Thursday, August 8, 2013

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)


Yoda: No more training do you require. Already know you, that which you need.
Luke: Then I am a Jedi.
Yoda: No. Not yet. One thing remains. Vader. You must confront Vader. Then, only then, a Jedi will you be. And confront him you will.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... 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 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...

Almost 3 years to the day, "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" made its U.S.-wide premiere on May 25, 1983 ("Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" premiered on May 21, 1980).  Whereas "The Empire Strikes Back" premiered both in the U.S. and in the U.K. on the same date, it wouldn't be the case with "Return of the Jedi."  The U.K. would have to wait at least a week later.  Hong Kong, Japan, and other countries would wait at least a month later, if not longer.

With the screenplay written by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas (based on a story he conceived), "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" was directed by Richard Marquand.  Born in Cardiff, Wales (my mum's birthplace), this would be Richard's fourth feature film having already given us the acclaimed "Eye of the Needle" in 1981.  In 1984, Richard spoke of the possibility of directing one of the prequels to the Star Wars saga, saying, "One, two and three are going to be very interesting, if [George Lucas] is ever able to start writing. Steven Spielberg and I would like to. It's a very interesting part of the saga, the early days. The youth of Ben Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker is really important. It's a very different world. Technology is different, means of communication are different. Sentiments are different. But it will take a long time, I'm afraid so. It's just a fact we will have to face. Good things come in threes, and all good things come to an end. That's just one of the realities of life. Your kids may see it."  Sadly, Richard died four years later in Tunbridge Well, Kent, Enland at the age of 49.  But he was right... Our kids did see it.

"Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" was nominated for four Academy Awards which included Best Art/Set Decoration, Best Effects/Sound Effects Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Sound.  Sadly, it didn't win in any of those categories.  However, it did receive a Special Achievement Award for its Visual Effects.  It also won a BAFTA in that category.

Reprising their roles were Mark Hamill (Luke), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia, and David Prowse (Darth Vader).  The voice of Vader, of course, was that of James Earl Jones.  "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" also saw the return of Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Sir Alec Guinness (Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi), Kenny Baker (R2-D2 and Ewok, Paploo), and the voice of Frank Oz (Yoda).

Filmed in various locations in California such as Death Valley National Park, Redwood National Park, Crescent City and Buttercup Valley, "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" cost an estimated $32.5 million to make and earned over $309.1 million overall, making it the #1 Box Office hit of 1983.

Here's some more information you might like to know regarding the making of this film...

1.  Originally to be titled "Revenge of the Jedi" but producers thought Jedis wouldn't seek revenge, being so righteous and all. Some posters and theater stand-ups were made early, but pulled very soon as the title changed names.

