Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back enjoys its thirty year anniversary this week. Released in 1980 this instalment was directed by Irvin Kershner and reunited the cast from the previous film. Following release not only did this film go on to continue to cement the Star Wars franchise as one of the most successful of all time but it also earned its rightful place as the favourite episode in the franchise for many fans.
Moving away from the lighter tone of the original film, Empire took things in a much darker direction as our heroes struggled against the might of the Empire relentlessly pursuing them across the galaxy. Irvin Kershner did a wonderful job of fleshing out these characters, exploring their relationships upon a back drop of galactic civil war.
The Empire Strikes Back left me as a traumatised young viewer, being extremely young I had the painful experience of watching my hero Han Solo being captured, tortured and frozen in carbonite by the Empire, followed up by Luke’s struggle against Darth Vader himself before reaching the climactic revelation that shocked audiences around the world.
I have fond memories of my childhood Star Wars viewing sessions as the viewing experience would often be shared with my brothers, these screenings would result in us quoting as much dialogue as we could possible remember momentarily before it was spoken on screen by the character.
As I grew up and my love of all things Star Wars continued, Episode V was always a strong favourite out of the classic trilogy, I would often work my way through each film over a weekend which would regularly result in multiple screenings of Empire before moving on to watch Return of the Jedi.
For me this instalment includes the characters at their best, Han Solo at his most roguish, the introduction of Yoda and Luke’s training has always been compelling to me, and the continued bonds of alliance are inspirational as the their struggles against the Empire become harder than ever. Not forgetting of course the introduction of Boba Fett and the mysterious and intriguing bounty hunters that appear alongside him, details such as these always deepen the richness of the Star Wars universe.
Here’s wishing The Empire Strikes Back a happy thirty year anniversary, it will always have a special place in my movie collection.
Doing anything to celebrate? How do you feel about Empire compared to the other Star Wars episodes? Let us know in the comments section below.