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''The Empire Strikes Back'' (also known as ''Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back'') is a 1980 American
epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a genre of film with heroic elements Epic or EPIC may also refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media ...
space opera Space opera is a subgenre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Category of b ...
film directed by
Irvin Kershner Irvin Kershner (born Isadore Kershner; April 29, 1923November 27, 2010) was an American director Director may refer to: Literature * Director (magazine), ''Director'' (magazine), a British magazine * The Director (novel), ''The Director'' (nove ...
and written by
Leigh Brackett Leigh Douglass Brackett (December 7, 1915 – March 18, 1978) was an American writer, particularly of science fiction, and has been referred to as the Queen of Space Opera. She was also a screenwriter, known for her work on such films as ''The Big ...
and
Lawrence Kasdan Lawrence Edward Kasdan (born January 14, 1949) is an American filmmaker. He is the co-writer of the ''Star Wars'' films ''The Empire Strikes Back'' (1980), ''Return of the Jedi'' (1983), ''The Force Awakens'' (2015), and ''Solo: A Star Wars Stor ...
, based on a story by
George Lucas George Walton Lucas Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and entrepreneur. Lucas is best known for creating the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia fr ...

George Lucas
. The sequel to ''
Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide popular culture, pop-culture Cultural impact of S ...
'' (1977), it is the second film in the ''
Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide popular culture, pop-culture Cultural impact of S ...

Star Wars
'' film series and the fifth chronological chapter of the "
Skywalker Saga The ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide popular culture, pop-culture ...
". Set three years after the events of ''Star Wars'', the film recounts the battle between the malevolent
Galactic Empire Galactic empires are a common trope used in science fantasy Science fantasy is a mixed genre within the umbrella of speculative fiction which simultaneously draws upon or combines trope (literature), tropes and elements from both science fi ...
, led by the
Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...
, and the
Rebel Alliance The Alliance to Restore the Republic, more commonly known as the Rebel Alliance, the Rebellion or simply the Rebels, is a fictional Stateless nation, stateless interstellar coalition of republican dissidents, revolutionary factions and anti-imp ...
, led by
Princess Leia Princess Leia Organa is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic space opera media franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide pop-cult ...
.
Luke Skywalker Luke Skywalker is a fictional character Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Character'' (novel), a 1936 Dutch novel by Ferdinand Bordewijk * ''Characters'' (Theophrastus), a classical Greek set of cha ...
trains to master
the Force The Force is a metaphysical Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, ...

the Force
so he can confront the powerful
Sith The Sith are the main antagonists of many works in the fictional universe of the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), ep ...
lord,
Darth Vader Darth Vader is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars'' franchise. The character is the primary antagonist in the Star Wars Trilogy, original trilogy and, as Anakin Skywalker, is a primary protagonist in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, preque ...
. The
ensemble cast In a dramatic production, an ensemble cast is one which is composed of multiple principal actors and performers who are typically assigned roughly equal amounts of screen time.Random House: ensemble acting Linked 2013-07-17 Structure In contrast ...
includes
Mark Hamill Mark Richard Hamill (; born September 25, 1951) is an American actor and voice actor. He is known for playing Luke Skywalker in the ''Star Wars'' film series, winning three Saturn Awards for the role. His other film appearances include ''Corve ...

Mark Hamill
,
Harrison Ford Harrison Ford (born July 13, 1942) is an American actor. His films have grossed more than $5.4billion in North America and more than $9.3billion worldwide, making him the seventh-highest-grossing actor in North America. He is the recipient o ...

Harrison Ford
,
Carrie Fisher Carrie Frances Fisher (October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016) was an American actress and writer. Fisher played Princess Leia Princess Leia Organa is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic spac ...

Carrie Fisher
,
Billy Dee Williams William December "Billy Dee" Williams Jr. (born April 6, 1937) is an American actor and novelist. He is best known as Lando Calrissian Baron Landonis Balthazar "Lando" Calrissian III is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star War ...

Billy Dee Williams
,
Anthony Daniels Anthony Daniels (born 21 February 1946) is an English actor and mime artist. He is best known for playing in 10 ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating her ...
,
David Prowse David Charles Prowse (1 July 193528 November 2020) was an English bodybuilder, Olympic weightlifting, weightlifter and character actor in British film and television. He portrayed Darth Vader (voiced by American actor James Earl Jones) in t ...

