From Star Wars Spirituality, featured on christianitytoday.com:
Partly because the Star Wars saga is melodrama, and partly because human instinct tends to prematurely separate the sheep from the goats, the potential for the redemption of Darth Vader never crossed the well-set minds of most viewers. For some, the redemptive ending was not entirely plausible. The Time magazine reviewer, for example, thought it corny. But the very surprise it occasions effectively uncovers the bad manners of contemporary cynicism and hopelessness. That is admittedly a preachy point to make, but the effect of the ending of The Return of the Jedi, the unlikely return itself, pivots on the audience’s usual gullibility about the way the world usually works, which is badly. Sinners, whores, and late grape-pickers all the same, contemporary imaginative habits are constrained to see judgment and doom, to turn away from the possibility of renewal.
Very interesting reading.