Published on February 27th, 2020 | by voxx0
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary
HOW TIME FLIES, 40 years already, and it feels as if was yesterday that this cinematic gem was hitting the box office. There’s no denying the power of the Star Wars saga, with its influential fan base peaking in the millions globally, billions in the box office, clothing all over the world, an influential figure at Comic-con every year. And even now at the helm of Disney the saga shows no sign of slowing down, particularly with its new Disney+ TV show The Mandalorian and several new ones in development there are even more possibilities upon the horizon for the future of the saga. However before all that, before the TV shows before George Lucas’ $4.4 billion Disney deal Star Wars was already making tsunami sized waves in the cinema world. Three years before the release of Lucasfilm’s glorious sequel we had Episode IV (4) A New Hope which saw its protagonist, already a favourite character, Luke Skywalker take on the galaxy after the brutal death of his Aunt and Uncle and immediately becoming the hero of the Rebel Alliance after blowing up the terrifying Death Star. And on a budget of just $11 million ($48 million today) it became the cheapest block buster film on the planet, but it didn’t bother audiences because even today there are audiences who still flock to the theatre in their thousands and wait for hours on end to see it on the silver screen, and it shows because A New Hope is the second highest grossing film ever made adjusted for inflation with a total of $3.4 billion to its name. So there’s a lot of hope as to where its sequel Episode V will go.
Emphatically after Episode V’s release in June 1980 (US) audiences flocked to the theatre in their thousands eagerly awaiting what was in store, and they weren’t disappointed as Empire Strikes Back goes down today as one of the best sequels in cinema history utterly living up to its predecessor in more ways than one. After the epic opening on the ice planet of Hoth, when the courageous Luke Skywalker played by Mark Hamill takes down one of the Empire’s massive four-legged AT-AT units, the Empire are relieved of such a victory over the Rebel Alliance. Princess Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) escape with golden droid C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and Chewbacca (the late Peter Mayhew) to the Millennium Falcon, but after the hyper-drive malfunctions they are forced to hide on an asteroid. Meanwhile Luke, travels to the swamp planet Dagobah to hopefully seek Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz) who has been hiding on the planet for many years, suddenly when Luke’s X-Wing sinks in the swamp he’s jumped by a mysterious small green creature who speaks slightly backwards, it’s Yoda, and while Luke is in the training process, the Empire gets ever stronger sneaking up on many Rebel bases. Sadly, against the wishes of Yoda and his former friend and rescuer Obi-Wan he intends to rescue them and get away from Darth Vader’s diabolical plan to freeze him frozen carbonite. To which Han Solo sacrifices himself in Luke’s stead.
Surprisingly, it might sound slow but this all happens at a breakneck pace, and there are some spectacular scenes to behold, there’s a city entirely in the clouds called Cloud City where Han meets with one of his oldest and dearest friends Lando Calrissian, a smuggler just like him, there’s a wicked escape attempt, there’s another space battle and a stunning light-sabre battle on Cloud City when an enraged Luke goes up against the Sith Lord and loses more than just his integrity when Vader dismembers Luke’s hand, and reveals one ultimate secret. Which at the time had fans shocked in their millions but thankfully without social media, without IMDb and with without the World Wide Web as we know it today the secret was kept hidden very well for many years.
There’s a fantastic join between the story-telling, the humour and the special effects that’s just charming and light hearted, it’s one of the reasons why today the Star Wars saga still has the same enchanting affect on old and new audiences alike, and it’s that even if you are new fan of the saga, there’s nothing boring about it. Well, apart from George Lucas’ directorial turn in the prequel trilogy starting in 1999. But the saga is so good, it’s funny and today even after 43 years it has withstood the test of time, and even though some of the effects have aged a little and with era of CGI Star Wars has proven to even fool the most optimistic auteur. Thankfully after 40 years Episode V is just as enchanting, just as magical especially with John Williams’ gorgeous score which has also lasted the test of time, the epic space opera can make even the hardest of cynics weep and cry for more, and it’s clear to see why. Probably in the next 40 years this is a series that will still be making waves.
VERDICT: 40 years later Episode V is still a beautifully shot, masterfully written and gloriously told space epic that has withstood the test of time and might still be as good on its 80th anniversary.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and 4K Ultra HD release now. And will be a part of the Skywalker Saga collection from April 2020.
By Corey Denford