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The Making Of Return Of The Jedi

by Kevin Taft
Contributor
Wednesday Oct 2, 2013
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Christmas came early this year for "Star Wars" fans with the release of J.W. Rinzler’s "The Making of ’Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.’" The third in a series of in-depth looks at the popular film trilogy, this glossy hardcover coffee table book is a dream of new information, interviews with all the players, and over 500 photographs, many of which have never been seen before.

As usual for Rinzler’s "Making of" series, he starts at the very beginning of script development all the way to the release of the film and beyond. Here, he offers a number of snippets from early drafts of the final film in the original trilogy complete with new characters, new planets, and all the reveals we know and love coming at different times and sometimes from different character’s mouths. It’s a captivating look at how scripts evolve.

But even more compelling? Transcribed conversations between creator George Lucas, screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Howard Kazanjian, and director Richard Marquand. Discussions range from what Vader will look like with his mask off ("Does he shave?"), how to stage the sail barge sequence (essentially R2-D2 is compared to Lassie), and we even have Lucas admitting that Yoda isn’t a Jedi, but something more mystical. (Whaaaa????)

It’s amazing, and almost comforting, to see the four of them struggle through basic story elements like how the Emperor should be killed. When Lucas suggests hand to hand combat that involves Vader and the Emperor choking each other, you wonder how the film ended up even getting out of the starting gate. Ben Kenobi even comes back to life at one point because he’s sort of trapped in another planet until things get resolved. It’s pretty amusing and fascinating at the same time.

But that’s just the beginning. We have details of the production team bringing together cutting-edge analog effects, the race to find the right director for the project, how the actors faced their roles, and the end of the franchise. Behind-the-scenes photos, artwork, and renderings are astonishing, with a particularly hilarious storyboard of Admiral Ackbar on his ship wearing a lobster bib. Other tidbits include the English lyrics to Sy Snoodles song in Jabba’s chamber entitled "Fancy Man," and the English translation of the Ewoks’ "Celebration" (which has subsequently been removed from the film.)

As you can see, there is so much information in this over 350-page volume it’s nearly impossible to encapsulate. Just know that if you are a "Star Wars" fan, this is yet another goldmine of fun facts, trivia, insider scoop, and nostalgia that you don’t want to miss.

"The Making of ’Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’"
Del Rey/Lucas Books Hardcover
$85.00
www.randomhouse.com

by J.W. Rinzler

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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