Saturday, May 28, 2016

the return of the revenge of the jedi

hello there

it wouldn't normally be my place to try and deliver something that is populist here, look you see, but every now and then a trend catches my eye or attention. over the last week or so there has been a bizarre and possibly close to inexplicable revival in the interest around Revenge Of The Jedi, the so-called "original" title for the film we now know as Return Of The Jedi. if this is what you, the kids, want to read about, well then so be it, let's have a gander.

what's the big deal with Revenge Of The Jedi? well, as per the above, this was what we were all told the film was going to be called. it got switched to Return at, give or take, the last minute. why? there are two versions of the story.

the "official" story is that all things Star Wars creator realised, late on, that a jedi would not crave nor take revenge, and so switched to return. also, parents might just have been reluctant to take the kids along to something with as vicious a word as revenge in the title, and so changed it to a softer toned one.

meanwhile the "unofficial", as in more plausible, story is that both George Lucas and the film distributors had grown tired of the incredible bootleg industry around the first two films. by deliberately misleading people about the name - going as far as poster and trailers with it - they would cause bootleggers to produce a whole load of counterfeit goods that would be worthless.

in truth 1980s merchandise branded Revenge rather than Return is of course worth a pretty penny in terms of coins of money today, whether it is genuine or fake, but i can assure you that for every $1million made off of Revenge stuff, Lucas and Co will have made at least $10million off of Return.

i mentioned that the revived interest in this is almost inexplicable. it is in all likelihood related to the fact that a rare, forgotten and previously thought "lost" teaser trailer for Revenge from the UK came to light recently. we shall indeed have a look at that, but for now here's a look at the well known USA trailer for Revenge.

did the change of name particularly bother me? no, not really. for most of 1982, whilst i was in Australia no less, us kids were all under the impression that it was going to be called Splinter Of The Mind's Eye, for there was a novel out at that time of this name. one of the kids at school claimed to have read it, but refused to tell us what happened in it.

anyhow, the above USA trailer for Revenge had a few things of interest in it that are interesting today still, so to speak. if you didn't spot them, or could not play the video, or just plain want it made easier for you, here you go, here's the three things of most interest.

that is indeed Luke, the nancy boy farmer, about to slay some people whose guilt of a crime worthy of death has, strictly speaking, never been proved. but hey, this is Luke - he thought nothing of blowing up a massive space station, no matter how many innocents were on board at the time.

what some - to be honest not me - find interesting about the above is the colour of Luke's lightsabre sword thing. whilst i wouldn't say it is quite as blue as many claim, it is clearly not quite the green we saw in the final film.

it was quite common back in the 80s to rush out a trailer using footage which wasn't quite the finished product. from what i remember the first Ghostbusters ones featured a whole lot of visible wires and cables in it. that said, there's a difference between showing "unfinished" effects and showing "no effects added" footage. like, for instance, the "force ghost" of Obi Wan Kenobi sans "special glowing force blue" effects.

quite a rare bit of footage, that, albeit in a "blink and you will miss it" form. this is something i am possibly mistaken on, but as far as i am aware none of the many "making of" or "behind the scenes" footage of either Empire Strikes Back or Return Of The Jedi showed them filming Alec Guinness doing his stuff without all the fancy effects being present.

Alec Guinness famously didn't like Star Wars or the attention it brought him from fans. rest assured he did, however, really like the money that the film earned him, which was why he didn't fight too hard to get out of the contract in place for him to appear in three of them.

a feature of trailers then that is a feature of trailers now is to use footage that does not end up in the final film. in the case of the one for Return Of The Jedi, it was a very major scene that was eventually dropped. 

the above shows the classic "gang" all leaving Tatooine. there was a massive sandstorm for some reason (maybe something to do with it being a desert planet, and them two moons or suns or whatever causing all sorts of tidal issues), and the team had to fight through it to board the Millennium Falcon.

what's interesting is that this scene - like another on Tatooine showing Luke building his lightsabre and "force communicating" with his Dad - didn't ever surface until the films were released on Blu Ray. another point of interest would be that this dropped scene would be the only time the cool gang - Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, Lando, R2D2 and C3PO - were all on the Millennium Falcon together.

yeah, the above picture of Darth Vader off that trailer is included just because it looks a little snazzy.

was there an awful lot of distress, outrage, sorrow, sadness and regret about the fact that the trailer for Revenge Of The Jedi seemed to contain spoilers? it does, after all, show a defrosted Han Solo, and his eventual fate was one of the cliffhangers from Empire Strikes Back. the answer is no, no one kicked off about spoilers.

why not? well, there was no "internet" back then to kick off about. there was also no SJW (social justice warrior) brigade to get all loud and upset for a moment on behalf of others. also it's the case that, despite the fact that in retrospect the trailer shows a lot, it actually doesn't show the two "big bad" characters.

more of that in a bit, but first here's the recently unearthed "rare" UK teaser trailer. and it really is a teaser, for it is not much more than a series of still images. 

whilst for those who have watched the film it would feel like either of the above trailers are laced with spoilers, they both very cleverly avoid any reveal of the two big hidden characters - Jabba The Hutt and The Emperor. you have to remember that, at this stage, no one had ever seen Jabba The Hutt (he only came into A New Hope in the special editions in the 90s), and all we had seen of The Emperor was a hologram thing in The Empire Strikes Back. also, there was no suggestion of the fact that Darth Vader would reveal what was under his helmet and mask. so, although you think you saw a lot of the film in the trailers, you actually didn't get to see the major secrets that the film had in store.

what do i think of Return Of The Jedi? mostly it's kind of the weaker of the original three, yet strangely it's one one that is the most rewatchable. Leia's smart slave outfit helps make that the case for certain, but overall it's just what a Star Wars film should be, i suppose - amazing action that thrills all linked with a pretty decent and well thought out plot.

a look at Boba Fett off the trailer before we finish here? it would be quite wrong of me not to.

the fact that a fair number of people can get all excited about a somewhat flimsy 34 (!) year old teaser trailer showing the (ahem) 'original' name is quite the testament to how fondly remembered Return Of The Jedi is, i would suggest. well, more than suggest, since i wrote all of this. my favourite Star Wars? well, i can distinctly remember all the family going off to see the first one at a cinema, but overall Empire Strikes Back will remain boss for me, mostly because the bloke above was an absolute badass in it.

if you've been one of the ones that was all interested by the revival of the Revenge Of The Jedi concept this last week, hopefully this has in some way or another fed your interest closer to the point of satisfaction!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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