Return of the Jedi

- Minor Spoiler Review -

I don’t consider myself a Star Wars expert by any means, but I do have a fair amount of knowledge regarding the saga in its many forms, be it books, games and particularly the movies. I’m one of those guys that have watched each movie dozens of times, and the documentaries that accompany them. Let me tell you, though, that after reading this masterpiece, I realized that my knowledge of Return of the Jedi barely scratched the surface.

From the early drafts to box office totals, The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi tells the complete story of the sheer amount of planning and effort that went into Episode VI of the Star Wars saga. What will likely surprise you the most, though, is how different the final product could have been. From the crew to the plot itself, there were massive changes happening throughout production. Some changes were squeezed in just before release! Everyone knows the film was originally called Revenge of the Jedi, but there are many changes that may not be as well known.

For instance, did you know *two* Death Stars were planned?

That in early drafts, the Ewoks were called Ewaks?

In early concepts, there was an underground Rebel base?

This is just a few of many early details that didn’t make it into the final movie. But this book is much more than early concept discussion. Each page contains jaw-dropping illustrations and production photos, many of which left me breathless. I spent hours on them alone. Art from Ralph McQuarrie, Chris Evans, Frank Ordaz, Michael Pangrazio and others make this book shine like a jewel.

For me, though (difficult as it is to narrow it down), the absolute highlight of the book is a 16-page Revenge of the Jedi story conference transcript. On July 13-17, 1981, George Lucas, Richard Marquand, Lawrence Kasdan, and Howard Kazanjian sat down to fine tune the ever-changing movie ideas and drafts. Even now I’m blown away at such an epic meeting of the minds. Oh how amazing it would have been to actually be present in the room, throwing ideas back and forth! Being able to read this transcript is the next best thing.

I also loved how candid The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was at times. Disagreements between cast and crew, from director to artist, is shown in a way that, to me, enrich the reading experience. Like a well-prepared banquet filled with the best ingredients, The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi is bound to satisfy and nourish even the most fastidious appetite.

Don’t let the $85.00 price tag scare you off (You can find it less expensive at retailers such as Amazon). This book is worth every penny and more. When I received this book in the mail and ripped the package apart, I was thrilled at how big it was. This book is a beast! If you plan to eventually use it as a conversation piece on your coffee table, you might consider upgrading to a stronger table. Seriously though, this is a very healthy book.

J.W. Rinzler has delivered once again. Every Star Wars fan should buy this book.

Random HouseDISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no charge in order to provide an early review. However, this did not affect the overall review content. All opinions are my own.

Bryan Dean is the founder and administrator of Knights’ Archive. You can follow him on Twitter at @bry_dean.

SEE ALSO:
The Making of Return of the Jedi Cover Reveal

Publisher’s Summary:

Just as Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi completed the most successful cinematic trilogy of its generation, perhaps of all time, this splendid thirtieth-anniversary tribute completes New York Times bestselling author J. W. Rinzler’s trio of fascinating behind-the-scenes books celebrating George Lucas’s classic films.

Once again, the author’s unprecedented access to the formidable Lucasfilm Archives has yielded a mother lode of extremely informative, vastly entertaining, and often unexpected stories, anecdotes, recollections, and revelations straight from the closely guarded set of a big-screen blockbuster in the making. Brimming with previously unpublished photos, production artwork, script excerpts, exclusive intel, vintage on-set interviews, and present-day commentary, The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi chronicles “how George Lucas and his crew of extroverted artists, misfits, and expert craftspeople roused themselves to great heights for a third time” to create the next unforgettable chapter in one of the most beloved sagas of all time. Get up close to the action and feel like a studio insider as

  • creator George Lucas, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and director Richard Marquand huddle in a script conference to debate the destinies of iconic Star Wars characters, as well as plot twists and turns for the epic final showdown between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire
  • artists and craftspeople at the groundbreaking Industrial Light & Magic facility top their own revolutionary innovations—despite the infamous Black Friday—with boundary-pushing new analog visual effects
  • a crack team of sculptors, puppeteers, actors, and “monster-makers” bring Jabba the Hutt and his cohorts to startling, slobbering life from the inside out
  • a Who’s Who of heavyweight directors—from such films as Superman, Gremlins, Halloween, Dune, Scanners, and Time Bandits—are considered for the coveted job of bringing a new Star Wars adventure to the silver screen
  • actors and crew race to the finish line at Elstree Studios, in a fiery desert, and beneath the trees of a dense redwood forest—before money runs out—to answer the questions that audiences had waited three years to find out: Is Darth Vader really Luke’s father, who is the “other”—and who or what is the Emperor?

Star Wars’ stars from both sides of the camera—including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, Alec Guinness, director Richard Marquand, producer Howard Kazanjian, Ralph McQuarrie, Joe Johnston, Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, and mastermind George Lucas—weigh in with candid insights on everything from technical challenges, character design, Ewoks, the Empire’s galactic city planet, and the ultimate challenge of bringing the phenomenal space fantasy to a dramatic close. The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi gives a spectacular subject its just due, with more than five hundred images and many, many new interviews.

Return of the Jedi