Return of the Jedi

I worked on my grades and submitted them.  I heard the sad news that Patty Duke had died at age 69.  I gave a decent lecture, but I was glad to get away.  I saw Albert Brooks on the Tonight Show rerun from May 17, 1983.  I didn’t want to watch Brooke Shields talk about lemurs, so I put on the Blu-ray disc of “Return of the Jedi.”  I didn’t see that high definition added greatly to the experience of watching this film.  I felt some nostalgia for those days of 1983.  I was reminded of how skinny Carrie Fisher’s face looked in this movie.  I thought it was a little bit frightening.  I thought the scene with Princess Leia taking the chain and choking Jabba the Hut with it was quite disturbing, especially in a movie that children would see.  It was a murder of the type you don’t see in family movies.  I would say that I’ve come to despise the special editions of the Star Wars movies.  The added special effects don’t look all that good, and I don’t see that the stories are fuller or more meaningful.  Perhaps the biggest reasons for my dislike of the changed version of “Return of the Jedi” is the appearance of Hayden Christensen.  Did any Star Wars fan actually like watching him?  He was only two years old in 1983.  Seeing him in “Return of the Jedi” is polluting my memory of this movie.  What happened to George Lucas’ sense of judgment?  The worst part of this movie is the resolution of the love triangle.  Luke was supposed to go on a search for his lost sister, which would have made sense considering the way his relationship with Leia was shown in the previous episode.  The change affected the next three episodes and contributed to their dumbness.  I thought the action scenes in the forest were good, although I don’t believe that people can just hop on strange machines and operate them with total command and confidence.  Maybe with the technology that goes into self-driving cars, people will avoid crashing into trees and such even using unfamiliar vehicles.  I felt a Muppet influence that went beyond Yoda in this movie.  I probably didn’t mind the Ewoks when I originally saw this movie, but now I find them amazingly annoying.  They are teddy bears gone crazy, somewhat in the vein of the Gremlins of 1984.  The scene where they’re about to cook Luke and Han Solo shows that deep down they’re not too likable.  I can’t respect the Ewoks when they’re going to kill people one moment, and then they’re working with them the next.  They also had some concept of a golden gold which was laughable.  I don’t know if I’m supposed to respect creatures called Ewoks in the first place because they are just one component of the spectacle that Lucas has created.  I can say that watching them brought back a bit of the odor of “Willow,” which I’ve been trying to forget ever since I first saw it in 1988.  Two key characters die in “Return of the Jedi,” which is quite terrible when you sit down and assess the wreckage.  I guess that Force lightning allows the violence to seem less brutal than actual physical contact, but then it makes it look like Luke is just acting with his screams.  It’s like he’s pretending as kids do.  It was rather a letdown to see Darth Vader’s softness, both in his action against the Emperor and seeing the flesh of his face.  It seemed that there were other possibilities for this story to end.  Lucas could have shown some guts in giving us a moody ending with Luke, but then Star Wars fans would have been up in arms, as it would have taken 32 years to get back to Luke.  I wrote down some notes and figured that if Lucas had gone on to make Star Wars movies at the rate of one every three years since 1977, we would be seeing Episode 14 this year.  Maybe if Lucas hadn’t gone through a divorce, he would have gone back to the Star Wars series.  It would have been good to see what Han Solo was up to during some of those years.  However, Lucas would have needed a huge amount of help in writing all those scripts, and I don’t think that even Lawrence Kasden could have supplied enough fresh ideas to keep the ship going for all that time.  One thought that I came away with after this viewing was how Kylo Ren could be in possession of Darth Vader’s helmet, which was in a fire at the end of this movie.  When I did an Internet search of this question, I was led to the short story by Delilah S. Dawson titled “The Perfect Weapon,” featuring the character Bazine Netal.  I guess I’m going to have to fork over a couple of dollars if I want to read the story.  I refuse to buy the Star Wars Blu-ray discs if they aren’t the original theatrical versions.  The thought of Hayden Christensen where he doesn’t belong is too much for me.  Why did you do it, George Lucas?  Why did you impose that image upon us?  You didn’t replace Alec Guinness with Ewan McGregor.  You are making no sense to us.  When I looked at Lucas’ director credits, I saw that the only really notable ones were for “THX 1138,” “American Graffiti,” and four of the Star Wars movies.  Irvin Kershner, who directed “The Empire Strikes Back,” also worked on “A Fine Madness,” “The Flim-Flam Man,” and “Never Say Never Again.”  He died in 2010 at age 87.  Richard Marquand, the director of “Return of the Jedi,” also directed “Eye of the Needle” and “Jagged Edge.”  He died in 1987 at age 49.  J.J. Abrams has directed “Star Trek” and “Super 8,” and he is 49 years old.  Is the Lucas Museum ever going to be built in Chicago?  Should I bother watching the rest of the Star Wars movies on Blu-ray, or should I go back to watching the old DVDs?  Some of the people who died on March 30 include James Cagney (1986), Fred Korematsu (2005), Michael Dibdin (2007), Dith Pran (2008), Jaime Escalante (2010), and Phil Ramone (2013).  Today is a birthday for Norah Jones (37), Tracy Chapman (52), MC Hammer (54), Robbie Coltrane (66), Eric Clapton (71), Warren Beatty (79), and John Astin (86).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 30, Barbra Streisand’s television special “Color Me Barbra” was broadcast on CBS in 1966.  In 1985, Phil Collins’ “One More Night” was Number One on the singles chart.  In 1988, the Tim Burton movie “Beetlejuice” was released.  In 1990, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” was released.

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