn't Palpatine's throne room but Darth Vader's home in an earlier phase of the screenplay. Some concepts by Joe Johnston still excist and he remembers it like that...

"When we were doing [the film], I remember I had done a series of sketches of Vader’s home, and there was a sea of lava that his house looked out on. [...], it was very intense. But before we got too far, George said he would save this for somewhere down the line, and I stopped working on it."
- Joe Johnston

The mentioned Revised Fourth Draft contains much more moments which put a different complexion on the saga. In one scene, for instance, Darth Vader contacts Luke telepathically while he's dreaming about Yoda and Obi-Wan. He wakes up in a shack of the Jawas on Tattoine and gives last instructions to the druids and Lando Calrissian for Han's rescue from Jabba. For this scene also exist some concepts...

That script also contains more details about Vader's position. Moff Jerjerrod, who seems to be unable to build the Death Star in the movie, is a burocratic opponent of his and he doesn't keep his opinion about the dark lord to himself. Some kind of new Tarkin. But Vader take his crap and breaks his neck at the end of the second third...

As one can say, the reason for Vader's fury is the fact that Luke has been brought to the Emperor without his knowledge. When the Emperor mentions that angrily, he grabs Vader and takes him out.

Of course, in some kind Vader is a slave of the dark side and as aresult of that of his master Palpatine. Nevertheless all these scenes qould have degrated Vader to a vassals who wouldn't even be respected by high-ranking imperials.

All those ideas distinctly demonstrate the potencial of the saga or at least of its ending. Due to the reduced final to only one movie (80 min to be exact), a lot of ideas had to be scrapped, reduced or summarized with different concepts.

II. c) Further Drafts
Of course, there have been several concept drawings for "Return of the Jedi" as well. Some of them reveal several parts of the story that were later on abandoned for the final version of the movie, while others hint at other visual possibilities for the Star Wars universe.

Jabba the Hutt:As already mentioned in the report of the first Star Wars movie, there were several different concepts for Jabba the Hutt. Originally it was planned that Jabba should be included in Episode IV, a sequence of him and Han Solo on Tatooine was already filmed. But then, George Lucas disliked the human actor playing Jabba; therfore, he decided to cut the scene out of the movie, only to later on re-include it in the Special Edition release in 1997 - however, the human actor was replaced with a digital model of the Jabba from 1983. From the beginning Lucas planned to display Jabba as a fat jaded worm whose vicousness should be reflected in his appearance. Therefore, there were many different concepts for Jabba - in retrospect, some of them look quite grotesque. They also had a try at humanoid designs, however, Lucas refused these quite early. Therefore, most of the designs were taking up his idea of the fat worm-like creature.

Sarlacc: Jabba's man-eating desert monster - only few persons were able to get away from it (Guess who? The Fett!) - was originally planned to be dug up under the sand. Instead of a huge hole, there were plans for huge jaws with tentacles. They abandoned this idea especially because of technical reasons - interestingly enough, this concept had a revival in the 1997 Sepcial Edition, where they included huge CGI-jaws for Sarlacc.

Imperial City: As mentioned above, the last third of the movie was originally planned to take place in Imperial City. There were countless sketches for it, that look very much like Coruscant (know from the Episodes I - III).

Emperor Palpatine: In the predecessor, the Emperor was only included very briefly as a fuzzy hologram. Even though his face could be seen quite well, there was no consistent concept (yet) able to include him as a fundamental part of the plot. When you take a look at the upper concept by costume designer Aggie Rodgers, you can see that Palpatine was already at a very early point imagined as an old almighty sovereing wearing sacral-like robes. Even though his real age is never mentioned, one (from his looks) might argue that he suffered a long life influenced by the dark side of the Force.

Imperial Guards: Palpatine's life guards went through different stages of designs as well, however, the basic concept was certain pretty early.

Darth Vader: Poor Mr. vader's face was planned to look way more demolished than in the final version that we see in the movie. The difficult part were his wounds that at this point had to be (more or less) healed. They were a result of his battle against Obi-Wan that took place decades before "Return of the Jedi". Even though one agreed on the fact that Vader's wounds were a result of melted steel (in the novel version it's lava), there did not yet exist a real battle of Obi-Wan vs. Anakin that could serve as an inspiration. Therefore, they decided to minimize the degree of injuries (at least in the visual field - his face). As a result, Anakin Skywalkers body does burn in Episode III (shot 20 years later), however, the flames mysteriously run around his face instead of burning it as well.

