It’s considered the the greatest sci-fi franchise in history — and you only get to experience it for the first time once. So when THR.com Deputy Editor Kimberly Nordyke showed her 7-year-old son Braden Star Wars earlier this month, she recorded the many comments, questions and theories the budding Jedi had. (Check out his thoughts on Empire Strikes Back here.)
Here, Braden reacts to Return of the Jedi as only a first-time viewer can.
The Death Star is back.
Braden: Are they going to make the cameras better? [so they can see if Luke and his pals are coming to destroy it]
C-3P0 and R2-D2 enter Jabba’s palace and are greeted by his goons.
Brianna, Braden’s 4-year-old sister: They’re scary for me. I don’t love those things.
Jabba makes his first appearance in the movie.
Brianna: He has big eyes, right? Bigger than ours.
C-3P0 is horrified when he sees the previous protocols droid being disassembled and tortured after “displeasing” Jabba.
Brianna: The golden robot is so funny!
We see Tatoine’s twin suns.
Braden: So it’s a lot longer day? Because one’s up when it’s daytime and when the other goes down it’s still daylight.
Jabba forces Leia to wear a slave girl bikini.
Braden: Is that the princess? Why is she like that? Why is she so fancy, all dressed up? Is it real gold?
The Jabba’s palace plot is dragging on too long for Braden, who longs to get back to Vader.
Braden: This movie would be really boring if this whole movie was in this cave.
Luke gets his lighsaber just in time to save the day.
Braden: Why doesn’t everybody have a sword? What’s it called? Lightsaber? Shouldn’t the princess have one just in case? Isn’t there a rule if you use your power for bad, it will go away? There should be. That does happen in some movies, doesn’t it?
The Emperor’s white, ashen skin confuses Braden.
Braden: Who is the white guy?
Kimberly, Braden’s mother: Even Darth Vader even has a boss. He’s the Emperor.
Braden: Darth Vader has a boss? Why does he have a boss? Mommy, if there’s a boss of somebody, and another boss, and it keeps going higher and higher from boss to boss, doe it goes in a circle or a straight line?
Obi-Wan returns as a Force ghost.
Braden: How does he change clothes?
Obi-Wan reveals that Leia is Luke’s twin sister.
Braden: I kind of knew it.
The Emperor looks off into space.
Braden: What’s he doing? Looking at the stars, wondering what he could do to beat Luke and his friends?
The Emperor orders Vader to send the fleet to the far side of Endor.
Braden: That guy in white never tells Darth Vader to take off his mask, right? That would be mean, but they are bad guys. But Darth Vader would hate that. Everybody would laugh at him and say “ha ha.” But Darth Vader never says “ha ha.” It would be weird if he said that. He’s never happy. Does he ever get happy in any movie? Was he happy as a kid? Did he ever play with toys?
Our heroes approach the Death Star undercover.
Braden: Is the Death Star not finished yet? Because it’s not a full circle? How long does it take to build a Death Star anyway? Does it take years to finish it?
The gang lands on Endor.
Braden: That place looks like the place with the tall trees [Sequoia National Park, where Braden’s family recently went on vacation]
The Ewoks make their first appearance.
Braden: That looks like a little teddy bear.
Brianna: It barks like a dog. It looks like a dog.
Meanwhile, back at the Death Star, Vader and Palpatine strategize.
Braden: How do they know where everything is on the Death Star? It’s so big.
The Ewoks plan to cook our heroes for a banquet in honor of C-3P0.
Braden: They’re like a little teddy bear. I can’t believe how mean they can be.
Luke tells Leia that Vader is his father:
Braden: Is Darth Vader going to be mad that he told her? I just had a connection. If Darth Vader is his father, then Darth Vader is Princess Leila’s dad [Braden keeps calling her Leila]. I just thought of that, so weird! Did you ever know that? If Leila knew that Vader was his dad, Leila would probably figure it out, right? But Obi-Wan Kenobi might have been wrong, do you know why? If Darth Vader was Leila’s dad, then shouldn’t Darth Vader have always known that?