David Prowse
, Kenny Baker,
Peter Mayhew Peter William Mayhew (May 19, 1944 – April 30, 2019) was a British-American actor. He was best known for portraying Chewbacca Chewbacca (), nicknamed "Chewie", is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars'' franchise. He is a wookiee, a t ...
, and
Frank Oz Frank Oz (born Frank Richard Oznowicz; May 25, 1944) is an American actor, puppeteer A puppeteer is a person who manipulates an inanimate object, called a puppet A puppet is an object, often resembling a human, animal or mythical figur ...
. Following ''Star Wars'' success, Lucas hired Brackett to write the sequel. Following her death in 1978, he outlined the whole ''Star Wars'' saga and wrote the next draft himself, before hiring ''
Raiders of the Lost Ark ''Raiders of the Lost Ark'' is a 1981 American Action film#Action-adventure, action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It stars Harrison Ford, Karen ...
'' (1981) writer Kasdan to enhance his work. To avoid the stress he faced directing ''Star Wars'', Lucas handed this responsibility to Kershner and focused on expanding his special effects company
Industrial Light & Magic Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is an American Film, motion picture visual effects company that was founded in May 1975 by George Lucas. It is a division of the film production company Lucasfilm, which Lucas founded, and was created when Lucas beg ...
instead. Filmed from March to September 1979, in
Finse Finse is a mountain village area on the shore of the lake Finsevatnet in Ulvik municipality in Vestland county, Norway. The village is centered on Finse Station, a railway station on the Bergen Line. The village sits at an elevation of above sea ...

Finse
, Norway, and
Elstree Studios Elstree Studios is a generic term which can refer to several current and defunct British film studio A film studio (also known as movie studio or simply studio) is a major entertainment company or motion picture company that has its own pri ...
in England, ''The Empire Strikes Back'' faced production difficulties, including actor injuries, illnesses, fires, and problems securing additional financing as costs rose. Initially budgeted at $8million, costs had risen to $30.5million by the project's conclusion. Released on May 21, 1980, the highly anticipated sequel became the highest-grossing film that year, earning approximately $401.5million worldwide. Unlike its predecessor, ''Empire'' was met with mixed reviews from critics and fans conflicted over its darker and more mature tone compared to the light-hearted ''Star Wars''. Critics praised the puppeteered character
Yoda Yoda () is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a w ...

Yoda
, a diminutive alien that serves as Luke's teacher, for having expressive features and characterization. The film was nominated for several awards and won two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and one BAFTA, among others. Subsequent releases have raised the film's worldwide gross to $538–549million and, adjusted for inflation, it is the thirteenth highest-grossing film in the United States and Canada. In the years since its release, ''Empire'' has been critically reassessed and is now regarded as the best film in the ''Star Wars'' series and among the greatest films of all time. It had a significant impact on filmmaking and popular culture and is considered an example of a sequel superior to its predecessor. The climax, where Vader reveals he is Luke's father, is often cited as one of the greatest
plot twist A plot twist is a literary technique A narrative technique (known for literary fiction Literary fiction is a term used in the book-trade to distinguish novels that are regarded as having literary merit, from most commercial or "genre" fiction. ...
s in cinema. The film spawned a variety of merchandise and adaptations, including video games and a radio play. The United States
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. It is responsible for housing updated information in order ...

Library of Congress
selected it for preservation in the
National Film Registry The National Film Registry (or NFR for short) is the United States National Film Preservation Board The United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contigu ...
in 2010. ''
Return of the Jedi ''Return of the Jedi'' (also known as ''Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi'' is a 1983 American epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nati ...
'' (1983) followed ''Empire'', concluding the original ''Star Wars'' trilogy.
Prequel A prequel is a literary, dramatic or cinematic work whose story precedes that of a previous work, by focusing on events that occur before the original narrative. A prequel is a work that forms part of a backstory A backstory, background story, ba ...

Prequel
and sequel trilogies that round out the "Skywalker saga" have since been released.


Plot

Three years after the destruction of the
Death Star The Death Star is a fictional mobile space station and galactic Weapon of mass destruction, superweapon featured in the ''Star Wars'' Space opera, space-opera franchise. The first version, which appears in the original 1977 film Star Wars (film) ...
, the
Imperial Imperial is that which relates to an empire, emperor, or imperialism. Imperial or The Imperial may also refer to: Places United States * Imperial, California * Imperial, Missouri * Imperial, Nebraska * Imperial, Pennsylvania * Imperial, Texas * ...
fleet, led by
Darth Vader Darth Vader is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars'' franchise. The character is the primary antagonist in the Star Wars Trilogy, original trilogy and, as Anakin Skywalker, is a primary protagonist in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, preque ...
, dispatches
Probe Droid
Probe Droid
s across the galaxy to locate
Princess Leia Princess Leia Organa is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic space opera media franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide pop-cult ...
's
Rebel Alliance The Alliance to Restore the Republic, more commonly known as the Rebel Alliance, the Rebellion or simply the Rebels, is a fictional Stateless nation, stateless interstellar coalition of republican dissidents, revolutionary factions and anti-imp ...
. One probe locates the base on the ice planet
Hoth Hoth is an ice planet An ice planet is a theoretical type of exoplanet with an icy surface of volatiles such as water, ammonia, and methane. Ice planets consist of a global cryosphere. They are bigger versions of the small icy worlds of the Sol ...

