Monday, 4 May 2015

What Made The Empire Strikes Back So Special? (Updated)

Beware! There will be some spoilers in this review!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... there came a time when THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (click here) didn't exist until George Lucas began pre-production after the original STAR WARS movie (click here) came out in May 25th 1977. He had his sights on doing the next chapter of the series which prolongs the space adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, C3PO, R2D2 and Chewbacca in their struggle to fight against the tyranny of the Galactic Empire. During its theatrical run in May 1980, EMPIRE received a mixed reception from the critics and audiences alike who have argued that the sequel is largely inferior to the original. It is then changed when after the release of RETURN OF THE JEDI (click here), fans of the franchise and critics begun to warm up over time and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK gradually became a well-renowned sci-fi smash hit that after its release,  was regarded as the greatest science-fiction film and forever more holds the title as the best of the classic Star Wars trilogy. 

This is an analysis to my all-time favourite movie and I'm coinciding it with Star Wars Day, if you are unaware of what this is than it is a appreciation day for fans of Star Wars which celebrations include cosplay, movie viewings, social media and other ceremonies. I'll be then presenting this tribute of seven factors of what made EMPIRE ever so popular and then innovative and appealing to the present generation of newly fresh movie-goers. Forget what Lucas did to the original trilogy in these recently updated versions, not with changing the scenes of Han shoots first. Since Lucas is no longer in control of his ultimate movie franchise, maybe there is hope after all that the classic versions are to be released in Blu-Ray before Disney can release EPISODE VII in whatever the date is.

Believe me what you've now just heard, I used to think EMPIRE was slow because of its downhearted ending and I preferred RETURN OF THE JEDI as a lightweight addition. I've grown to watch EMPIRE through the years and have now a different opinion than when I first watched the film. I believe that EMPIRE wouldn't have been as successful, if it didn't introduce the fan-favourite characters like Yoda and Boba Fett or the interplanetary worlds such as the winter landscapes of Hoth, the swamps of Dagobah and even the floating Cloud City of Bespin. Then Darth Vader certainly wouldn't be Luke's father, if it weren't this scene that surprised audiences of this daring twist of a story.

#7. Han + Leia

Now I take a look at the first
factor of this feature which is 
the romance between Han 
and Leia. Sure this would be a 
better love story in EMPIRE 
and it beats the misguided 
attempt on the ATTACK OF 
THE CLONES prequel which
by far has less experience 
of romantic drama, even the 
line said by Anakin to Padme 
"I don't like sand" will not stop 
it from going unmoving. 

Somehow this relationship works without the use of bad dialogue, it flows terrifically and both characters were a perfect match for each other. Even in their moments, they argue and then up to the scene where they professed their love as Han and Leia in their last moment together before being separated. I was going to mention that Luke should have been the one to fall in love with Leia, if she weren't related to him than none of us would have ever seen RETURN OF THE JEDI and REVENGE OF THE SITH. 

#6. The Action

For moments of the film, we've
have seen the Battle of Hoth, 
the chase on the asteroid belt 
and the first ever lightsaber 
duel between Luke vs his 
oppressive father, there all 
part of the action scenery that 
keeps EMPIRE loaded with
energy to give us an edge
of our seats. Particularly the
Hoth battle scene which is
one of the most memorable
pieces that ever brought to
the screen. It shows that
instead being an outer space battle like the original where it took place on the Death Star, they've taken measures to create a land-scale battle with hovering snow-speeders and giant walking AT-ATs.

#5. Yoda 

BACK, we have characters
that contribute to the story
of its motion like Lando
Calrissian and Boba Fett,
who can forget about the
little fella that gives us the
wisdom about the Force and
say the more important things
like Yoda. Although the
prowess of CGI technology
of creating characters in a
live action backdrop was not
introduced until 1999, Yoda
was created through puppetry and he serves as an odd though actually wise mentor figure to Luke. He often imparts his profound sentences to the protagonist when he teaches him his skills as a Jedi like for example "Do... or do not, there is no try". 

This remains Yoda as he is one of the best of iconic characters created for the Star Wars saga and even in EMPIRE, he serves as a plot purpose to Luke when he has to learn more ways of the Force.

