Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983)
The first instalment was released in 1977 - Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope - which soon became a pop-culture phenomenon around the world. Following that, came Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, and then Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in 1983, comprising the foundational trilogy.
While the emperor’s arrival on the Death Star is a pivotal scene in this film, the larger context adds to the tensions and significance of the scene. Here in Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, we meet the key characters again along with some new faces. Han is sort of unfrozen by a bounty hunter; Princess Leia in disguise, but Jabba the Hut, who was spying on her the entire time, takes her captive. This leads us to one of the most iconic Princess Leia moments when she kills him with her own chains.
After this, Han reunites with Chewbacca and Luke soon appears. After getting into some trouble and killing Jabba’s pet beast, the three of them are cast into the maw of the Sarlacc. They manage to defeat their enemies, including Boba Fett, and they escape.
There is no ambiguity about who’s in charge, who is the source of the dark force, and how this dark character exudes evil energy.
It is against this backdrop that Darth Vader pays a surprise visit to the Death Star II, which is under construction. The construction is behind schedule, though, and Vader is certainly displeased. And then the Emperor arrives on the Death Star II to inspect its construction.
The scene is iconic for many reasons; the massive sets, the solemn almost terrifying entry of the emperor as the mighty Vader himself kneels to receive him. The grandeur of the Empire’s army and the effect of seeing Darth Vader bow before the emperor as he descends from his ship is truly awe-inspiring! There is no ambiguity about who’s in charge, who is the source of the dark force, and how this dark character exudes evil energy.
This is the first time we see the Emperor in the flesh; his small frame belies his incredible power and his capacity for great evil. His dark and mysterious visage maintains an intimidating aura with his face barely seen and the voice, oddly delicate yet, full of cunning and deceit as he plots with Vader and reiterates his goal of winning Luke over to the dark side.
This brief yet powerful scene is not only one of the high points of the film, but an incredible moment in the entire franchise and one of the great moments in the science fiction genre.