Star Wars - Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – The Spence Final Cut

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8.3 (40)
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Overall rating
 
8.3
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8.9(14)
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8.6(14)
Audio Editing
 
7.7(14)
Narrative
 
8.2(14)
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8.2(40)
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(Updated: March 10, 2021)
Overall rating
 
8.3
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
8.0
Narrative
 
8.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
The edit is not always seamless and *sometimes* I have to do a few logical jumps, but most of the time it's pretty sound. Spence crafted a very unique take on the film which is surely very influential in ROTJ edits, and many of his cuts here should honestly become standard for all ROTJ edits going forward. Not really my go-to but a worthy and very necessary step in ROTJ fan editing.

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Yes
Format Watched?
Digital
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(Updated: August 28, 2014)
Overall rating
 
8.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
8.0
Audio Editing
 
9.0
Narrative
 
7.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
I really like Return of the Jedi, but in terms of ending a saga, it's really disappointing. The story is flat and tensionless. The special editions added more nonsense to an already weak entry to the saga.

I presume the source for this edit was the 2004 Special Edition DVD + 2006 GOUT DVD (for replacing SE nonsense), so the quality isn't the best. Same goes for the editing. It's not bad, but in some places it feels choppy. Especially in Tatooine where Luke senses his friends. Still a minor problem though, it doesn't hurt the experience.

Spence has created a great narrative in this edit. He fixed the Tatooine plot perfectly, for example. In my opinion, the Dagobah scene should have been left as it is, Obi-Wan and all. Also the new ending is IMO too abrubpt. I wish that would have been left in. The biggest problem, though, is the Death Star/Star Destroyer swap. In the original movie, we find out that The Emperor is confident enough to see the final stages of the Death Star II, and so he is in it. The Rebels decide to end the war once and for all with this information and destroy the Death Star. There was tension there, but not enough. Here, though, he goes to the Star Destroyer, and the Rebels attack the Death Star. Huh? This plan makes no sense, why not destroy the Star Destroyer? Also the tension is gone here. And Luke ends the war. It's abrubpt again.

Finally, we end up with a fanedit that is just as good as the original, but I prefer the original because of the narrative making more sense. It's a good edit, though. Just not as good as I expected.

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DVD
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Overall rating
 
8.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.0
Visual Editing
 
8.0
Audio Editing
 
6.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
I share much of Spence's disappointment with RotJ. So I was really looking forward to this. I like a lot of the narrative revisions here. Starting with having Luke on Dagobah at the beginning. It always felt wrong that Yoda tells him his training has been completed when he just returned for the first time since Obi Wan and Yoda pleading with him not to go to Cloud City until he completed his training. That said, I'm not crazy about the flashes to Luke on Dagobah when Han and Leia are in trouble at Jabba's Palace. I get the intent but I think viewers would be okay without these flashes.

The whole Jabba's section is much tighter, which was needed in my opinion. Getting rid of Boba Fett and his awful death scene go without saying as positive changes.

A minor quibble, but Luke now separates from the rest of the group as they leave Tatooine for no apparent reason and just shows up to the briefing late.

One random thing that's not really a complaint with this edit is the terrible matte painting of the Falcon when Han and Lando are talking. I'm hoping Adywan is able to redo that when we (eventually) get his Jedi Revisited.

Once we get going on the mission a lot of cheese has been removed and we get to the point a lot faster. In particular, Han is no longer the chump he was originally portrayed as. With a lot of that cheese trimmed the focus is now more strongly on the Luke/Vader/Emperor storyline, which is how it should be at this point of the story.

Speaking of which, Spence obviously thought strongly that these scenes should happen off the Death Star (and I understand his reasoning). I can't say I ever had similar feelings. Though what he's done, he's done well. I still really don't feel it's necessary. But it doesn't detract either. I very much like the Luke/Vader duel happening uninterrupted but it comes at a cost. I feel Vader's defeat comes too soon. I would've liked to have seen the shield destroyed and the attack on the Death Star begin before Vader's defeat. The cut back to the Throne Room when the Emperor attacks Luke is jarring as well.

