The final film in the original Star Wars trilogy was three years in the making after the release of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. Now, however, Return of the Jedi has gained fresh importance as a stepping-stone to Star Wars: Episode VII. The third and final Star Wars book from author J.W. Rinzler takes an in-depth look at the making of Return of the Jedi.
The Making of Return of the Jedi includes never-before-seen production photos, rare interviews and stories from its cast and crew, concept art, and script excerpts. J.W. Rinzler had unprecedented access to George Lucas and the Lucas Archive for the in-depth book series, which also celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of Return of the Jedi in 1983. It’s actually pretty amazing to see what Rinzler compiled for the behind-the-scenes book, which dives into the entire process of making the final movie in the original Star Wars trilogy, from Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan’s screenplay to the film’s world premiere.
The Making of Return of the Jedi also includes new interviews (and a few older ones) with the cast and crew of the film, including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, director Richard Marquand, producer Howard Kazanjian, Ralph McQuarrie, Joe Johnston, Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, and mastermind George Lucas. It’s almost worth buying just to get insights from the cast and crew some 30 years after its release.
In 2007, J.W. Rinzler released the first book in the series, which took a close look at the making of the original Star Wars movie. Three years later, in 2010, his look at The Empire Strikes Back was released. It’s only a matter of time before a box set with all three books is released.
Director Brad Bird wrote the book’s forward. A few months ago, comedian Patton Oswalt revealed that Bird had his own vision of how he would’ve started Return of the Jedi. Bird would’ve liked to see Luke Skywalker’s intro into the film have been on Dagobah with Yoda, instead of on Tatooine at Jabba’s Palace. He would’ve liked to see Skywalker become a Jedi rather than audiences meeting him as a fully-fledged Jedi Knight. This would’ve killed the momentum from The Empire Strikes Back to Return of the Jedi. It’s better that Luke Skywalker is a kick-ass Jedi when we first meet him at the beginning of the film. I wonder if Brad Bird will mention his tweaks for the film in the book’s forward.
It will be interesting to see if J.W. Rinzler and LucasBooks will release in-depth books like this for the prequel trilogy. While the prequels are not nearly as good as the originals, Star Wars fans would be interested to get the same sort on insights into the making of those films. After all, the prequel trilogy changed the way big Hollywood blockbusters are made. For better or worse, The Phantom Menace introduced cinema’s first fully CGI character with Jar-Jar Binks, who paved the way for other CGI characters like Harry Potter’s Dobby and Lord of the Rings‘ Gollum.