Crowdfunding is complete for my debut novel PEAK CROSSER (EMPIRE OF THE PEAKS BOOK 1), tentatively scheduled to be published in March 2016.
As I was contemplating what to write about ROTJ, I came across this excellent post about, another writer stole my thoughts (not really). But this piece really captures a lot of how I feel about ROTJ. And if you hate the movie because of Ewoks, well, that's your problem.
Without getting too repetitive to the linked essay, here are some of my thoughts after re-watching this recently.
Luke Does Almost Nothing for Two Films
After a significant role in the opening battle of Empire, Luke disappears to Dagobah and trains. When we gets to cloud city, he fails to rescue his friends (Han is captured, and Leia and Chewbacca save themselves with a little help from Lando). In the end, Luke needs Leia to come and rescue him.
After rescuing Han in a completely bad-ass way, Luke turns his focus to redeeming his father and doing the very un-Jedi like thing in telling his sister who she is. While he succeeds in his new mission, he has no affect on the battle and destruction of the Death Star II. And the Emperor and Vader might have been killed on the Death Star (though I can't be certain there) if Luke had stayed home.
So for a huge chunk of the trilogy, Luke is moving in a completely different plot than his friends, and it's part of what makes the movies so memorable.
Yoda and Obi-Wan are Full of Crap
So Yoda and Obi-Wan have been waiting for almost two decades, and their entire plan is to train Luke to kill his father? I understand Obi-Wan's perspective -- he mentored Anakin and lost him to the dark side. But 900-year-old Yoda? His back-up plan if Luke dies or is turned is what? Train Leia ?
This goes back to something I think the prequels do well that many hate: the Jedi are not shown as all-knowing shaman, but more like an old beaurcracy filled with red tape and terrible decisions. They're still struggling to figure out how to handle the Sith. They lie to Luke about his father, and then tell him he's got to kill his Dad, which would have played right into the Emperor's hands. This leads to my next point...
Luke's non-violent victory
Now Luke really isn't a pacifist -- he kills a bunch of people to rescue Han. And when the Emperor finally gets him revved up, he almost kills his father. But Luke makes a choice we rarely see portrayed in big budget films or best-selling novels: he chooses to die rather than to kill. When he tosses his lightsaber aside and refuses to finish off his weakened father, he's saying that death is preferable to killing.
Now, the counterargument to my point is that Luke really was betting on his father. At least on screen, Luke had no knowledge of just how powerful the Emperor was, or that the feeble-looking old man could kill him using Force lightening. Regardless, Luke knew that his death was a possible outcome, and he almost died at the Emperor's hands because he didn't want to kill his father.
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For many George Lucas critics, ROTJ is the beginning of the end, the seeds to the terrible prequels planted in fertile Endor moon soil. But like Emily Asher-Perrin, I say that's bantha poo-doo.
ROTJ is not my favorite, like it was for her, but as a child, I preferred the first and third to Empire. I didn't come to appreciate Empire until I was older.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, Luke was my hero. A lot of men in my generation grew up wanting to be Han Solo, but I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. I identified with his young, immature self on Tatooine. I identified with his impatient self on Dagobah. And I cried in the theater when he dropped his lightsaber on the ground and the Emperor started grilling him; as a kid, I was sure he was going to die. And despite hating Darth Vader in the first two films, I loved him for saving his son.
For many, spending this many pixels talking about movies made for children is silly, but it's not. These stories are some of the most influential films in American history, and they certainly shaped my world view. I still love their optimism and wonder. I still love their characters and worlds.
And that's why I want more. I know many diehard fans are worried about The Force Awakens, worried that it will water down their beloved memories. But I don't. I chose to hope for a film that, while it may never get the place in my heart the originals did, can expand a universe I adore and provide my four girls their own films to write about thirty years from now.