Again I get the intent but the Anakin's Theme music over Vader's death just doesn't work for me. I didn't mind the earlier use of Duel of the Fates.

I love cutting out Han being a chump about Leia loving Luke but the cuts feel a little rough. I also like ending with the funeral pyre but right after it irises to the credits the music got twice as loud. Not sure if that happens for everyone. Seemed weird.

Overall I enjoyed it. It would be very close to replacing the original for me were it in HD. As it is, I'll probably show both to my kids and see which they prefer.

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DVD
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(Updated: February 23, 2013)
Overall rating
 
7.3
Audio/Video Quality
 
7.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
6.0
Narrative
 
8.0
Enjoyment
 
7.0
I finally watched this, and I have to say it's a tough one to review. Overall I think I enjoyed it, and although there were many things that didn't work for me, it was a pretty interesting watch.

The main footage (I assume) is from the 2004 DVD, which means in some cases we get some SE footage I would rather not see again. Spence did cut around some of the worst stuff (the Jabba palace musical number and the Hayden force ghost, for instance), but Vader's awful candy cane lightsaber is still there. And in some cases he replaced SE footage with other sources (presumably the GOUT?), but it sticks out pretty badly. I know he did the best he could with it, but it still bugged me.

As others have mentioned, there were a few audio hiccups, mainly several places where the lip sync was slightly off and the really jarring increase in audio levels when the credits roll. Oh, and the fact that the "Fanedited by Spence" credit is superimposed over another credit feels sloppy. Give yourself more credit, man!

The prequel music worked fine, but it's always jarring for me when I hear it during an OT music.

The other two things that stood out for me were that I missed some of Han's lines (like "fly casual" and "hey, it's me") and I was at first confused by the Emperor not being on the Death Star. I thought that needed to be established better.

The opening sequence was pretty neat to watch, although I still think I prefer the original. The way Spence handled Leia meeting Wicket was fantastic. And the Ewok battle was pretty well done as well.

In, the end, I gave this a 7/10 due to the minor tech issues and the things that just didn't work for me. At the same time, I do recommend watching this, as it's a really interesting attempt at editing a Star Wars movie that hasn't seen too many edits.

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Yes
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Overall rating
 
7.1
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.0
Visual Editing
 
8.0
Audio Editing
 
6.0
Narrative
 
7.0
Enjoyment
 
7.0
7/10

Decent edit. Some great ideas. Some which I didn’t feel worked as well.

Liked new cut down opening – although I did wonder why Chewbacca was instantly captured in the crawl!

The separation after the rescue was weird – why did Luke go off somewhere else – and the reunion then after the briefing was…weird. Why are they so overjoyed to see him - they saw him, like 5 minutes ago. And why does Luke choose that moment to get all mystical about her being his sister. That should have been cut.

I liked the new arrangement of the final battle. Keeps the tension up, really well handled. Although the shield should have gone down earlier – there’s enough tension in the original version of the attack run to be intercut with the Emperor.

However – why did you move them off the death star? I had no idea where they were. You seemed to indicate they were on the SSD, but you could SEE it in the battle, AND the Death Star. So they were just lurking about on another random SSD? Also it deflated the attack run of any tension. They’re not on the Death Star, so who cares if they blow it up? In the original the Death Star = Emperor, so blowing it up was a big deal and a crippling blow to the Empire. In your cut they just blew up a big gun….

Also, the death of the Emperor came too early – it should have come after the death star blowing up – it’s the death of the Emperor that the galaxy is celebrating! Everyone was cheering when the death star goes up and all I’m thinking is “but what about the gigantic fleet with the SSD and everything still parking off ready to kick everyone’s ass”. They seemed much more of a threat in your cut than the Death Star.

The duel of the fates was really out of jarring - but I LOVED the Anakin theme music at the end. Inpsired!

And the last shot of the movie being Vader. YES!

In all I enjoyed the movie. It was a fresh cut, with some amazingly good ideas. Would you ever do a v2 with the Emperor back on the Death Star and his death during the attack run (remember, it’s not a given that they succeed…)?
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