Return of the Jedi celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, and considering that the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII is a direct sequel to the 1983 film, it’s a perfect time to look back at where it left off as the franchise moves into the future. So settle in for a seven-minute documentary from 1983, hosted by Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy.
The making-of documentary above was part of Nickelodeon’s Standby: Lights! Camera! Action!, a show that gave young viewers some insight into how movies are made. It’s strange to see Leonard Nimoy jumping universes to talk about Star Wars, but I guess he needed something to do in between The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock. So why not host a behind-the-scenes featurette for Return of the Jedi?
Interestingly, Nimoy tells the audience that Revenge of the Jedi was the working title and Return of the Jedi was the film’s original title. I always thought the film’s working title was Blue Harvest and its original title was Revenge of the Jedi, as George Lucas changed it just before the film was released in theaters because he felt revenge wasn’t a noble quality for the Jedi Knights. Nevertheless, the behind-the-scenes doc starts with a narrator calling the movie Revenge of the Jedi.
The featurette then highlights the film’s production, namely the many different alien species featured in the movie. It’s refreshing to watch a making-of featurette where the film’s special effects artists aren’t hunched over keyboards and computers to bring the movie to life.
Most of the video’s running time revolves around Phil Tippett and his work on the Star Wars movies. Tippett is a visual effects artist who had built a career on stop-motion animation special effects and makeup design. Aside from the Star Wars movies, Tippett’s work can be seen in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the original RoboCop (mainly ED-209), Jurassic Park, and, most recently, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. Phil Tippett will also be overseeing the dinosaur special effects in the upcoming Jurassic World for director Colin Trevorrow.
At the end of the documentary, Nimoy talks about how George Lucas envisioned three trilogies with nine movies, spanning over 40 years for the film franchise. It must have been a thrilling idea for fans at the time. Hard to believe that in 2015 Disney and Lucasfilm will actually begin fulfilling the third Star Wars trilogy with Episode VII.