Leia takes comfort in Han after Luke says he’s going to face Vader.
Braden: Does the mom [Luke and Leia’s mother] have the power [the Force]? The mom might have something, and Luke Skywalker could just say “try it” and then she tried it and she got it and she’d say “how did that work?” She might say that.
Luke turns himself in to the Empire.
Braden: Does Luke think he can turn Darth Vader back to good again? Well, that would only happen if Darth Vader wasn’t paying attention, like if he was so busy on something that if he stopped doing it, he’d have to start all over, and he’s so close to the end, do you think he would stop or do you think he would keep going and be good again? He would probably stop because… it’s kind of confusing because if he wasn’t doing it, then it’s kind of confusing right? It’s kind of confusing to me. I haven’t thinked it over … and I kind of forgot what we were talking about.
Luke and Vader continue to talk…
Braden: Why aren’t they fighting? Is Luke trying to tell Darth Vader all the good things about being on the good side? So they’re kind of fighting without any lightsabers? They’re kind of in just a “talk fight.” So Darth Vader is not going to kill him, right? And he’s not going to cut off his other arm, because what if they don’t have another spare arm? Plus, if he gets him on a bad-guy ship they probably don’t have another hand, right? So he probably doesn’t want to cut off his hand, so Luke Skywalker is kind of glad?
Vader takes Luke to see the Emperor.
Braden: If Darth Vader gets on good-side team, then really there’s no bad-guy team. If Darth Vader is on the good-guy team, then [he] might convince the guy with white skin, and then the people in the white masks [Stormtroopers] and red and the black and all those guys will probably get freed, because do they really want to work for bad the guys? They don’t want to, but they do. [Note: Braden’s mother thinks he may have gotten this idea from The Wizard of Oz.] Does Darth Vader become good in this movie? He probably will be good in movie 10, if they do make one. Good thing it takes so long to build a movie, because I still have like, I don’t know how many movies.
Luke regains his lightsaber and begins fighting Vader.
Braden: Is this like a show for the Emperor?
The fight continues.
Braden: It’s kind of sad [that they’re fighting]. You know we’ve been talking about him taking off his mask? What about his body?
Luke cuts off his father’s hand.
Braden: He killed off his hand? Is Darth Vader kind of scared?
Kimberly, Braden’s mother: Maybe he thinks Luke won’t kill him because that’s his dad.
Braden: So Darth Vader is kind of like, “He not going to kill me, I’m fine.” I mean, there wouldn’t be any more movies if they killed Darth Vader. Well, there would be because that white guy is still bad, he’s like the baddest leader, so he might make it even badder now that Darth Vader is gone. If he’s gone, he doesn’t have to care about him anymore and he can just go on. Is there a way to put all the movies in one? Like a 16-hour movie?
Vader kills the Emperor.
Braden: Is Darth Vader a good guy now? is Luke going to hug him? Is Darth Vader going to become good? If he does one good thing, shouldn’t he do all good things now? Since that white guy got destroyed and if Darth Vader becomes good, what will happen to the bad guys? Will they just be happy? Wouldn’t the movies be over if that happened? There must be a whole different bad guy in movie 7. All the bad leaders are going to be gone, the white guy, and that guy he owed money to is gone [Jabba the Hutt], so what’s going to happen?
The moment Braden has been asking three movies for has arrived … we will see Darth Vader’s face, and Braden is not sure he’s ready. The movie pauses.