2.  David Lynch was originally offered the chance to direct this episode of the series. He turned it down because he believed it was "Lucas' thing." He went on to direct "Dune" instead.  Director David Cronenberg was also offered the chance to direct.
3.  According to the documentary "Empire of Dreams", Steven Spielberg was George Lucas' first choice to direct, but Spielberg had to decline because he is a member of the Directors' Guild (Lucas dropped his Guild membership over disagreements about "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back." As a result, Lucas hired the relatively unknown (and at the time non-union) Welsh director Richard Marquand.   
4.  According to a magazine interview with Irvin Kershner in May 2004, Kershner states that Richard Marquand didn't direct all of "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi", it was Kershner's assistant director and George Lucas who took over after the actors didn't respond very well to Richard Marquand. The relationship between Marquand and George Lucas was said to be bad. On the DVD commentary, however, George Lucas claims he worked quite well with Marquand.
5.  George Lucas fired his friend and producer of the previous two Star Wars movies, Gary Kurtz, before production began (although some sources say he simply quit on his own) as Kurtz disagreed with Lucas' assertion that audiences didn't care for the story but for the spectacle.
6.  Ian McDiarmid, a prolific stage actor, based his character's unusual voice on the Japanese method of using your stomach to project yourself. The result was a strange, guttural croak.
7.  Originally, George Lucas was disapproving of Richard Marquand's choice in casting Ian McDiarmid as The Emperor. The choice eventually grew on Lucas, as he eventually went on to cast McDiarmid as the younger version of the same character in the next three episodes of the Saga.   
8.  Before filming began, it was discovered that all of Darth Vader's lightsaber props had either been lost or stolen. Thus, one of Luke Skywalker's "stunt" saber props from "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" had to be quickly cannibalized into a "Vader-esque" saber for this film.  The design of Luke's new light saber is directly based on the one used by Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope". In fact, one of Obi-Wan's "stunt" saber props was reused in "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" as Luke's.
9.  According to Anthony Daniels, it only took him less than 10 minutes to put on the C-3P0 outfit, unlike the last two films were it took him two hours.   
10.  Michael Carter was cast as Bib Fortuna in this movie after casting director Mary Selway saw him appearing in the play "The Streets of London" in 1981. It took over eight hours of make-up to first transform him into Jabba the Hutt's Twi'lek advisor. By the end of his five-week shoot, make-up artist Nick Dudman had streamlined the process down to 58 minutes. Removing the make-up took another 25 minutes.
11.  The growls and sounds of the Rancor in Jabba's Palace were actually made by a dachshund.
12.  10 puppeteers, 9 mime artists, 42 extras, 18 principles, supported by a crew of 90 worked almost a month on the Jabba's Palace sequence.
13.  The Jabba the Hutt puppet took Stuart Freeborn's team three months to build, cost $500,000 to make and weighed 2000lbs.
14.  It took six people to work the full-sized animatronic of Jabba the Hutt.   
15.  The slithery noises made when Jabba the Hutt moves were created by sound-man Ben Burtt running his hands through a cheese casserole.
16.  The Huttese language spoken by Jabba the Hutt was inspired by the Incan language Quechua.
17.  The main chamber of Jabba's palace is connected to the entrance by a short flight of steps. When filming the scene where R2-D2 enters the chamber it was discovered that the droid could not roll down the stairs. In the movie we see R2-D2 approaching the stairs, then the camera moves to the left past the steps and the droid re-enters the field of view, having been manually hauled down the stairs.  (Oops... Just a minor faux pas.)
18.  There were several versions of Carrie Fisher's slave costume. One was made of metal form-fit to her body. Another was made of rubber and was used for stunt scenes because it was more comfortable. Costume designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers says that the inspiration for Leia's slave outfit came from the artwork of Frank Frazetta, which often focused on the female form.
19.  Carrie Fisher complained about her costumes in the previous two movies. She said they were so long, you could not tell "she was a woman". Those complaints led to the skimpy outfit she wore as Jabba's prisoner. The costume became something of a running joke among the crew, because the metal framework that held the top together meant that the costume didn't move well with her. Since Fisher didn't like the industry standard solution of using double-sided tape, it became necessary before each take to have a wardrobe person check to ensure that her breasts were still snug inside the costume top (and several scenes had to be re-shot when "wardrobe malfunctions" occurred).