Death Star: When it was clear that the final battle between Luke and Vader was to take place on the second Death Star (before Palpatine's very eyes) one originally planned to shape Palpatine's throne room in contrast to the rest of the Death Star. For this, they designed a capsule that was not inside but outside the Death Star. This might have been an outstanding visual position but also a very easy target for the Rebels. On the right image you see an early concept of the second Death Star - at a certain point (Revised Rough Draft) there even should have been 2 new Death Stars!

Ewok-City: Originally, Ewok-City was not planned to be high up in the trees, but rather near - or even IN - the water. When they decided to let the Ewoks live in the trees, they also imagined a good reason for this: Ewok-City was attacked by a huge monster, that could just barely climb the trees. They later abandoned this part of the story - only to re-include it in the TV-Spin-Off "Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure“.

Tatooine: It is not clear at which point in time this sketach was drawn. From a style's point of view it might fit to the original opening sequence on Tatooine, where Luke Skywalker talks Han's rescue operation over with his friends.

By now, there are several different official versions of "Return of the Jedi" - if you compare them to each other, they mostly only offer minor differences. The most important of these versions are the original Theatrical Version, the Special Edition and the DVD-Release from 2004. The DVD released in 2006 is actually based on the THX-Edition from 1995, therefore it's not listed seperately.

III. a) Theatrical Version (1983)
Runtime: 130 minutes (PAL)
Rating: PG

The official Theatrical Version of "Return of the Jedi" was released worldwide in 1980 and is amongst fans often known as the original version - all the other versions were oriented towards the Theatrical Version. The differences of the indivudial versions of the Theatrical Version on VHS, Laserdisc or the Special Edition in 1997 are rather marginal and for the most part only concern the English soundtrack.

III. b) VHS (1986 - 1997)
Runtime: 130 minutes (PAL)
Rating: PG

Between 1986 and 1997 there were several different editions of "Return of the Jedi" for the home theatre sector. All these versions are almost identical only marginally differ from each other. They were all based on the original Theatrical Version.

One of the biggest differences can be found on the last Theatrical Version release - the THX-Edition. For this release, the original footage was completely revised and enhanced. By the standards of the time, the movies seemed to shine like new.

The DVD version that was released in 2006 was advertised as the original Theatrical Version. However, it was based on the THX-Editions released in 1995 which (as already mentioned) already included minor changes [mostly concerning the English soundtrack].
Above all, Lucasfilm over the years tried to "improve" the auditory qualities of "Return of the Jedi".

III. c) Special Edition (1997)
Runtime: 130 minutes (PAL)
Rating: PG

In 1997, George Lucas solemnly re-released the complete (original) trilogy of Star Wars. All three movies of the original trilogy were not only re-released on VHS but also rerun in cinemas to celebrate the first movies 20th anniversary. These versions (still to this day) offer the most drastic changes to the movies ever made. They were shown in theatres, released and re-released several times, and (of course) shown on TV countless times.

Even though all the updates of the visual effects were meant to reduce the gap between the old and the new trilogy, many of the old fans (who were fortunate enough to see the original Theatrical Versions in theatres) were very disappointed of the Special Edition. This report will concentrate on this version.

III. d) DVD (2004)
Runtime: 130 minutes (PAL)
Rating: PG

In 2004, the original Star Wars trilogy was finally released on DVD. Again, changes were made. However, in comparison to the Special Edition, these changes are almost unnoticeable. The biggest difference is the digitally enhanced image which was sophisticatedly restored and partially updated/changed in color.

III. e) Future Releases (Information as of April 2010)
Runtime: ? minutes
Rating: ?

Lucasfilm already announced further releases of the Star Wars Saga. As soon as the format is established, they plan to release the movies on Blu-Ray (following the same strategy as with the DVD-release). Also, they in 2006 announced that there will be a 3D-version of the movies. They are planned to be released in theatres worldwide for the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. If the movies will be changed any further can't be predicted.

"The Return of the Jedi" also offers the infamous deleted scenes section, however, there are not too many of them. The shooting script is almost identical to the final movie. Most of the Deleted Scenes are from the first story arc on Tatooine.