Braden: Uh, no, do we have to? It’s really sad. No please (crying), no, I don’t want to. It’s not sad. It’s just — I really don’t want to see it. I really please don’t. I don’t want to. I wish you would just fast-forward. I’d rather see a picture. Can I decide about this? I would rather see a picture. I really don’t want to see this. Why’d he say “help me”? Because he can’t do it on his own because he lost his hand? But he still has his other hand? He’s not dead. It’s just hard to walk with no hand? It probably hurts so much he needs to rest? And all the other bad guys aren’t going to shoot Luke because he helped Darth Vader? Because Luke isn’t on the bad-guy team and Darth Vader is beginning to get on the good-guy team? I really want to watch movie 7. I haven’t watched 1, 2 and 3? I only watched 4, 5 and 6? I know what’s going on. It’s kind of like math, kind of. [Back to Vader’s real face] OK, I only want to hear it. No I don’t. Please could we go to bed now? Please?
The movie unpauses. Luke begins to take off Vader’s mask. The movie pauses again…
Braden: I would rather watch movie 7. By the way, I don’t want to watch movie 3. Do you know why? Because after the lava pit, it would show how his face looks. Who made the mask? Where did he get the mask anyway? And who made his suit? I would rather see a picture. No, not now, tomorrow. I don’t want to see. I’m too scared. Are you looking? (Braden’s mother shows him a photo online) That’s kind of like an old guy. When I saw him, I thought his face would be red and yellow [because of when he first saw the back of Vader’s head in Empire Strieks Back and thought looked like a banana and strawberry ice cream scoop]. Still I don’t want to watch. Please, will you save this spot that the movie paused? Please don’t make me.
Mom: You’ll be up all night thinking about it if you don’t watch.
Braden: I’m going to be up all night being scared about it.
Mom: Then just hide your eyes.
Braden: But I don’t want to hear it.
(Braden’s mom shows him another picture)
Braden: He looks deader in that picture. Will you watch it when I’m asleep? I don’t want to see. If it doesn’t sound that scary, then I’ll look
(Braden starts watching while hiding part of his face with a pillow.)
Braden: OK I’m watching just a little bit. Okaaay, not so bad so far.
The helmet is completely off.
Braden: Is Luke Skywalker surprised? Aren’t the good guys going to come that room and save him? Are they trying to hurry? Now will he tell her [Leia]? Is he going to tell her since he’s really good now? Did he die just now? Oh that’s sad. (Starts crying again.) Is Luke going to tell Princess Leila and — what’s his name? — Han Solo? Is he going to tell them the story of him saving him?
Luke watches his father die.
Braden: Why did Darth Vader just die?
Mom: Me: He died while saving Luke, maybe he used all his power.
Braden: I have the feeling he might have shouldn’t have done that, even though it was really nice, it would have been better if he lived, right? (crying again). I didn’t know Darth Vader was that old.
The Falcon escapes as the Death Star explodes.
Braden: Will they have to get out of there fast? When that fire is at the end of their ship? Didn’t that fire just hit them just a little and give them extra speed?
The Ewoks celebrate the destruction of the Death Star.
Braden: What are they celebrating? That Darth Vader is gone? That would be kind of mean. Is this Earth?
Mom: No, remember this is in a galaxy far, far away.
Braden: They would have to travel at max speed for like two hours to get to Earth?
Leia tells Han that Luke his her brother.
Braden: Wait, so who’s Han Solo? Is Han Solo her brother, too?
Braden: So who’s Han Solo’s dad? Do you figure it out?
The Ewoks celebrate the fall of the Empire.
Braden: Good thing they found the Ewoks. They had some good ideas. Could I watch movie 7 before movie 1? I mean, I already watched three movies.
Force ghosts join the party, including a younger Anakin Skywalker.
Braden: They should have shown Darth Vader when he was older [because that would be when he was Luke’s dad]. I want to go to bed now, don’t you? It’s really sad (crying). I was too sad to tell you this, but I thought Darth Vader stays alive and fights with the good guys, but who are going to be the next bad guys? I mean, Star Wars isn’t really Star Wars anymore. You wouldn’t say Wars anymore. Right now, you would just say Star because there are no Wars. You would only say Star.
Mom: Do you like the movies?
Braden: Um, maybe.
But wait, there’s more! Here’s Braden’s take on Empire Strikes Back.