krpalmer: (mimas)
[personal profile] krpalmer
After the tenth anniversaries of the Star Wars Special Edition and the Empire Strikes Back Special Edition, the anniversary of the Return of the Jedi Special Edition has rolled around in turn. At the time, I was at least as interested in going to see it as I'd been for The Empire Strikes Back: it would also mark the first time I'd seen it on the wide screen in a movie theatre. I've come to wonder just how I missed it in 1983: back then, I was certainly aware of and interested in the approach of the next Star Wars movie, but for all that I read the movie's magazines, collected the bubble gum cards, waited to be able to get "The Art of" book and signed the "Sketchbook" out of the freshly equipped library of the new local elementary school again and again the autumn after, I did all of it without the slightest thought of going to the theatre too... but the explanation for that may be nothing more sinister than that my family wasn't (and never has been) big moviegoers; the specific thought, unconnected to reading, may just have eluded all of us. The year before, I'd collected the E.T. bubblegum cards, but I'd never asked go see it either and my parents hadn't brought the subject up...

(In mentioning E.T., though, I do find myself wondering about its own twentieth-anniversary rerelease, which I heard about on a morning radio show at the time, but which honestly didn't seem to make much of an impression on anyone... except for those tossing out sour, sniggering comments about how Steven Spielberg had "wimped out" just like George Lucas. It's troubling to wonder if the movie was sideswiped by those who had spent five years already working themselves into a lather over the Special Editions... just as it's troubling to wonder if the appeal E.T. had for so many in 1982 couldn't adapt over time in even the way many people seemed to wind up summing up Star Wars as an "interstellar insurgency.")

Still, while I was interested enough in seeing the Return of the Jedi Special Edition, it took me just a little longer to get around to it. We weren't that close to final exams, it now seems, but there was no large residence college trip on the Saturday after opening night this time; I went instead on discount Tuesday with a smaller group of acquaintances from the church group I attended at the time. Nor were there articles in the student newspaper this time around, cheerful and chatty as before or otherwise... but, I can suppose, the late 1990s were a dark time for the movie. Founded on a sturdy core of Ewok-loathing (and I did find myself wondering if the trailers skipped lightly over them), the opinion that Return of the Jedi was a damp squib inexplicably trailing the postmodern yet unfulfilled darkness of The Empire Strikes Back held a heavy sway in the circles I was aware of. The novels and comics of the Expanded Universe may not have helped either, declaring the movie as they did to mark nothing more than a shift in the galactic power balance, one small step on the long decline of the Empire and its beautiful machines. With the Emperor able to resurrect himself in the "Dark Empire" comics, Darth Vader had done nothing more than rescue his son, and not many people seemed to quite get a reason for that anyway.

Every once in a while, I wondered myself about what an alternative conclusion could be... and yet, in struggling with trying to think of something that would have action and excitement too, the feeling that Return of the Jedi was the conclusion kept sticking with me. The movie went well enough for me and the group at the time, although my quest to find some unannounced change that surprised me only went so far as the Bantha herd on Tatooine. Nowadays, mind you, all the controversy is manufactured around the DVD edition and the appearance of the young Anakin in it, which annoys me because it seems to hold clear anti-new movie and anti-Hayden Christensen sentiments. I keep resorting to asking myself, in an annoyed way, why it's clear that Hayden is "unfit to stand alongside Sir Alec Guinness" when everyone else gets the pass of saying they just weren't directed...

Still, I think I've at least sorted things out for myself, if starting most of all through reading a really excellent essay by [livejournal.com profile] fernwithy. The thought that the new movies were an elaborate effort to clarify things about Return of the Jedi has tickled me at times, although that does leave me wondering if some hypothetical remake in the future will end up clarifying them for the others who don't seem so much disagreeable to the thought as just altogether unaware of it.

Date: 2007-03-15 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lazypadawan.livejournal.com
I almost completely forgot about today's 10th anniversary! Oh, the memories.

Date: 2007-03-15 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krpalmer.livejournal.com
If three anniversaries in six weeks is a bit much to keep track of, then maybe three Star Wars movies being rereleased theatrically in six weeks could be a bit much too. That could help explain why there was no grand outing to go see the Return of the Jedi Special Edition... but, as I said, things worked out well for me and the little group I went with.

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