The new ending cuts away from Luke cremating Vader (just as the Ewoks kick off their festivities) to shots of citizens celebrating on Bespin, Tatooine, and Coruscant (with the 2004 DVD release also adding Naboo to the mix). “Yub Nub” was replaced with a John Williams melody, “Victory Celebration,” which is the icing on the cake for this ending.
The original celebration was perfectly fine as a fairy tale ending to the fantasy story George Lucas was telling. We saw the main Rebel forces and the Ewoks celebrating, with the tribal sounds of “Yub Nub” and the low-key party fitting the idea of the primitive Ewoks defeating the futuristic Empire. But the new version is so much more. For starters, Williams’ score is rousing, victorious, the culmination of an epic conflict, with the montage serving as a coda to the Rebellion. The short shots of people celebrating are the only times in the original trilogy that we see how the general public reacts to the Rebellion and get to watch them cheer the Rebels on.
At the time, it made sense we didn’t see more of this. There’s simply not enough room (or budget) in the original trilogy to pull the focus away from the main storylines to show what random “Star Wars” citizens are doing elsewhere. The result made the war against the Empire look relatively simple, almost easy.
Over the past decade, however, Lucasfilm has turned its attention to the years before the destruction of the original Death Star and the first major victory of the Rebellion. Movies like “Rogue One,” shows like “Rebels” and “Andor,” video games like “Fallen Order” and “Jedi Survivor,” and even the entirety of the prequel trilogy have shown that the path to victory was no fairy tale.