I'm going to need to clarify about the different versions I'll be talking about here and whenever I watch the other two: original theatrical versions, special editions released in 1997, and the DVD versions released in 2004 (aka the bastard children of the original movies). I watched the original theatrical version for this, but I'll probably talk about all three.
I've been watching Star Wars since before I can remember. My first real memory of Star Wars was when the special editions came out in 1997 when I was 10 but I had seen it countless times before then. My parents saw A New Hope on their honeymoon and love all three of them so Star Wars has been in our family as long as our family has been our family.
It was fantastic watching the original theatrical version. After the special editions came out, that's what we owned and that's what I watched. I then saw the DVD editions when they came out and was heartily disappointed and flat out mad when Hayden Christensen showed up at the end of Jedi. Then unfortunately, several years ago I bought the DVDs with two versions thinking they were the special editions only to find out that it was the bastard children tagging along with the original theatricals. And for some strange reason, I watched the bastard children. I thought the remastered look was worth the jumbled, distracting, and downright awful additions that Lucas thought necessary. Oh how wrong I was. It was amazing to watch the original theatrical version of Return of the Jedi. Not seeing Hayden Christensen at the end alone was enough to make me oh so happy (not to mention no horrible music number at Jabba's, no galactic celebrations and no "wesa free!"). I don't know why I kept watching the 2004 versions but I can promise you that I never will again.
One more thing on this subject, is anyone else pissed that Lucas isn't releasing the 1997 versions on DVD? Apparently he says it's too expensive. I'm calling BS on that. If he can afford to change all 6 movies into 3D and release them in theaters (2012-2015) he can afford to put the remastered versions on DVD. I think it's just his way of sticking it to us because people like those better than the bastard children.
Now specifically to Return of the Jedi. I don't have a lot to say because I love this movie and I think it speaks for itself. This one actually used to be my favorite when I was little, probably because of the Ewoks. However, as soon as I developed abstract thought I saw the clear superiority of Empire Strikes Back. Since I've been there, I can understand why children like Return of the Jedi best, but once you reach about 12, there is no excuse. However, I can't be sympathetic at all to kids who like Phantom Menace because of Jar Jar.
Now that I'm older I see Ewoks as kind of a cheap trick to sell toys and appeal to children (not unlike Jar Jar). It seems a bit far fetched that The Empire could be "brought to its knees by small, furry creatures" (another Spaced reference, but not the first one). It's not a horrible idea, since the storm troopers had been living with the Ewoks for some time and didn't consider them a threat. It makes the surprise aspect seem realistic, jut not the logistics of everything that goes down. In all honesty that's probably my only real beef with Return of the Jedi. Oh, that and when Chewie yells like Tarzan when he and two Ewoks swing from a vine to an imperial walker. I sigh every time I hear that. I feel like that's the first big indication of what Lucas will eventually become. But who knows, maybe it was Richard Marquand's idea (I'm guessing not though).
Hands down my favorite part in this film is Vader's speech to Luke while he's hiding:
"Give yourself to the dark side. It is the only way you can save your friends. [Here you see Luke's struggle to repress his thoughts and feelings in the hope that Vader won't read them.] Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for...sister! So, you have a twin sister! [Luke's face is filled with dismay and fear.] Your feelings have betrayed her too. Obi-wan was wise to hide her from me, and now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the dark side, then perhaps she will."
I get chills every time I hear this, most notably when Vader learns of Leia. This moment (and the one directly following) is one of my favorites out of the entire trilogy. It might even be my flat out favorite. It's written beautifully, James Earl Jones executes the lines flawlessly, and you can read everything you need to in Mark Hamill's expressions to all but read his mind.
Another awesome moment is not long after when the Emperor says, "So be it, Jedi." Based on this scene alone, the Emperor my favorite villain of any movie. He's just pure unadulterated evil. He's not even sinisterly enjoying the act of torturing and killing Luke. He doesn't even have that.
One more random observation before I go: Darth Vader always reminded me of Humpty Dumpty with his helmet off. It's supposed to be a tender moment, but because I made that association when I was little and never let it go, I will forever think of that. I'm trying to kick the habit though.
Next on the list is Titanic. I'm still trying to decide if I will actually watch that one again because there are just some things you won't subject yourself to twice.