Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back came out May 21st 1980, but it was only in 1987, at five years old, that I saw it for the first time. I had seen Episode IV multiple times already (understatement) and knew that I wanted to be a Jedi and make movies. Episode V however, is my favourite of all the Star Wars films. Perhaps because it is the middle of the story; I love middles. It is not the beginning, so no introductions, and it’s not the end, so no conclusions. It’s the best bit, all development. It’s also the film with the best of Princess Leia’s hairdos and I am able to do several of them. The one from Lando’s Palace is my favourite to do, though it takes time, but I digress.
“Impressive. Most impressive.”
I must have watched the film hundreds of times. Every day as a kid, then every week as a teen. While others were talking about manicures and boys, I was talking about the Jedi teachings and the Force, a true geek. About Yoda’s teachings, the only missing bit in this film, is the Jedi code. I would have LOVED to have a scene where Yoda asks Luke if he remembers his teachings, shortly before Luke would depart, and then you could see Luke recite the Jedi code, and Force things happening around him as he does so, like things floating, him floating, that wonderful moving music composed and orchestrated by John Williams playing in the background as Artoo tweedles as he watches in awe. In my mind, it’s a scene that happened that didn’t get onto camera.
“Watch that crossfire, boys!”
Did you know that if you watch it upside down, Luke is right side up when he’s upside down? Did any of you do that as kids, place your heads down on the sofa to watch upside down? Or fast forward, or slow motion forward, and backwards? Or am I the only one obsessed enough to have done that? My sister, brother and I would set up the living room as though to make a hideout, and we’d install ourselves in a weird position and see how long we could go watching the film like that. Of course, every other time, we watched it normally.
Trivia: The very first line of the film is said by Luke: “Echo three to Echo seven, Han old buddy, do you read me?” (Yes I wrote that off by heart, no googling here, true story.) And the very last line is beeped by R2-D2.
Much as I don’t have much love for the planet Hoth (I mean, just look outside half the year, it’s Hoth in Canada), vital moments of the film take place on the planet. Well actually, on the fourth planet of the Hoth system, to be precise. I mean, the budding romance begins to take shape, Vader nearly catches them, the infamous vision from Ben, important scenes that lead to the escape in the asteroid field, which leads to Han and Leia’s very first kiss scene (the scoundrel scene), which leads to all the happenings on Bespin. Hoth is a the place where we see, for the very first time, Imperial Walkers (AT-ATs and AT-STs) and they make an… impact. Oh and…
“I thought they smelled bad on the outside.” (Tauntauns!)
Back on Dagobah, I took Yoda’s teaching about the Force to the letter. Those scenes are the beginning of multiple novels about Star Wars and the Force. There are books that talk about just that, Force powers, Force abilities, the Living Force, the Unifying Force, the Cosmic Force and the Physical Force. Dissecting the Light Side and the Dark Side. It all emerged from Yoda explaining what is the Force to Luke.
Trivia: Jedi is a recognised religion in some regions of the world, such as Australia. It is a Philosophy that many have adopted while still maintaining another religion, and has also become part of the Neo-Pagan movement of Jedi-Wiccan or Jedi-Witch. Those who believe in magic, and/or who practice meditation, believe that the Force is another manifestation of magic and that Force abilities are possible through practice and discipline.
I’ve always been more of a Fantasy person than a Sci-fi person. So perhaps it’s the fact that there is a form of magic in this film and a form of sword that makes it so appealing to me, but Star Wars is the perfect blend of Sci-Fi and Fantasy all rolled into one. Speaking of rolling, my mind wanders here to the Millennium Falcon rolling between two asteroids as a TIE Fighter explodes behind it with that wonderful music.
“Sir, sir, the possibility of successfully navigating through an asteroid field is approximately three thousand, seven hundred and twenty to one!” “Never tell me the odds!”
As a filmmaker, I have to mention the scene that is one the most epic scenes in the film, cinematography-speaking. It’s also the scene that introduces Darth Vader’s theme. I’m talking about the introduction of the Super Star Destroyer, the Executor, Darth Vader’s personal flagship.. You have a view of a Star Destroyer, already miles long, and above it you see a shadow begin to cover it, then the shadow covers the whole Star Destroyer, then the Star Destroyer is seen below a much bigger ship, and then you see the Super Star Destroyer.
“Apology accepted, Captain Needa.”
When Vader tells Luke (spoiler lol) that he’s his father, Luke’s world comes crashing down, yet so much is explained in that one moment. It is a pivotal moment in our main character’s life and in our experience of the film as well. And decades later, born are the Memes with that scene and all sorts of fun and silly subjects. “There is no Santa Claus.” “I slept with your mother.”, to mention a few, all with the same distorted face reaction of “No, that’s not true, that’s impossible. No! No!” One of my favourites: “Hey, I just met you, this is crazy. But I’m your father, so join me maybe.”
About that quote… It really frustrates me that people misquote it ALL THE TIME. So the scene goes like this: “Luke, you do not yet realise your importance.” Followed by a short exchange, then: “Obi-Wan never told you what truly happened to your father.” “He told me enough, he told me you killed him.” “No, I am your father.” What people say is this: “Luke, I am your father.” Ooooh, I cringe. Nails on a chalkboard. I have moments similar to Old Biff in Back to the Future 2 with the “Make like a tree” joke, and I’m like “No! It’s NO, I am your father.”
Another noteworthy mention about quotes is Yoda’s speech. The way he talks was different than we’d heard in films in a long time (other than the odd Shakespeare film, because let’s face it, Shakespeare writes like Yoda talks more than half the time,). Yoda’s deconstruction of sentences gave his character a unique personality. The way he speaks has stayed in people’s memories, and to this day people are talking in films, videos, TV shows, comics, not quoting, just talking about whatever, in Yoda’s style. Elaborate, I could, for an example, to show, and then be, blogging Yoga Style. (Wait, what?)
“Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
By the way, my step kids find that Puppet Yoda is not as nice as CGI Yoda, and I was stunned to know this. Every true Star Wars fan, or at least every true Star Wars fan I know, prefers puppet Yoda. He looks more believable, more…whatever his species is (it’s never mentioned- even Wookiepedia lists it as “Yoda’s Species”), and makes him more alive, making us feel closer to the character, as close to him as Luke. Yoda becomes our Master too. Oh, isn’t he creepy when he tells Luke he will be afraid?
Trivia: Since its release, the film has made over $538 million AND in 2010 was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry because it was said to be “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.”
So other than knowing the entire film practically by heart (all these quotes are quoted by heart), and the soundtrack practically by heart, it has been the foundation of my life, my beliefs, my world, my drive, my passions and my obsessions, and has shaped me to become the person I am today. Thirty-five years later, The Empire Strikes Back is the centerpiece of Star Wars (pun intended) and a masterpiece of its own worth. I will never get tired of rewatching it. In fact, I’m actually due for another viewing…
“Laugh it up, Fuzzball!”
Certain facts have been verified on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Empire_Strikes_Back
Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @BinyProd and be sure to check out my gaming parodies and other gaming related funsies on my website at www.binkypoductions.com/gaming.