Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Two: Slave Leia Makes Her Debut (Or: I Know Why the Rancor Keeper Cries)


00:15:01 – 00:30:00

We here at the 15-Minute Force studios take this all seriously. As we left our stalwart Star Wars heroes, we were in Jabba’s palace. Artoo and Threepio just delivered themselves as gifts from the self-proclaimed Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker, who is the offspring of Darth Vader, even though he doesn’t say that. Jabba remains unimpressed with this, even as the bounty hunter Boussh appears with the renegade Wookiee Chewbacca.

This was a good first fifteen minutes, I feel I should say. Maybe I’m not sure what will happen next, and let’s pretend like I’m not. Whatever else I may think, this was a clinic on how to set up a movie’s main action.

So, what does happen next?

Jabba summons Threepio, who just happens to be the crime lord’s new protocol droid, to translate for him while he negotiates with the bounty hunter Boussh. Threepio offers the reasonable sum of 25,000 somethings to the bounty hunter. Boussh says he wants 50,000, no less. These are intense negotiations.

While the negotiations are going on, we get an intercut scene of Boba Fett flirting with one of the slave girls, chucking her under her chin.

Boussh insists he must receive 50,000 whatevers for the Wookiee because the bounty hunter is holding a thermal detonator. Those are effective negotiating tactics.

Jabba says that Boussh is his kind of scum, fearless and inventive. Ho-ho-ho.

Jabba counters with the sum of 35,000, which Boussh accepts. Yay! Everything is right in Jabba’s palace.

Except it’s not. . .

While Chewie is led away, Boussh and Boba Fett give each other a nod of mutual respect.

We see that one of Jabba’s palace guards is actually Lando Calrissian in disguise. Things are still afoot.

There is another exterior shot of Jabba’s palace that I suspect is a special-edition change. A frog-like creature snaps its tongue at another. A CGI establishing shot that I choose to comment on sparingly.

Night scene inside Jabba’s palace. Boussh comes out, trying to avoid the hanging windchimes. Were windchimes a rarity in 1983? Perhaps. Boussh seems to be drawn to them like a magnet, however. Then, Boussh faces Han Solo in carbonite the same way Indiana Jones faced the idol in the opening sequence in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but that’s just me. A couple of buttons pressed and dials turned, and then Han thaws out like a bowl of Ramen noodles. With the same kind of results.

Let’s face it. Harrison Ford didn’t want to be in this movie. His presence is pretty much by-the-book from here on out. The scene where he and Leia reunite, post-defrosting, lacks the emotional weight that Lucas wants you to expect. She’s the one who loves him, yadda-yadda-yadda.

Of course, Jabba and his creepy courtiers are all in on the joke. They all appear just as the lovers are reunited. Which implies that Jabba knew that Boussh was actually Leia, or at least suspected that whomever Boussh might be, he was there to rescue Han Solo. This implies that Jabba is probably much more intelligent than he appears to be. Jabba denounces them both as Bantha poodoo. We’ll dismiss this as bullshit for the moment, although it may actually be Bantha shit.

Leia saves Han, but it’s not enough. Leia is now also a prisoner and Han is, well, also still a prisoner, but bound for something else more demeaning than being frozen in carbonite. Leia will also know something about being demeaned.

Han is reunited with Chewbacca in a cell, for reasons that defy logic. And Chewie tells him that Luke is a Jedi Knight and plans to rescue him. Yeah, as if.

Then, Luke Skywalker arrives and overpowers a couple of Gamorrean guards with his Jedi Mind Trick. Luke easily gets by Bib Fortuna as he enters Jabba’s palace.

Luke approaches Jabba’s throne. Jabba has a new pet: Leia in her slave-girl bikini. My interest in Star Wars is far from prurient, but I have to admit, even now, I think Leia looks good in this costume. I know this is a sexist comment, and I certainly mean no disrespect to the late Carrie Fisher (whom, I suspect, may have appreciated this understated level of admiration). But, like it or not, the image has become iconic.

Jabba explains to Luke that the Jedi Mind Trick won’t work on him. Nevertheless, Luke says that he’s taking Han Solo and his friends. Jabba can either profit from this or be destroyed. It’s his choice.

Luke ends up in the Rancor pit. No surprise there. Secret trapdoor. There’s Luke, in the Rancor pit. The Rancor is huge, with grabby hands. Pig-guards die first. Yum. Pork.

Luke pulls a huge Flintstone bone out of the pile to block the attack of the next aggressive attack. Luke, in his King Kong close-up moment, manages to foil the large creature’s plans. Luke sees an exit between the Rancor’s legs, and makes a break for it.

It’s not enough, however. The Rancor needs to attack Luke before he can shut his door on him. Which is what happens. The Rancor comes in, Luke hits the button to close the gate, and then the Rancor is shut down as a threat.

The man-breasted Rancor Keeper weeps at the death of the Rancor.

Then Jabba announces that Han will be terminated immediately in the pit of Carcoon, the nesting place of the Sarlaac. This applies to Luke and Leia and Chewie, too, apparently.

Over the next twenty seconds, you see Jabba’s sailing barge going forth. This is not going to end well, you might think. Artoo is shown serving drinks on Jabba’s pleasure barge, which is sailing over the Dune Sea towards the Sarlaac Pit.

And, with this in mind, we conclude this chapter of the 15-Minute Force. Han Solo has been rescued, sort of, even though he’s about to be thrown into the Sarlaac Pit along with the Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. We have no other story goal at this point except that the Empire is about to switch on its second Death Star, even though none of our heroes seem to know anything about it.

Join us next chapter to find out if Han and Luke, and Leia in her slave bikini, survive the Sarlaac Pit. Until next time . . . Traveling on Jabba’s Sail Barge is a High Honor,

At Least Until You’re Made to Walk the Plank . . . And May The 15-Minute Force Be With You.

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