'Star Wars': Why Do People Hate Vader's Added Line in 'ROTJ' So Much?
There is nary a change in the Star Wars Special Editions that fans do not despise. The one that gets complained about most often is the Greedo scene from the original movie (AKA A New Hope), which leads fans to cry “Han shot first!” They’re also saying Darth Vader doesn’t cry out “No.”
Star Wars has gone through a number of reappraisals lately, with people saying that the sequel trilogy and the prequel trilogy don’t deserve their poor reputations. Fans have lately become more forgiving of George Lucas, but some of his tinkering still rubs fans the wrong way.
What was the change in ‘Return of the Jedi?’
In the original 1983 version of the film, after Luke refuses to join the Emperor and join the dark side, the emperor zaps Luke with Force lightning to kill him. Luke cries out in pain and begs his father to help him, and Darth Vader initially appears to be unmoved.
After staring at Luke for a moment, without saying anything, he lifts the emperor up, carries him to a shaft and drops him. Vader, having been hit by the lightning, dies soon after.
In the late 1990s, when Lucas was preparing his prequel trilogy, he decided to make changes to his original trilogy, partly because he wanted to test digital effects, and partly because the movies never fully sat right with him.
The changes first appeared in 1997 theatrical issues, but what baffled fans was that the movies kept changing every time they were released in a new format.
When the movies were released on Blu-Ray in 2011, the emperor’s demise played differently. This time, when Vader looks at Luke he says “No.” Then he picks up the Emperor and screams “No!” as he carries him to the shaft. Fans protested, saying this diminished the power of the moment.
The “no” sounded like it came from the moment in Revenge of the Sith when the newly resurrected Darth Vader hears from the Emperor that he killed his wife, Padme. Vader cries out no in anguish there.
How do fans defend Vader’s Line?
The general complaint about the added “No” is that it seems out of character for Vader, whom fans see as the ultimate villain. Yes, he’s redeemed in the end, but Vader bellowing “No” struck fans as unnecessary at the very least. However, a Reddit thread attempts to justify it.
A topic-starter writes, “My Star Wars Hot Take: Vader screaming “Noooo!” when he saves Luke and kills the Emperor doesn’t take anything away from the scene, and honestly is a good rhyme of his fall to the Dark Side when he attacked Mace Windu.”
This is in reference to the scene from Revenge of the Sith.”
However, one fan wrote the lack of dialogue is what makes the scene work: “I think the fact that we didn’t need it to understand what he was thinking is all the reason you need to leave it out. Conveying Vader’s thoughts with just his mask is good filmmaking.”
Another fan said, “It is not something that “ruins” the scene for me and the massive outrage over it is a bit silly, still a pretty good scene but I much, much prefer the original version. That was kinda a very unnecessary decision, you could already get everything you needed to from the scene without that NO.”
Fans forgive George Lucas
Although the various Special Edition changes, including the famous “Maclunkey” addition continue to confuse fans, the vitriol that was directed at Lucas for these and the prequel trilogy, seems to have died down.
Now fans have circled back around to the idea of thanking Lucas for creating Star Wars in the first place, even to the point of criticizing Disney for rejecting his proposed sequel outline.
Another recent Reddit thread posted an image of Lucas looking down approvingly on Baby Yoda, who was a sensation in The Mandalorian. Lucas wasn’t directly involved with that show, but fans see the image as representing the redemption of Lucas.
“I kinda see this image as a captured moment of George’s journey coming to a happy place again. After creating a revolutionary story in his youth and basking in the glory, he was happy. But after returning to further build his universe years later, he faced intense ridicule and abuse – forcing his hand to give up his baby and presumably retire. But after more negative backlash about the further installments (he was probably glad to not be involved with), George is cordially invited back by (current producers) to survey the next chapter of his universe.”
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