Scene it on Friday – ROTJ Scene #15

One thing to keep in mind with this scene is that Han does not know the extent of Luke’s Jedi powers yet.  Last Han had actually physically seen and spoken to Luke was after the Battle of Hoth.  A lot has happened to Luke since then: he went to Dagobah, trained with Yoda, confronted Vader, found out that Vader was his father, resisted Vader’s offer to turn to the dark side, formed this plan to rescue Han, and defeated Jabba’s pet Rancor.

So when Han shows a less than enthusiastic response to Luke’s declaration that he’s “taken care of everything,” well…it makes sense.  I remember it used to baffle me that Han showed no confidence in Luke’s abilities.  Luke is pretty much a Jedi at this point so why does he not trust him?  Once I made the connection, it made more sense to not just blame it on Han’s arrogance.  His mistrust of Luke’s abilities actually stems from having no idea what’s been going on.

The Sarlacc Pit scene was filmed in Yuma, AZ and I was considering going out to Yuma and doing a little Star Wars road trip when I was in Arizona two weeks ago.  However, my friend lived three hours from Yuma and kept telling me there is absolutely nothing to do out there…so I took the hint.  I would have been all for driving down just to see a place where Star Wars was filmed, but I don’t think she was up for it.  I did go to the Redwoods two years ago and hunted for the Endor scenes in ROTJ, but the guides were very unhelpful (none seemed to be big SW fans) and honestly, the whole forest started to look the same after a while.  I would swear I stumbled upon one section that was filmed in ROTJ, and then I would find a similar looking place five minutes later.

But I digress.

According to Wikipedia, Lucas was not satisfied with the first Sarlacc Pit and thought it did not look “alive”.  I have been trying to find original concept art for the Sarlacc Pit because it would probably be pretty interesting, but all I have found so far is the same picture that Wikipedia has.  Does anyone have anything else?


In case anyone has ever been confused, the Great Pit of Carkoon was the location where the Sarlacc Pit was located; it’s not the full name of the Sarlacc Pit itself.  I always thought they were the same thing when I was younger.

Another great thing about this scene is how Artoo is reallllly good at keeping secrets.  I love that about him.  I know “he” is just an astromech droid but he definitely has a little bit of a personality.  No one would EVER trust Threepio with plans as he’s programmed to be much too honest.  It helps that Artoo only speaks in beeps and whistles but throughout the trilogy, you see that he can keep secrets a lot better than his golden counterpart.

Lastly, wow this scene looks like it would have been tough to film and tough to build as a set!  When you look at the concept art of Ralph McQuarrie, the actual scenes in the film stuck pretty close to what his artwork was.  I’m sure by the time they got to filming Return of the Jedi they had a lot more money, but I’m still shocked at how closely the artwork resembles what we see on film.  I’ve been roaming online to find more information on how long it took to make the set and came up with a few facts.  Jabba’s Sail Barge was set 20 feet above the dunes and to make it, they used over 1000 sheets of plywood and transported 13.5 tons of sand.  The entire scene cost Lucasfilm $4 million in 1982 to shoot.  Wowza.

Ralph McQuarrie Concept Art
Ralph McQuarrie Concept Art


A herd of wild banthas treks across Tatooine’s dunes. Jabba’s huge sail barge moves above the desert surface accompanied by two smaller skiffs.


Jabba’s entire retinue is with him, drinking, eating, and having a good time.


The sail barge and skiffs continue their journey.


Jabba the Hutt rides like a sultan in the massive antigravity ship. Leia is watching her friends in the one of the skiffs.


The skiff glides close, revealing Luke, Han, and Chewie — all in bonds — surrounded by guards, one of whom is Lando in disguise.

HAN: I think my eyes are getting better. Instead of a big dark blur, I see a big light blur.

LUKE: There’s nothing to see. I used to live here, you know.

HAN: You’re gonna die here, you know. Convenient.

LUKE: Just stick close to Chewie and Lando. I’ve taken care of everything.

HAN: Oh… great!


The chain attached to Leia’s neck is pulled tight and Jabba tugs the scantily clad princess to him.

JABBA: (in Huttese subtitled) Soon you will learn to appreciate me.

Threepio wanders among the Sail Barge aliens, bumping into a smaller droid serving drinks, spilling them all over the place. The stubby droid lets out an angry series of beeps and whistles.

THREEPIO: Oh, I’m terribly sor… Artoo! What are you doing here?

Artoo beeps a quick reply.

THREEPIO: Well, I can see you’re serving drinks, but this place is dangerous. They’re going to execute Master Luke and, if we’re not careful, us too!

Artoo whistles a singsong response.

THREEPIO: Hmm.  I wish I had your confidence.


The convoy moves up over a huge sand pit. The Sail Barge stops to one side of the depression, as does the escort skiff. But the prisoner’s skiff moves out directly over the center and hovers. At the bottom of the deep cone of sand is a repulsive, mucous-lined hole with a huge beak protruding from it, surrounded by thousands of needle-sharp teeth and tentacles. This is the SARLACC.

A plank is extended from the edge of the prisoner’s skiff. Guards release Luke’s bonds and shove him out onto the plank above the Sarlacc’s mouth.


Jabba and Leia are now by the rail, watching. Threepio leans forward and the slobbering villain mumbles something to him. As Threepio steps up to a comlink, Jabba raises his arm and the motley array of intergalactic pirates fall silent. Threepio’s voice is amplified across loudspeakers.

THREEPIO: Victims of the almighty Sarlacc: His Excellency hopes that you will die honorably. But should any of you wish to beg for mercy, the great Jabba the Hutt will now listen to your pleas.


Han steps forward arrogantly and begins to speak.

HAN: Threepio, you tell that slimy piece of…worm-ridden filth he’ll get no such pleasure from us. Right?

Chewie growls his agreement.

LUKE: Jabba! This is your last chance. Free us or die.

Lando moves unobtrusively along the skiff as Luke shoots a quick look of conspiracy to him.


The assembled monsters rock with mocking laughter as Artoo zips unnoticed up the ramp to the upper deck. Jabba’s laughter subsides as he speaks into the comlink.

JABBA: (in Huttese subtitled) Move him into position.

Jabba makes a thumbs-down gesture. Leia looks worried.


Artoo appears from below and zips over to the rail facing the pit. Below, in the skiff, Luke is prodded by a guard to the edge of the plank over the gaping Sarlacc. Luke looks up at Artoo, then gives a jaunty salute: the signal the little droid has been waiting for. A flap opens in Artoo’s domed head.

JABBA: (in Huttese subtitled) Put him in.


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