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Is Acceptance of ROTJ the Root of ST Creativity and Audience Dislike?

Discussion in 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' started by The Birdwatcher, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. The Birdwatcher

    The Birdwatcher Rebel Trooper

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    So, in light of the new film coming out, I've had some thoughts for a while that I'm willing to share.

    ROTJ seems widely and wildly praised by fans, often nostalgically. They are reluctant to hate the film or address key structural problems, instead identifying a single problem or thing that doesn't work. I.e. The ewoks are bad, but the throne room scene is cool.

    Or, they will say that ANH and ESB are better films than ROTJ, but ROTJ is a good film.

    Now, I am not dismissive of the work put into ROTJ. Joe Johnston and his crew of special effects people put a lot of effort into the film (they even used a Xerox printer for the Tie fighter sequence and had to line it up carefully).

    It's a film with a lot of effort, but it's contributed to a lot of baggage for future films.

    ROTJ is also emotionally satisfying, but I am reluctant to call it logically satisfying. I don't think that it really is.

    And I used to actually like this film, I even held it up to par with the other two films.
    Then I watched original DVD version of ESB online on YouTube in 2011. Someone said on the message board there, I believe, that ESB was the last good SW film or last good one in the OT.
    That was the beginning of my skepticism with ROTJ.

    I've seen a lot of analysis of ROTJ. Notably, Sparknotes.com actually has notes on the themes, motifs of the OT, which includes ROTJ.

    But I've only really seen around three to five videos on YouTube that actually address potential issues with the film or even address deeper themes.

    Another thing is that fans generally forget the nuances in ROTJ. Quite easily, if I have observed correctly.

    There is Han's line in ROTJ expressing skepticism about Luke's ability to save him, stating that "Luke's crazy. Luke can't save anyone, let alone himself". This line is key, according to the ROTJ's plot and dialogue, towards Han being wrong about Luke's ability to save others, since he saves Han from Jabba's Palace in the end. The line also potentially serves as foreshadowing of Luke being eletrocuted by the emperor (Luke was crazy to toss aside his lightsaber. Luke can't save himself), but he still indirectly saves Vader by inspiring him and reminding him of who he once was. And in turn, Vader saves Luke.

    I still have yet to see this line and its value mentioned in a forum, outside of a scholastic issue around 1997, when the special edition OT were out.

    Also, part of the reason that Luke joins the rebel scouts on Endor was due to the fact that he learned that Leia was his sister from Obi-Wan. There's a blink and you miss it moment at the rebel conference where he tries to talk to the Leia before they leave for the mission.

    Brad Bird was also skeptical of ROTJ Luke in the intro to The Making of Return of the Jedi; the transition of a defeated Luke in ESB to a sudden confident hero In ROTJ, I believe was bothersome to him.

    But if ST primarily uses ROTJ as a jump pad to get the film moving forward.

    Luke's lines from ROTJ about saving his father are said in a similar fashion from Leia to Han in respect to her son. The situation is a little more understandable in this parallel situation, since Leia and Han have known Ben for years and raised the kid. In contrast, Luke only knew Vader for the span of a few hours, which was during a fight in ESB and being briefly chased by Vader in ANH, and he still So, Luke's idea of saving his father is largely symbolic in ROTJ.

    Anyway, Han tries to save Ben, but is shown as wrong, due to the complexity and realism of the scene. Despite Han's attempts (Harrison's good, good acting) to idealistically and sincerely save his son, realistically Ben is too committed to turn back from the First Order (although Han made a good attempt).

    There's something so facile in ROTJ about trying to save Vader compared to the scene in TFA to save Ben. Luke keeps insisting over and over that Vader's good somehow in ROTJ (when, he's interrogated by Vader-Anakin Skywalker, the true name that was forgotten, that there's conflict in Vader during their fight, and the declaration that he's a Jedi, like his father before him-Anakin) and only snaps when Vader says that (somehow, he implies that he would be able to force Leia to turn to the dark side, which is another thing) Leia may turn to the dark side.