Hoth
. While investigating the probe, a
wampa This is a list of creatures in the fictional universe of ''Star Wars'', a space opera media franchise. The types of creatures in this list are listed by category and then in alphabetical order. Humans and humanoid sentient species Humans Human ...
captures
Luke Skywalker Luke Skywalker is a fictional character Character(s) may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Character'' (novel), a 1936 Dutch novel by Ferdinand Bordewijk * ''Characters'' (Theophrastus), a classical Greek set of cha ...
, but he escapes using
the Force The Force is a metaphysical Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, ...

the Force
to retrieve his
lightsaber A lightsaber (also referred to as a laser sword or a ren) is a fictional energy sword featured throughout the ''Star Wars'' franchise. A typical lightsaber is depicted as a luminescent plasma blade about in length emitted from a metal hilt ar ...
and wound the beast. Before succumbing to
hypothermia Hypothermia is defined as a body core temperature Core or cores may refer to: Science and technology * Core (anatomy), everything except the appendages * Core (manufacturing), used in casting and molding * Core (optical fiber), the signal ...
, the
Force spirit The Force is a metaphysical Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, ...
of Luke's deceased mentor,
Obi-Wan Kenobi Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi () is a Character (arts), fictional character in the ''Star Wars'' franchise. Within the Star Wars Trilogy, original trilogy, Obi-Wan is a Jedi Master as a supporting character and is portrayed by English actor Alec Guinnes ...
, instructs him to go to the swamp planet
Dagobah Dagobah is a fictional planet and eponymous star system A star system or stellar system is a small number of stars that orbit each other, bound by gravitational attraction. A large group of stars bound by gravitation is generally called a ...
to train as a
Jedi Knight
Jedi Knight
under a
Jedi Master The Jedi (), Jedi Knights, or the Knights of the Jedi Order are the main protagonists of many works of the ''Star Wars'' franchise, often working symbiotically alongside the Galactic Republic and the Rebel Alliance. The Jedi Order are depicted a ...
named
Yoda Yoda () is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a w ...

Yoda
.
Han Solo Han Solo is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation * Epic film, a ge ...
discovers Luke and insulates him against the weather inside his deceased
tauntaun This is a list of creatures in the fictional universe of ''Star Wars'', a space opera media franchise. The types of creatures in this list are listed by category and then in alphabetical order. Humans and humanoid sentient species Humans Human ...
mount until they are rescued the next morning. Alerted to the Rebels' location, the Empire launches a large-scale attack using AT-AT walkers to capture the base, forcing the Rebels to evacuate. Han and Leia escape with and
Chewbacca Chewbacca (), nicknamed "Chewie", is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or ...
aboard the ''
Millennium Falcon The ''Millennium Falcon'' is a fictional starship in the ''Star Wars'' franchise. Designed by Joe Johnston for the movie ''Star Wars (film), Star Wars'' (1977), it has subsequently appeared in ''The Star Wars Holiday Special'' (1978), ''The Em ...

Millennium Falcon
'', but the ship's hyperdrive malfunctions. They hide in an
asteroid field The asteroid belt is a circumstellar disc, torus-shaped region in the Solar System, located roughly between the orbits of the planets Jupiter and Mars, that is occupied by a great many solid, irregularly shaped bodies, of many sizes but much ...

asteroid field
, where Han and Leia grow closer amidst the tensions. Vader summons several bounty hunters, including
Boba Fett Boba Fett () is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), eponymous 1977 film and quickly became ...
, to locate the ''Falcon''. Evading the Imperial fleet, Han's group travels to the floating Cloud City on planet
Bespin The fictional universe of the ''Star Wars'' franchise features multiple planets and Natural satellite, moons. While only the feature films and selected other works are considered Star Wars canon, canon to the franchise since the 2012 acquisi ...

Bespin
, which is governed by his old friend
Lando Calrissian Landonis Balthazar "Lando" Calrissian III is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars'' franchise. He was introduced in ''The Empire Strikes Back'' (1980) as an old friend of Han Solo and the administrator of the floating Cloud City on the gas p ...
. Fett tracks them to the city and Vader forces Lando to surrender the group to the Empire, knowing Luke will come to their aid. Meanwhile, Luke travels with in his
X-wing fighter The Incom Corporation T-65B X-wing starfighter is a name applied to a fictional spacecraft family from the ''Star Wars'' franchise. Named for the distinctive shape made when its s-foils (wings) are in attack position, the X-wing was a class of s ...
to Dagobah, where he crash-lands. He meets Yoda, a diminutive creature who reluctantly accepts him as his Jedi apprentice after conferring with Obi-Wan's spirit. Yoda trains Luke to master the light side of the Force and resist the negative emotions that will seduce him to the dark side, as they did Vader. However, Luke struggles to control his anger and impulsiveness and fails to comprehend the nature and power of the Force until he witnesses Yoda use it to telekinetically lift the X-wing effortlessly from the swamp. Luke experiences a premonition of Han and Leia in pain and, despite Obi-Wan's and Yoda's protestations, abandons his training to rescue them. Although Obi-Wan believes Luke is their only hope, Yoda asserts that "there is another." Leia confesses her love for Han before Vader freezes him in carbonite to test if the process will safely imprison Luke. Han survives and is given to Fett, who intends to collect his bounty from
Jabba the Hutt Jabba the Hutt, natively named Jabba Desilijic Tiure, is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars'' franchise created by George Lucas George Walton Lucas Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and e ...