#4. The Music

For every one composition
in his movies, John Williams 
is always the greatest asset and 
this is certainly the case in 
Star Wars and nobody will 
forget his memorable musical 
pieces that were included on
the official soundtrack and
became a top-standard and
sensational score. Such stand-
outs include the iconic 
"Imperial March" theme which 
was brooding anthem to the 
Imperials of which they are 
represented of their oppressive 
dictatorship and serves as a character theme of Darth VaderAmong the rest of instrumentals including "The Asteroid Field", "Yoda's Theme", "The Clash of the Lightsabers" and "Han Solo and the Princess" were enough to create the tempos of a fantasy sci-fi feeling, the rapidity and the gentle atmosphere of the scenes which were way different than what he previously done in his work with making the first original Star Wars soundtrack

This one would definitely be shown in a debate as the best of the series music, however, this depends if you decide on listening to the instrumentations of EMPIRE, A NEW HOPE or THE PHANTOM MENACE. That doesn't matter if you listen to all six of them as they are all brilliant?

#3. The Ending

Instead of a happy conclusion
or either end in a bitter-sweet 
tone as seen on the prequel
trilogy, THE EMPIRE 
different to the rest of the 
Star Wars films in that it 
concludes in a downer ending. It doesn't help that the protagonists were left broken and defeated by the Empire and the film is left open in a cliffhanger which leaves viewers in question about whether there will be a next instalment that would soon resolve the conflict on both sides. 

Some die-hard fans like Joss Whedon may not want to watch it again if they couldn't find the perseverance to get over this depressing conclusion. I disagree to what Joss said about the bad ending ruining the film, but rather I feel this miserable ending represented a very emotional, impacting and though provoking conclusion to a stunning movie.

#2. Direction & Writing

Part of the reasons why 
EMPIRE is always the 
greatest of all Star Wars 
movies is perhaps it had the 
least input from George 
Lucas. Especially the directing
which is all handled by the 
late Irvin Kershner and the 
duties of the writing to the late 
Leigh Brackett and Lawrence 
Kasdan. While not known for 
many of his movies even later 
ones like the ROBOCOP 2 
sequel, Kershner did a
significant enhancement of the series and an exceptional job to shift Star Wars from being a pulp science fiction adventure into a dramatic chapter. He even did a better impression on the acting and let them deliver most of their lines straight from the script. 

While George did write the story for the sequel, the screenplay was written by Leigh Brackett (until her death when after completing the first draft), Lawrence Kasdan took over from her and is more accomplished in partially writing the superior key plot points and the character dialogue which suits the film better to balance the humanity and sense of humour in specific scenes of the film. 

#1. "No, I Am Your Father"

Kicking off this top spot in
the EMPIRE tribute is the
father of all plot-twists. In two
years before the release of 
EMPIRE came to be leaked
when there's talk of rumours
that Darth Vader is actually
Luke's supposedly deceased
father and eventually the
audience didn't see it until 
in the next two years they 
started watching EMPIRE
and were unexpectedly
shocked of this horrifying 
revelation. Nobody actually knew at the start that Luke was the offspring of the most feared and notorious Sith Lord in the universe

It is when during the shooting of the instalment that Dave Prowse who is then playing the body of Vader wasn't actually given the scripted line and instead says to Luke that Obi Wan killed his father to keep the big reveal as a secret. It is then changed in post-production when James Earl Jones dubs over that scene of performing the actual line. Only five people including Jones, Lucas, Kershner, Kasdan and Mark Hamill knew about it at the start and this trivial fact has been finished.

I can relate the experience of the plot twist that this is one of these pivotal moments that catapulted EMPIRE into the iconic status and grown a lot more of the Star Wars fandom over the years.


We may get this belief that THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is the crown jewel of the enthralling action-packed science fiction saga that we grew up in that endearment. I don't care of which version of EMPIRE I want to watch, even I have got the altered version on Blu-Ray and see the original on the web. Anyway, this concludes the analysing tribute of the fifth Star Wars chapter and I hope to be back again in posting my review for all of you which I hope you will stay tuned for further updates.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent tribute! The Empire Strikes Back is such an amazing film, and you point out several of the reasons why it is one of the best films of all-time (and my personal favorite).