Fun with Franchises: Favorite Images from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
One of the recurring features that we do in Fun with Francises (a feature within a feature) is, after we finish watching a film, we go through and pick out our favorite images from that film. These images could be anything from really famous images from the film or franchise, really beautifully composed shots, shots that are funny to us because of the facial expressions being made in them or because of what we said about them in the article in which they appeared, or simply because they have boobs in them.
What we usually do is, just how we watch the films, Colin and I go in separately and pick out about ten to fifteen shots that we really liked. Then we compare lists, and whichever ones we both picked automatically go on our final list. And everything else we talk through and discuss why we like them, and eventually we’re left with a final list of ten images we liked the best, along with ten honorable mentions, which were also as good, but just missed out on making the list proper.
It’s not very complicated (like most things we do here on B+ Movie Blog), and is just a way for us to point out shots that we really liked in the films, especially since we tend to pick stuff that’s not always on the beaten path. (We also don’t officially rank the list of shots. We just put them in chronological order. Simply picking them is hard enough. We don’t want to make our lives any harder. Plus, we’re lazy.)
That said — here are our favorite images from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi:
You know the deal. Let’s run down some shit I really liked that’s not on the list.
Most of it is stuff that’s been featured on our lists before. So I leave it here so we don’t repeat ourselves that much.
I love shots of the unfinished Death Star. Love them. Especially this one, where it takes up almost the entire frame. This is one of the only times we actually get a nice imposing shot of the Death Star and see how big it truly is. And then… seeing it from a windshield (twice)… now we’re just combining two of my favorite things.
I also love when they show it in close up.
Also — remember how I love this camera placement?
And the surface of the Death Star?
Oh hey — they repeated my favorite shot of last movie again.
We love us some exhaust shots.
And space explosions.
And abstract shots.
I always love the same stuff. Be glad I get to mention it here so it doesn’t always show up on the list over and over.
Anyway, let’s get going…
1. Jabba’s Gate.
Big gate, little droids. I love the scale of it, and I love that they’re clearly toy sized and the gate is no bigger than a microwave. This is filmmaking.
Nobody plays with scale models anymore. I think the last model that I saw that gave me this same sense of scale while retaining its realism was Helm’s Deep model that they used for the really far-off shots. This is so obviously not CGI, and it looks a shit ton better than if it had been.
2. “Sorry, baby, I gotta go.”
Colin explained to me what this means in context, but out of context, this is amazing. He’s just like, “Sorry, honey. I’ll throw you one in a bit. Daddy’s gotta handle his business first.”
This is why Boba Fett is amazing (until George ruins him).
I don’t know how my context changes anything. She’s in love with him, and he doesn’t really have any response that we know of. So either way, it’s awesome. Boba Fett has groupies. That’s what this is. She’s ready to give it up in the back of Slave I, but he just touches her chin. Cause that’s what a thug does.
It doesn’t really change anything, but to me, it’s funnier when you don’t know they have a relationship. I just like the idea that she’s just some bitch who wants the dick and he’s like, “I’ll be back to give it to you later, sugar.” It doesn’t change much, but knowing all that other stuff just contextualizes it for me. It’s different when you know more. I can’t read into it as much. It’s still baller as shit, just… different.
3. Stormtrooper formation.
I love Stormtroopers in formation. It’s so much better when they’re Stormtroopers and not nameless Nazis or something. It’s really all about the costume. But still — formations for thousands of troops — that shit looks nice. And you know a bunch of them are just dummies, which makes it even better. Because it’s not CG. And that’s all that matters.
This is also a shot where Palpatine is cackling over the whole thing, which makes it even better.
I’m also a huge fan of this shot, with the formation, the open entrance to the dock with that fluorescent border around it, and the shitload of TIE fighters in the background.
This was great for Palpatine’s cackling. But I love formation shots like this. Huge groups of people look so much better when they’re real. I feel like I’m just going to say shit like this over and over again, but movies looked a whole lot more appealing before computers were involved.
Seriously, though. Symmetry. You know we love this shit. Even before Vader comes out. This shit is glorious.
And speaking of great symmetry, look at this fucking set.
You knew it was coming. Plus, red! We hardly ever get red in this franchise. I also really love the Imperial Guards, cause what the hell is their deal? They’re like the Star Wars version of the Queen’s Guard. Don’t tell me that’s not what they are.
I thought of them more like the Swiss Guard.
