Preparing for The Rise of Skywalker – Part VII: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, is widely held as the best film in the franchise, and while I’m not entirely sure if I feel the same way, it is absolutely up there among the best.
Directed by Irwin Kerschner, under the watchful gaze of George Lucas, Empire Strikes Back (Empire, for short), is the second part of the original trilogy and the fifth episode of the Skywalker saga. Released in 1980, it again stars the power trio of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
Empire takes the story to a new level. It is darker, it feels grander in scale, and at the same time, it is more personal and intimate. It is the second part of Lukes hero’s journey, and for those of us who have read Joseph Campbell, who was a mentor of sorts to George Lucas, it is easy to see his narrative influence on the story. The monomyth is on full display in Empire.
Much has been written about the story and production of the Star Wars films. It is maybe the most iconic film franchise, and it has shaped our culture in ways no one could have expected.
In short, Empire is the story of Luke Skywalker’s training and confronting his father and his true identity. Beginning on the frozen world of Hoth (actually filmed on Finse, here in Norway), it starts out with maybe the most famous science fiction battle ever put on film, The Battle of Hoth, where huge Imperial walkers assault the desperate Rebels. What follows is a story of twists, turns and major revelations.
The success of the first Star Wars film can be clearly seen on Empire. Financed mostly by the profits from the first one, George Lucas had (and still has) a deep distrust for the Hollywood studio system, and wanted complete control over the production. It is easy to see the effects of an increased budget, from better special effects and sets, costumes and so on.
Empire Strikes Back still stands as the favorite film of the franchise for many, if not most Star Wars fans, and for good reason.