Movie Classics – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The complete Star Wars saga is out on Blu-ray in September. Before we watch the whole lot again, let’s remember the best of the films

The cinema-queue death-toll was probably highest in 1980. As people left The Empire Strikes Back chatting loudly about Darth Vader being Luke’s father, nerds queuing for the next screening had their worlds rocked and discovered their inner ferocity.

The violence didn’t stop at the entrance, as viewers were treated to an icy opening battle on Hoth where they met apparently unstoppable AT-AT Walkers – a comparison to the seemingly impossible task of creating a sequel as good as A New Hope? The AT-AT Walkers were then stopped by Luke’s tripping technique and the best sequel ever made had begun. An upside down lightsaber-grab using the force, followed by a kip in a beast’s sliced-open belly, and it was back into space for our galaxy hopping heroes. Everything’s better in space, isn’t it?

Everything was certainly better before our favourite rebels landed on Lando Calrissian’s floating city of betrayal. The idea of this city came from the 1930s Flash Gordon series that George Lucas loved. No, he isn’t that old, and hasn’t done a deal with the Devil – the show was repeated. The Devil deal part is likely though. Since Lucas had put in $33 million of his own money, mainly attained from loans, director Irvin Kershner was happy to indulge his wild ideas. Spoiling Lucas proved a mistake in the long run, birthing Ewoks and the ultimate evil – Jar Jar Binks.

This is the first film to feature Jedi Master Yoda. Yeah, it is odd, feels like we’ve known him forever. There’s a reason for that – the costume designer used the wrinkles of Albert Einstein to make him look wise. Another recognisible moment is at the entrance to the Wampa cave that Luke escapes from. This was filmed by opening the crew’s hotel doors and shooting right there in the coldest storm Norway had seen in 50 years. All those painted backgrounds for Hoth weren’t so necessary after all.

Despite being met with mixed critical reviews, the film made a whopping £330 million and is now widely accepted as one of the greatest films of all time. It’s also one of the most misquoted. After besting Luke by removing his hand in that epic lightsaber battle, Darth doesn’t say, “Luke, I am your father”, but rather “No, I am your father.” Too nerdy?

That is the kind of geeky attention to detail these films have created, which have led to a Blu-ray saga out in September that features more extra footage than actual film hours. If you are a genuine Jedi (because it’s a real religion), we apologise if we have offended you in any way during this article and ask that you don’t crush our windpipes with your minds.


Movie Classics – Evil Dead 2 (1987)

Gaming Greats – Resident Evil (1996)

Rewind to 1980