Posted by: daveed | August 23, 2010

Return of a jedi

An in-theater recording (shot during a screening at Celebration V this month) of a deleted scene from Return of the Jedi has been making the rounds. In it, Luke Skywalker sits in a Tatooine cave putting the finishing touches on his lightsaber, presumably just before he sends the droids (who are also visible for a second) to Jabba the Hutt’s palace.

There’s been speculation that this scene will be made available on a Star Wars blu-ray edition, whenever that comes out. Even if the scene is a total fake, as some have speculated, George Lucas has done far worse with his other “improvements.”

Lucasfilm has been yanking the vid off the Tube as fast as users are reposting it, so watch it while you can.

My reaction? Very cool. Very, very cool…

Luke looks like a true warrior monk beneath his cowl which alludes to a more mysterious, darker depiction of the character—almost Sith-like. This, to my mind, shows how on the knife’s edge Luke is between the light and dark sides.

I wish the film stayed on this tack and further explored this more mystical side of Luke. His Zen-like passivity and initial disregard for his own life, coupled with his body language that tells us a truly awesome (and frightening) power slumbers within him. We see it in his “surrender” to his father, and later when he defies the Emperor.

It’s really the first glimpse we get of what a Jedi once was and could be again. Unfortunately, these brilliant moments are wedged between the messy and embarrassingly amateurish action scenes on the moon of Endor. Perhaps Mark Hamill’s acting abilities just weren’t up for the challenge, or Lucas wouldn’t let his director go too deep into character, but it seems an opportunity to give ROTJ gravitas and humanity was nearly lost.

Still, in rewatching ROTJ about a month ago, I was struck by how well it holds up, particularly how magnificent the third act is. Aside from the epic space battle which Star Wars is known for, the real heart of the film is the confrontation on the Death Star and the last stand between Jedi and Sith. Luke’s brief embrace of the dark side to overcome his father is one of the most beautifully shot sequences in the entire trilogy, and Darth Vader’s death still holds much of its emotional potency.

[h/t Christian @Stay on target]

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