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

Perhaps the most transcendent sequel of all time, it also happens to be one of my favorite films.

The Empire Strikes Back takes what made Star Wars good, and it elevates every element. Handing the script over to Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett, the dialogue was snappier. Giving the director’s chair to Irvin Kirschner, the direction was more experienced. With a bigger budget, the world was more developed.

And yet, perhaps the greatest aspect of this film, to me, is the structure. The Empire Strikes Back is clearly divided into three acts. The first, Luke, Han, and Leia work to leave the ice planet Hoth. The second, Luke seeks a wise Jedi Master named Yoda, while Han and Leia seek to escape the Empire’s Star Destroyers. The third takes place in the Cloud City on Bespin, where the protagonists are forced to fight off Darth Vader. Luke, in a legendary moment, finds out the true identity of his father.

When I was a screenwriting student, I was always told to make my stories simpler, and perhaps I could have learned from this film. Its structure is profoundly simple, making the film easy to follow and letting each moment swell to its full potential. Nothing in this film feels rushed, and that is perhaps the greatest miracle of any film.

I feel like I could talk for hours about this motion picture, but I shall refrain. It fertilizes one of the greatest romances in cinema, introduces a character with a singular syntactical structure, and swells with one of the most recognizable scores of all time.

No, it’s not consistently realistic, but that’s by today’s standards. To me, everything about this film is perfect, and my life is enriched every time I see it.

4 Green

The first six Star Wars films are airing on TNT and TBS this week. Check your local listings.

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2 thoughts on “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

  1. Pingback: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) | The Stoplight

  2. Pingback: Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2017) | The Stoplight

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