Return Of The Jedi: Special Edition

Episode VI (1983) in George Lucas’s still-unfolding Star Wars toy catalog and clip collection, complete with its own set of Monarch Notes and marginally upgraded by a few images filched from Blade Runner, a few improvements on the special effects, and an occasional inflation of the music. In keeping with the prissiness of the trilogy as a whole, oedipal rage and incest are briefly flirted with and then strategically avoided, but there are enough cute, fluffy animals to stock a planet. The late Richard Marquand was in charge of direction (that is, realizing the storyboards), but if a few robots had carried out the same task we wouldn’t know the difference; similarly, we don’t see a human being in the flesh for the first 20-odd minutes of this movie, but the affective landscape hardly changes when we do. If the trilogy has grown at all over its course, Dave Kehr wrote of the original, unspecial edition, it’s in terms of commercial calculationeven the confusions of the narrative seem deliberately planted to encourage repeat viewings. Merchandising protocol deems that I consider Jedi superior to Fritz Lang’s sublime pulp extravaganza and 1959 diptych The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb, which isn’t even available in this country and has the disadvantage of coming across as poetry, but the sad fact is that this movie isn’t even developed enough to qualify as prose. (JR)

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