Jabba the Hutt
. Lando frees Leia and Chewbacca, but they are too late to stop Fett's escape. The group fights its way back to the ''Falcon'' and flees the city. Luke arrives and engages Vader in a lightsaber duel over the city's central air shaft. Vader overwhelms Luke, severing his right hand separating him from his lightsaber. He urges Luke to embrace the power of the dark side and help him destroy his master, the Emperor, so they may rule the galaxy together. Luke refuses, citing Obi-Wan's claim that Vader killed his father, prompting Vader to reveal that he is Luke's father. Desperate, Luke drops into the air shaft and is ejected beneath the floating city, latching onto an antenna. He reaches out through the Force to Leia, and the ''Falcon'' returns to rescue him.
TIE fighter TIE fighters are fictional starfighters existing in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic space opera media franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide pop-cultu ...
s pursue the group, which is almost captured by Vader's
Star Destroyer Star Destroyers are capital ships in the fictional ''Star Wars'' universe. Star Destroyers were produced by Kuat Drive Yards and serve as "the Ship of the line, signature vessel of the fleet" for the Galactic Republic, Galactic Empire (Star Wars), ...
until reactivates the ''Falcon''s hyperdrive, allowing them to escape. Aboard the Rebel fleet, a robotic prosthesis replaces Luke's hand. He, Leia, , and observe as Lando and Chewbacca depart on the ''Falcon'' to find Han.


Cast

*
Mark Hamill Mark Richard Hamill (; born September 25, 1951) is an American actor and voice actor. He is known for playing Luke Skywalker in the ''Star Wars'' film series, winning three Saturn Awards for the role. His other film appearances include ''Corve ...

Mark Hamill
as Luke Skywalker: A pilot in the Rebel Alliance and apprentice Jedi *
Harrison Ford Harrison Ford (born July 13, 1942) is an American actor. His films have grossed more than $5.4billion in North America and more than $9.3billion worldwide, making him the seventh-highest-grossing actor in North America. He is the recipient o ...

Harrison Ford
as Han Solo: A smuggler and captain of the ''Millennium Falcon'' *
Carrie Fisher Carrie Frances Fisher (October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016) was an American actress and writer. Fisher played Princess Leia Princess Leia Organa is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic spac ...

Carrie Fisher
as Leia Organa: A leader in the Rebel Alliance *
Billy Dee Williams William December "Billy Dee" Williams Jr. (born April 6, 1937) is an American actor and novelist. He is best known as Lando Calrissian Baron Landonis Balthazar "Lando" Calrissian III is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star War ...

Billy Dee Williams
as Lando Calrissian: The administrator of Cloud City *
Anthony Daniels Anthony Daniels (born 21 February 1946) is an English actor and mime artist. He is best known for playing in 10 ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating her ...
as : A humanoid protocol droid *
David Prowse David Charles Prowse (1 July 193528 November 2020) was an English bodybuilder, Olympic weightlifting, weightlifter and character actor in British film and television. He portrayed Darth Vader (voiced by American actor James Earl Jones) in t ...

David Prowse
/
James Earl Jones James Earl Jones (born January 17, 1931) is an American actor whose career spans more than seven decades. He has been described as "one of America's most distinguished and versatile" actors for his performances in film, theater, and television, a ...

