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*Return of the Jedi* at NY Phil, 10/4/17

I saw *Return of the Jedi* at the NY Philharmonic on 10/4/17.

The highlight of the show was running into my friend Erika in the lobby before the show!

Erika is the niece of the priceless Martha Fischer. I've maybe only seen Erika under ten times, so this was a real treat. She and her husband and their kids are seeing all four movies, so we're going to find each other during the intermission of *The Force Awakens* on Saturday.

I took a couple of pictures of random audience members in their *Star Wars* finery.

I'd only seen *Return of the Jedi* a couple of times, and didn't have the strongest memories of it. Now I see why - - I don't think it's very good! Definitely the weak link of the three original movies. Not consistently exciting, not very high-level storytelling, and those Ewoks are pretty barfous, they almost ruin the movie. The Ewoks are to the *Star Wars* franchise as Scrappy Doo is to *Scooby Doo,* or Cousin Oliver to *The Brady Bunch.* It's cheap and cynical to think you can recapture the love of your audience with someone small, cute, and/or furry.

The whole Muppet element of this movie is sadly dated. Yoda is genius, clearly they spent a lot of time and money making him an expressive character. The Ewoks seem like stuffed animals that someone is holding from behind and moving around. And that rat-like sidekick of Jabba's, cackling all the time, he was also tap dancing on my last gay nerve.

Let's move on to the humans, shall we? I'm going out on a limb here, but I don't think Mark Hamill is a very strong actor. He's good ENOUGH - - he embodies the hero in a convincing way, but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of depth. Carrie Fisher doesn't have much to do, but at least she has that great moment with Jabba (see how deftly I avoided that spoiler). Harrison Ford gets the top honors, maybe because he seemed to be having a good time (except when he was frozen in carbonite).

The Emperor got quite a few laughs from the audience, which I'm sure wasn't what anyone had intended. His dialogue is cut-and-pasted directly from a cheesy old villain from some B movie. Maybe a better actor would have done a better job (sorry, Ian McDiarmid), maybe not. My favorite moment of the screening was when Mon Mothma said, "Many Bothans died to bring us this information." A total throwaway of a line, and yet a substantial part of the audience laughed and cheered! I don't quite understand why, but I think it has something to do with *Rogue One.* Would love confirmation of this, or a correction!

I heard a Prokofiev influence here and there in the first two movies, and it was very strong in this movie. Or as Yoda might have said, "The Prokofiev influence is strong with this one!" The Ewoks's music had the off-kilter profile of Prokofiev. On a side note, Williams's music for the Harry Potter movies also has a strong Prokofiev aroma.

I have a bone to pick with the Philharmonic. When they play *Pictures at an Exhibition,* the program says "Musorgsky, orchestrated by Ravel." Yet nowhere in the program notes is there any mention of Williams's orchestrator, Herbert W. Spencer. Spencer was Williams's orchestrator for the first three *Star Wars* movies, *E. T.,* and the first three *Indiana Jones* movies. Obviously he has a lot to do with the music, so why is it a dirty secret?

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