20.  Jabba's sail barge was filmed in Yuma, Arizona. The film crew had problems avoiding the 35,000 dune buggy enthusiasts in the area. To preserve secrecy, the producers claimed to be making a horror film called "Blue Harvest" with the tagline "Horror beyond imagination", and even had caps and t-shirts made up for the crew. A chain-link fence and a 24-hour security service could not prevent die-hard fans from entering the set and sneaking some photographs.
21.  For security reasons, when the film was sent to the lab, it was sent under the title "Blue Harvest". The title was inspired by the Dashiell Hammett story "Red Harvest", which was the inspiration for "Yojimbo", directed by Akira Kurosawa, one of the favorite directors of George Lucas.
22.  The film originally included a sandstorm scene that occurred after Han's rescue. It was cut because it was unnecessary and was hectic to shoot.   
23.  During the shot in which Salacius Crumb (the small, annoying, rat-like thing that sits with Jabba in his palace) is chewing off C-3P0's eye, Anthony Daniels had a panic attack while in the C-3P0 suit. While filming, he didn't actually say his lines (all his lines were dubbed in post-production anyway), but repeated "Get me up. Get me up." over and over. This take is the take used in the final film.
24.  Whilst clambering over Jabba the Hutt, one of the high heels that Carrie Fisher was wearing accidentally punctured the latex casing and pierced Mike Edmonds who was operating the tail inside.   
25.  Portions of the partially completed Death Star model resemble the San Francisco skyline.
26.  In the DVD 2004 release, George Lucas explained the reason behind why Yoda told Luke that Darth Vader was his father. Lucas had consulted with a child psychologist during the making of the film. The psychologist said that unless it was unequivocally stated that Vader was Luke's father, moviegoers age 12 and under would dismiss Vader's claim to be Luke's father as a lie.
27.  Originally, Yoda was not in the film's script. Yoda was added when Lucas determined him best to properly confirm to Luke as to whether Vader was his father or not.
28.  Sir Alec Guinness filmed his cameo in just a day.
29.  The primitive warrior tribe at the end of this film was originally supposed to be a tribe of Wookiees. In pre-production, though, the decision was made to go to short creatures with short fur rather than very tall creatures with longer fur and, hence, the Ewoks were created (Ewok may very well have been created by rearranging the sounds in the word "Wookiee").
30.  The Endor shots were filmed near Crescent City, California. Forest work was especially hard on the Ewok actors.  Production Assistant Ian Bryce arrived on the set one day to find a note from the Ewok actors saying that they had all had enough and they were on their way to the airport. Bryce tried to drive to the airport, but got a flat tire not far from the set. He found another car and was about to leave when the Ewoks' bus pulled up, and all the Ewok actors got off wearing "Revenge of the Ewok" t-shirts.   
31.  Several Ewok lines are in the Filipino (Tagalog) language. Most Ewok lines, however, were inspired by the Kalmuck language, spoken by nomadic tribes living in Central China.
32.  The word Ewok is never spoken in the movie, nor are the individuals (Wicket, Paploo, etc.) referred to by name.
33.  Kenny Baker's Ewok character, Paploo, was supposed to find Princess Leia unconscious after the speeder bike sequence, but Baker got a case of food poisoning before the scene was going to be filmed, so Warwick Davis' character, Wicket, became the Ewok who finds Leia.
34.  One of the words C-3PO uses to communicate with the Ewoks is "naboo" which is the name of Queen Amidala's planet in "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace".
35.  As the Californian forest location the production was using was due for logging, the special effects crew were allowed to knock trees down in the Battle of Endor.
36.  Sound designer Ben Burtt got the opportunity to operate the mike boom in the dialogue scene between Luke and Leia on Endor. He didn't know the entire scene would take almost 3 minutes to shoot, so he got very tired holding up the microphone, and nearly dropped it on Carrie Fisher's head.
37.  The point-of-view shots for the speeder bike sequence were achieved by having a camera operator walk through the forest at normal speed with a camera filming at one frame per second. When the footage was played back at twenty four frames per second, it gave the appearance of flying through the forest at high speeds.   
38.  When sound designer Ben Burtt was working on the sound effects for the speeder bike chase, he tried to emulate Treg Brown's sound effect work on the Road Runner cartoons as closely as possible.   
39.  Extras comprising of 130 Imperials, 40 Ewoks, and a cast and crew of 150 were used in the scene where the rebels are rounded up outside of the shield bunker, just before the final battle starts.
40.  In the movie, when Han and Leia are trapped by two troopers as they attempt to get access through to the shield generator, Han confesses his love for Leia by saying "I Love You" to which Leia responds with "I know". This is an exact reverse of a similar conversation that took place between the two in "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" when Han is about to be frozen.   