James Earl Jones
(voice) as Darth Vader: A powerful Sith Lord *
Peter Mayhew Peter William Mayhew (May 19, 1944 – April 30, 2019) was a British-American actor. He was best known for portraying Chewbacca Chewbacca (), nicknamed "Chewie", is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars'' franchise. He is a wookiee, a t ...
as Chewbacca: Han's loyal
Wookiee Wookiees () are fictional humanoid aliens in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), eponymous 1977 film and quickly ...
friend and co-pilot * Kenny Baker as R2-D2: An astromech droid *
Frank Oz Frank Oz (born Frank Richard Oznowicz; May 25, 1944) is an American actor, puppeteer A puppeteer is a person who manipulates an inanimate object, called a puppet A puppet is an object, often resembling a human, animal or mythical figur ...
(puppeteer/voice) as Yoda: A diminutive, centuries-old Jedi Master The film also features
Alec Guinness Sir Alec Guinness, (born Alec Guinness de Cuffe; 2 April 1914 – 5 August 2000) was an English actor. After an early career on the stage, Guinness was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including ''Kind Hearts and Coronets ...
as Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, and
John Hollis John Hollis (12 November 1927 – 18 October 2005) was a British actor of TV and film. He is known for his uncredited appearance as Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the ''James Bond'' film ''For Your Eyes Only (film), For Your Eyes Only'', as well as fo ...
portrays Lobot, Lando's aide. The Rebel force includes General Rieekan (portrayed by
Bruce Boa Andrew Bruce Boa (10 July 1930 – 17 April 2004) was a Canadians, Canadian actor, who found success playing the token Americans, American in United Kingdom, British films and television, usually playing military types. Boa's most recogniza ...
), Major Derlin (
John Ratzenberger John Dezső Ratzenberger (born April 6, 1947)About John
from Ratzenberger's official website
is an Ameri ...
), Cal Alder (Jack McKenzie), Dak Ralter ( John Morton),
Wedge Antilles Wedge Antilles is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars'' franchise. He is a supporting character portrayed by Denis Lawson in the original ''Star Wars'' trilogy. He is also featured in the Star Wars expanded universe, ''Star Wars'' expande ...
(
Denis Lawson Denis Stamper Lawson (born 27 September 1947) is a Scottish actor and director. He is known for his roles as John Jarndyce in the BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcas ...
), Zev Senesca (
Christopher Malcolm Christopher Malcolm (19 August 1946 – 15 February 2014) was a Scottish television and film actor, director and producer. He first achieved notoriety for his role as Brad Majors in the original stage production of ''The Rocky Horror Show ...
), and Hobbie Klivian (
Richard Oldfield Richard Oldfield (born 1950) is an American film and television actor who has worked mostly in Britain. Born in the US, Oldfield moved to Britain in the 1960s. His stage debut was in the musical ''Hair (musical), Hair'' at the Shaftesbury Theatre i ...
). The Empire's forces include
Admiral Piett Admiral Firmus Piett is a fictional character from the ''Star Wars'' media franchise, franchise, first introduced and portrayed by Kenneth Colley in the 1980 film ''The Empire Strikes Back''. As a supporting villain in command of Darth Vader's flag ...
(
Kenneth Colley Kenneth Colley (born 7 December 1937) is an English film and television actor whose career spans 50 years. He came to wider prominence through his role as Admiral Piett in the ''Star Wars'' films ''The Empire Strikes Back'' (1980) and ''Return ...
), Admiral Ozzel (
Michael Sheard Michael Sheard (18 June 1938 – 31 August 2005) was a Scottish character actor A character actor is a supporting actor who plays unusual, interesting, or Eccentricity (behavior), eccentric character (arts), characters.28 April 2013, The New ...
), General Veers (
Julian Glover Julian Wyatt Glover (born 27 March 1935) is an English classical actor with many stage, television and film roles since commencing his career in the 1950s. He is a recipient of the Laurence Olivier Award The Laurence Olivier Awards, or si ...
), and Captain Needa (
Michael Culver Michael Culver (born 16 June 1938) is an English actor. He was born in Hampstead Hampstead () is an area in London, which lies northwest of Charing Cross, and extends from Watling Street, the A5 road (Roman Watling Street) to Hampstead He ...
). The Emperor is voiced by
Clive Revill Clive Selsby Revill (born 18 April 1930) is a New Zealand actor, best known for his performances in musical theatre Musical theatre is a form of theatrical Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live perfo ...
and portrayed physically by Elaine Baker. Other cast includes
Jeremy Bulloch Jeremy Andrew Bulloch (16 February 1945 – 17 December 2020) was an English actor. In a career that spanned more than six decades, he gained recognition for originating the physical portrayal of Boba Fett in the ''Star Wars'' franchise, appea ...
as the bounty hunter Boba Fett (voiced by
Jason Wingreen Jason Wingreen (October 9, 1920 – December 25, 2015) was an American actor. He portrayed bartender Harry Snowden on the CBS sitcom ''All in the Family'' (1977–1979), a role he reprised on the continuation series ''Archie Bunker's Place'' (19 ...
, who remained uncredited until 2000); other bounty hunters include Dengar (portrayed by Morris Bush) and humanoid lizard Bossk (Alan Harris).


Production


Development

Following the unexpected financial success and the cultural phenomenon of ''
Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the Star Wars (film), eponymous 1977 film and quickly became a worldwide popular culture, pop-culture Cultural impact of S ...
'' (1977), a sequel was swiftly put into production. In case ''Star Wars'' had failed, creator
George Lucas George Walton Lucas Jr. (born May 14, 1944) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and entrepreneur. Lucas is best known for creating the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American epic film, epic space opera multimedia fr ...