IV. a) Lukes Lightsaber
Originally, Luke Skywalker should appear way earlier in the movie. There's an additional scene (the original opening scene of the movie), where Luke hides his lightsaber in R2D2 a cave on Tatooine.

This scene was partially shot and John Williams even composed music for it (which can be found on the Special Edition's soundtrack), however, at an early point one decided to start the movie immediately in front of Jabba's palace with R2D2 and C-3PO. If they included the original opening, one of the most important plotpoints of the first third of the movie would have been revealed beforehand - Luke's rescue of his friends. The surprise effect of his visit at Jabba's palace as well as the hidden lightsaber would be gone. Additionally, the scene would not have brought forth the movie in any way.

IV. b) Rancor
Luke's battle with the Rancor was planned to be longer. There's a scene where he - with the help of the force - jumps up to the grid which leads to Jabba's palace's tower. When he realizes that there's no way to open the grid from this side, he slumps back down.

This scene was probably cancelled for lack of time since the effect itself would not have been a problem for them to realize the effect in a convincing way. However, it's interesting to think about the fact that this would have been a possibility to show the Jedi's superhuman strength - a point that was often criticized for the Prequels even though Episode V already had a similar scene (Luke's and Darth Vader's first battle).

IV. c) Boat
Several small scenes were cut out of the sequence on Jabba's boat due to the speed. One of them showed a fight between Jabba's henchmen which broke out after C-3PO interpreted one of their conversations.

IV. d) Sandstorm
One of the longest scenes that were cut out is the sandstorm on Tatooine which made it harder for our heroes to return to the Millenium Falcon. This scene again stresses the fact that Chewbacca was hurt during the battle on Jabba's boat, that Han still suffers from temporary blindness, and that our heroes have to split up again. Luke flies to Dagobah with his X-Wing while Leia, Han, Lando, Chewie, and the droids fly to Dantooine.

[Han, Leia, Chewie, Luke, Lando, and the droids return to the Millenium Falcon during a sandstorm.]
Han Solo: „I don’t know. All I can see is a lot of blowing sand!“
Leia: „That’s all any of us can see.“
Han Solo: „Then I guess I’m getting better.“
[Han turns to Luke.]
Han Solo: „I’ve got to hand it to you, kid, you were pretty good out there.“
Luke: „I had a lot of help. Think nothing of it.“
Han Solo: „No, I’m thinking a lot about it. That carbon freeze was the closest thing to dead there is. And it wasn’t just sleepin’. It was a big wide awake nothing!“
Luke: „I’ll see you back at the fleet.“
Han Solo: „Why don’t you leave that crate and come with us?“
Luke: „I have a promise I have to keep first... to an old friend.“
[Luke and R2D2 fly off in the X-Wing.]
Han Solo: „Guess I owe you some thanks, too, Lando.“
Lando: „Figured if I left you frozen like that you’d just give me bad luck the rest of my life, so I might as well get you unfrozen sooner or later.“
Leia: „He means, you’re welcome.“
Lando: „Come on, let’s get off this miserable dust ball.“

IV. e) Obi-Wans Monologue
Originally, the last conversation between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker on Dagobah was far longer. Obi-Wan not only warned Luke about the dark side of the Force, he also hinted at the fact that he would probably have to kill his father first in order to be able to topple the Emperor. Furthermore, the audience got to know some more details of Vader's past and his relationship to Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: „To be a Jedi, Luke, you must confront and then go beyond the dark side - the side your father couldn't get past. Impatience is the easiest door - for you, like your father. Only, your father was seduced by what he found on the other side of the door, and you have held firm. You’re no longer so reckless now, Luke. You are strong and patient. And now, you must face Darth Vader again!“
Luke: „I can’t kill my own father.“
Obi-Wan Kenobi: „Then the Emperor has already won. You were our only hope.“


