How ROTJ’s Special Edition Could Have Been Saved

So we all know how most people feel about the special remastered editions of Star Wars that are sadly now the ‘official’ editions. The theatrical versions that we all know and love have been relegated to the bonus features on ONE release of the DVDs due to Lucas trying to erase them from history.

Most of the fans will tell you that Episode 4 ‘A New Hope’ (which I will be referring to as Star Wars from now on as it was the original title, ‘A New Hope’ being added later), was the biggest casualty of the re-edits. I’ll admit that it took a beating; bad CGI effects replacing practical ones at the Battle of Yavin, all of which are easy to spot… Not to mention the scene that has literally driven every Star Wars fan insane for over a decade:

Yes, Han’s infamous murder scene. Fans have long since gone to war with each other over who shot first and which version is the one that is ‘canon.’

Yeah a significant amount of damage was done, but did it really make the first Star Wars the main casualty?

Hell No!

Maybe I’m biased because Return of the Jedi was my favorite of the original trilogy, but I think it suffered a lot worse… how? Well for starters, the two iconic songs were removed and replaced…

The first, known as Lapti Nek…

… was replaced with a 4th-wall-breaking popish song and a mess of bad CGI…

The second song, while much more well-known… I have to admit is kind of an ear moth. Once you listen to it, you’ll spend a decade trying to get it out of your head. From the original, Yub Nub:

It was then replaced with this far more mellow tune composed by John Williams:

I have to admit… I really like that little scene they added in with the planets of the Republic celebrating their Freedom and rising up against the Empire. Minus the appearance of gungans, this was actually pretty well done. This change actually has me very torn. While it’s certainly not something I’d expect to hear at a victory celebration, it’s actually a pleasant musical number. So… I dunno this change has its pluses and minuses… too bad what happens next destroys not only the scene, but the entire movie for me!

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For starters, those robes look like they don’t even fit Christiansen. Secondly… WHY!? What was the effing purpose in doing this!? Replacing Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christiansen doesn’t work. He looks incredibly out of place!

Really Jim? This ruined the entire movie for you? A little melodramatic aren’t we?

Let me explain… Darth Vader was an evil man. He murdered children and was responsible for he slaughter of the Jedi. He helped the Emperor rule with an iron fist and was responsible for God-Only knows how many atrocities over the years.

In short, there is NO WAY he was walking away from this. Even after returning to Anakin Skywalker, most of the galaxy would not see a difference and he would likely face charges of war crimes. Even if you can get past this, letting him walk away unscathed is just bad story telling. In short, it was not going to happen.

The writers of Star Wars gave Anakin Skywalker the best possible ending that he could hope for. Look closely at his face…

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This is not the look of joy. This is the look of a man who, while happy to see them, is seeing both of his children for the first time, knowing that his choices have cost him whatever time he could have had with his family. It is a bittersweet, heartfelt, and very powerful moment that is the best that Vader could have realistically hoped for. Indeed Anakin Skywalker was saved, but every victory has its cost. It was a bold move and it worked incredibly well. This was the ending Star Wars needed, it was the one it deserved and it was the one that brought everything together. It wasn’t the happiest of endings, how could it be? But it was the RIGHT ending.

Almost all of that was lost when Shaw was replaced…

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Dude, you’re not even looking in the right God damn direction! Who directed this guy!? This isn’t bittersweet… this is more the look of a guy who’s thinking ‘Okay I’m dead now… Once I get out of here, I am so going to find Padme and get my freaky ghost on…’

Okay okay, in all seriousness his performance here is as bland as the rest of his role as Anakin. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a decent actor who can chew apart a scene when called upon to do so… but in Star Wars… yeah his direction was pretty bad.

I know the scene was 28 seconds long, but to me they were the most important 28 seconds in the movie and they were RUINED! This really messed up Return of the Jedi for me and if you can’t understand why… then I’d advise you to go back and watch both the original and remastered. It makes a huge difference.

Wait a minute Jim, you said that it could have been saved!!!

I lied.

… … … Sigh… okay yes, it could have been saved. It Lucas absolutely had to replace Shaw with Christiansen, there is a way he could have done it that… while it would not have been as powerful, it would have warmed a lot of peoples’ hearts, mine included…

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That’s right, if you were going this route, it would have been good to show that maybe Anakin found Padme’ in the force and the two were able to reconcile in whatever afterlife there is. Plus she’s given so little mention in the original trilogy that it would be nice to knit this in.

But Jim, she’s not a Jedi! She can’t be a force ghost!

One, that’s never really established in the movies. Two, she gave birth to two of the strongest force-sensitive children in existence. Perhaps one could make the argument that she inherited some of their sensitivity? I don’t know, its a spitball, but it could be retconned.

Anyway, just my opinion on how this could have been done so much better… if it had to be done at all. Let me know what you think!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
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Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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4 thoughts on “How ROTJ’s Special Edition Could Have Been Saved

  1. jmwwriting says:

    I also favored the third film as a kid, which is rare, I know. I never had much of a problem with the special editions, except for those stupid musical numbers. But I disagree with you about the new ROTJ ending with the galactic celebrations. What are they celebrating? The empire isn’t dead at that point, far from it. I think the EU did a good job of exploring that reality, especially the Thrawn books. The rebels destroyed one space station and the emperor. Big wup. There’s still fleets and garrisons all over the place. Which makes me question, how are they even celebrating? How are stormtroopers not crawling all over those planets? Of course it could be set far in the future, but that’s not what’s being show. And how are the rebels on the Endor moon celebrating when there is still a big imperial fleet up in orbit! I do miss the yub-yub song, though.

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    • StCyril says:

      It was my understanding that the remaining Imperial Fleet had beaten a hasty retreat following the destruction of the Death Star. They were in complete disarray with their flagship and command structure gone. The Emperor, Vader, and Admiral Piet have all been killed. So they wouldn’t be in orbit.
      As to your other question about why these other worlds are rising up despite the Empire still existing… I do see your point, but I’d recommend reading ‘Lost Stars.’ It’s a fairly run-of-the-mill book as Star Wars stories go, but it does sort of flesh out how the Empire starts to fall apart. Between Moffs and Admirals in-fighting, the Empire collapsed within months. This is in keeping with the history of the Alexandrian Empire which collapsed almost immediately after Alexander the Great’s death.
      With that in mind, its highly unlikely that these scenes were being shown the instant Palpatine died. I somehow doubt that they were watching the battle like a Superbowl on a big screen. More likely what we saw was weeks or months to come later, likely closer to the Battle of Jakku. By that point, the Empire would have long since retreated from most of those worlds.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jmwwriting says:

        Great points. I did read Lost Stars. I think the EU did a better job of it though. I’m not sure that loosing three leaders, two of which were not really part of the fleet chain of command, would have really set them back as much as you think. A proper military is trained for just that sort of thing. Its been a little while since I saw ROTJ, but as I recall the numbers advantage of the Empire was huge. But I’m just being picky. And being this accurate would have meant no yub-yub, so its better that they let the rebels have the victory cleanly.

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  2. Karandi says:

    Yeah, replacing Anakin with Christiansen bugged me too. I really thought it ruined the ending. Frankly, if Yoda and Obi Wan are still old then it follows that Anakin should be too. Dying apparently does not make your ghost look like a younger version of yourself from a prequel that we really could have done without.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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