George Lucas
had contracted
Alan Dean Foster Alan Dean Foster (born November 18, 1946) is an American writer of fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving Magic (supernatural), magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology ...
to write a low-budget sequel (later released as the novel ''
Splinter of the Mind's Eye ''Splinter of the Mind's Eye'' is a 1978 science-fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to sci-fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imagination, imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced s ...
''). Once ''Star Wars'' achievements were evident, Lucas was reluctant to direct the sequel because of the stressful experience making the first film and its impact on his health. The film's popularity resulted in more attention being focused on Lucas, both positive and negative, bringing him wealth and fame, but also many people who wanted Lucas's financial backing or just to threaten him. Conscious the sequel needed to exceed the original's scope—making it a bigger production—and that his production effects company
Lucasfilm Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC is an American film and television production company A production company, production house, production studio, or a production team is a business that provides the physical basis for works in the fields of performing arts, ...
was relatively small and operating out of a makeshift office, Lucas considered selling the project to
20th Century Fox 20th Century Studios, Inc. (also known as 20th Century for short, and nicknamed 20th Pictures, formerly Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation) is an American film studio A film studio (also known as movie studio or simply studio) is a maj ...
in exchange for a profit percentage. He had profited substantially from ''Star Wars'' and did not need to work, but he was too invested in his creation to entrust it to others. Lucas had concepts for the sequel but no solid structure. He knew the story would be darker, and explore more mature themes, relationships and the nature of the force. Lucas intended to fund the production independently using his $12million profit from ''Star Wars'' to relocate and expand his special effects company
Industrial Light & Magic Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is an American Film, motion picture visual effects company that was founded in May 1975 by George Lucas. It is a division of the film production company Lucasfilm, which Lucas founded, and was created when Lucas beg ...
(ILM), found his Skywalker
movie ranch A movie ranch is a ranch A ranch (from es, rancho) is an area of land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geolog ...
, in
Marin County, California Marin County is located in the northwestern part of the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census, the population was 252,409. Its county seat is San Rafael, California, San Rafael. ...
, using the remainder as collateral for a loan from
Bank of America The Bank of America Corporation (simply referred to as Bank of America, often abbreviated as BofA or BoA) is an American multinational investment bank Investment is the dedication of an asset to attain an increase in value over a period o ...

Bank of America
for the $8million budget. Fox had the right of first negotiation and refusal to participate in any potential sequel. Negotiations began in mid-1977 between the studio and Lucas's representatives. Fox had already given Lucas controlling interest in the series' merchandising and sequels because they had thought ''Star Wars'' would be worthless. Terms were agreed quickly for the sequel compared to the original, in part because Fox executive Alan Ladd Jr. had been supportive of the original and was eager for the sequel. The 100-page contract was signed on September 21, 1977, dictating that Fox would distribute the film but have no creative input, in exchange for 50% of the gross profits on the first $20million earned, with the percentage increasing to 77.5% in the producers' favor if it exceeded $100million. Filming had to begin by January 1979 for release on May 1, 1980. The deal offered the possibility of significant financial gain for Lucas, but he risked financial ruin if the sequel failed. To mitigate some of the risk, he founded The Chapter II Company, to control the development of the film and absorb its liabilities. Lucas signed a contract between the company and Lucasfilm, granting himself five percent of the box office gross profits. He also founded Black Falcon to license ''Star Wars'' merchandising rights, using the income to subsidize his ongoing projects. Development began in August 1977, under the title ''Star Wars Chapter II''. Lucas considered replacing producer
Gary Kurtz Gary Douglas Kurtz (July 27, 1940 – September 23, 2018) was an American film producer A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working Independent film, independently, producers pla ...
with
Howard Kazanjian Howard G. Kazanjian (born July 26, 1942) is an American film producer A film producer is a person who oversees film production. Either employed by a production company or working Independent film, independently, producers plan and coordinate v ...
because of issues that arose while filming ''Star Wars'' in which Kurtz had not fulfilled his role and left problems unresolved. Kurtz convinced him otherwise by trading on his long-time loyalty to Lucas and his existing knowledge of the ''Star Wars'' property. Lucas took an executive producer role, enabling him to focus on his businesses and the development of ''
Raiders of the Lost Ark ''Raiders of the Lost Ark'' is a 1981 American Action film#Action-adventure, action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It stars Harrison Ford, Karen ...
'' (1981). By late 1977, Kurtz began hiring key crew members including production designer Norman Reynolds, consultant John Barry, makeup artist
Stuart Freeborn Stuart Freeborn (5 September 1914 – 5 February 2013) was a British motion picture make-up artist. He has been referred to as the "grandfather of modern make-up design" and is perhaps best known for his work on the original ''Star Wars'' ...
, and first assistant director
David Tomblin David Tomblin, Officer of the Order of the British Empire, OBE (18 October 1930 – 20 July 2005) was a film and television Film producer, producer, assistant director, and film director, director. As a producer, he was best known for ''The Priso ...
. Lucas re-hired artists
Ralph McQuarrie Ralph Angus McQuarrie (; June 13, 1929 – March 3, 2012) was an American Concept art, conceptual designer and illustrator. His career included work on the original Star Wars#Original trilogy, ''Star Wars'' trilogy, the original ''Battlestar Gala ...

