Following the surprising success of it’s 1977 predecessor: Star Wars: A New Hope, George Lucas handed the directorial chair over to Irvin Kershner for the sequel, and the widely acknowledged pick of the bunch; The Empire Strikes Back. Not only were audiences stunned by a perfectly executed follow up to one of the most revolutionary films of all time, The Empire Strikes Back is still revered today as one of the greatest films of all time by film fans worldwide, a feat that before the release of A New Hope seemed ridiculous.
Considering the technology available when the prequel trilogy was made compared to the technology in 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back was released, it truly is an impressive cinematic feat. The production for this film in particular was astounding then, and even now it is particularly impressive to watch, especially during the battle on the snow planet of Hoth, a marvel to the audience. It provides one of the sagas more iconic images, of the giant AT-AT walkers crossing the plains of snow, and the triumph of Luke Skywalker and the rebels when they use their snowspeeders to bring down these great metallic behemoths against all the odds. As per any great film, the soundtrack was again a masterclass, typical of the great John Williams, and helped capture some of cinemas most iconic moments perfectly, executed so finely that the music is forever etched into the mind of the viewer. Out of all the Star Wars films, it is clear that The Empire Strikes Back has the most iconic single scene, in fact, it arguably has the most iconic scene of all time. In the middle of an intense lightsaber battle, the dark side vs. the light, Vader against Skywalker in the Cloud City. As Vader cuts Luke’s lightsaber hand off, he tries to turn Luke to the dark side, and there will never be a scene that is as unforgettable and accidentally misquoted in history: “Darth Vader: Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father. Luke: He told me enough. He told me you killed him. Darth Vader: No. I am your father.” It doesn’t matter whether you’ve seen any Star Wars films or not, almost everyone of this current generation is probably aware of the quote, and that’s the defining factor that just rounds off the excellence of this film, the single aspect that makes it truly timeless.
It is incredibly hard to fault this film, arguably it is the most perfect sci-fi film to date, the pacing is so much better than it’s predecessor, the script is spot on and the performances, notably Harrison Ford as the ever charming space-smuggler Han Solo and Frank Oz’s excellent cameo as Yoda, are all pretty fantastic. This film is one of the best sequels of all time, up there with The Dark Knight and LOTR: The Two Towers, and it is arguably the greatest sci-fi film ever made. It went above and beyond the extremely high expectations, following A New Hope, and has become an absolutely timeless movie that anyone can enjoy.
Words by Elliott Jones