    TLJ also brings back the more emotionally complex Luke from ESB, whose performance from Hamill was pressured by Kershner into doing a better job. (Also, the script had snappy lines from Kasdan's refinements or concise editing, which was also brought into ROTJ). Without Kershner around in ROTJ, it's unclear what the acting was supposed to be from Hamill's performance. Sometimes, Hamill hits the mark with genuine fear during the machine-hand scene in throne room, his screaming when eletrocuted, and pulling off his helmet with relief after the Stormtrooper on the speeder are gone. But then there's this weird strain of acting from Hamill throughout the film, which I'm not sure where it arises from. I wonder if Luke was based off of Alec's Obi-wan, since he essentially becomes the new Jedi in ROTJ. Vader even says that Obi-wan once thought as you did, which might imply that Luke is replacing Obi-wan or bringing back the Jedi, which were almost extinct. It's a heroic and romantic notion.

    This might be why Luke is so blunt with Jabba, Vader, and the Emperor during the film; this might be an imitation of Obi-Wan's confidence and maturity. Also, yes, Luke is supposed to be cocky to an extent, but this is pretty extreme. He's never really blunt or arrogant when confronting supposed enemies in ESB, such as, when he's confronting Yoda, just fast-acting, and the action was a key part of ESB, I believe. Also, Luke's weird, mysterious feel and appearance when he enters Jabba's palace, the way that the hood covers him is reminiscent of both Vader's silhouette and Obi-wan's hooded appearance when we first see him in ANH.

    So, we have what is potentially a blend of Vader and Obi-wan in ROTJ Luke. This is a pretty drastic change from Luke in ESB, who appeared largely as a rebel and a Flash-Gordon character. Also, Luke's clothes are black in ROTJ, being reminiscent of Hamlet, which stresses his serious demeanor and angst in relation to Vader as his father (when he walks out of C-3P0's recollection of Cloud City and his fight with Vader and isolates himself from the group at the film's end to see Obi-wan, Anakin, and Yoda) or a priest, since he tries to intercede for and save Vader from the dark side, essentially. The black robes might also mean that Luke is evil or turning evil; however, after Luke's declaration that he's a Jedi, the front peels open, revealing a white interior, signifying that Luke is good on the inside (also, the robes might have opened on Jabba's barge, but I would need to check again). So, the symbolism is pretty sound in ROTJ.

    Also, Luke has strange moments of controlled emotion during ROTJ, which appears to be akin to brooding, in a sense. His hologram to Jabba is pretty vapid, and Luke maintains a poker face throughout, perhaps because getting Han is serious business. However, later on, Luke has a poker face when he confronts Jabba but then acts cocky with his demands and has shifty eye-glances at the guards (looking for a blaster?).

    His weird confidence is maintained even when talking to Han and assuring him that he has a plan, though it's more casual and like himself.

    Then, he goes into weird poker-face (I'm in control) mode with the head nodding, which transitions into the eagerness of the fight.

    He also exhibits a poker face in his X-wing when he pulls the black glove over his blasted mechanical hand (So, does having a poker/serious/grave face mean you're going dark, or is Luke emotionally strained/pained/drained when it comes to his connection with Vader? I thought that Luke's looks of awed horror were good enough in ESB to signify his connection with Vader when he wakes up in the Falcon after the battle).

    There is also some justification for Luke's poker face routine during the throne room, since Obi-wan advises him to bury his feelings from his friends deep down earlier in the film. So, I guess this justifies why Luke insists that he can't be turned and will die from the emperor and weirdly with confidence claims that the emperor's overconfidence in the empire is a weakness with relatively stoic and determined face. His fear creeps back in as he falls (again somehow) for the emperor's claim that his friends are trapped and will die. Then, Luke sincerely says that he will not fight Vader (good acting, Hamill, bravo!). But once he jumps into the platform, it's back into delusional poker face Luke mode, with Luke almost crazily and eagerly stating that Vader has conflict in him. (Is Vader's negatory response here to create a surprise for when he does turn?). Also, the poker face arises a bit with Luke's declaration of being a Jedi, but it's used a bit with honor and romanticism and a bit of tension afterwards, so there's some meaning to it. Also, the poker face arises when Luke burns up Vader's armor, but with a touch of honor and pride at Vader dying a good man (which disturbs me, Luke should be humble as a good hero, and it's hard to say if Luke's relieved that Vader died good at the scene; he seems proud in a nuanced manner).

