Though it wasn’t the first time I’d seen Return of the Jedi on the big screen – thanks to the 1997 Special Edition re-releases – it nonetheless felt like a big deal to see one of my favourite films ever at the cinema again.

When Return of the Jedi first came out in 1983, I was a few weeks short of my sixth birthday.

My uncle – who normally took me to the cinema to see just about any film that interested me – had forsaken me.

He’d booked himself a ticket to see Return of the Jedi, not at our local fleapit – the endearingly shabby, much missed cinema in Enfield Town, then an ABC branded venue – but instead at the much fancier, definitely pricier Dominion Theatre on Tottenham Court Road.

It probably explains a lot about my mental health that I still haven’t let that injustice go.

In any case, we did have a VHS player/recorder at home – and my Dad knew someone at work who always got his hands on the latest cinema releases, in varying levels of quality (usually from poor to piss poor) on pirate video.

Which was how I first saw Return of the Jedi. I don’t remember it being a ‘bad’ copy of the film, but by the time I was done with that tape – which I watched every single morning for months on end before my parents got up and before I had to go to school – it must have been in terrible shape anyway.

Just as I had no clue how hated Hot Rod was in the 1986 Transformers movie until I was an adult and interacted with people outside my circle of friends, I had no idea that Ewoks were so divisive in the wider world.

They say that the elements of Star Wars films you love or hate are formed by what age you are when you first watch them. I saw no issue with the cute, teddy bear like Ewoks doing their part to take down the Empire, but I loathed Jar Jar Binks – just as one example.

Neither, until I was an adult, did I see an issue with the weird rescue mission ‘plan’, undertaken by our band of rebels to save Han Solo from Jabba.

Obi-Wan confessing his Vader/Anakin lie to Luke in classic gaslighting style was also something we, as kids, just accepted. It’s since been retconned to make a bit more sense, thanks to the Disney Plus Obi-Wan Kenobi series, but still – that and the Leia revelation are clear pointers that there really was no grand plan for the saga from the beginning.

Not that any of that matters, really. Return of the Jedi is a film that still means the world to me.

40 years since it was released, I still get chills when Mark Hamill utters the line: “You have failed, your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”

I still adore the switching of the I love you/I know lines, recalling one of the saga’s – hell, one of all cinema’s – most iconic, undeniably perfect moments.

There’s plenty more in Return of the Jedi that I love; moments that bring the Star Wars universe to life: the crying Rancor keeper, Admiral Ackbar’s visible sigh of relief when the Super Star Destroyer – the Executor – is destroyed…and much, much more.

It may not be the perfect film. It’s not the best Star Wars film, even. Hell, it’s not even the best version of Return of the Jedi any more (we won’t speak of the retained Special Edition changes that weaken the film).

Yet, for all its faults, Return of the Jedi is a film that has been with me for 40 years – and its impact has rarely ever weakened for me, no matter how many times I see it.

Happy 40th anniversary, Return of the Jedi.

May the force be with you, always.

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  1. “…but by the time I was done with that tape – which I watched every single morning for months on end before my parents got up and before I had to go to school…”

    Oh, man. I wish I’d had a VHS of Return of the Jedi growing up. I probably would have done the same thing! XD

    “They say that the elements of Star Wars films you love or hate are formed by what age you are when you first watch them.”

    Yeah, I was probably seven or eight when I first saw Return of the Jedi. Also, I watched the Ewoks animated T.V. show. So I never had a problem with the characters.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha it was cool to have, I still know Return of the Jedi word for word. My poor little brain 😂

      And yep, loved the Ewoks cartoon.

      Though we shall never speak of it again, I even enjoyed Caravan of Courage when I first saw it (in fairness, I was very young and starved of Star Wars content, which was thin on the ground a few years after Return of the Jedi!).

      Again, had no clue they were so hated until the rise of social media, everyone in my friend group and beyond loved them!

      Liked by 1 person

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