I just happened upon this, the original Sebastian Shaw finale of Return of the Jedi. It this still the most disappointing ending of a big-budget, big-studio release in motion picture history? It numbed and crushed me when I saw it 34 and 1/2 years ago. Hugs, music, drumbeats, bonfires and little dancing pooh-bears? I saw it with two or three friends at an all-media screening at Loews Astor Plaza, and it was like the wind had been knocked out of us. Onward to Solo and Episode IX and the fall of Donald Trump, I know, but I’ll never forget the horrible feeling this film injected into my veins.
“After The Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas had a chance to enter the pantheon of great human storytellers. Go ahead, laugh…but his Star Wars movies brought him to the edge of greatness. After his first two and even after the disappointment of Return of the Jedi, all Lucas had to do was a great prequel trilogy. Had he blown us away with Episodes I – III, he would have joined…brace yourselves… Shakespeare, Kurosawa, the Brothers Grimm and the others in the Hall of Stories. His influence on movies and marketing is not in dispute. I’m saying the stories themselves were good, and had potential to be great. His characters, their universe, the backstory…they bored into our minds until they became archetype. Jedi-ism is even a recognized religion in some places.
“Lucas was right there, right on top of it and he blew it. Like the Wachowski brothers, he had a chance to make something great…bigger than him, bigger than all of us. Something to last into the future. Had he made a cohesive six-story epic that excited and held our fascination, he’d be in, and they’d still be talking about The Force and Darth Vader a thousand years from now. But like the makers of The Matrix, Lucas is going down in flames. Of all the storms creative people weather in their lives, why must the hardest be success?” — “The Light That Failed,” posted on 4.15.05