I like the ewoks. I always liked the ewoks. Let us just get that out right away. I was seven when Return of the Jedi came out, and barring false memories, I even remember going to see it at the theater at the mall in Eagle Rock. I had already seen the prior two films more than a few times. I had behind-the-scenes books, comics, storybooks, activity books... These (among others):
And, action figures. Lots of action figures. More from Return of the Jedi than from the previous two films combined, probably. Because, I bought a lot of action figures later at yard sales and flea markets, I am not entirely clear on just how many action figures I had at any given time. I know that I never owned an X-Wing (until just a handful of years ago when I invested in the tabletop game Star Wars: X-Wing, which is awesome, by the way), I didn't have an AT-AT until the mid- to late-80s, and it was missing the side door and the electronic bits. I had Jabba and his throne, and I think I might even still have the Salicious Crumb that came with it in a box somewhere. But, I never had the slave Leia figure--and instead had to hook the collar onto Bespin Leia--until the Power of the Force figure in the 90s. At that point, new figures stayed in the package and hung on my wall. In 1983, though, I played with all my action figures all the time.
Including the members of the Max Rebo Band--which, by the way, Sy Snootles is a much better performer than whoever was singing in the Special Edition. There was a time that I obsessed about Star Wars stuff, those Special Editions sort of started the end of that, so I actually don't know the names of the new members of the big-band swing-style Max Rebo Band. They were in 1983 (or, rather, a long time before that, in a galaxy far far away) Max Rebo, Droppy McCool and Sy Snootles.
And, weird thought in passing: it might actually be perfectly legal by local Tatooine law for Jabba to take Leia as his slave, and Chewbacca and Han as his prisoners, and even to drop Luke into the Rancor's pit--and the Rancor is still awesome (I'm watching a VHS from before the Special Edition same as the prior two, by the way, in case you have not been keeping up with this blog). I mean, Luke and his entourage are the interlopers. And really, since Luke grew up there, he should know better. Or he knows full well how awful Jabba is as a local mob boss/warlord...
And now I'm imagining the revolution that takes place on Tatooine in the power vacuum created by Jabba's death, and I kinda want to see that movie.
And, now the Emperor is on screen and I am tempted to complain that we don't know enough about his backstory like some clever nerds did back in December after some less-clever nerds complained about Snoke not having a backstory in the latest Star Wars...
And, mid-sentence there, I got distracted watching the movie
and talking with my son about stuff like how Frank Oz deserves a lifetime achievement award, because Yoda's death scene is great.
And then, the film kept playing, and I kept forgetting to say things.
Which is how it goes with these films. Either I start digging to find what is wrong with them, like how did this movie warp my young mind all those years ago. Or, I get involved all rose-colored lens style and forget why I'm sitting on the floor with my iPad in front of me.
Regardless of which of these old movies I'm watching, by the way. Not just Return of the Jedi. Though I know damn well how Return of the Jedi damaged me when I was young. It fueled my obsession with movies and with fantasy, because compared to so many other movies grounded in everyday reality, this one (and the previous two) was telling me that the sky was a limit (or maybe there was no limit). I've cited Roger Ebert's review of the Star Wars Special Edition before, but not this bit:
The film philosophies that will live forever are the simplest-seeming ones. They may have profound depths, but their surfaces are as clear to an audience as a beloved old story. The way I know this is because the stories that seem immortal--"The Odyssey," "Don Quixote," "David Copperfield," "Huckleberry Finn"--are all the same: A brave but flawed hero, a quest, colorful people and places, sidekicks, the discovery of life's underlying truths.
It's a nice line except, I'm not sure anyone in Star Wars "discovers" life's underlying truths. The film may play on some themes universal like underlying truths, but it's not about the discovery thereof. Also, in a prior part of his review, Roger calls the film science fiction. So, as much as I like the guy, he cannot be completely trusted.
Still, the Star Wars trilogy offers up a fantasy for anyone, especially a kid like I was. You could play at being Han, play at being Luke, play at being Leia, play at being Lando, or even play at being Vader, because someone has to be the antagonist. You can fly spaceships, duel with lightsabers, meet fascinating creatures and maybe have to kill them, overthrow local and galactic governments. Or you can make good friends that will probably last you a lifetime. Or, all of the above.
The big screen in a darkened theater, the bigger screen in the dark of your mind. The sky was the limit.