Obi-Wan Kenobi: „When your father left, he didn’t know your mother was pregnant. Your mother and I knew he would find out eventually, but we wanted to keep you both as safe as possible, for as long as possible. So I took you to live with my brother Owen on Tatooine... and your mother took Leia to live as the daughter of Senator Organa, on Alderaan. The Organa household was high-born and politically quite powerful in that system. Leia became a princess by virtue of lineage... no one knew she’d been adopted, of course. But it was a title without real power, since Alderaan had long been a democracy. Even so, the family continued to be politically powerful, and Leia, following in her foster father’s path, became a senator as well. That’s not all she became, of course... she became the leader of her cell in the Alliance against the corrupt Empire. And because she had diplomatic immunity, she was a vital link for getting information to the Rebel cause. That’s what she was doing when her path crossed yours... for her foster parents had always told her to contact me on Tatooine, if her troubles became desperate.“

It's interesting to see how many little details are revealed about Vader's past as well as his relationship to Obi-Wan and how they interrelate to the Prequels. Originally, Obi-Wan Kenobi was Owen Lars’ brother and Vader didn't know anything about Padme's pregnancy.

IV. f) Stranglehold
Despite his high position - not by law but at least de facto number 2 of the state - certain doors remain closed for Darth Vader. An imperialer officer is told not to let anybody enter the Emperor's throne room - still this is no reason for Mr. Vader to turn back. With the help of the Force he uses his stranglehold to get what he wants...

Imperial Guard: „Halt! The Emperor does not wish to be disturbed at the moment“
[Darth Vader uses his stranglehold.]
Darth Vader: „The Emperor will see me, now!“
Imperial Guard: „The Emperor will see you, now.“

Originally, this scene only involved two soldiers of the Imperial Guard - however, Moff Jerjerrod was added to the scene whom Vader has not much time for. Ultimately, it might be a good thing that this scene was cut since it would have underestimated/undermine Vader's position within the Empire. Even though he's only the Sith-pupil it still seems to be a little odd that a minor military officer can deny him the entrance to his master's throne room - apart from the fact that this scene contains an unnecessary comedic undertone.

IV. g) Further Scenes and Alternative Takes
Of course, there are some more short sequences, scenes, and dialogues from "Return of the Jedi" that were cut out. One example would be additional scenes of the battle for Endor. Actor Dermot Crowley (General Madine) alone had to come in for 5 additional pick ups of him inside his command module. None of these scenes were included in the final version of the movie. Palpatine's silent companions (Imperial bureaucrats) which can only be seen in the background during Palpatine's arrival were planned to play a more important visual role. This was cut out since it apparently was too confusing for the audience to see further Imperial characters and ranks).

Darth Vader's and Luke Skywalker's (handcuffed) arrival on the Death Star was shot as well.

In the final version of the movie, Chewbacca and Han do not bid goodbye to Lando.

Before the Emperor lands on the Death Star there's a short missing scene of Darh Vader and Moff Jerjerrod bolting towards the boarding bridge.

This is a comparison between the Theatrical Version (PG) - released on DVD in 2006 - and the Special Edition (PG) - released on VHS in 1997. Both versions were released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (note: this report was based on the German Versions).

Theatrical Version

Runtime: 130 minutes (PAL)
Rating: PG

Special Edition

Runtime: 130 minutes
Rating: PG

V. a) Comparison of the Image
The image was completely restored for the Special Edition. Contrast and colors were altered and adjusted. The image additionally received a fresh cell therapy by rescanning the original copies of the movie for the restoration. This also means that old effects shine like new (therefore, they are often mistaken to be a new/renewed CGI-effect). Additionally, they for some scenes chose a bigger image section.

The degree of difference between the Theatrical Version and the Special Edition is (due to the high quality of the producion and the further experiences in the range of Special Effects) is - as opposed to the predecessors - way smaller.

Here you see a brief comparison of the old Theatrical Version (on the left) and the Special Edition (on the right).

Note: The Special Edition was released on VHS only (apart from a strictly limited LaserDisc-Release), while the footage of the Theatrical Version originates from the DVD.

The revised image will from now on not be mentioned anymore.

V. b) Cuts
Let's come to the actual report. Here you will have a list of all the new/altered/extended scenes.

V. c) Changes of Images
For the Special Edition, old effects were revised but not completely digitally replaced. This is especially true for the tracing wheels of the spaceships as well as the old bluescreen material.

These changes won't be mentioned in this report.

As opposed to the predecessors, the degree of digital alterations of the image is rather marginal - they mostly narrow down to new digital characters that were added to the image or newer scene extensions. Nine times out of then, they don't add any contentual material to the original version and mostly do result in a difference in runtime.