Which… you think Swizz Beatz’s protection guys are called the Swizz Guard? Because I hope they are.
5. This shot
It looks like he’s pulling out his dick behind his back.
I mean, there’s thematic relevance and lots of tension within the shot, but… you know… dick humor.
I love this shot because of how it brings Luke back down to size. He steps up in the place all full of himself and turns his back to Vader, spouting some bullshit about how Vader doesn’t have the stones to hurt his own son. We then hear the lightsaber pop out and see this shot. It’s the perfect response to Luke’s arrogance. Prequels Lucas would have had Vader say something like, “You’re wrong!” But instead, he just has him bust out the lightsaber without saying anything, and Luke has to look over his shoulder warily — showing you just how effective Vader was at making him uncomfortable. And then it turns out he was just checking out Luke’s new lightsaber, albeit menacingly.
This is really all I want in fifty years — a swivel chair that rocks (I hope his chair rocks), next to a giant window, in space.
Just… maybe not those hands.
And it’s that window! The window that isn’t just a big pane of glass. But mostly, yes. This is the perfect pimp lair for Palpatine. There’s really nothing to it except the throne (watch it) because Palpatine’s character is single-minded. Does he need a water bed? No. Does he need a Galaga arcade machine? No. Perhaps a Bang&Olufsen stereo that rises out of the floor? Nope. He needs a badass swivel chair that allows him to survey that which he has wrought. You know that the whole time he’s waiting for Luke and Vader to show up, he was in the chair facing the window, just giggling at how fucking dope his plan was.
7. “It’s a trap!”
Because it is a trap.
X-Wing in the background! See, if you’re going to shove shit in the shot, put it in the back.
8. Star War
Because this is how you have a star war.
This shit is glorious. The Death Star lingering in the background, and full-scale galactic war happening everywhere.
Honestly, you could just sit the camera like this for about five minutes and I’d watch it.
This is the space equivalent of that underwater battle in Thunderball. I don’t care that I have no idea what’s going on — it’s awesome.
The unfortunate reality is that the space battle in Moonraker is the space equivalent of that underwater battle in Thunderball. But no matter. The point is, look at the majesty that is this shot. I was sold on this instantly. There are ships everywhere, at all different distances and angles. There are several colors going on. There is blurriness as a TIE fighter goes by. There is a laser coming right at the screen. All of these things win.
9. This shot
The shot speaks for itself, thematically. And look at his face.
But seriously… look at his face.
Here’s how we illustrate themes with single images. This shit sticks with you. Well done, sir.
10. The Tit Grab
He actually grabs her tit in the middle of a shot. How was this not going to end up here?
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Before the Honorable Mentions, I think it’s time for an…
UNLIMITED POWER break.
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And back to the shots….
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Technically this should be last, since it comes at the end of the movie, but Colin and I, when we compared lists, had exactly 11 shots the same, and this was #11. So it went here before we figured out the other nine, and I’m too lazy to move it.
This is basically a repeat of the shot from last movie that we loved, and nothing’s changed (except Palpatine is falling down the shaft, I suppose). These sets are pretty great. No logical reason why they should exist, but they look terrific.
Any regular readers of this blog will join me in enjoying how ridiculous it is that with everything else he does on a daily basis, Mike was too lazy to move a pair of shots down a bit. Then again, I once decided on potential overseas vacations based on how far their embassies were from my apartment, so I understand completely.
- Dances with Banthas
I just love this shot. It looks incredible.
Plus, where do they go when they hit that wall?
Up. But I enjoy this because it’s like a Planet Earth shot. In fact, I’m pretty sure this came up in BBC Life at one point, where they did a super wide shot of a herd of elephants traversing a desert landscape. That shit looked amazing. The funny thing to me is, what the fuck are they trying to eat? Do they just eat sand? Cause if so, there should be more of them. Could they be silicon-based life forms?
Maybe they eat Jawas. That would be fun.
Eat some of those filthy creatures, wash it down with some moisture…
- Low angle/high angle
I just love the angles. I don’t really care so much about what’s going on in the moment, I mostly like that Lucas cuts from high angle to low angle. People don’t really do that much anymore. Which sucks. This is good filmmaking.
I’m really glad Mike caught what I was going for when I suggested these two shots. Everything gets made more dramatic with low to high angle cuts. I’d have been happy with just one of these, but the fact that they did both…props.