Ralph McQuarrie
and
Joe Johnston Joseph Eggleston Johnston II (born May 13, 1950) is an American film director, writer, and visual effects artist best known for such effects-driven films as ''Honey, I Shrunk the Kids ''Honey, I Shrunk the Kids'' is a 1989 American comic sc ...

Joe Johnston
to maintain visual consistency with ''Star Wars'', and the three began conceptualizing the Hoth battle in December. By this point, the budget had increased to $10million. Lucas wanted a director who would support the material and accept that he was ultimately in charge. Lucas considered around 100 directors, including
Alan Parker Sir Alan William Parker (14 February 194431 July 2020) was an English filmmaker. His early career, beginning in his late teens, was spent as a copywriter and director of television advertisements. After about ten years of filming adverts, man ...
and
John Badham John MacDonald Badham (born August 25, 1939) is an English-born American television and film director, best known for his films ''Saturday Night Fever'' (1977), ''Dracula (1979 film), Dracula'' (1979), ''Blue Thunder'' (1983), ''WarGames'' (198 ...
, before hiring his old acquaintance
Irvin Kershner Irvin Kershner (born Isadore Kershner; April 29, 1923November 27, 2010) was an American director Director may refer to: Literature * Director (magazine), ''Director'' (magazine), a British magazine * The Director (novel), ''The Director'' (nove ...
in February 1978. Kershner was reluctant to direct the sequel to a film as successful as ''Star Wars'', and his friends warned him against taking the job believing he would be blamed if it failed. Lucas convinced Kershner it was not so much a sequel but rather a chapter in a larger story; he also promised him he could make the film his own way.


Writing

Lucas began formulating ideas in August 1977. These included the Emperor, how to explain facial injuries Hamill suffered from an accident after filming ''Star Wars''—Lucas told Hamill that, had he died, his character would have been replaced not re-cast—and Luke's lost sister. Hamill recounted being told the sister character might be Leia, which he found disappointing. Lucas had written ''Star Wars'' but did not enjoy developing lore for an original universe. Science-fiction writer
Leigh Brackett Leigh Douglass Brackett (December 7, 1915 – March 18, 1978) was an American writer, particularly of science fiction, and has been referred to as the Queen of Space Opera. She was also a screenwriter, known for her work on such films as ''The Big ...
, whom Lucas met through a friend, excelled in quick-paced dialogue compared to Lucas. He hired her for $50,000, aware she had cancer. Between November28 and December2, 1977, Lucas and Brackett held a story conference. Lucas had core ideas in mind, but he wanted Brackett to piece them together. He envisioned one central plot complemented by three main subplots, set across 60 scenes, 100 script pages, and a two-hour runtime. They formed a general outline and ideas that included the Wookie homeworld, new alien species, the Galactic Emperor, a gambler from Han's past, water and city planets, Luke's lost twin sister, and a diminutive, frog-like creature, Minch Yoda. Lucas drew on influences, including ''
The Thing from Another World ''The Thing from Another World'', sometimes referred to as just ''The Thing'', is a 1951 American black-and-white Black-and-white (B/W or B&W) images combine black and white in a continuous spectrum In physics Physics (from ...
'' (1951), the novel ''
Dune A dune is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical body Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the ...
'' (1965), and the ''
Flash Gordon Flash Gordon is the protagonist of a space opera Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes science fictional space warfare, with use of melodramatic, risk-taking space adventures and chivalric romance. Set mainly or entir ...
'' (1954) television series. Around this time, Kurtz conceived the title, ''The Empire Strikes Back''. He said they avoided calling it ''Star Wars II'' because films with "II" in their titles were seen as inferior. Brackett completed her first draft in February 1978, titled ''Star Wars sequel, from the adventures of Luke Skywalker''. The draft contained a city in the clouds, a chase through an asteroid belt, a greater focus on the love triangle between Luke, Han, and Leia (who is portrayed as a
damsel in distress The damsel in distress is a recurring narrative device (or trope) in which one or more men must rescue a woman who has either been kidnapped or placed in general peril. Kinship, love, or lust gives the male protagonist the motivation or compul ...
), the battle of Hoth and a climactic battle between Luke and Darth Vader. The ghosts of his father and Obi-Wan visit Luke, leaving Vader a separate character. The draft revealed Luke has a sister (not Leia), Han goes on a mission to recruit his powerful step-father, and Lando is a clone from the clone wars. Lucas made detailed notes and attempted to contact Brackett, but she had been hospitalized; she died of cancer a few weeks later on March 18.


