Return of the Jedi: Feelings, Faith, and Carrie Fisher

Intro by Brandon

How old were you when you saw your first Star Wars movie? For most of us, it was an adventure we took as children, although the sense of adventure and heroism can bring out childlike wonder in any of us. I was 12 years old when I checked out the original 1977 film from the library, and I went back almost immediately to check out the other two. I was blown away by the fantastic world that they created, the dynamic of heroes and villains, and the super-badass space battles as well. Are the films perfect? Well, no. In fact, they’re probably less perfect now than they were when they first came out thanks to George Lucas’s meddling. But there’s just something magical about these films that brings me back to my childhood, and there aren’t a lot of films that can do that for me.

So today, on May the 4th, which is Star Wars Day, Maria and I are going to tackle Return of the Jedi, the 1981 conclusion to the original Star Wars trilogy. Though originally lauded as the best in the series, opinions of the film have fallen in the decades since its release, and this is now considered by many to be the weakest entry in the trilogy. I personally disagree, which is why this film is on our list, but the film isn’t without flaws. Like, seriously, why couldn’t they just program R2-D2 to talk? They did it with most of the other droids.

The big reason I chose this film, though, is that it’s the first to really question everything that’s come so far. Luke questions and acts against the advice of his mentor Yoda. Darth Vader questions his role in the Empire and tries to reconcile with his son, although he’s not quite sure how to do that. The world that was crafted in the first two films was one of absolutes: heroes and villains, the light side and the dark side, and an enormous gap between them. This is a film about that gap, and there are a few interesting things to say about that.

And what podcast about movies and mental health would be able to cover a Star Wars film without talking about Carrie Fisher? Fisher was very outspoken about her mental illness later in life and was a tremendous advocate for mental illness awareness and acceptance. So we spend some time talking about her too.

All that, plus a rousing discussion on the nature of religion are coming up in this episode of Peculiar Picture Show, the podcast that talks about movies, maladies, and mental health!

Episode Summary

Overall Thoughts: An excellent ending to the trilogy, and an illustration of the series’ strengths

B – Everything people loved about the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi does best. Massive space battles, exciting lightsaber duels, rebels struggling to overcome a powerful empire, and exploration of the Jedi faith and lore—it’s all here.

M – It’s hard to review something that is the last in the series, but a great ending to the series.

Likes: Star Wars fun, the nature of good and evil, and commentary on religion?

M – The Star Wars universe is always fun, and I’ve enjoyed all the films in the series. This one wraps the series up and does a great job of that. Princess Leia is an ENTJ (Meyers-Briggs) and 1w2 (Enneagram) like me! Is Star Wars as a commentary on religion?

B – Contains basically everything you like about Star Wars in it: great action, the lore of the Jedi, and the nature of the force and the dark side.

Dislikes: Not the most logical film, supernatural is a crutch, George Lucas won’t leave it alone

M – Was kinda bored this time around. When stories use religion or god as an excuse and an easy way to end things, it seems cliche and I get frustrated. Why did George Lucas add those scenes?

B – Logical inconsistencies throughout and some clumsy dialogue in a few scenes. The dramatic elements in Empire were better. Why did George Lucas add those scenes?

Mental Health: Carrie Fisher’s openness about her bipolar disorder

Princess Leia is the official patron saint of Peculiar Picture Show. Carrie Fisher had bipolar disorder, body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), drug addiction, but was very open about it. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and also Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Brandon shares about bipolar disorder, Maria shares about her brain tumor. Carrie Fisher was just awesome for making people aware of mental illness and mental health issues.


B: Princess Leia is a real under appreciated character in this film because everybody talks about Luke Skywalker or Han Solo, and Princess Leia (I think) is probably the one who moves the plot forward the most, aside from Luke just being who he is.

B: Carrie Fisher has been a long-time hero of mine because of how open she was in dealing with her bipolar disorder, which I also have.

B: What is the nature of good and evil? Is evil something you are, or is evil something you choose every day? And the Jedi and the Sith seem to be saying, yes, once you become evil, this is who you are and there’s no changing that. And then both Luke and Darth Vader prove them wrong. 

M: What I really love about [Carrie Fisher] is that she was so open and honest about [her issues]. But not only that, she was very funny. She makes fun of something that is really serious, but what else are you going to do? I relate to that so much because that is the number one way I deal with stress—just making fun of it or being funny.

M: I think that anyone who has mental illness or has dealt with it can really look to Carrie Fisher as being one of the first modern pioneers of talking about mental illness and how to deal with it…and I’m really grateful for that.

M: Inevitably, when you have mental illness, you are going to make really poor choices that are bad and hurt people. Does that mean you’re a bad person? No.

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