George Lucas reveals never-before-seen original opening to 'Return of the Jedi' at 'Star Wars' fan event

At the Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, Florida this past weekend, George Lucas and friends (including Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher) introduced a never-before-seen deleted scene from Return of the Jedi, the third installment in the original trilogy. (You can watch the scene — or at least a portion of it — below.) Apparently, Luke Skywalker originally had a different introduction in the film. Instead of waiting to bring the young, mechanically-handy jedi into the story after Princess Leia’s failed attempt to rescue Han Solo from Jabba’s palace, Lucas and his collaborators conceived a scene in which Luke, his face partially obscured by his dark hoody-cloak, finished work on his new lightsaber and placed it inside R2-D2’s domed head, setting up some plot points for later in the movie. What struck me most were the moments preceding the Luke stuff, in which Darth Vader retires to his meditation chamber and tries to psychically summon his son. “Luke, join me on the dark side of The Force. It is the only way. Luuuuuuuke… Luuuuuuuuke…” Kinda corny in retrospect, but at the same time, the whole sequence would have made for an ominous and creepy opening sequence — one at odds with the relatively light adventure that follows, which could be one reason why they cut it. The deleted scene will be available on the Return of the Jedi Blu-ray disc, which will be released next year as part of the Blu-ray release of the entire franchise.

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  • darclyte

    Video not embedded yet? All I see at the moment is empty white space.

    • Nathan

      it’s playing over at

      • Jabba the Mutt

        That little deleted scene is better than the entire prequel trilogy. Why? Because Darth Vader isn’t a ***** in this scene!

  • Shamrock

    I was able to see it over on cinemablend. Really not much too, but the Star Wars fans there were crazy for it. They are a weird bunch.

    • TQB

      honestly, the dude who yelled “YEAAAHHH”… seriously man, it was just not that exciting.

      • Big Walt

        Yeah, he was pretty pathetic. I think it may have been the double rainbow guy.

      • ltchy

        Yeah, I know, I can see how it would seem a bit weird and excessive, but as a fan, he was excited because it SHOWS Luke actually constructing his own lightsaber, which is one of the final steps in becoming a Master, and until now has only been shown in the books and comics…

      • shotgunsamurai42

        Like when people flip their lids over someone scoring a touchdown in Footlball… It’s a ball dude chill out. Nerds.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Nope, totally different than football.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    It was lame.

  • nodnarb

    Princess Leia’s failed attempt to rescue Han Solo? WHAT?! She did exactly what she was supposed to… free Han from the carbonite and position herself in Jabba’s court ready for Luke’s arrival. The plan worked perfectly.

    • L

      Uh, no, I don’t think that was the plan.

      • nodnarb

        Yes, it was.

  • yaskme

    Apparently the force is not with you since we are unable to see the clip.

  • Christian

    Glad they cut it. Much better with the “surprise” lightsaber showing up on the barge.

  • Johnification

    So the Blu-ray release is gonna be the one where we finally get all those famous deleted/alternate scenes from the original trilogy?

    • MsSuniDaze

      That is until Lucas does yet another release in 5 years with more deleted scenes.

  • Peter

    I love this scene! I wish it had been in the original (first time I’ve felt that about a new scene).

  • Ab

    Apparently, there’s a whole lot of re-editing taking place. I just caught Return of the Jedi on Spike and was shocked to see that they replaced the original image of Anakin at the end with Hayden Christensen (plus the ending seemed a lot longer taking us to a bunch of other planets for the celebrations). I don’t know when that happened but it took me completely by surprise since I hadn’t seen it since the last prequel came out.

    • Psac

      That’s been that way for a while…

    • poop

      Try six years ago

    • Peter

      The shots of different planets were in the re-release in 1997. Hayden Christensen was added to the DVD version after the prequel trilogy.

      • Peter

        That was the first time was saw some of the planets that were important to the prequels (e.g. Coruscant)

      • L

        Which made NO sense to me. If you revert to the younger Ani, why not the younger Obi-wan? It’s not like he was worried about continuity or anything.

      • Peter

        True. But then again, why an old guy with hair as he originally appeared? He *never* looked like that in life.

      • Scott

        Seeing Anakin as he was when he died was consistent with seeing Obi Wan and Yoda as they were when they died. It makes no sense to show a young Anakin after death. The movie is about Anakin’s RETURN to being a Jedi (and the Return of the Jedi order), so he died a Jedi. At least that’s what I thought the point was.

    • Abby

      I wish Lucas’ ego would have left the movies as originally shown. That’s how everyone liked it, why change it? It doesn’t make it any better.

