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Return Of The Jedi Gave The Original Star Wars Trilogy The Ending It Needed

By the time we get to Starkiller Base in “The Force Awakens,” it does feel like “Star Wars” has become too reliant on the concept of “another Death Star” (and even defensive about it in dialogue). “Return of the Jedi” makes it work, though, as the full-throttle Rebel assault on the second Death Star unravels with the immortal Admiral Ackbar line, “It’s a trap!”

If a movie is made and remade three times over in the writing, directing, and editing, then as much credit should go to “Return of the Jedi” editors Marcia Lucas, Duwayne Dunham, and Sean Burns, as the triumvirate of George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan, and Richard Marquand. In “Icons Unearthed,” Dunham says Marcia Lucas “was the heart” of the Lucasfilm family and, “There wasn’t an emotional or dramatic scene that didn’t pass through Marcia’s hands.”

Lucas herself says, “Everything that had emotion, George wanted me to cut.” Not every emotion in “Return of the Jedi” tracks with “The Empire Strikes Back,” mind you. Han Solo’s war-room reunion with Lando Calrissian after he gets his sight back is entirely too affectionate and smiley when juxtaposed with all the mistrust and betrayal they went through in Cloud City. However, this goes along with shielding younglings in the audience from the Dark Side, where Han might have held a grudge and ended his bromance with Lando.

In reality, George Lucas announced his divorce from Marcia Lucas just three weeks after “Return of the Jedi” hit theaters. As Howard Kasanjian says in “Icons Unearthed,” “When Marcia and George divorced, we all hurt. It was the end of Camelot in some respects.” Yet for the sake of the moviegoing public, they held it together long enough to bring this trilogy across the finish line and keep it situated in the “New Hope” wheelhouse.



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