41.  At one point during the battle on Endor, Leia turns towards a Scout "Chicken" Walker and shoots a man who is either standing on or leaning out of the top. This man is rumored to be none other than the director, Richard Marquand, who also did the voice for the interrogator droid EV 9D9. His voice was run through a ring modulator to give the proper mechanic-sounding effect.   
42.  Harrison Ford suggested that Han Solo sacrifice his life to save his friends, but George Lucas disagreed with him, as he wanted Han to play a heroic part at the end.  George Lucas had a script policy which was carried over to the novel-writing policy today: Any characters from the trilogy cannot be killed off by any means - which explained the reason he overruled Harrison Ford's suggestion of killing Han Solo off.
43.  Cameo: Ben Burtt as the Imperial officer in the bunker who says "Freeze!" and gets knocked into the generator room by a thrown satchel. When he falls over the edge, he attempts to emulate the Wilhelm scream, which he made famous.
44.  At the time, the climactic battle in outer space featured more optical effects in one scene than had ever been previously committed to film.   
45.  The radiating shafts making up the floor of the second Death Star's reactor core are actually 1,500 fishing rods.   
46.  Darth Vader's footsteps were recorded in underground tunnels by the Golden Gate Bridge to help create an ominous effect.
47.  David Prowse has said that he did not take part in any of the lightsaber-fighting sequences. As with "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back", the film's sword master, Bob Anderson played Darth Vader during the duel sequence, wearing platform shoes and careful filming to make up for the height difference.      
48.  The raspy, labored breathing heard from Darth Vader after he kills the Emperor was originally meant to be how his breathing sounded when he was first introduced in "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope". The sound of this labored breathing was kept and used for this film.   
49.  Listen very carefully as Darth Vader picks up the Emperor and throws him down the Death Star shaft. This is the only time the Jedi theme music plays over a shot of Vader, reflecting his return to the light side of the Force. 
50.  David Prowse, who played Darth Vader's body in three films, was unaware of the planned unmasking scene in which a different actor, Sebastian Shaw, played Vader's face.
51.  One of the songs that the Ewoks sing sounds like: "Det luktar flingor här", which is Swedish for "It smells of cereal here." (In fact, that line's lyrics are supposedly, "G'noop dock fling oh ah.") Another song sounds identical to a song sung in "Caveman" (1981).
52.  John Williams' son Joseph Williams, the lead singer if the pop/rock band Toto, collaborated on part of the score, and wrote lyrics for the Ewoks songs.
53.  The 1997 CD-ROM Star Wars: Behind the Magic confirms that the sequence showing the cremation of Vader's body/armor was directed by George Lucas himself.
54.  Darth Vader's funeral pyre was added at the very last minute, long after principle photography and pick-ups had wrapped. The scene was thrown together and shot near the hills of Skywalker Ranch.   
55.  It is rumored that a different ending was shot, but discarded later on. It featured the (long awaited) marriage between Leia Organa and Han Solo. In the Star Wars "Expanded Universe" books, they go on to marry and raise a brood.
56.  Cinematographer Alan Hume had a falling-out with the producers late in production, mainly owing to the fact that he felt they were mistreating Richard Marquand. Hume was never officially sacked, but most of the photography in the last month of production was supervised by camera operator Alec Mills.
57.  Unlike other Star Wars installments, "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" was shot and completed in less than one year. Photography was done within January 1982 - May 1982.
And now you know.
Something else you might not have known is that "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" was first film ever to gross over $20 million in its opening weekend.  And... for you Star Wars fans...
An Episode VII is in its pre-production stages of which J. J. Abrams is directed (he brought us "Star Trek", "Super 8", and "Star Trek Into Darkness).  It is rumored that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford will reprise their roles.  Since "Episode VII" is slated for a 2015 release, my guess is the rumor is reality.  It just hasn't been announced yet.  You know... another Hollywood secret.
Anyway, for now, enjoy the following picture stills from "Return of the Jedi" including some rare behind-the-scenes pictures...









Darth Vader: Luke... help me take this mask off.
Luke: But you'll die.
Darth Vader: Nothing... can stop that now. Just for once... let me... look on you with my *own* eyes.
[Luke takes off Darth Vader's mask one piece at a time. Underneath, Luke sees the face of a pale, scarred, bald-headed, old man - his father, Anakin. Anakin sadly looks at Luke]
Anakin: Now... go, my son. Leave me.
Luke: No. You're coming with me. I'll not leave you here, I've got to save you.
Anakin: You already... have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister... you were right.
[Anakin slumps down in death]
Luke: Father... I won't leave you.

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