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SpecFaith Movie Missions: Return Of The Jedi

The Emperor’s greater evil, Jedi points of view, slave Leia’s scanty attire, Force magic, and final battles—let’s explore them all.
| Dec 18, 2015 | 2 comments | Series:
"Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi": Luke rejects the Dark Side

This is one of the all-time best moments of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Explore SpecFaith Movie Missions for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.

Happy Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Day!

Will you see Episode VII? If so, how? Are you a longtime Star Wars fan? Or like me, a casual fan who wishes he had been introduced to the Star Wars universe far earlier?

Last week for Christ and Pop Culture Magazine, I shared my story about getting into Star Wars later in life.

That piece released for free viewing yesterday as “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Fan.” Here’s how it starts:

The first time I watched Star Wars—that is, Episode IV: A New Hope—I got in big trouble.

Actually, I only saw half the film with my brother. He got in half the trouble. After all, he was first to confess that we had found the VHS copy of A New Hope in the closet and watched it without permission. It was one of the Mystery Videos inherited from a late grandparent—not official releases but TDK tapes recorded from network TV. We watched it only from Death Star infiltration to the end credits, and it bugged my brother’s conscience first.

I don’t even recall our ages then. I do recall that was a long and difficult two solid weeks with “no electronics,” that is, TV or Computer Time.

But I also recall that feeling of seeing not just something forbidden, but something new and amazing. I had never seen a motion picture like it. (Perhaps you haven’t either. After all, this version was years before the first Special Edition of Star Wars.) Action! Grown-ups, stylized realism, comical robots, bantering humans, chases, effects, spaceships! And Darth Vader, right there onscreen, after all we had heard about him. Wow!

Naturally the “cover-up” made me spend the next several years curious about Star Wars, prequels and all. But I did not actually see the complete film or the full original trilogy until 2008. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) insisted on my education.

But I did not really become a fan until 2013, when my wife and I re-viewed the films twice.

I finally became not just a Star Wars “appreciator” but a fandom convert. This time, I can even join the rest of the fandom getting hyped for Episode VII.

At the same time, I retain an outsider’s perspective on Star Wars. I can’t help but see and analyze the film differently than fans who have seen the story more than three times.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader

(Insert Darth Vader dad joke.)

I wonder how much this outsider’s perspective comes through in the below study-group-style questions for the (chronologically) very last Star Wars episode?1

"Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi": The Emperor

We are never given the Emperor’s tragic story.

  1. Higher evil. Once again we see the story turn toward showing that Darth Vader, as bad as he is, is only a servant of the more-wicked Emperor. What can be true about showing a greater evil behind the evil? And what can also be false about showing this in a story?
  2. Den of squalor. As with the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars, what do you think about Jabba the Hutt’s nasty dwellings? How does the story show the bloated alien gangster’s treatment of others, slaves and especially women? Does it approve this behavior?
  3. Liberated Leia. When Jabba enslaves her, she’s shown in this (in)famous skimpy outfit. Some have even called this costume “liberating” for women. What do you think of that response? Can all or some Biblical Christians see such visuals and not personally sin?
  4. Fight for freedom. For the first time since Star Wars, Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and the droids all fight together. How do their interactions now compare with before?
  5. “From a certain point of view. Ghost-Kenobi says this explains how he could say that Darth Vader killed Luke’s father, instead of being his father. “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view,” he goes on. Discerning based on Scripture, what may be true about this? What may be false?
  6. “Bury your feelings deep down, Luke.” What do you think about this Jedi philosophy?
  7. “Use your divine influence …” In the Ewoks’ home, C-3PO says they believe he’s a god. Ah, so there are gods in the Star Wars universe? What do you think of this development?
  8. “Use your magic.” Then Luke uses his own. So The Force is Or is it? Thoughts?
  9. “There is good in him. … I can turn him back to the good side.” Is Luke right? Later he surrenders himself to his enemies. Why? What’s changed since Empire Strikes Back?
  10. "Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi": The Emperor tortures Luke SkywalkerThe Emperor claims to have set this trap all along. How does this make the story better?
  11. “Strike me down with all your hatred.” What is the Emperor trying to do to Luke? Later Luke does defend himself against Darth Vader’s assault. Is there any difference?
  12. Feelings for a girl spur Luke to fight more, but not a love interest. How is this unique?
  13. Why does Luke finally refuse to give in to the Dark Side? And though we don’t see Darth Vader’s face (or until the Blu-Ray version, hear him speak), why does he at last decide to save his son and instead turn on the Emperor? By the story’s end, is Vader a villain, a hero, an “antihero,” or another kind of character entirely? How do we finally see him?

Explore SpecFaith Movie Missions for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.

  1. The questions were originally written for a small group of friends at my local church, who viewed and discussed the original Star Wars trilogy over the summer of 2013.
E. Stephen Burnett is coauthor (with Ted Turnau and Jared Moore) of The Pop Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ, which will release in spring 2020 from New Growth Press. He also explores biblical truth and fantastic stories as editor in chief of Lorehaven Magazine and writer at Speculative Faith. He has also written for Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin area and serve as members of Southern Hills Baptist Church.

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Leah Burchfiel
Leah Burchfiel

But you’re leaving out an important part of the story: how are we supposed to understand your parents’ motivation for forbidding Star Wars?


Also, Darth Vader never said anything when he turned on the Emperor. Nope. Not a thing. Definitely not something horrifically melodramatic.


These questions, I don’t like them. The way I read them, they are set up – it’s obvious what the “Right” or “Godly” or “Biblical” answer is supposed to be for each one.

I’ll answer one from my point of view, as an example of what I mean, above.

Q: Re. Leia and Liberated Bikini scene…etc.

A: Leia freed herself. That Bikini Scene where Luke walks into Jabba’s lair to find (his sister) Leia chained by the throat as a sex slave, was a pivotal moment for Star Wars history. This is the first time in 3 movies Leia is dressed, positioned and in a role where she stops being presented as  what she is (a character who moves the plot) and is instead dressed & present specifically FOR the male audience’s gaze. Her identity is lost, her function in the movie has been lost. In a way, Leia died as a character and became the sexy prop that most female characters are in movies (even if they wear a nun’s outfit).

BUT…then Leia comes back to life. She resurrects, like a Phoenix from the ashes. As the action starts, she jumps onto Jabba, takes her sexy bondage fetish choker chain and strangles him with it. Then she jumps onto the barge with a blaster for the getaway. And it is very important that she does ALL OF THIS in the brass bikini loincloth thingy. SHE becomes the active independently deciding and acting, plot driving (actual) character again. But she’s still wearing her prison suit. Because it’s not HER. SHE is MORE than the body they put on display. She triumphs not only over Jabba the Hutt, but sexist erasing of her character (embodied by that bikini).

Do I think the director should have put her in it in the first place? No. But LEIA survived it. Because we see her “Return” to life, and what she does become the focus of her character (and overshadows the stupid supine positioning and sex slave girl fantasy). That is a worthwhile transformation to see, because that bounceback so rarely happens in movies with female roles.

Now THAT is badass – screw Katniss Everdeen. 😀