Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

“Be not afear’d: the isle is full of noises.”

William Shakespeare

So, I hear that England’s newest Duchess has given birth to a baby boy, with flagrant disregard for the laws of succession which were changed especially so that the new heir to the throne could be a girl.

And now it turns out that that’s probably not going to happen for a while yet.

Never mind. At least we have a new heir. And going with that theme, let us talk about the last film in the Star Wars franchise (at least until Disney’s monstrosity, Star Wars Episode VII: Yoda Sings about Fluffy Ewoks*, appears on our screens), Return of the Jedi, making a tenuous link with the renewal of an ancient order…I said it was tenuous.

SPOILER ALERT! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Return of the Jedi begins in a manner surprisingly reminiscent of A New Hope (episode III), with the two droids, C-3PO and R2D2, walking through a desert. This, it soon transpires, is all part of a plan to free Han Solo, smuggler and pilot extrodinaire, from the clutches of the dastardly gangster Jabba the Hutt. This takes about an hour and involves many people in bad masks being eaten by animatronic monsters.

But this is small fry compared to the real business of the film, which is the rebel alliance’s attempt to blow up the imaginatively-named Death Star II, a space station with, apparently, the exact same design as the first Death Star, in the hope that this will somehow, in that indefinable Hollywood way, Make Everything Better.

Still, it’s important to remember that the Star Wars sequence is essentially a fairy-tale set in space. Fairy-tales are not known for their strategic complexity or detailed character development, but they are known for their darkness, and, my, there’s plenty of that here. Luke Skywalker, last of the Jedi, has to come to terms with the fact that his father is none other than Darth Vader, the evil Emperor’s lieutenant and the enemy the rebels have been fighting for over two decades.

And, let’s face it, that’s a damn good story however you spin it.

How else have the Star Wars films survived for twenty years in a genre that ages as quickly as computing power increases? (And, remember, according to Moore’s Law computing power doubles every two years.) The films certainly look dated (I refer you again to the bad masks and animatronic robots that haunt Jabba’s lair), so it isn’t any stunning feat of technical wizardry. The release of the prequel trilogy might have helped, I suppose, but most people still seem to prefer the original trilogy. I think the survival of Star Wars boils down to the fact that the story is a good one, the characters are relatable, and, well, that last scene? With all the people dancing on all the planets? And everyone hugging each other? That’s a scene that still makes me smile. Light after deep darkness, and courage rewarded: the oldest story of all, and still one of the best.

And the Ewoks. Let us not forget the Ewoks, probably my favourite alien race in all of science fiction. They’re like little cuddly teddy bears! How can anyone not like them?

*I made this title up. Obviously. But I wouldn’t trust Disney as far as I could throw it.

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