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At the same time Marquand feels his theatrical background was valuable in his work on Jedi—both his experience as an actor and director of Shakespearean and Jacobean drama and his familiarity with very stylized Asian theater with its use of masks. He lived and traveled in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia after college and came to understand "the way in which masks can totally convince you that the emotions you're feeling are actually being felt by this faceless creature you're looking at." The relevance of this to Star Wars is obvious. "I was amazed when I saw Threepio the first time in Star Wars because that's precisely what's achieved there. It is a totally inanimate, expressionless mask, but you always know what Threepio is feeling. If the scene is right in the script and you set up the shots right and cut it properly, it seems to me that you can practically not go wrong with Threepio. In fact you get to the point where you don't need him necessarily to speak. In Empire I had the feeling that he talked too much, that he was constantly telling you what he was feeling. In this movie it's much less necessary because you are a participant in the scene—you as the audience have a very definite emotion about what is happening to your favorite characters in any scene—and when you come to Threepio, because of the very fact that he's not expressing anything, you're able to transfer the emotions you're feeling to him. It's like looking in a mirror. So that the only times you actually need Threepio to speak is when, in fact, he's not feeling those things. There's a sequence, for instance, where all the heroes are together and they're worried because one of them is missing. I mean they're very worried, and Threepio at that point says, 'Don't worry Master Luke. We know what to do.' It gets an immediate laugh because he doesn't know what to do and he's totally panicked. It works as a counterbalance."

Perhaps the most significant factor in the choice of Marquand as the director for Return of the Jedi was his rapport with Lucas and his ability to work within the framework which might prove awkward for many directors. While Lucas did not want to direct the film, it was obviously still very much his creation and he needed to be much more involved creatively than an executive producer would normally be. Marquand does not hesitate to give Lucas full credit for his role in the creation of the film, and he is quick to concede that he could not have done what Lucas did. "There's no way in the world that I could have dreamt of a tenth of the magic that this man has put into this series." At the same time he feels secure in his role as director. "I 've directed Shakespeare in the theater in my time, and I come to the written word and the concept with a sense of enormous humility because there's no way I could write Hamlet. But I think I can direct it, I think I can make it into something that is tremendously exciting and contemporary and meaningful for audiences today."

Marquand compares his working relationship to Lucas with that of an orchestra conductor to a composer, and rather than feeling constrained by Lucas's desire to be involved creatively he speaks of it more in positive terms of Lucas being very generous with his time. "He realized that if I was going to do it adequately, I'd have to be able to get inside his head and walk around and see. I warned him when I started that I was going to be constantly bugging him with questions."

One example of the kind of question Marquand would put to Lucas was whether it is possible to have a laser sword fight with one hand. Marquand had designed a sword fighting sequence with a sword master that involved wielding the swords with one hand, but he was unsure about how heavy the swords were supposed to be. Lucas responded immediately with the fact that a laser sword becomes very heavy and unwieldy once it is activated and that there was no way it would be possible to fight with it in one hand. He did not even want to look at the storyboards for the sequence Marquand had designed, because a Jedi simply would not use a laser sword in that way. As Marquand puts it, "It's the grammar of the saga and you've got to get it right, It's essential to know these things."

Marquand began working on the film before Lawrence Kasdan was hired to write the screenplay. Lucas had developed the story and a rough draft script to the point where it was possible to begin the design work on the settings and the new creatures and vehicles. Return of The Jedi is a film in which visuals come first—literally. The design work began before the screenwriter was hired. Once Kasdan was engaged there was an intensive script conference involving Lucas, Marquand, Kazanjian and Kasdan during which they virtually shut themselves up in a room for about two weeks hashing out all of the scenes. The entire proceedings were taped—even the heated disagreements—and Kasdan went away from it al with a voluminous transcript containing al the rejected ideas as well as the mutual decisions about how the script should be structured. Obviously in such a process it is pointless to try to sort out who thought of which ideas, but Marquand recalls two items that he feels are indicative of the kind of input he was able to have at that point. First of all he felt very strongly that the opening shot of the film should be modeled after the openings of the first two installments, starting in outer space and revealing something that has to do with the Empire so that the film begins on a dark note of threat. The original storyline did not provide for this but apparently everyone readily agreed to it. Another point that Marquand felt strongly about was the inclusion of Yoda. Originally Lucas's story had the film begin after Luke had completed his training with Yoda and Yoda was no longer in the movie. Marquand felt that audiences would feel cheated if there was no scene with Yoda because the importance of Luke's return to Yoda to complete his training was set up so strongly in The Empire Strikes Back. Again the idea apparently found ready acceptance, and plans were made to bring Yoda's house and the Dagobah swamp out of mothballs. Ironically Marquand was later to be quoted as saying that shooting the scenes inside Yoda's house was comparable to crouching under a desk for two days.

After the script conference Marquand went back to England to supervise the design of the sets while Kasdan went off to write the script. Once Kasdan's script was completed there were relatively few changes made during production. Kazanjian even estimated that the final film is probably 97% of the script. Lines of dialogue changed during production but very few structural changes were made in the scenes or the overall continuity. One scene involving a sandstorm on Tatooine as the heroes are boarding the Millenium Falcon was scrapped after it was shot because it was felt that the energy of the scene was too much for the film at that point. When it was assembled in the workprint, a decision was made to concoct a substitute scene to convey the same story information without the intensity of the sandstorm setting. According to Kazanjian the first assembly of the film was about 2 hours and 20 minutes. From that point on the editing consisted of tightening and modifying things a bit towards the end, but he did not anticipate any—basic structural changes such as the removal of any characters or scenes altogether.

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