    Even at the end of the TLJ film, when ROTJ Luke is peaking on Crait, since Rian probably drew from ROTJ's instances of a heroic Luke, like Luke confronting Jabba in his palace, over the sarlacc pit, and Luke's declaration of defiance to the emperor, etc. Luke's complexity in his emotions and the good script (Yes, I think that) prevents the "ROTJ poker-face Luke effect" from happening to some extent.

    Also, in a moment that was cathartic to me (after what I have just explained about ROTJ Luke), Luke finally admits that he can't save Ben in TLJ. This is a slap in the face to those who believe in ROTJ Luke's notion that Vader can be saved, because they believe that the real Luke would never do that, give up on being that someone can be turned from the dark side. When in reality, it might be that ROTJ Luke wouldn't really do that, even though ROTJ Luke can switch from being good to where he is nearly going to Hades at the toss of a dime over a changed relationship (Luke's love interest to sister) with Leia. It's not even over seeing loved ones being tortured (which they were in TESB); it's over the thought of them (somehow) turning to the dark side, when (Leia, not really Vader) would be responsible for it. ESB Luke might have the potential to do it from his weaknesses of being afraid of the future and of not wanting his loved ones to have pain, even though his heroism is stronger in ESB when it comes to his challenges (like possibly and actively committing suicide to prevent Vader from using him). But Luke in TLJ knows that it's not realistic for Ben to forgive him or come back after being betrayed. However, he's still optimistic to acknowledge that someone could save him (it could be a bit convenient towards ending Luke's character and letting other characters take up the mantle, but it works, I think).

    Also, the throne scene in TLJ is different because common sense in applied, but it's sacre religious and offensive in relation to ROTJ. Here, the throne room has a do-over in a largely mirrored sense. But this time- ESB Vader's motivation of "rule the galaxy as father and son" is put at the forefront in Kylo Ren. Vader's motivation was beat down in favor of a surprise switch of overthrowing the emperor in ROTJ (it's mentioned in pp. 71 and 73 in The Making of Return of the Jedi). He's ambitious at taking down Snoke, and he has Rey to back him up when the whiplash comes from the pretorian guard. It's risky, but since Kylo is almost the literal embodiment of Han and Vader (with a bit of Padme and Luke thrown), it's reasonable. Both ESB and ROTJ Vader were both cautionary, although ESB Vader was cutthroat.

    When Snoke declares Rey as a True Jedi, people think it's bad writing because a Jedi is supposed to never kill. There are mixed definitions about this in the OT. ESB's Yoda says that a Jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense, never attack, which I assume means to not kill someone. But Yoda says in ROTJ to Luke to kill Vader (it is implied), and Luke confirms this as killing his father to Obi-wan. However, Luke later declares and redefines in ROTJ that he is Jedi by not killing Vader (and also joining the emperor, which was the equivalent of Luke going to Hades, as described in The Making of Return of the Jedi on p. 170).

    Rey is also trying to kill Snoke to save the Resistance after she learns that it's in trouble (and before, since she thought that she could use Kylo to win), a thought that Luke apparently forgot about in ROTJ when declaring that he is a Jedi like his father, when he was trying to kill the emperor to save his friends at the beginning of the fight. After she finishes off the pretorian guards with Kylo, she asks Kylo (a person with some degree of authority in The First Order) to halt the attack. It's actually not a bad plan, but it highlights Rey's naivete when Kylo refuses to call it off.

    SW fans, such as, Mauler, will say things like TLJ ruined Luke, but often the comparison is in relation towards ROTJ Luke and the perception that is the epitome of Luke's character is where the OT left off, instead of wondering about the quality of Hamill's acting and the decisions that the character made during the film. It is almost never directed towards ESB, whose portrayal of Luke's character and heroism is complex (since it's unclear whether Luke's decision to save his friends is the right one, but Luke leaves out of love) but also inspiring and a bit naive.

    I could really go on more about ROTJ's role in making SW fans upset with the ST, but this post is too long. Maybe in subsequent responses, I'll clarify further.

    Inevitably, TROS will probably draw on content from ROTJ. But as long as they keep their eyes on a good script and understandable acting, the plot will be fine.
     
