Luke’s Death Blow


What I’d like to write about I can’t. Two of the more interesting projects I’m working on still haven’t been announced. One should be announced in May; the other…who knows, but later than May. Stay tuned…

What I can say is that our video/doc crew is starting work on a sizzle piece for Jeffrey Brown’s heart-warming and funny Vader’s Little Princess; the Prequel Trilogy Storyboard book is nearly done — and set for a May release — and looks great; the next book in the Star Wars Art series is approaching final stage and I’ll show the designed pages to George Lucas in a couple of weeks; and the first designed pass of The Making of Return of the Jedi is also due in a couple of weeks. First pass is my favorite stage: images, captions, and text are all together and designed for the first time — but we can still make changes, correct errors, improve.

Speaking of Jedi, here’s something that puzzled me while I was writing that book… If Darth Vader is out to overthrow the Emperor, why doesn’t he let Luke follow through with his lightsaber death blow — and kill the Emperor? The Emperor would be dead and father and son could rule the galaxy, as Vader had confessed as his greatest ambition in Empire.

That moment works in the film — almost because the audience doesn’t want Luke to give in to his darker, malevolent feelings, so we’re relieved that Vader blocks his blow. But why does Vader do it? As a few critics noted back in 1983, it seems like Vader has abandoned his dynastic dreams. Lemme know your thoughts in the comments section, if you want…

I asked George the same question and his answer is in the book — a fairly long answer — so you can check your own reasoning against George’s when the book comes out.

Next blog: Do hamsters dream of analog visual effects?

Lucasfilm executive editor J. W. Rinzler is the author of The Making of Star Wars and The Complete Making of Indiana Jones. He is now writing The Making of Return of the Jedi (and really looking forward to finishing it) for a fall 2013 release. You can visit for more info.

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