A stirring in the Force: ‘Star Wars’ saga on Blu-ray in 2011 with deleted scenes

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Return of the Jedi deleted scene

Saturday at Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, George Lucas announced that the six-volume Star Wars Blu-ray boxed set would drop in 2011 — complete with deleted scenes, including the often-discussed footage of Luke Skywalker building and testing his new green lightsaber before sending the droids to Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi, which you can see below (lawyers permitting, of course):

UPDATE: The clip was finally removed from YouTube as of Tuesday morning at Lucasfilm’s request, but for the moment it’s still online at Gawker.

To me, the clip’s juxtaposition of Luke’s becoming a Jedi Knight by forging his own weapon with Darth Vader’s desperate attempt to lure him to the dark side hints at the darker nature that was originally planned for the original trilogy’s ending — a darkness that’s been talked much about in recent days as Lucas’ estranged producer friend Gary Kurtz has broken his silence about their sundered partnership after The Empire Strikes Back.

In a Los Angeles Times interview, Kurtz confirms that Han Solo was supposed to die in Jedi — a development that actor Harrison Ford has often said he advocated — and the Rebellion’s victory over the Empire would have been much more of a Pyrrhic one, with their forces in tatters, Leia struggling with her duties as a “queen” and Luke walking off into the sunset alone. Kurtz contends that the lucrative merchandising empire that developed around the saga led to the brighter tone of the film, including the oft-derided “teddy bear luau” in the Ewok village at the very end.

Nerdvana contributor Dustin Diehl is at the epicenter of Star Wars fandom this weekend, so don’t forget to follow him on Twitter (@DRJedi) using the hashtag #popgoestheculture for the latest updates and pictures, as they happen!

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