Star Wars 6: Return of the Jedi
1983 Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher
Executive producer George Lucas, director Richard Marquand, and producer Howard Kazanjian provided the leadership, creativity, resourcefulness, and sheer strength of will necessary to bring RETURN OF THE JEDI, the eagerly anticipated third chapter of the cinematic STAR WARS Saga, from Lucas's limitless imagination to motion picture screens around the world.
In addition to serving as executive producer, Lucas wrote the first draft of the screenplay from his own story outline. RETURN OF THE JEDI concludes the middle third of Lucas's nine-part space epic, which he has conceived as three trilogies. Lucas began production on the Saga with the now-concluding middle trilogy because -- as he says -- "he felt closer to this part of the story" at the time he was ready to start filming. The phenomenal sequel of STAR WARS, the first chapter, and its cliffhanging sequel THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, have made viable Lucas's plans to complete the entire series.
Lucas chose British director Richard Marquand to work with him on RETURN OF THE JEDI. Marquand has said of the
STAR WARS series, "It is pure, classic story telling."
His goal in directing RETURN OF THE JEDI has been to create "real relationships and real action that stem from real emotions," while simultaneously accomplishing challenging camera set-ups and complex special effects. His acting background has served him well in his role as a director. Because he was an actor, he considers himself to be "an actor's director, rather than a shots man," even though he has also earned impressive credentials in documentary filmmaking, a field which sometimes places more emphasis on technical virtuosity than acting. Marquand welcomes his elevation to the STAR WARS galaxy with a mixture of Celtic determination, humor and just plain awe -- confessing that "having George Lucas as an executive producer is like directing 'King Lear' with Shakespeare in the next room!"
Howard Kazanjian, the producer of RETURN OF THE JEDI, also served as the executive producer of Lucasfilm's RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. A graduate of the University of Southern California Film School, where he first met George Lucas, Kazanjian worked as an assistant director on many films prior to joining the Lucasfilm team. He is a creative detail-oriented strategist. In these days of rapidly rising production costs -- JEDI had a construction crew that peaked at five hundred workers -- Kazanjian and a total production force of over one thousand technicians were responsible for
making sure that every production detail was carefully planned, guided, and monitored. As a producer, however, Kazanjian's prime concern was to strike a balance between the business end of the operation and the often expensive creative urges of his colleagues. For a film as complex as RETURN OF THE JEDI, one hundred thousand dollars a day is merely "standing still" money.
During a production delay on location in Yuma, Arizona which was caused by a sandstorm packing sixty mile per hour winds, Kazanjian reflected with humorous irony: "We allow for almost no contingency at all -- maybe one percent. We figure that every day will be perfect! It's my responsibility that this wind is blowing today. It's been blowing for thousands of years. But today, it's my fault."
All difficulties were overcome. As a result of the intrepid technical and creative collaboration, the Millennium Falcon again soars through space, lightsabers once again flash and hum, and the screen is filled with adventure, romance, and entertainment wizardry.
RETURN OF THE JEDI was directed by Richard Marquand from the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas, based on the story by Lucas. Howard Kazanjian was the producer and George Lucas was the executive producer. The music is by John Williams.