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Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Director: Irvin Kershner
Cast overview: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford
Running time: 124 minutes

Going by the fact I wasn't a big fan of the original Star Wars film, I was pleasantly surprised by this. It's a good film that is actually - in my opinion anyway - better than the original. It's more entertaining, more concise, darker, and more of a well-done story, I feel. Oh, and the effects are fantastic, particularly considering this was a film released over thirty years ago, at a time when special effects weren't what they are now in terms of complexity.

The performances are very competent, particularly Harrison Ford as Han Solo. The characters are more interesting and more well-developed than in the first outing, and I suppose this is the result of becoming more acquainted with them in part. The editing and photography is excellent. This is the first film to feature Yoda, and some of the battle and action sequences here are terrific and really well-done.

Not the best film I've ever seen, but it's a very respectable follow-up to the original Star Wars and does a good job of continuing the story and developing the characters we've met. It's also entertaining. As a non-sci-fi fan, that's a pretty good thing for me. I'd recommend this, particularly to fans of the genre.

C-3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.
Han Solo: Never tell me the odds.

Han Solo: [as Chewie tries to fight off the imperials and free Han] No! Stop, Chewie, stop! Chewie! Chewie this won't help me! Hey! Save your strength. There'll be another time. The Princess. You have to take care of her. You hear me? Huh?
[Leia and Han share a passionate kiss before Han is dragged towards the freezing chamber by the imperials]
Princess Leia: I love you.
Han Solo: I know.

Princess Leia: Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder.
Han Solo: Who's scruffy-looking?

Mark Hamill had to bang his head 16 times on the ceiling of Yoda's hut before the director was satisfied.

In order to avoid sharing creative rights, George Lucas decided to avoid using a major studio to finance this film. Instead, he bankrolled the $33 million production himself, using a combination of his profits from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and a bank loan. Although the move was risky, it paid off several times over. Lucas recovered his million investment within three months of the film's release. He then showed gratitude far beyond the Hollywood norm, by sharing the profits with his employees (nearly $5 million in bonuses).

When Han Solo is about to be frozen, Princess Leia says, "I love you." In the original script, Han Solo was supposed to say, "Just remember that, Leia, because I'll be back," but at the time of filming, Harrison Ford wasn't entirely certain he did want to come back for a third film. There is a recurring legend that his line, "I know", was ad-libbed; however Alan Arnold's book "Once Upon A Galaxy: A Journal of the Making of The Empire Strikes Back" includes a transcription of the discussion between Ford and Irvin Kershner in which Ford suggested the line.