Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

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Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Star Wars Episode VI cover.jpg
Directed by Richard Marquand
Produced by George Lucas
Howard Kazanjian
Written by George Lucas
Lawrence Kasdan
Starring Mark Hamill
Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Alan Hume
Editing by Sean Barton
Duwayne Dunham
Marcia Lucas
George Lucas
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) May 25, 1983
Running time 134 min
Country USA
Language English
Preceded by Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Followed by Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi is the third film released by George Lucas of his Star Wars series, though in the chronology, it is the sixth.


  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
  • Harrison Ford as Han Solo
  • Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa
  • Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian
  • Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
  • Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
  • Kenny Baker as R2-D2
  • David Prowse as Darth Vader (Bob Anderson would play Vader during the duel on the Death Star II.)
  • Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine
  • Warwick Davis as Wicket
  • Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett
  • Frank Oz as Yoda
  • Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker (Shaw would be partly replaced in the movie by Hayden Christensen in the 2004 DVD release of the film.)


Spoiler warning
This article contains important plot information

In the movie's opening scene, droids R2-D2 and C3-PO come to the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the galaxy's biggest crime lord (who is holding the frozen Han Solo prisoner), with a message from Luke Skywalker telling Jabba to release Han. Leia comes to the palace disguised as a bounty hunter and frees Han from the carbonite, but is captured by Jabba and made a slave. When Luke comes to the palace, Jabba drops him into a pit where he keeps a monster called a rancor. When Luke kills the monster, the enraged Jabba tells Luke, Han, and Chewbacca that they will be killed by being thrown into the Sarlacc pit.

Meanwhile, the Emperor has arrived on the partially constructed Death Star to survey the final phase of its building.

When Jabba's sail barge and the desert skiffs reach the pit, R2-D2, on the barge, throws Luke his lightsaber. In the ensuing battle and excitement, Leia strangles Jabba with her slave chain and helps Luke blow up the barge with a deck cannon.

Luke heads for Dagobah in his X-wing fighter and Han, Leia, R2, C3-PO, and Lando Calrissian join the Rebel fleet in the Millennium Falcon. Yoda, on Dagobah, tells Luke that it is true: Vader is his father and that to truly become a Jedi he must face him. Yoda, 900 years old, dies shortly afterward and Luke joins the Rebels, who have discovered that the Empire is constructing the Death Star above the forest moon of Endor. On Endor is a shield generator which protects the Death Star until its weapons systems are operational. Han is assigned to lead the assault team on Endor, and Lando Calrissian leads the Rebel fighters. Han lends him the Millennium Falcon for this purpose.

Using a captured Imperial shuttle, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia, and Luke, with a strike team of Rebels go to Endor with the intent to destroy the shield generator. Unbeknownst to them, the Emperor has set a huge number of Stormtroopers in ambush around the generator. The strike team meets up with some native tribes called "Ewoks" which are friendly and promise to aid them in attack. That night, Luke reveals to Leia that she is his sister and that he must confront Vader to turn him back to good. He turns himself in to Vader, but the Sith Lord tells him that "it is too late for me" and brings him up to the Death Star to the Emperor. The Emperor attempts to enrage Luke and turn him to evil, but Luke resists.

Meanwhile, the entire Rebel fleet drops out of hyperspace to attack the Death Star. As they approach it, their sensors tell them that the shield is still up and break off the attack, instead targeting the fleet of Star Destroyers which is standing by on the Emperor's commands.

The Rebels attack the shield generator building, only to discover the stormtroopers located in ambush. A fierce battle erupts in the forest, but, thanks to the Ewoks, the Rebels gain the upper hand and destroy the generator building.

Luke duels with Vader on the Death Star.

On the Death Star, the Emperor succeeds in making Luke angry and a lightsaber battle between Darth Vader and Luke begins. Luke fights mainly on the defensive, until Vader tells Luke that he can't be turned to the dark side, but perhaps Leia can. An enraged Luke attacks Vader, disarming him and cutting off his hand. The Emperor tells Luke to kill Vader and that if he does so, he will replace him. Luke, horrified, deactivates his lightsaber and throws it away, with the announcement "I am a Jedi, like my father before me."

The Emperor retaliates with Force lightning against Luke, badly wounding him. Luke calls to his father to save him, and Vader rebels, hurling Palpatine down a reactor shaft to his death, although he is badly injured by lightning in the process. As the Falcon and several other Rebel fighters speed to the Death Star's reactor room, Darth Vader tells Luke to unmask him so that he can look at him with his own eyes; as Vader cannot survive without the helmet, he dies shortly afterward. Luke brings out his body on a shuttle just as the station explodes, and later burns it in a funeral pile on Endor. At the end, the Force spirits of Yoda, Obi-Wan, and the freed Anakin appear to Luke.

Title Change

In the original teaser trailer, the film was named Revenge of the Jedi. Prior to the film's release, Lucas decided to change the title to Return of the Jedi. His reasoning for this was that a Jedi does not seek revenge. By the time this decision was made, posters had already been made with Revenge in the title. During production, the title Blue Harvest was used as to not let on that a Star Wars movie was being filmed.

Re-release controversy

In 2005, LucasFilm re-released all three of the original Star Wars films on DVD to coincide with the theatrical release of Revenge of the Sith. In the original version, Anakin was played by Sebastian Shaw, as both alive and a force ghost. However, in the re-released version, the force ghost version of Anakin was played by the actor in the Prequels, Hayden Christensen. Some fans perceived this as an insult to Shaw. The "Christensen" used in there was an archived version, and was not previously notified of his inclusion. Aside from this, there was also an added montage showing Bespin, Tatooine, Naboo, and Coruscant cheering over the Emperor's death with the implication that the entire galaxy was celebrating the fall of the Empire, with the Naboo section also featuring a sound-alike of Jar-Jar Binks declaring freedom. The scene was apparently added in by Lucas as a response to a poll on the fansite stating that life under the Empire wasn't actually bad, at least if you're human.


Of the three original films, Return of the Jedi is considered to be the weakest. In recent years, many fans have cited it to be the prototype, of sorts, of how things would be with the Prequel Trilogy. On a similar note, Return of the Jedi was also effectively the prototype to Lucas pushing his leftist views on the audiences via the Ewoks taking out the Empire on Endor, when Lucas stated that the Ewoks were meant to represent in his mind the Vietcong, and to a lesser extent promoting post-modernism via Obi-Wan's explanation of why he misled Luke into thinking Vader killed his father, which would later be expanded upon in the Prequel Trilogy. Bill Whittle in an episode of Afterburner relating to George Lucas's remarks on the Han Shot First controversy, noted when referencing this admission from Lucas that this effectively implied that the Empire, the villains of the trilogy whom viewers spent their childhoods rooting against, was meant to be America.[1]

Notes and references