Return of the Jedi (also known as Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi) is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas from a story by Lucas, who was also the executive producer. It is the third and final installment in the original Star Wars trilogy, set one year after The Empire Strikes Back. The film stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew and Frank Oz.
The Galactic Empire, under the direction of the ruthless Emperor, is constructing a second Death Star in order to crush the Rebel Alliance once and for all. Since the Emperor plans to personally oversee the final stages of its construction, the Rebel Fleet launches a full-scale attack on the Death Star in order to prevent its completion and kill the Emperor, effectively bringing an end to his hold over the galaxy. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker struggles to bring his father Darth Vader back to the light side of the Force.
David Lynch and David Cronenberg were considered to direct the project before Marquand signed on as director. The production team relied on Lucas’ storyboards during pre-production. While writing the shooting script, Lucas, Kasdan, Marquand, and producer Howard Kazanjian spent two weeks in conference discussing ideas to construct it. Kazanjian’s schedule pushed shooting to begin a few weeks early to allow Industrial Light & Magic more time to work on the film’s effects in post-production. Filming took place in England, California, and Arizona from January to May 1982. Strict secrecy surrounded the production.
The film was released in theaters on May 25, 1983, six years to the day after the release of the first film, receiving mostly positive reviews. The film grossed between $475 million and $572 million worldwide. Several rereleases and revisions to the film followed over the next three decades. 16 years after its original release, it was followed by a prequel trilogy, and 32 years later, a sequel trilogy.
In an attempt to rescue Han Solo from crimelord Jabba the Hutt, C-3PO and R2-D2 are sent to Jabba’s palace on Tatooine in a trade bargain made by Luke Skywalker. Disguised as a bounty hunter, Princess Leia infiltrates the palace under the pretense of collecting the bounty on Chewbacca and unfreezes Han, but is caught and enslaved. Luke arrives soon afterward, but after a tense standoff, is sent through a trapdoor to do battle with Jabba’s rancor. Jabba sentences Luke and Han to death by being fed to the Sarlacc. Having hidden his lightsaber inside R2-D2, Luke frees himself and battles Jabba’s guards while Leia uses her chains to strangle Jabba. As the others rendezvous with the Rebel Alliance, Luke returns to Dagobah, where he finds that Yoda is dying. Yoda confirms that Darth Vader, once known as Anakin Skywalker, is Luke’s father. The spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi reveals that Leia is Luke’s twin sister. The Jedi Masters tell Luke that he must face Vader again to defeat the Empire and become a Jedi Knight.
The Rebel Alliance learns that the Empire has been constructing a new Death Star under the supervision of the Emperor himself. As the station is protected by an energy shield, Han leads a strike team to destroy the shield generator on the forest moon of Endor; doing so would allow a squadron of starfighters to destroy the Death Star. Luke and Leia accompany the strike team to Endor in a stolen Imperial shuttle. Luke and his companions encounter a tribe of Ewoks and, after an initial conflict, gain their trust. Later, Luke tells Leia that she is his sister, Vader is their father, and that he must confront him. Surrendering to Imperial troops, Luke is brought before Vader, and he tries to convince his father to return from the dark side of the Force.
Vader takes Luke to the Death Star to meet the Emperor, intent on turning him to the dark side. The Emperor reveals that the Death Star is operational and that the Rebel Fleet will fall into a trap. On Endor, Han’s team is captured by Imperial forces, but a counterattack by the Ewoks allows the Rebels to infiltrate the shield generator. Meanwhile, Lando Calrissian leads the Rebel Fleet in the Millennium Falcon, only to find that the Death Star’s shield is still active, and the Imperial fleet waiting for them. The Emperor tempts Luke to give in to his anger, and Luke engages Vader in a lightsaber duel. Vader senses that Luke has a sister, and threatens to turn her to the dark side. Enraged, Luke attacks and severs Vader’s prosthetic hand. The Emperor entreats Luke to kill Vader and take his place, but Luke refuses, declaring himself a Jedi as his father had been. Furious, the Emperor tortures Luke with Force lightning. Unwilling to let his son die, Vader throws the Emperor down a pit, but is mortally electrocuted in the process. At his last request, Luke removes the redeemed Anakin’s mask before he dies in Luke’s arms.
After the strike team destroys the shield generator, Lando leads a group of Rebel fighters into the Death Star core and destroys its main reactor. As the Falcon flies out of the Death Star’s superstructure and Luke escapes on a shuttle with his father’s body, the station explodes. On Endor, Leia reveals to Han that Luke is her brother, and they kiss. Luke cremates Anakin’s body on a pyre. As the defeat of the Empire is celebrated, Luke sees the spirits of Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin watching over him.