Composed by John Williams
Return of the Jedi, the conclusion to the original trilogy, is widely regarded as the weakest of those films. I have to agree with that assessment, but I don’t think it’s as big a dip in quality as some people think. One flaw is a plot twist regarding Luke’s family that’s rushed and is just there to avoid any romantic love triangle. The other is the use of Ewoks, cute teddy bear aliens, in lieu of the originally planned Wookiees. However, the Ewoks’ ludicrous victory over the Empire does tie into the theme of oppressed underdogs taking down a tyrannical galaxy-spawning regime. Also, the rehashed plot of a Death Star portended the nostalgia-baiting of later entries. Otherwise I still love this movie. The Jabba subplot at the beginning seems extraneous, but was necessary to bring back Han and also showed how Luke has matured since Empire Strikes Back. The final space battle is neat and the three-way interaction between Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the gloriously evil Emperor is as good as Star Wars gets. The music isn’t too bad either.
Return of the Jedi’s assembly of themes both old and new is very impressive and Williams does a good job balancing all of them out. The new themes aren’t as strong, but seeing how this is Williams at his prime that’s faint criticism. There are three new major themes. The one that gets attention on general John Williams compilations is the Luke and Leia theme. Leia is revealed to be Luke’s sister and Williams chose to create a new emotional theme. It’s a theme that’s emotional and melodic, but not romantic to show how their relationship has been reoriented. Its actual appearances in the film are sadly scarce, probably because they don’t actually share too many personal one-on-one moments. There is the glorious concert arrangement which of course is not in the film, but is echoed in the end credits. Its key appearance is in “Brother and Sister.” After that it appears briefly in “Leia’s News.” Despite its scarcity, this theme makes the strongest impression on an emotional level. Continue reading