The Empire Strikes Back
Directed By Irvin Kershner
The Empire Strikes Back is a curious case. It is one of the few films that manages to surpass it’s prequel (1977’s Star Wars) and is considered the pinacle of the series to most fans. It contains all those moments that makes Star Wars legendary and it’s for those reasons I love it more than any other film. It’s not the best movie ever made, I can happily admit that, but I do think of it as my personal favourite.
Set 3 years after A New Hope, after the discovery of a rebel base on the ice planet of Hoth, the empire begin their revenge on the Rebel Alliance by striking it, the plan is succesful but Luke, Han, Leia and Chewy escape. Luke goes off to become a Jedi, whilst Darth Vader plans to capture Han and The Millenium Falcon for his own means, whilst luring them into an ambush so he can capture Skywalker. The whole film is a bizarre combination of a roadtrip, voyage of self-discovery and pursuit. The film concludes in Cloud City, the Empire’s ambush plan against them is succesful and Han is frozen in carbonite and sent to Jabba The Hutt (who he owes a lot of money, as established in the alst film) However, Luke manages to escape from Darth Vader, at a cost…
Empire Strikes Back is the most iconic film ever. One of the few sequels that is superior than the original, millions of quotable lines and a definite hint to a bigger universe that was glaiced over in the original. Whereas in Star Wars, you could easily look over the mythology and enjoy the film, it fights back here. The mysterious Jedi become a bigger plot focus with the presence of Yoda and Han’s past finally catches up with him. It’s exciting to see these come to fruition (even more exciting when you’re familiar with other Star Wars films, it really feels like pieces falling into place) and the most famous plot twist ever, Darth Vader’s revalation towards Luke, that he’s his father which quickly turns bitter and hateful (He still tries to kill him afterwards, cutting off his hand and making him an emotional wreck).
The film is so magnificent to me because it’s everything the original could have and should have been, better written (to a point, this is still George Lucas we’re talking about) and darker. There’s a definite doom and gloom feel to this that should ahve been in the original, the Rebel Alliance were always a fairly small operationa nd could have been crushed at any point, now it never came across in the original, but it’s constantly reminded in every second of this film.
There’s more focus on Darth Vader and his imperial cronies. They saw the possibility of this iconic twisted, embodiment of evil and developed him into this tragic monster that both makes us curious, yet even mroe terrified and the scene where his helmet comes down and you see the backside of his throbbing, bald mutated head and the references and communication with the Emperor show that there’s something even worse than him…
As mentioned, this film has been seen as such an iconic release, it’s been parodied, referenced by just about everything, surely that’s a sign of absolute quality. For example.
Animated Sitcom Family Guy have put in many cutaway gags relating to Snowspeeders, AT-AT, Tauntauns and are about to release their hour long sequel to Blue HArvest (a parody of Star Wars) with a parody of The Empire Strikes Back, entitled Something, Something, Something Darkside.
Spaced’s lead character Tim Bisley is a massive Star Wars fan and the 6th episode of Series 2 has a parody of the ending of The Empire Strikes Back, the first episode also has him calling Brian “You Lando” In reference to him allowing the enemy in.
Finally, How can I talk about “Empire…” and not discuss it’s amazing musical score, it was the first film in the series to use that legenday fanfare that we’ve used to automatically establish with villians, or mistaken the funeral amrch with ever since. John Williams is a genius for inventing it and I’m going to leave you with it. Goodnight!