It’s a testament to the enduring legacy of George Lucas‘ “Star Wars” series that we’re still talking about these movies and that they’re still being pored over, some 30-odd years after the the original films dropped. A new trilogy is obviously on the way, sans Lucas, because Disney knows it’s a license to print a ludicrous amount of money, but let’s face it, it was bound to happen anyhow.
In the lead-up to J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars Episode VII,” the official “Star Wars” YouTube channel has been unveiling old ‘Star Wars’ artifacts from their archives, old original trailers, rediscovered blooper reels, little interview pieces and other behind-the-scenes ephemera (no they’ll likely never dare release the utterly turgid Holiday Special, sorry). Another old, previously official artifact has been dug up too, though not presented on the Lucasfilm channel. It’s a rare deleted scene from the laserdisc version of “Return Of The Jedi,” and it reveals a conversation with Luke Skywalker and the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the clip, Yoda throws himself under the bus with a mea culpa. The old, supposedly sage, Jedi master essentially tells Luke on his deathbed, “All those lies we told you about your father Darth Vader? Yeah, that was all my doing.” The exact quote is, “Obi-Wan would have told you [about the true fate of Anakin Skywalker] long ago, had I let him.”
It’s an interesting deleted line for several reasons, chief among them for the fact that it brings up huge and fascinating moral implications that Lucas was seemingly not interested in or simply not sophisticated enough to deal with. There’s been plenty of talk over the years about how the overly-simplistic “Return of the Jedi” anticipated the unsophisticated ‘Star Wars’ prequels by 20 years and its many compromises (here’s one specific feature 5 Things You May Not Know About ‘Return Of The Jedi’ & How It Could Have Been Much Cooler). The movie introduced many child-like elements, like the Ewoks, perfect for selling lucrative toys to kids (already a multi-million dollar revenue stream for Lucasfilm) and refused to create real dramatic stakes by killing off any of the characters (Harrison Ford for years has said he wanted Han Solo to die, but Lucas was too concerned with how the character’s death would impact action-figure sales).
Think about it: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda essentially agreed to lie to Luke Skywalker about the true identity of his father and even the existence of his sister Princess Leia. And in this clip, it suggests that Kenobi fully realized the moral implications, and that this deception wasn’t resting well upon his soul. Imagine this ethical debate in front of the Jedi Council? There’s no way this would have passed in a million years. As THR wisely observes on their piece on the same clip, “They lied to Luke Skywalker to manipulate him into considering Darth Vader an enemy to be beaten, rather than the former ally — and Luke’s father — that he really was.”
It also brings up interesting questions about the rules of this universe, that George Lucas maybe didn’t even quite understand himself at the time. After all, this is a guy who named his final film in the original trilogy “Revenge of the Jedi,” (going as far as to print posters and create trailers under this title), only to change it to “Return of the Jedi” after fans had to remind the producer/filmmaker that a wise and peacekeeping Jedi would likely never seek revenge upon anyone, much less the man he now knows is his father who fell astray to dark forces (and it’s clear that Luke is empathetic to his father in ‘Return’ with every step of the film, including the “I know there’s good in him” line). But apparently a grand ‘sleeping dogs lie’ perjure was not something that Yoda and Obi-Wan were beneath? To be fair, perhaps desperate times called for desperate measures, the Jedi were all but wiped out at this point and both of these Jedi leaders would go into hiding.
Still, with all the talk of where “Star Wars: Episode VII” could go and all, talk of using Luke heading to the dark side—a prevalent and major narrative event in various non-canonical comics and books that extend the stories after ‘Jedi’—it feels like a missed opportunity. If Luke felt remotely betrayed by Yoda and Obi-Wan, this would certainly make for some very interesting and thematic texture for the upcoming sequels. Fanboys reading into some new open casting calls now believe plot points have been revealed and that the ‘Episode VII’ narrative won’t follow the children of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, et al. While we’re all for that idea—that’s really unimaginative sequel territory frankly—we’d bet almost anything that the ultra-secret J.J. Abrams and his team did not goof here and these “details” in the end, likely reveal nothing of significance.
“Star Wars” fandom goes on and on though, and will continue to do so. Today some tricksters playing with a deleted scene from “The Phantom Menace” edited a scene in such a way that it depicted the much-loathed Jar Jar Binks dying. If only we could go back in time … Anyhow, that clip is below, as well as the deleted Yoda scene. What are your thoughts on what Yoda revealed to Luke would mean to the series? Was this far too sophisticated for “Return of the Jedi”? Granted, it is a bit of a throwaway line as it is, so I’ll ask you this: Do you think George Lucas would have ever played around with this idea in a deeper matter? Discuss. Update: finally, the full 30 minutes from that Return of the Jedi Edit Droid LaserDisc has been officially released [via our friend Larry Wright].