Monday, May 25, 2015

31 Day Star Wars Challenge, Day 25: Favorite Scene from Return of the Jedi

Via LA Screenwriter
I know Return of the Jedi gets a lot of flack for the Ewoks and for some of the dialogue*, but it's still an incredibly fun film with some of the most recognizable scenes from the original trilogy:
  • Leia in the slave girl costume (sigh)
  • Threepio set up as a god by the Ewoks
  • Han's carbonite shell melting
  • Luke battling Vader while the Emperor looks on
It may not have had the character development of Empire or the innovation of Hope, but Jedi finished out the trilogy a lot better than the prequels did, finishing the Darth Vader arc bittersweetly. And it was stocked full of great scenes that I had to sift through to find my absolute favorite. Luckily, it wasn't too tough to pick one because I'm pretty sure that the scene I chose is one of the most iconic.

Jabba's sail barge assault one of the most fun action scenes I can remember, and that includes Guardians of the Galaxy (which admittedly was one of my favorite movies of the last couple of years). From Han's sarcasm about his blindness to Leia choking the life out of Jabba to Artoo pushing Threepio off the floating palace, I still get a kick out of watching this scene over and over again. Granted, I am also the same person who rewatches the same shit ad nauseum, so maybe I'm not the best person to ask.

The only part that I really find problematic with the sequence is, of course, the Princess Leia in a slave outfit bit. The humiliation of women in order to drive the plot is nothing new, but it does bring to mind the recent brutalization of Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones. I've never actually been interested in the show or the books, and I only watched the first episode before deciding that nope, I'd rather not. Between the incest and the Dany's forced marriage, my distaste outweighed any desire to be cued into public fandom (see also: The Walking Dead**). When the Mary Sue announced that they'd no longer be promoting the show, I was curious as to what could have caused them to do so; it's not like the creators hadn't ticked them off before, so for them to cut ties completely, shit must have gone down. I fully agree with and support their choice to stay away from triggering scenarios and now look at a lot of my favorite things - like Star Wars, obviously - with a much more honest lens. The novelization of Leia has her dealing with Jabba's lecherous ways, like licking her face and forcing her to drink whatever concoction he does, and she just bears with it, saying that she'd endured much worse forms of torture by Lord Vader. This is supposed to paint her as incredibly strong, and sure, Leia is one tough cookie. But instead of placing her in prison and sentencing her to death like he did with Han and Luke, Jabba places her on display because of her gender. It does end up biting him in the ass, since she strangles him with the very chain he used to subjugate her, but that doesn't mean that I don't object to Lucas and Kasdan's decision to essentially turn her into a rape victim to prove that she's resilient, like Game of Thrones is trying to do with Sansa.

That being said, I still adore this scene and take some solace in Leia's badassery, regardless of her skimpy clothing. I can only hope that things continue to improve in the movie industry for women, although it does seem like a long road ahead***. But then we see movies like The Hunger Games and Mad Max: Fury Road**** and TV shows like Orphan Black, where women are shown to be just as interesting and multifaceted as any of their male counterparts and given a chance to be in charge of their own destinies, not pawns of a society that only values them for their genitalia. I am really hoping that Episode VII will provide a nice change from the series' regular portrayal of their female characters, as mere plot devices or props for the male gaze. Don't let me down, Disney.


* Luke and Leia's conversation in the Ewok village about how they're totally related just seemed like it should have been in a wannabe Shakespeare play.
** Three and I have watched up through season three of TWD. Well, to be completely accurate, Three has; I've sporadically tuned in while he binged on Netflix. It isn't a bad show, but I've never really been into zombies or survivalist television.
*** This whole Maggie Gyllenhal being too old (at 37) to play the love interest of a man in his fifties just pisses me right the hell off. It is 2015. Can men not court women in their own age bracket nowadays?
**** I'm planning on seeing the film in the theaters very soon because I've heard literally nothing but rabid praise for it. Plus, the original series, even Beyond Thunderdome, was great. 
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