A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Irvin Kershner
Produced By: Gary Kurtz
Written By: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Running Time: 124 Minutes
To many, this is the quintessential sequel, the epitome of cinematic success. To others, it’s the greatest motion picture in history.
There is something incomprehensibly staggering about the sheer gravitas and level of importance this particular picture from 1980 possesses, however when watching it unfold in front of you, it all just makes sense. The Empire Strikes Back achieved what so few sequels had previously achieved and what so many have ultimately failed to accomplish; it improved upon the original.
The improvements can be found in almost every facet of the film, which on paper seems to be an insurmountable feet. The saga continues on with the most universally recognised and beloved instalment of all, establishing itself as a cultural landmark and refusing to step down from the throne of cinematic phenomena.
Set three years after the destruction of the Death Star, a galactic search for the victorious Rebels has ensued.
After the monstrous Darth Vadar locates the Rebel Alliance and launches an attack, they disband and two juxtaposing tale unfold. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) voyages to learn the ways of The Force and evolve into the Jedi Knight he was destined to become, whilst Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) embark on their own mission of evasion and discovery across the galaxy.
The episodic nature of the Star Wars trilogy allows for a long-winded narrative to be told over a sizeable collective runtime, so naturally it is the middle portion that leads itself most to the darker themed aspects. Feeling like an inspired and modern Greek tragedy, The Empire Strikes Back has always been able to leave a sour, defeating feeling in audience’s minds, offering significantly grimmer and daunting prospects for the next chapter.
Lost friends are unable to assist Luke when he needs it most (at least physically), whilst separation, anger and hubris come into play as the characters experience a looming threat like no other.
The story is primarily centred on Luke and his crucial choices as a character. Injected with the infinite wisdom of Jedi Master Yoda, Luke is forever changed and begins to learn the immense capabilities and inevitable responsibilities of The Force. One of the greatest character arks in cinematic history, Episode V is a beautifully written cornerstone for the iconic hero.
There is a pulse to Episode V, a vibrance, a calculated and lucid core that makes the story so immersive. Serving as inspiration for countless stories that followed, it plays out evenly and effortlessly, never biting off more than it can chew.
For a film that is all of three minutes longer than the original, it manages to cover what feels like twice as many story elements and establish a powerful connection to every single character, even new faces on both the dark and light side.
Not only do the eternal images say what words simply could not (with the exception of perhaps one renowned line of dialogue), the music once again defines the picture; this time however, adding new and equally as iconic themes into the mix. Dramatic, thunderous and simply unparalleled, the music, the themes, the marches and sounds of Star Wars and John Williams are exhibited without fault; it’s a masterful Oscar-winning work of art in and of itself.
Bigger, bolder and braver, The Empire Strikes Back is the definitive chapter in not only the Star Wars chronology, but modern culture.
Iconography in every scene with brilliant pacing, pioneering effects and an ambition that continues to inspire billions of people today, Episode V is a must-see for any man, woman or Tauntaun. An advancement on the already groundbreaking pinnacle, the sequel strikes and solidifies itself atop the pantheon of classic motion pictures.