Film (1980). Lucasfilm/Twentieth Century Fox. Executive producer George Lucas. Directed by Irvin Kershner. Written by Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by Lucas. Cast includes Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Frank Oz and Billy Dee Williams. 124 minutes, re-released Special Edition 127 minutes (1997). Colour.
A first viewing of this blockbuster sequel to Star Wars (1977) sweeps the viewer along with the colour and spectacle of its various Space Opera venues: frozen and swampy planets, a notable appearance of Mecha (Imperial AT-AT Walkers) at the Battle of Hoth, hide-and-seek among Asteroids, and a climax in the sky station of Cloud City. A repeated screening reveals its weakly episodic nature, where heroic freedom fighters struggle repetitively against the Galactic Empire. Luke Skywalker (Hamill) is coached in spiritual control by a green puppet, Yoda, operated by Frank Oz of television's Muppets, in a sequence more banal than metaphysical. After too much pointless action and not enough character exploration, a genuine mythic (and Freudian) charge is belatedly evoked when evil Darth Vader reveals himself during a duel with good Luke to be his father, and in one or two scenes we are allowed to recognize in Luke a potential for harm, lending the film a much needed moral complexity. Brackett was dying of cancer as she drafted the script (she received a posthumous Hugo for it), which was heavily revised by Kasdan, but nevertheless and despite its faults The Empire Strikes Back retains distant echoes of the florid and witty grandeur of her own Space Operas. The initial Star Wars trilogy was completed with Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983). A book about the film is Once Upon a Galaxy: A Journal of the Making of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) by Alan Arnold (1922- ). The novelization is The Empire Strikes Back (1980) by Donald F Glut. [PN/DRL]
see also: Seiun Award.
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