For a better understanding, here's an example for a revised scene:

New Picture Elements: The Sarlacc was digitally enhanced - he now has jaws and tentacles.

V. d) Auditory Differences
This part especially concerns the English soundtrack. For the Special Edition-Release in 1997, some dialogues were altered; sometimes, they also re-inserted older dialogues. These alterations do not result in a difference in runtime.
Note: scenes from the Theatrical Version are always on the left, scenes from the Special Edition on the right. Exceptions are entirely new scenes in the Special Edition which weren't in the Theatrical Version. To make it simple, all differences are being listed chronologically and marked differently:

Modified image (equal content) = New characters, SFX or backgrounds have been added for instance.
New scene (equal content) = An old scene has been replaced by an entirely new animation.
Additional scene = New scenes which aren't in the Theatrical Version.
Sound modification = New dialogs, sound modifications.

0:00:00 | Modified image (equal content)
The FOX logo has been restored.

3 sec

0:00:06 | Modified image (equal content)
So has the LucasFilm logo.

8 sec

0:00:06 | Modified image (equal content)
The Intro text has been modified.

8 sec

0:00:22 | Modified image (equal content)
The scrolling text is slightly different.

Widescreen CollectionTHX Edition

Special EditionDVD Edition

0:07:48 | Modified image (equal content)
Acording to some sources, the color of Luke Skywalker's hologram has been modified. Due to the non-existent official statement and the fact that the differences are minimal, it's also possible that it just seems so because of the color correction in general. It's just being mentioned for the sake of completeness.

no difference

0:10:54 | New scene (equal content)
The entire musical performance of the Max Rebo Band in Jabba's palace has been shot again. There are some digital (and new) band members in it now and the musical number "Lapti Nek" by John Williams has been replaced by a new one, "Jedi Rocks" by Jerry Hey. Not only that new characters have been added, but also the main part itself has been show a second time. A couple of the old scenes have been combined with the new footage.

To not lose track, everything has been summarized to one single cut/difference, the scenes taken from the Theatrical Version are on the left. There are many scenes which are similar to the footage from the Special Edition, but after having that checked that out it turned out that the Special Edition contains a lot of alternate and unreleased footage plus the footage especially shot for the Special Edition.

Theatrical VersionSpecial Edition

72 sec

0:00:06 | Additional scene
The Max Rebo Band startles up and interrupts the performance when the slave Oola falls down the shaft because of Jabba.

1.5 se

0:12:02 | Additional scene
Now the fall of the slave, played by Femi Taylor btw. She's the actress in the original.

5 sec

0:12:17 | Additional scene
Oola looks up anxiously.

1.5 sec

0:12:17 | Additional scene
Suddenly the Rancor Gate opens, the slave screams.

6.5 sec

0:12:59 | Additional scene
A shot of Bobba Fett flirting with singer Rystáll Sant has been added. No difference in running time because it has been combined with a scene where Jabba talks for an extended period.

no difference

0:13:38 | Additional scene
Another shot of Bobba Fett has been added. He changes his position and leaves, right after he said goodbye to Rystáll Sant very smoothly. No difference in running time because it has been combined with a scene where Jabba talks for an extended period.

no difference

0:27:02 | Additional scene
Extended shot of Jabba's cathouse flying over the dunes.

14 sec

0:27:02 | Modified image (equal content)
The shadow under the flying boat has been restored.

no difference

0:27:12 | Modified image (equal content)
Here not only the shadow but also the flight position and the single barkes are new.

no difference

0:29:31 | Modified image (equal content)
The Sarlacc's tentacles are moving now.

no difference

0:28:03 | Modified image (equal content)
Movable tentacles and jaws have been added to the Sarlacc.

no difference

0:28:06 | New scene (equal content)
The old close-up of the Sarlacc has been replaced by a new CG shot.