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  2. Lobot

    Lobot Rebel Official

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    ROTJ is half an original movie and half a remake, with the same set of her woes but totally different villains and settings.

    Lucas wanted to make the Second and third act of ROTJ when he made ANH, but he could t afford it, so he tossed the planet battle, which. Was supposed to featured Wookiees and stuck one with Han as his copilot (like his malamute was in real life).

    once ROTJ was an obvious reality, rather than figure out a cool ending for the emperor and Vader and Luke & rebellion, he recycled his original ending and used the Jabba plot to keep his best actor and biggest star in the story. The whole first act is a way to show Jabba and get Han out of carbonate (as well as rehabilitate Lando). It doesn’t fit into very much of the trilogy, except as a reset. That’s why Han is kind of a schmo in ROTJ, because he can’t be offensive anymore and Lucas had started to soften after having kids and getting rich (the PT is more about Lucas than anything...turning against his training as a filmmaker)

    ROTS, ROTJ, and TFA all share the weakness of being largely wish fulfillment or remakes (or both). Note the Wookiee planet in ROTS.

    ROTJ has been vilified since it opened for the Ewoks (sawed off Wookiees) and other odd creations (the rebels go from transports and a few X-wings and literally one y wing to having an amazing armada with four kinds of fighters Off screen..rushed).
    Look at Hamill’s performance in that film as him doing an Obi-wan impression, and for his age, not a bad one.
    Comparing Hamill in 83 to TLJ is unfair. Compare him in ANH to ROTJ, much better acting.

    I like ROTJ, despite the muppets, and always wanted a rogue one style trilogy explaining how the rebels got so much more awesome in ROTJ.

    JJ is definitely cribbing from ROTJ (and I’m not complaining this time—-we’re getting real B-wings this time!)

    enjoy what you enjoy and enjoy the ride. The release of the only “full trailer” is the best time for SW because we’re about to get a ton of footage in tv spots and trailers without certainty.
    Enjoy the NewFlix and Chill!!
     
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  3. Jedi77-83

    Jedi77-83 Force Sensitive

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    While ROTJ has many problems (I think pacing is its biggest issue), it throws a curveball at the fans with the ending that no one expected in 1983 and many don’t appreciate now.

    Most fans from 1981-83 expected Luke to kill Vader in ROTJ because that’s 99% of movie endings. Revenge by the Protagonist is the modern movie cliche. Westerns, thrillers, even Horror movies end with a satisfying closure of the good guy winning.

    Lucas was able to accomplish that in 1983 without the typical cliche. Nobody thought Luke would throw down his saber, and nobody thought Vader would save him. It wasn’t about subverting expectations, it was about the theme of the whole Trilogy.

    That’s what I’ve been looking for with the ST and the eventual ending of TROS. I want something that isn’t cliche but I don’t want to be tricked (subverted). Lucas didn’t trick the fans in 1983, he made us look at Luke and Vader in a different way.

    I hope the ending of TROS isn’t just Rey (or Kylo) killing the Emperor with the help of The Force Ghosts as that is cliche. I want the ending to mean something that deals with a theme that actually means something. ROTJ was all about Father/Son and how that bond triumphs anything. TROS has to be something like that (maybe Rey/Kylo finally balancing the Force)? If the ending is just Rey finally killing The Emperor (or Kylo comes back to save her) than we’ve seen that in movies since I can remember.
     
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  4. Jase Windu

    Jase Windu Rebel General

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  5. FotisKaragian

    FotisKaragian Rebelscum

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  6. Andrew Waples

    Andrew Waples Jedi General

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  7. Kato Sai

    Kato Sai Rebel Official

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    Do you think ESB started the train of surprise twists that now plague SW films? Vader revealing He is Luke’s Father then had to be matched in ROTJ with another twist or suprise, Vader saves Luke from the Emperor. The twists faded in the Prequels partly due to we knew pretty much how it would play put, Anakin becomes Vader, and the Jedi are purged. With TFA the suprise twist train returns, who is Rey and are her parents Skywalkers or Solos or even Kenobi? TLJ tries to dissapoint the hype and tells us (a lie or half truth) that Rey is nobody. Now speculation of a twist or shock is that Palpatine is in the film and some grand revelation will take place, and perhaps a redemption as well.

