Films to See Before You Die: #3 Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

i am your father

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Director: Irvin Kershner

Cast: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Frank Oz, James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams

Synopsis: After the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebels were forced to evacuate their base on the Yavin moon and the Galactic Empire has pursued the Rebel Alliance across the galaxy, forcing them to establish a secret base on the remote ice planet Hoth. Sith Lord Darth Vader (voice of James Earl Jones) sends robotic probes in search of the base and its commander and hero, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). While Luke is patrolling near the base, he’s knocked unconscious by an indigenous predator, the Wampa, a dangerous predator. Back at the base, Luke’s good friend Han Solo (Harrison Ford) announces his intention to leave the Rebels and pay the debt he owes to the gangster Jabba the Hutt, much to the displeasure of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). After Han discovers that Luke has not returned from patrol, he delays his departure and leaves the base to search for him. Meanwhile, Luke escapes the Wampa’s lair but is overcome by the cold. He sees an apparition of his late mentor, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who instructs him to receive training from Jedi Master Yoda (voice of Frank Oz) on the planet Dagobah. Han finds Luke and gives him shelter until they’re rescued the following morning by a Rebel patrol. Sometime later, when ground scans detect an object outside the base, Han and Chewy investigate, and find an Imperial probe droid that transmits the location of the Rebel base to the Imperial fleet before firing upon Chewy and being destroyed. On the command ship of Darth Vader’s massive Star Destroyer flagship, the droid’s transmission is picked up by Admiral Ozzel, who dismisses the message until Vader sees the transmission and realizes it is the Rebel base. He overrules Ozzel and orders the Imperial Fleet to the Hoth system. On the surface, the Imperial forces land their ground assault troops, making up of over a dozen four-legged AT-AT walkers beyond the energy shield and Luke leads his squadron of flying speeders into battle. However, the Imperial forces eventually overpower the Rebels and destroy the generator powering the energy shield, capturing the Rebel base. Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca flee on board the Millennium Falcon. The Falcon’s hyperdrive is revealed to be damaged and it cannot escape the Imperial blockade in space. During the confusion, they enter the nearby Hoth asteroid field, persuded by four Imperial Tie-Fighters; Han Solo pilots the Millennium Falcon deeper into the field, and the four pursuing fighters are destroyed by the flying rocks, eventually landing inside an asteroid crater to hide. Meanwhile, Luke and R2-D2 escape Hoth in Luke’s X-wing fighter. After a crash landing on the swamp planet of Dagobah, Luke meets a wizened, green little creature who reveals himself to be Yoda. After evading capture from Imperial forces Han sets a course for Cloud City, a gas mining colony on the nearby gas planet of Bespin, which is run by Han’s friend, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). Before Luke is able to finish his training he sense Han and Leia have been led into a trap and are about to suffer in an attempt to lure him into a trap. Knowing that he is risking certain capture Luke cannot allow his friends to suffer on his behalf and leaves Yoda for Cloud City leading to a confrontation with Vader.

Trivia: In the asteroid scene, one of the asteroids is actually a shoe. The rumor is that George Lucas asked the SFX people to redo the scene so many times that they got annoyed and one of them threw in their shoe. Lighting for SFX was so strong that several models melted. George Lucas was so impressed by Frank Oz’s performance as Yoda that he spent thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign to try and get him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Lucas’s campaign ultimately failed because it was felt that a puppeteer wasn’t an actor.

Why I think you should see this: When it comes to science fiction films there is none greater than the original Star Wars trilogy. My personal favourite of the three is The Empire Strikes Back, which so far is the greatest sci-fi film I have ever seen. I think this movie triumphs mostly because of who is not in the director’s chair, I have always believed episodes IV and I-III suffered mostly because of Lucas’ lack of talent as a director. This used to be my favourite film before all of the special edition versions came out and instead of leaving these timeless classics alone like any sane person would he tried to “add” to perfection which is just stupid. Most everyone has seen these movies but for those who haven’t go out and rent these immediately. You can even check out the prequel trilogy which is still good but just not the same.