2 sec

0:28:16 | Modified image (equal content)
Again some new digital tentacles on Sarlacc's body. Furthermore the mistake in the height of the second Speeder has been fixed.

no difference

0:28:48 | Modified image (equal content)
And again: tentacles and jaws.

no difference

0:29:15 | Modified image (equal content)
Jabba's hanchman gets caught by the tentacles.

no difference

0:29:23 | Modified image (equal content)
And a further hanchman for Sarlacc - directly in his jaws in the Special Edition.

no difference

0:30:11 | Modified image (equal content)
Now it's Boba Fett's turn. The Theatrical Version only contains an image that shows him getting lost in the whole - which wasn't his death because of his popularity. In spin-offs, he became the only black and white character who could ever escape from Sarlacc. The Special Edition shows him getting eaten instead (which makes it not suitable with the Expanded universe anymore). The followoing shot only contains a new tentacle, that's it.

no difference

0:29:23 | Modified image (equal content)
Again an upgrade of Sarlacc.

no difference

0:30:37 | Modified image (equal content)
One of the tentacles gets Lando.

no difference

0:31:01 | Modified image (equal content)
A goof has been fixed here. To not make it look like Han has super toes, he has a digital rope wrapped around his feet now.

no difference

0:31:14 | Modified image (equal content)
Another hanchman gets snacked by Sarlacc - this time with the jaws.

no difference

0:31:17 | Modified image (equal content)
Hard to see, aber existing: some tentacles grab Lando.

no difference

0:31:30 | Modified image (equal content)
Extended shot of a tentacle grabbing Lando plus new digital jaws.

1 sec

0:31:30 | Modified image (equal content)
Added jaws in the background.

no difference

0:31:44 | Sound modification
One single sentence has been changed for the Special Edition.

Theatrical Version:
Han Solo: "It's all right, trust me!"

Special Edition:
Han Solo: "It's all right, I can see a lot better!"

no difference

0:31:47 | Additional scene
Sarlacc screams after he got hit by Han's laser weapon.

1 sec

0:33:49 | Modified image (equal content)
Right before the cut, four Tie Fighters on their way to the Death Star just vanished into thin air. This has been corrected for the Speial Edition (I figure it can onlybe recognized if one knows where to look exactly).

no difference

1:57:12 | Modified image (equal content)
Some shockwaves have been added to the destruction of the second Death Star.

no difference

1:59:55 | Additional scene
Some scenes of victory-celebrating people on Bespin, Tatooine and Coruscant have been added. During the celebration on Coruscant, a Palpatine statue gets torn down.

Furthermore John Williams composed the track "Victory Celebration" which replaced the old Ewok song "Yub Nub".

no difference

2:00:04 | Additional scene
Tough to see but now some more Ewoks are dancing here.

no difference

2:00:04 | Additional scene
Two additional shots of celebrating Ewoks. Now Admiral Ackbar celebrates as well...

no difference

2:00:13 | Additional scene
Further (presumably alternate) shot of tge celebration on Endor.

no difference

2:00:19 | Additional scene
And another shot of the celebration.

no difference

2:00:55 | Additional scene
In the Special Edition, Luke and Wedge Antilles can congratulate each other for the victory.

2 sec

2:00:55 | Additional scene
The credits of the Special Edition have been insert and the song "Parade of the Ewoks" is being repeated.

59 sec

2:06:02 | Additional scene
The copyright has been re-adjusted.

59 sec

Official Poster-Art (USA):

International poster:

German VHS-releases:

• VHS: „Die Rückkehr der Jedi-Ritter“ CBS/Fox, Frankfurt 1986.
• VHS: „Die Rückkehr der Jedi-Ritter - Special Edition“ Fox Home Entertainment, Frankfurt 1997.
• DVD: „Star Wars - Episode VI: Die Rückkehr der Jedi-Ritter“ Fox Home Video, Frankfurt 2006.
• CD-ROM: „Star Wars: Behind the Magic“ LucasArts, Brunnfeld 1998.
• Deborah Fine: „Star Wars Chroniken“ Egmont Vgs, Köln 1997.
• Ralph McQuarrie: „The Art of Ralph McQuarrie“ Dreams and Visions Press, Campbell 2007.
• George Lucas: „The Return of the Jedi: The Illustrated Screenplay“, New York 1998.
• James Kahn: „Die Rückkehr der Jedi-Ritter“ Goldman Verlag, München 1985.
• Laurent Bouzereau: „Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays“, New York 1997.
Websites (abgerufen am 19.03.2010)
• George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan: „The Return of the Jedi - Revised Rough Draft, June 1981“
• George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan: „The Return of the Jedi - Shooting Script 1983“