Harrison Ford wanted his character, Han Solo, to die in Return of the Jedi. Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan agreed. Kasdan thought Solo’s death would freak out the audience and make ‘em appreciate no one was safe. George Lucas nixed the idea. Lucas wanted Return of the Jedi to deliver a huge payload from merchandising and as Ford later explained, “George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”
Merchandising was certainly one influence in making of Return of the Jedi. Stars Wars merchandise had given Lucas a “Golden Ticket” and he was determined to use it to get everything he wanted. Lucas had ambitions to use this money to fund his dream of an independent studio, Skywalker Ranch. It’s long been discussed by fans as to just how much Lucas changed things to help him achieve his ambitions. Keeping Solo alive was one. Changing the Ewoks from butt-ugly lizards to cutesy teddy bears was another. As were the multiple feel-good endings—something probably inspired by the double-ending of Oscar-winner Chariots of Fire. At one point in its development, Return of the Jedi closed on Luke Skywalker wandering off into the sunset like a war-weary samurai. In another, he turned to the Dark Side after the death of his father Darth Vader. These were a bit too downbeat for Lucas who wanted to make a “kid’s film.”
Aside from the merchandising and “Nub Yub,” Lucas had some far-out suggestions for the film’s director. He originally wanted Steven Spielberg, which is understandable, but then he offered the film to David Lynch and then David Cronenberg which would have been pretty awesome if one or the other had signed-up. They both turned the offer down. It was eventually given to BBC TV director Richard Marquand to helm, as Lucas wanted a safe pair of hands as he thought movie-making really happened in the cutting-room. It’s also been long rumored Marquand didn’t direct all of the film as he had a difficult relationship with the cast.
Return of the Jedi merchandise made Lucas gazillions. It may not be the best of the first three Star Wars movies made but it is a damned sight better than some of those that were made afterward.
As any fule no, during a movie’s production, make-up and wardrobe take Polaroids of cast members in their different costumes and slap to ensure continuity. Here’s a little collection of continuity Polaroids featuring Luke, Hans, Princess Leia, and co.
Via Vintage Everyday.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
If David Lynch directed ‘Return of the Jedi’
‘Star Wars’ vs. ‘Aliens’: What’s not to like?
‘Star Wars’ stormtrooper helmets customized by Damien Hirst and other top artists
Alec Guinness, a.k.a. Obi-Wan Kenobi, kind of hated ‘Star Wars’
Princess Leia’s ‘coke nail’ in ‘Return of the Jedi’
Crazy Hungarian posters for the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy