|Star Wars Episode V:|
The Empire Strikes Back
Billy Dee Williams
|Cinematography:||Peter Suschitzky, BSC|
|Distributor:||20th Century Fox|
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. The screenplay, based on a story by George Lucas, was written by Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett. It was the second film released in the Star Wars saga, being followed by , and the fifth in terms of internal chronology.
The film is set three years after the destruction of the Death Star. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and the rest of the Rebel Alliance are being pursued by Darth Vader and the elite forces of the Galactic Empire. While Han and Leia are chased across the galaxy by the Empire, Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. Vader is secretly plotting a trap for Luke that will lead to a vicious confrontation and a shocking revelation.
Following a difficult production, The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980, and received mixed reviews from critics, though it has since grown in esteem to become one of the most well-regarded chapters of the saga and one of the most highly rated films in history.    It earned more than US$538 million worldwide over the original run and several re-releases, making it the highest grossing film of 1980. When adjusted for inflation, it is the 12th highest grossing film of all time in the United States.
Despite their victory over the Galactic Empire with the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance was driven out of their base and forced to establish a new base on the remote ice planet Hoth. Darth Vader, having become obsessed with finding Luke Skywalker, now a commanding officer within the Rebellion, has multiple probe droids dispatched throughout the galaxy, one of which lands on Hoth. While patrolling near the base, Luke is attacked and knocked unconscious by an indigenous predator. Back at the base, Han Solo announces his intentions to leave the Rebellion to pay off a debt to Jabba the Hutt, much to Princess Leia's displeasure, but stalls to search for Luke when he doesn't return. Escaping from the creature's lair, Luke nearly succumbs to the cold and has a vision of his late mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who instructs him to go to the planet Dagobah to train under Jedi Master Yoda.
Han finds Luke and provides shelter before they are rescued the following morning. Meanwhile, the Imperial probe droid locates the Rebel base on Hoth, and Vader orders an attack while the Rebels prepare to evacuate and disperse. The Imperial forces eventually overpower the Rebels and capture the base. Han and Leia escape on the Millennium Falcon, but are unable to enter hyperspace due to technical difficulties and evade pursuit in an asteroid field, where Han and Leia begin to grow closer to each other. Vader turns to several notorious bounty hunters, including Boba Fett, to assist in locating the Falcon. Meanwhile, Luke escapes from Hoth and crash lands on Dagobah, where he meets a wizened little green creature who reveals himself to be Yoda. While undergoing intensive training, Luke has a premonition of Han and Leia in danger and, against Yoda's wishes, leaves to save his friends, promising to return to complete his training.
With Imperial forces off their trail, Han and Leia set a course for Cloud City, a mining colony on the planet Bespin run by Han's old friend, Lando Calrissian, unaware that they have been tracked by Boba Fett. Shortly after Han and Leia arrive in Cloud City, Lando turns them over to Vader to be used as bait to trap for Luke, insisting that he was forced to do so to prevent occupation of his city by the Empire. Vader intends to hold Luke in suspended animation via carbon freezing, selecting Han as a test subject for the process. Before Han is frozen in carbonite, he and Leia profess their love for each other. Han's frozen form is given to Boba Fett, who proceeds to present him to Jabba the Hutt. Lando later repents and helps Leia escape, insisting that there is still a chance to save Han. Unfortunately, Boba Fett makes off with his quarry before they get a chance to confront him, forcing them to make an escape on the Millennium Falcon.
Meanwhile, Luke arrives in Cloud City and falls right into Vader's trap. He and Vader engage in a lightsaber duel within the carbon-freezing facilities, eventually bringing them to the city’s central air shaft. Gaining an advantage, Vader cuts off Luke's dueling hand along with his lightsaber. With Luke cornered and defenseless, Vader goads Luke to rule the galaxy alongside him, making the horrifying revelation that he is Luke's father. Unwilling to join Vader, Luke casts himself into the air shaft and finds himself hanging on an antennae on the underbelly of the city. He makes a desperate call to Leia, who senses Luke's distress aboard the Millennium Falcon and manages to get him to safety. Its hyperdrive finally functional, the Falcon escapes. Aboard a Rebel medical frigate, Luke is fitted with an artificial hand while Lando sets out on the Falcon to locate Han.
In addition to Clive Revill as the voice of the Emperor, an unknown actress played the part in the original theatrical cut and the 1997 Special Edition of the film with superimposed chimpanzee eyes. Ian McDiarmid, who portrayed Palpatine in Return of the Jedi as well as the prequel trilogy films, replaced both the actress and Revill as the Emperor in the 2004 DVD version with filming taking place during the principal photography of . For the 2004 DVD release, Temuera Morrison also replaced Jason Wingreen as the voice of Boba Fett to conform with plot points established in the prequel trilogy.
Actor John Ratzenberger, best known as "Cliff Clavin" from the TV series Cheers and the voices of many characters from Pixar's animated films, has a small part as deck officer Major Bren Derlin. Notable character actor Treat Williams portrayed several background characters, including a trooper in the Hoth rebel base and a trooper in Cloud City.
George Lucas' 1977 film A New Hope exceeded all expectations — in terms of profit, its revolutionary effect on the movie industry, and its unexpected resonance as a cultural phenomenon. Lucas saw a chance to become independent from the Hollywood film industry by financing The Empire Strikes Back himself through loans and the previous film's earnings, going against the principles of many Hollywood producers. Now fully in command of his Star Wars enterprise, Lucas chose not to direct The Empire Strikes Back because of his other production roles, including oversight of his special-effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and handling of the financing. Lucas offered the role of director to Irvin Kershner, one of his former professors at the USC School of Cinema-Television. Kershner initially refused, citing that a sequel would never meet the quality or originality of the first Star Wars. Kershner later called his agent, who immediately demanded that he take the job. In addition, Lucas hired Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett to write the screenplay based on his original story. Brackett completed her draft in February 1978 before dying of cancer, and Lucas wrote the second before hiring Kasdan, who impressed him with his draft for Raiders of the Lost Ark.
After the release of Star Wars, ILM grew from being just a struggling company and moved to Marin County, California. The Empire Strikes Back provided the company with new challenges. Star Wars mostly featured space sequences, but The Empire Strikes Back featured not only space dog-fights, but also an ice planet battle sequence and elements of cities that floated among the clouds. For the battle scenes on the ice planet of Hoth, the initial intent was to use bluescreen to composite the Imperial walkers into still-shots from the original set. Instead, an artist was hired to paint landscapes, resulting in the Imperial walkers being shot using stop-motion animation in front of the landscape paintings. The original designs for the AT-ATs were, according to Phil Tippett, "big armored vehicles with wheels". Many believe the finished design was inspired by the Port of Oakland container cranes, but Lucas denied this.
In designing the Jedi Master Yoda, Stuart Freeborn used his own face as a model and added the wrinkles of Albert Einstein for the appearance of exceptional intelligence. Sets for Dagobah were built five feet above the stage floor, allowing puppeteers to crawl underneath and hold up the Yoda puppet. The setup presented Frank Oz, who portrayed Yoda, with communication problems as he was underneath the stage and was unable to hear the crew and Mark Hamill above. Hamill later expressed his dismay for being the only human character on set for months; he felt like a trivial element on a set of animals, machines, and moving props. Kershner commended Hamill for his performance with the puppet.
Filming began in Norway on March 5, 1979. Like the filming of A New Hope, where the production in Tunisia coincided with the area's first major rainstorm in fifty years, the weather was against the film crew. While filming The Empire Strikes Back on Norway's Hardangerjøkulen glacier, they encountered the worst winter storm in fifty years. Temperatures dropped to -20F, and 18feet of snow fell. On one occasion, the crew were unable to exit their hotel. They achieved a shot involving Luke's exit of the Wampa cave by opening the hotel's doors and filming Mark Hamill running out into the snow while the crew remained warm inside. Despite reports, the scene in which Luke gets knocked out by the Wampa was not added specifically to explain the change to Mark Hamill's face after a motor accident that occurred between filming of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Lucas admitted that the scene "helped" the situation, though he felt that Luke's time fighting in the rebellion was sufficient explanation. The production then moved to Elstree Studios in London on March 13, where over sixty sets were built, more than double the number used in the previous film. A fire in January on Stage 3 (during filming of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining) caused the budget to spiral from $18.5 million to $22 million, and by July the budget spiralled $3 million more. Filming finished by mid-September.
One memorable exchange of dialogue was partially ad-libbed. Originally, Lucas wrote a scene in which Princess Leia professed her love to Han Solo, with Han replying "I love you too." Harrison Ford felt the characterisation was not being used effectively, and Kershner agreed. After several takes, Kershner told Ford to improvise on the spot. Consequently, Ford changed Solo's line to "I know."
During production, great secrecy surrounded the fact that Darth Vader was Luke's father. Like the rest of the crew, David Prowse, who spoke all of Vader's lines during filming, was given a false page that contained dialogue which the revelatory line being "Obi-Wan killed your father."  Until the film premiered, only George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Mark Hamill, and James Earl Jones knew what would really be said. Jones later reported that his initial reaction to the line was, "Oh, he's lying!" The film includes a brief image of Vader with his mask off, facing away from the camera. For the original viewers of the film, this scene made it clear that Vader is not a robot, but instead organic - and possibly human. This fact becomes significant later, when Vader reveals himself to be Luke's father, which may have been confusing without the earlier scene.
To preserve the dramatic opening sequences of his films, Lucas wanted the screen credits to come at the end of the films. Though more common now, this was a highly unusual choice at the time. The Writers Guild and the Directors Guild had allowed it for the first Star Wars, but when Lucas did the same thing for the sequel, they fined him over $250,000 and attempted to pull Empire out of theaters. The DGA also went after Irvin Kershner. To protect his director, Lucas paid all the fines to the guilds. The resulting feelings of frustration and persecution caused him to drop out of the Directors Guild, Writers Guild, and the Motion Picture Association.
The Empire Strikes Back finished production with a budget of $35,000,000, making it one of the most expensive movies of its day with a budget three times more than that of the original. After the bank threatened to pull his loan, Lucas was forced to approach 20th Century Fox. Lucas made a deal with the studio to secure the loan in exchange for paying the studio more money, but without the loss of his sequel and merchandising rights.
The film premiered on May 21, 1980, as simply The Empire Strikes Back. Like A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back was rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for "sci-fi/action violence". This 1980 version was released on VHS and Laserdisc several times during the 1980s and 1990s.
As part of Star Wars' 20th anniversary celebration in 1997, The Empire Strikes Back was digitally remastered and re-released with A New Hope and Return of the Jedi under the campaign title The Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. Lucas took this opportunity to make several minor changes to the film. These included explicitly showing the Wampa creature on Hoth in full form, creating more details for the Falcons approach to Cloud City, digitally inserting windows with vistas of Bespin into the original white interior walls of Cloud City, and replacing certain lines of dialogue. A short sequence was also added depicting Vader's return to his flagship after duelling with Luke, using alternate angles of a scene from Return of the Jedi. Most of the changes were small and aesthetic; however, some fans believe that they detract from the film.
The Empire Strikes Back was released on DVD in September 2004. It was bundled in a box set with A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, and a bonus disc. The films were digitally restored and remastered, with more changes made by George Lucas. The bonus features include a commentary by George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher, as well as an extensive documentary called Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy. Also included are featurettes, teasers, trailers, TV spots, still galleries, video game demos, and a preview of .
For the DVD release, Lucas and his team made changes that were mostly implemented to ensure continuity between The Empire Strikes Back and the recently released prequel trilogy films. With this release, Lucas also supervised the creation of a high-definition digital print of The Empire Strikes Back and the other films of the original trilogy. It was reissued in December 2005 as part of a three-disc "limited edition" boxed set that did not feature the bonus disc.
The film was reissued again on a separate two-disc Limited Edition DVD in September 12, 2006 to December 31, 2006, this time with the original, unaltered versions of the film as bonus material. It was also re-released in a trilogy box set on November 4, 2008. There was controversy surrounding the initial release, because the DVDs featured non-anamorphic versions of the original films based on Laserdisc releases from 1993 (as opposed to newly-remastered, film-based high definition transfers). Since non-anamorphic transfers fail to make full use of the resolution available on widescreen sets, many fans were disappointed with this choice.
Although many now consider it the best film in the saga,  The Empire Strikes Back initially received mixed reviews. Financially, the film surpassed industry expectations; within three months of the film's release, Lucas had recovered his budget—a $30 million investment. Opening weekend in the United States generated $10,840,307. When it was re-released in 1997, its opening weekend in the USA made $21,975,993. In the USA, as of 2007, the gross revenue is $290,475,751 and worldwide gross revenue is $538,375,067.
Some critics had problems with the story but admitted the film was a technical achievement. For instance, Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote a largely negative review. Judith Martin of The Washington Post complained of the film's "middle-of-the-story" plot, which featured no particular beginning or end, a concept that Lucas actually intended. However, Bob Stephens of the San Francisco Examiner later described the film as "the greatest episode of the Star Wars Trilogy." Empire is now considered the most morally and emotionally complex of the Star Wars trilogy. Roger Ebert, in his 1997 review, called the film the strongest and "the most thought-provoking" of the original trilogy. On Rotten Tomatoes, The Empire Strikes Back has a 97% "certified fresh" rating, making it the highest Star Wars rated film episode on the site. Darth Vader was ranked as the third greatest film villain of all time on the American Film Institute's 2003 list of the 100 greatest heroes and villains for his role in this film, while Wizard magazine named the film's ending as the greatest cliffhanger of all time. The film's most famous line "No, I am your father" is often misquoted as "Luke, I am your father."
At the 1981 Academy Awards, The Empire Strikes Back won for Best Sound, given to Bill Varney, Steve Maslow, Greg Landaker, and Peter Sutton; in addition the film received the Academy Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects that went to Brian Johnson, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, and Bruce Nicholson. It was also nominated for Best Music, Original Score, to John Williams, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, to Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley, Harry Lange, Alan Tomkins, and Michael Ford. It won the BAFTA Film Award for "Best Original Film Music" by John Williams, as well as being nominated for "Best Sound" and "Best Production Design." Williams' score also received the Grammy Award and the Golden Globe. The Empire Strikes Back received four Saturn Awards, including Mark Hamill for "Best Actor," Irvin Kershner for "Best Director," "Best Special Effects" to Brian Johnson and Richard Edlund, and it was awarded "Best Science Fiction Film." The film was awarded with the Golden Screen Award as well as the Hugo Award for "Best Dramatic Presentation." It was nominated for the WGA Award (Screen) for "Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium."
For many, The Empire Strikes Back has become the prime example of a superior sequel. Director Bryan Singer and producer Tom DeSanto emulated the film for X2, the sequel to X-Men, in that the characters are "all split apart, and then dissected, and revelations that occur that are significant... the romance comes to fruition and a lot of things happen."
See also: Star Wars sources and analogues. Like its predecessor, The Empire Strikes Back draws from several mythological stories and world religions. It also includes elements of 1930s film serials such as Flash Gordon, a childhood favorite of Lucas', that also featured a city in the sky. 
See main article: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (soundtrack). The film's musical score was composed and conducted by John Williams and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1980, the disco label RSO Records released the film's original soundtrack on a double LP and 8-track format in the United States. The front cover artwork featured the mask of Darth Vader against the backdrop of outer space. In 1985, the first Compact Disc (CD) release of the soundtrack was issued by Polydor Records, which had absorbed RSO Records and its music catalog; they used a shorter, single-disc edition of the soundtrack as the master. In 1993, 20th Century Fox Film Scores released a special four-Compact Disc box set: Star Wars Trilogy: The Original Soundtrack Anthology. This anthology included the soundtracks to all three of the original Star Wars films in separate discs.
In 1997, RCA Victor released a definitive two-disc set coinciding with the Special Edition releases of the three movies of the original trilogy. This original limited-edition set featured a 32-page black booklet that was encased inside a protective outer slipcase. The covers of the booklet and the slipcase had the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition poster art. All the tracks were digitally remastered for superior clarity of sound (although many fans claim the sound on the complete editions is muffled and lifeless as compared to the box set version). RCA Victor re-packaged the Special Edition set later in 1997, offering it in slimline jewel case packaging as an unlimited edition, but without packaging that the original "black booklet" version offered.
In 2004, Sony Classical acquired the rights to the original trilogy scores since it already had the rights to release the prequel trilogy soundtracks (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge Of The Sith). And so, in 2004, Sony Classical re-pressed the 1997 RCA Victor release, including The Empire Strikes Back. The set was released with the new artwork mirroring the first DVD release of the film. Despite the Sony digital re-mastering, this 2004 release is essentially the same as the 1997 RCA Victor release.
See main article: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (novel). A novelization of the film was released on April 12, 1980 and published by Del Rey. The novel was written by Donald F. Glut and based on the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett. The novel was originally published as Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back; however, later editions were renamed Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back to conform with the change in the saga's film titles. Like the other novelizations of the Star Wars films, background information is added to expand the story beyond what is depicted onscreen.However, some of the novel's details now contradict with the prequel trilogy as does the novel of Return of the Jedi; for example, in The Empire Strikes Back, the vague origin of Boba Fett and his suit as one of a group of warriors wearing the "mandalorian" armor. The real origin of Boba Fett is explained in .
Video games based on the film have been released on several consoles. Additionally, several Star Wars video games feature or mention key events seen in the film, but are not entirely based upon the film. In 1982 Parker Brothers released Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for the Atari 2600 games console, which featured the speeder attack on the AT-ATs on Hoth. The arcade game Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back followed in 1985. The game features familiar battle sequences and characters played from a first-person perspective. Specific battles include the Battle of Hoth and the subsequent escape of the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field. A conversion was released in 1988 for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga.
In 1992, JVC released the LucasArts-developed video game also titled Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console. The player assumes the role of Luke Skywalker and maneuvers through Skywalker's story as seen in the film. In 1992, Ubisoft released a version for the Game Boy. Like its previous incarnation, it follows the story of Luke Skywalker. was developed for the console Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) by LucasArts and was released by JVC in 1993. The SNES game is similar in spots to the 1991 NES release, and is on an 12-megabit cartridge. LucasArts's Shadows of the Empire game was one of the first games made available for Nintendo's 3rd generation console, the Nintendo 64 and Windows. The most commercial product in the Shadows of the Empire line, the game was first released as an exclusive N64 title four months after the console's launch in December 1996. The PC version came nearly a year later in September 1997. In the game, players control mercenary Dash Rendar in his efforts to help Luke Skywalker and rescue Princess Leia from Prince Xizor's hands. It is divided into four parts (or chapters), the first of which chronicles Rendar's involvement in the Battle of Hoth.
In the years since Shadows, several games have dropped players into the action of Empire:
In strategy games, such as , action often takes place during the timeline of Empire but only infrequently drops players directly into the action from the film.
See main article: Star Wars (radio). A radio drama adaptation of the film was written by Brian Daley and produced for and broadcast on National Public Radio in 1983. It was based on characters and situations created by George Lucas, and on the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan; it was directed by John Madden, with Sound Mixing & Post Production by Tom Voegeli. John Williams' score was kept in addition to Sound Design from Ben Burtt. Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and Anthony Daniels reprised their roles as Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian and C-3PO respectively. John Lithgow was also recruited to voice Yoda. It had a five hour running time. 750,000 people tuned in to listen to the series on February 14, 1983. In terms of Star Wars canon, the radio drama is given the highest designation, G-canon.