      • Laura K.

        Because Lucas never really made these movies with fans in mind. Their money, yes, but not them as people. Lucas made these movies to satisfy his own vision, and certain parts of that vision were impossible to achieve when the movies were originally made. When the technology advanced, he could make the movies approximate his vision better, so he did, trusting that the fans were fanatical enough to buy anything Star Wars, even if it wasn’t what they wanted to see. I don’t have a problem with that, honestly, but expecting Lucas to actually give fans what they want is a little naive. He sees himself as an artist and a creator–he’ll exploit the commercial stuff, but it’s just what funds his “work.”

    • shotgunsamurai42

      The re-editing from what I understand, were scenes that were in the original script but because the technology wasn’t advanced enough proved impossible or silly to film.

  • John C.

    Way to go Lucas. Always finding new ways to sell a 30 year old movie everyone has seen a million times.

    • dlauthor

      Yes, because no one else is releasing pre-existing movies on Blu-Ray. It’s amazing the format’s survived.

      • shotgunsamurai42

        Haha I see what you did there.

    • nodnarb

      My previous comment got eaten, but go check out the LA Times’ interview with producer Gary Kurtz for some insight into what changed at Lucasfilm between ESB and ROTJ. It’s a fascinating read. George Lucas cares about making money and nothing else.

      • Jessica

        It’s funny. I’ve been saying that for years. When the trilogy came out on DVD the first time, but only in the special editions, my brother said “I’m surprised you’re not asking for them for Christmas.” I told him I was holding out until the original formats were released. He told me that Lucas was adamant the original edits would never see the light of day again. I told him, Lucas is a money-grubbing whore who will release the original edits just as soon as people stop buying these DVDs. Sure enough…couple years later…voila! I think a little part of my brother’s soul died that day…when my cynical outlook on life proved to be right on something he cared about. :)

      • amylovesnewwave

        Not to mention High Def Digest says this “deleted” scene is actually not a thirty-year-old scene. They appear to have patched together Vader’s stuff from the previous two movies, and they have Mark Hamill admitting he never filmed this scene. I dunno what to believe, but I sure as hell don’t put something like that past George Lucas.

      • C Men

        It amazes me how people get mad at him for this (Lucas for wanting to make money). I realize he has more money than many small countries but still, they’re his movies if you don’t like it don’t shell out the cash. Like you guys wouldn’t be doing the same thing. Nerds.

      • nodnarb

        I don’t think anyone’s mad at him for wanting to make money. If the property didn’t make money, we wouldn’t have it in the first place. But if you’ll read the interview I pointed out, his own producer on the first 2 films reveals that since ROTJ Lucas’s scripts are driven entirely by merchandising rather than by character and story. There’s something very wrong that.

      • poop

        You know George Lucas is one of the many billionares who recently decided they were giving away half of their fortunes? Yeah…

  • DocRules

    ‘Relatively light’? Seriously? I kind of don’t like RotJ because it’s way too happy and fluffy. I’ll take ESB any day.

    • Abby

      Agreed. I think the ewoks were a obvious marketing ploy.

    • Jeremy

      But ROTJ has what ESB has never had: Leia in the GOLD BIKINI–the sexiest costume known to man.

  • Bosco

    When Luke assembled the lightsaber, his training became complete- that’s why the fans went nuts. I would have loved to have seen that open the movie when it first came out.

  • doopey

    It’s a cool scene, but they were right to cut it out. It would have lessened the impact of Luke’s entrance at Jabba’s palace and spoiled the dramatic reveal of his lightsaber during the battle at the sarlacc pit.

  • redvector

    Star Wars is over. Lucas regurgitates it every few years just to make money off it.

    • DN

      I’m a fan, having been just old enough to see the original in the theater, but I have to agree with your remark. Another way to get milk out of that cow.

      The gap between III and IV is ripe for a good movie — but, a las, what would it be called, III.5? Evidence Lucas arbitrarily picked that number for the original film.

      • shotgunsamurai42

        Originally they were going to make nine films, in three different arcs.

      • Nerwen Aldarion

        Actually Lucas was originally going to call A New Hope Episode 1, but realized that by doing that he would be cutting out a lot of his original story.

        His original idea was about Anakin Starkiller, not Luke, it wasn’t until later that he came up with the idea of Luke and he took off with that story.

      • fact

        You are wrong. The whole ‘Episode IV- A New Hope” thing at the start of Star Wars was actually added later, around the time of Empire’s release. The original release in 1977 was just ‘Star Wars’.

  • A.F. for EW

    Meh, so what?

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