Re-write

The strict schedule left Lucas no choice but to write the second draft himself. Though Brackett's draft followed Lucas's outline, he found she had portrayed the characters differently than he intended. Lucas completed his hand-written, 121-page draft six weeks later on April 1. He found the process more enjoyable than on ''Star Wars'' because he was familiar with the universe, but struggled to write a satisfying conclusion, leaving it open for a third film. This draft established Luke's sister as a new character undertaking a similar journey, Vader's castle and his fear of the emperor, distinct power levels in controlling the Force, Yoda's unconventional speech pattern, and bounty hunters, including Boba Fett. Lucas wrote Fett like the
Man with No Name The Man with No Name ( it, Uomo senza nome) is the antihero character portrayed by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's "''Dollars Trilogy''" of Spaghetti Western films: ''A Fistful of Dollars'' (1964), ''For a Few Dollars More'' (1965), and ''The ...
, combining him with an abandoned idea for a Super Stormtrooper. Although Lucas's handwritten draft included mention of Vader being Luke's father, the typed script omitted this revelation. Despite contradictory information in drafts that included the ghost of Luke's father, Lucas said he had always intended that Vader was Luke's father; he omitted it from scripts to avoid leaks. Lucas included elements such as Han's debt to Jabba, and recontextualized Luke leaving Dagobah to rescue his friends: in Brackett's draft, Obi-Wan instructs Luke to leave; Lucas had Luke choose to leave. He also removed a scene of Luke massacring stormtroopers to convey him falling to the dark side, wanting to instead explore this in the next film. Lucas believed it was important the characters were inspirational and appropriate for children. Lucas's typed draft is titled ''Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back''. In June 1978, impressed with his work on ''Raiders of the Lost Ark'', Lucas hired
Lawrence Kasdan Lawrence Edward Kasdan (born January 14, 1949) is an American filmmaker. He is the co-writer of the ''Star Wars'' films ''The Empire Strikes Back'' (1980), ''Return of the Jedi'' (1983), ''The Force Awakens'' (2015), and ''Solo: A Star Wars Stor ...
to refine the draft; Kasdan was paid $60,000. In early July, Kasdan, Kershner and Lucas held a story conference to discuss the Lucas draft. The group collaborated on ideas, challenging Lucas when his made no sense; Lucas embraced their ideas. Mandated to deliver a fifth of the script every other week, Kasdan began his re-write, focusing on developing character relationships and psychologies; he completed the third draft by early August. This version refined Minch Yoda—alternately named "the Critter", Minch, Buffy, and simply Yoda—from a slimy creature to a small blue one; each version retained the character's long life and wisdom. Yoda was intended to teach Luke to respect everyone and not judge on appearances, and defy audience expectations. The draft tightened or expanded dialogue to better pace action scenes, added more romance, and added or changed locations, such as moving a Vader scene from a spaceship deck to his private cubicle. Lucas removed a line mentioning Lando deliberately abandoning his people and had Luke contact Leia through the Force instead of Obi-Wan's ghost. The fourth draft—mostly the same but with more detailed action—was submitted on October 24. Although some of Brackett's ideas remained, such as Luke's Dagobah training, her dialogue and characterization had been removed. Kasdan described her take as from "another era", lacking the necessary tone. Kazanjian did not believe the
Writers Guild of America West The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) is a trade union, labor union representing film, television, radio, and new media writers. It was formed in 1954 from five organizations representing writers, including the Screen Writers Guild. It has arou ...
would approve of her receiving credit, but Lucas liked Brackett and supported her credit as co-writer. He also provided for her family beyond her contracted pay. The fifth draft was completed in February 1979, revising some scenes and introducing a "Hogmen" species devised by Kershner; Lucas did not like the idea because he perceived them as slaves.


Casting

Hamill (Luke), Fisher (Leia), Ford (Han), Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Baker (R2-D2), all reprised their ''Star Wars'' roles. Hamill and Fisher were contracted for a second, third, and fourth film, but Ford had declined similar terms because of earlier negative experiences; he agreed to return because he wanted to improve his ''Star Wars'' performance. Hamill spent four months bodybuilding and learning karate, fencing, and kendo to prepare for his stunts. Prowse hesitated to return as Darth Vader because, as he was hidden behind a costume, he believed the role offered little job security; he returned after being told further delays would lead to him being replaced. Jones returned to voice Vader but, as with ''Star Wars'', declined a credit because he considered himself "special effects" to Prowse's physical performance. He earned $15,000 for half a day's work, plus a small percentage of the profits. Daniels returned for "reasonable" pay; he was reluctant because he had received little public acknowledgment for his previous performance as because the filmmakers portrayed the droid as a real being. Guinness could not return as Obi-Wan because his failing eyesight required him to avoid bright lights. