Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)

2h 11m / PG / Sci-Fi, Adventure

One year after Han Solo’s capture, C-3PO and R2-D2 are sent to Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine in a bogus hostage-trade scheme made by Luke Skywalker. The plan is, unfortunately, too complicated for its own good, and while Lando (disguised as a guard) tries to set up the rescue, Leia (disguised as a bounty hunter) is discovered and captured. Luke has to show up in person — clothed in black and wielding a new lightsaber, he helps the whole crew to get out by the skins of their collective teeth. Elsewhere, the Galactic Empire is constructing a second, even more powerful Death Star to exterminate the Rebel Alliance. The rebels regroup on the forest moon of Endor in an effort to open a hole for their starship fleet to attack, but Luke, convinced he must change the heart of Darth Vader, allows himself to be captured and taken before the Emperor. Will good triumph? Can Vader be redeemed?

A New Hope changed everything, and The Empire Strikes Back surprised everyone. But by 1983, audiences thought they knew what to expect from a Star Wars movie. Critics loved it (four stars from both Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel!) and audiences made it the highest-grossing film of the year. And yet nobody — not even George, despite what he may tell you — fully understood what was coming. The original Star Wars trilogy changed the film business, revolutionized special effects, basically invented merchandizing, originated the contemporary attitudes of fandom and pointed out the new path of popular culture for decades to come. By 1997, the trilogy was released to home media in special editions and set things up for the prequel trilogy to kick off in 1999. The world belonged to Star Wars. And with all its ups and downs, the highs and lows, the endless expansion and the bombardment of branding, it still does. The stories of the Skywalker line in this galaxy far, far away still move and thrill audiences of all ages. Whether you’re seeing Return of the Jedi for the first time or the five hundredth, we at Tampa Theatre celebrate Star Wars in all its messy, manic, fascinating glory right alongside you.