40 Movies For 40 Years: 1983

I turned 6 years old in 1983. That was the year that I started the first grade. That’s pretty much the only thing that I remember about being 6. I went to school and I watched a lot of Sesame Street. I wasn’t watching a lot of movies at the time but there were a lot of them coming out that year. John Travolta was Staying Alive, Matthew Broderick was playing War Games, and 007 was back in Octopussy.

I looked at the movies that were released in 1983 and I tried to really ask myself the tough questions. Is this really your favorite movie of the year or are you just saying that because of the others. Well, as I looked through the list once…twice…three times…there is no doubt that my favorite film of 1983 is Return Of The Jedi.

Jedi, as it’s called by fans, is the final installment of the original trilogy of Star Wars films. And, other than a couple of terrible Ewoks TV movies and a short lived cartoon called Droids, it was the last we would see of the Star Wars universe for over 15 years.

I say that it is my favorite movie of that year, but it is definitely the weakest film in the trilogy. The level that we were taken to in Empire could not possibly have been matched or brought back down with satisfaction. Audiences had already had an expectation of how the story was going to end and nothing that Lucas could have done was going to scratch the itch just right. So, we got the Ewoks…which were kind of a weird species to enter the franchise. They were small, cute, teddy bear like creatures that threatened our heroes with cannibalism and defeated an army of Storm Troopers with sticks and stones.

The story was a lot more loosely constructed than the last two had been. It was as if the studio decided that it was going to be three films and three films only. The trilogy was the king. If the story had possibly been fleshed out to four installments it might have connected a little better.

But for its faults it still has some great moments that are some of my favorites from the entire series. The scene in Jabba’s palace is a classic. The death of Yoda still makes my eye twitch when I see it. And the unexpected revelation that Luke and Leia were siblings…a revelation that was probably a shock to Lucas as well since no one really believes that he had planned that from the beginning.

Watching Vader sacrifice himself to save Luke was a wonderful scene as well. I don’t know if that one moment of goodness should really absolve him of all the death and torment that he had caused in his life, but it worked for the story.

So, every story has its ending…and while Jedi wasn’t a perfect ending to Star Wars, it is still a great installment in the franchise. And it is by far my favorite movie from 1983.


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