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8.2 43 10
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As a kid Return Of The Jedi was my favourite film in the trilogy however as an an adult It became clear to me that it had some structural and characterisation problems at least once I was able to remove those super glued rose tinted nostalgia goggles of mine, however I can definitely say that this is a huge improvement over the theoretical edition starting with the altered opening crawl which fits well with your established vision and execution of those narrative alterations in this edit followed by Luke and Yoda’s final conversation within the original trilogy.

Said alteration of the final conversation makes both master and apprentice much more wiser and empathetic ultimately giving credit to the force itself and displaying there ability to understand the force and what each of them is feeling through said force, as such the whole last request and passing of the torch scene now has a lot more emotional weight to it. The manner in which the music passes on into Tatooine via the circle wipe maintains the emotional tone of the previous scene with the fact that it transitions to Tatooine perfectly symbolising how the death’s of those important to Luke ultimately ended up moving his life forward.

It also serves as a great way to foreshadow the young Jedi’s return to the place where his journey began along with how the sons of Tatooine will fall with one sooner than the other as represented by the twin suns along with the whole thing making for a neat little transition to the whole Jabba The Hut subplot, the pacing for that is vastly improved due to some clever use of J&R cuts and the utilisation of the non linear narrative which also helped in increasing the brain cells of the protagonists making the whole rescue mission much more logical in the process.

Naturally the pacing of the sail barge battle was a huge improvement as nothing felt dragged out or played for forceful unnecessary comedy and the removal of Boba Fett thankfully spares one of science fictions coolest bounty hunters from his rather undignified loss, his removal from Jabba’s Palace was a welcome change as it never made sense within the Star Wars Film Universe why he was there and while it was nice to see the old Sarlacc Pit again without that accursed immersion breaking beak the differences between the old footage and the special edition footage were quite noticeable.

While enjoyed the speeder chase on Endor involving the protagonists and the Stormtroopers I did feel that there was a void left unfilled however this edit naturally fills that void with some sharp authentic cuts and exciting music that increases in tempo as the chase progresses as such the sequence is now a lot more exciting and intense than it was in the theoretical version, while I am mostly indifferent to the Ewoks I still would have preferred Lucas original idea of incorporating the Wookies into the story as it would have made for some great character development for Chewbacca though the various trims and removals of the Ewok related scenes do however greatly improve the pacing of the overall edit and make the downfall of the empire a little more believable.

One thing I found a bit odd is how Luke knows that Vader was once called Anakin Skywalker since the conversation he has with Obi Wan’s Force Ghost regarding Vader’s past and former name never occurs in this edit though I am guessing the intended implication here is that Luke learned of Vader’s former name through the force, though it still feels weird to me otherwise the removal of Vader’s dialogue pertaining to it being to late for him to return to the light was a wise choice as his body language within the whole scene is a far better and more subtle indication that he is fighting his own battle deep within.

Speaking of internal and external conflicts the decision to have Luke & Vader’s final duel take place on a Star Destroyer rather than the second Death Star is genius as it not only makes the Emperor a little more cautious and theoretically would give him an easier way to escape the conflict and rebuild the empire anew had the conflict played out a little differently, but there’s no longer that artificial sense of tension looming over the duel which allows said duel to actually have more of a point to it with the pacing of said duel being vastly improved due to an effective reverse shot and some clever cutting especially the use of that one J&R cut.

Considering how the three way battle is a war for the fate of the galaxy and the duel between father and son ultimately leads to a huge paradigm shift the use of Duel Of Fates is quite thematically appropriate for such a battle as for the war itself it’s progress, tone and pacing for the three respective fights now perfectly aligns with the success to failure and failure to success ratio of the overarching conflict and the various shots of the rotoscoped Death Star outside the Emperors window make for some very ominous and cinematic shots ultimately strengthening the non linear continuity you created.

At 53:18 the two Crimson Guards are standing dutifully by the elevator but at 53:58 they’ve completely disappeared leading to the plothole of why they would vanish from there masters throne room unannounced and without his consent as such I believe the part where he orders the Crimson Guards to leave should have been kept in not only for the sake of avoiding said plothole but it would also align better with Luke’s ‘’Your overconfidence is your weakness’’ though considering he has a juggernaut like Vader as his apprentice and can shoot lightning from his fingertips I’ve often wondered why he even needs the Crimson Guards at least as far as the Star Wars Film Universe is concerned though that point is a problem with the theoretical versions of the film and not the edit itself.

Really happy you managed to remove Vader’s big ‘’NOOOOOOOO’’ as I felt that really cheapened his Heel Face Turn when the Special Edition was released and took me right out of the film but in this edit said Heel Face Turn now has that same impact and power that it did back when the VHS of this film was easier to track down and obtain, using Anakin’s theme from The Phantom Menace over his final moments was a great way to symbolically show that he had returned and passed on as a Jedi strengthening the emotional resonance and the films title.

Speaking of music the piece that you used throughout the celebration montage is much more fitting and appropriate, additionally I am so glad that ‘’Weesa Freeeee’’ is gone and the burning of Vader being the final scene makes the conclusion to the Skywalker’s respective character arcs much more impactful, some aspects of this edit are definitely rough around the edges which other reviewers have already pointed out though one thing I haven’t seen addressed in the reviews that came before this one is that the disclaimer has a line spacing problem where some of the words are overlapping each other just ever so slightly.

It’s to bad that Spence (as far as I know) has no desire to return to and fine tune the edit because this has the potential to ascend from an excellent edit to a phenomenal edit though I am unsure as to what the context behind Absolutely No thanks to lordsidi is about, I am guessing it’s either an inside joke or the editor or non editor did something to dishonour or hinder the production of said edit in some way or another though I will say that little bit after the credits ended had me bursting out laughing so hard my stomach hurt truly Spence has a great sense of humour.

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