- 3D Death Star
This is them doing 3D in 2D, and it’s more exciting than actual 3D would look.
Good for them.
They also do this shot with the Falcon as well. It swings toward the frame, giving a sort of 3D effect. I really like that. Plus you get to see more of the Falcon, which is always good.
Also — green is good. Red is bad.
And there is no yellow in this universe.
Unless we’re counting Trade Federation representatives.
- This shot
Motherfucker pulls out a handgun during a chase. Plus he almost looks like he’s smiling. “Oh, you know I had this shit in my pocket.”
Is that not awesome? They have rifles this whole time, and he pulls out what appears to be the blaster equivalent of a Derringer. It’s the pose that does it, too. You need that second of him just holding it at that angle to make it cool before he tries to zap you.
Because it looks like something out of a Bond movie. Pretty much not a single moment ever takes place on this set, but we get to see it. And that’s great. This is what’s actually generating the shield for the Death Star, and we randomly get a cut there when Han and the group show up inside. And it’s great. It’s all miniatures and matte paintings, and it looks fucking incredible.
It seriously looks like something out of a Bond movie.
I know we deliberately ignored pretty much anything that looked like it was on Endor (unless it’s shot real close on a person (or a tit)), but this is different. This is inside, and I bet most people wouldn’t even know what the fuck this shot was out of context. You could say this is from Dr. No, and people would probably believe you.
Yeah, I have to agree. This is the type of setting that makes me love old Bond movies. Just huge, nonsensical things that totally do something (probably dangerous or evil) but don’t get explained. I would have been even more tickled if there had been some talk about not shooting blasters inside (because some things in there don’t react well to bullets) since those things would explode or something.
He fucking sidearm throws his lightsaber.
I rest my case.
That’s going places, too. Unless he Force shuts it off before it melts through the floor. In which case he has to go downstairs and tell them that he threw that shit before he walked in the room.
I love the moment more than I love the shot. I know Colin likes the shot for the whole “externalization of Luke’s conflict,” which is fine. I personally think that part is whatever (it certainly doesn’t detract from the moment. It’s just kind of… obvious. But that’s Lucas, so who am I to really expect different). I just love the moment. The lights go out in the room during a fight, and everyone stands still, waiting to find out where the other person is. And everyone always handles these situations differently, so it’s always nice to see the closeups of this moment, because you’re always waiting for one person to pop out and attack the other person again, or something to give. So it’s more the moment I like than the actual visual representation.
But still — nice shot.
(Though Hamill’s face is really stupid in this.)
Hamill’s face is really stupid in life, but I’m over that. I mean, yeah. It is about the externalization of conflict for me, but it showcases that choice to visualize something rather than shove shitty dialogue in our faces. Anakin never gets something like this in the prequels. They just had him make evil faces. But even if you’re not really paying attention to what’s going on here, your mind registers that yin and yang feeling. Plus, as Mike said, it’s that holding pattern moment where they’re both just chilling. Although I bet Vader’d be able to see him pretty easily if he wasn’t wearing sunglasses indoors.
- This shot
Look at how the Death Star looks! That’s almost abstract, without the Falcon there to remind you what’s going on. That’s pretty great that it looks like that. That would be awesome, if there were a giant wall that looked like this in the neighborhood.
It’s so brilliantly intricate and organic. I thought it looked almost crystalline in its composition. Unlike the outside of the superstructure, which is all straight lines and more boring geometric patterns, this interior has a way about it that makes it appear almost alive. Like it’s the nerve center of the Death Star. You know that someone designed and built it, but you may just as well imagine that its constructors still can’t fully understand what’s at work here. And at the core of it (zing!), you have to remember that this is something that could have been smooth, sterile and uniform, but Lucas (or whomever) chose to take it in a different direction for what must have been purely aesthetic reasons. I can’t imagine what happened over those 16 years that made Lucas think shitty CGI was better than this. I never thought of this image at all until I saw it in shot form while doing these articles, and it’s just so good to look at.
You know what’s gonna be a real shame?
When the next trilogy is in 3D.
I just love this shot of all the ships peacing before the Death Star is going to explode.
I love the idea of this amount of ships breaking out at once. You never really see people peacing with such coordination.
So… that’ll do it for our favorite images. I guess there’s nothing more to say.
Did I leave my door unlocked?
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Tomorrow is Final Thoughts, and Monday we start the prequels. Oh boy.
(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)