‘Return of the Jedi’ 40th Anniversary: A Much-Needed Reminder of Star Wars’ Greatness


“Return of the Jedi” (Courtesy of Lucasfilm and Disney)

By Zach Anderson, Arts Writer


On the week of May the 4th, or Star Wars Day, Lucasfilm and Disney released the 40th anniversary edition of the third installment in the Star Wars original trilogy, “Return of the Jedi.” I, like many other fans, have started to feel jaded with Star Wars as a whole because of the uninspired choices the franchise has been making lately. However, seeing “Return of the Jedi” in theaters brought back movie-going magic I haven’t had in years. I remembered exactly why Star Wars is as exciting and as fun as it was. Dazzling special effects, a wondrous world and a welcoming experience made for all movie-goers.

Putting the ‘Magic’ in Industrial Light and Magic

I was astounded by how the visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic restored the original film to a digital format.  The company enhanced the already amazing sound design and improved the visual fidelity so drastically, you could mistake “Return of the Jedi” for being filmed this year. From TIE fighters screeching through space to Ewoks blowing up AT-STs, I was engrossed by how eye-catching and auditorily pleasing everything was.

The only exception to these were the additions that George Lucas made in his 2004 re-releases of “Return of the Jedi.” These have never looked good and they will never look good. Remove them, Lucasfilm.

A Galaxy As Deep As It Is Large

Besides the revolutionary work ILM did in these movies, something that always left me with questions was the franchise’s world-building. Every new alien and planet makes you wonder about the secrets that this universe has to offer, and each question is better than the last. There are also smaller moments that show a universe that is far bigger than we’d ever conjure in our wildest imaginations.

Microstories about the Rancor’s keeper crying at the sight of his dead pet or the Ewoks mourning each other in the final battle give us an idea of the scope of this galaxy. There are still points in the main story that gets a little ridiculous, however. No matter how many times I watch this film, I can’t believe that a group of Ewoks could take down stormtroopers. Lucas can make me believe in space magic, but not that teddy bears can pierce laser-proof armor with spears.

Low Barrier to Entry

Despite all of these galactic inner workings, “Return of the Jedi” never stops being interesting to those that don’t know everything about the universe. I watched this movie with a few friends who didn’t know much about Star Wars going into it, but after the film ended, they were still just as wowed as I was. This is probably the biggest problem facing Star Wars media today. When a new show or movie is released, the stories they’re trying to tell are built upon pre-existing pieces of Star Wars media the creators assume viewers have already watched. To recapture Star Wars’ magic, Disney has to stop relying on nostalgia-baiting fans like this. Instead, they should focus on creating individual stories that stand the test of time, just as the original trilogy did.

In conclusion, the 40th-anniversary edition of “Return of the Jedi” was a treat and has made me determined to see the galaxy far, far away I know and love on the big screen once more.


[email protected]