    What I am saying is that SW has majorly been effected in storytelling by the expectation of a revelation or twist to the plot. The exception is The Prequels which had limited room for major twists. Perhaps this is why The Prequels feel different, there is no wonder or anticipation of what could happen, rather we know what has to happen and the only intrigue was how it played out; Anakin becomes Vader to save Padme. We knew Anakin becomes Vader, but why wasn’t a huge surprise. The OT and ST in contrast had room to shock the audience, and explore a less rigid canon than the Prequels was bound to.
     
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  8. Josh

    Josh Rebel Official

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    I think Episode 6 is a good flick, and a great ending to the saga.
    The last act in particular is a wild ride.

    Still I kinda wished Lucas would have done Episode 7-9 shortly after 6 (1989 maybe), with the old trio still in shape, but I guess he was done with SW at this point, for whatever reason.
     
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  9. Jedi77-83

    Jedi77-83 Force Sensitive

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    I still remember anticipating Episode 7 all through middle school in the mid-80’s. Remember there was no internet back then so there was limited ways to really follow any rumors regarding the franchise. I do remember sometime in 1987 (I was in 8th grade) and a friend telling me that he read an interview with Lucas that there were no Episode 7,8,9 (I believe it coincided with the 10th anniversary of SW). I was literally bummed as I was so hyped for more adventures of Han, Luke and Leia. I know Ford didn’t want to play Solo anymore but those 20 years after ROTJ is one of the biggest missed opportunities to reunite those characters for another Trilogy. Just think of 1999 and the return of Han, Luke, and Leia instead of Little Ani and Jar Jar.
     
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  10. RoyleRancor

    RoyleRancor Jedi General

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    This, more than anything directly linked to the PT, is Lucas' biggest blunder IMO.
     
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  11. Josh

    Josh Rebel Official

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    Wasnt it always the plan, he would do 1-3 first. I remember Carrie saying this in an interview for "Jedi".

    Also Hamill even said in a really old interview that he should be ready to do the part again in the 2010s

    edit: found it (artoo)
     
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  12. Steven Lewis

    Steven Lewis Clone Commander

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    Just a guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if the reaction of some fans towards the PT is what derailed any chance of GL returning for the ST. No wonder he was so bummed when Disney binned his drafts for the ST, he probably saw the sale as a way to get the ST made without all the hassle.
     
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  13. Jedi77-83

    Jedi77-83 Force Sensitive

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    You’re 100% right In regards to that interview with Hamill. Before the days of the internet, everything was heresay so I never saw that interview a few years ago until a it appeared on YouTube.

    I just remember one of my classmates told me when ROTJ came out in ‘83 that’s Lucas was taking 2 years off and then 7,8,9 would come out in 1988, 1991 and 1994. Then Lucas would take 2 years off and 1,2,3 would come out in 1999, 2002 and 2005. He got the PT dates right! Lol

    Again this was all urban legend back then cause there was no way to reference anything in 1985 like we can do now.
     
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  14. Lylo Ren

    Lylo Ren Rebel General

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    I agree. Before I was even a SW fan, I never understood why a ST wasn't made after the OT with the original trio while they were pretty young. I'm looking at that from a point of view of how successful it would have undoubtedly been. I know Harrison Ford wasn't into it, of course. My favorite Han is in TFA, if I'm being honest.
    --- Double Post Merged, Oct 16, 2019 at 8:38 PM, Original Post Date: Oct 16, 2019 at 8:37 PM ---
    Ftr, my fave movie of the previous two trilogies has been the 3rd movies, so I'm anxiously awaiting TROS.
     
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  15. RoyleRancor

    RoyleRancor Jedi General

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    You didn't even need Han tbh which could have made a Han re-appearance even later HUGE beyond words.
    Han didn't really DO anything in ROTJ. He's just kinda present and says some Han things and that's that. He was supposed to be killed off but Lucas didn't want to. So he wasn't inherently needed. You could have Han, the absentee father, in the ST shot in the late 80s and early 90s then you could still go right into TFA with that Han Solo and not have missed a beat and it makes his return even better.
     
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  16. Lylo Ren

    Lylo Ren Rebel General

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    Good point!
     
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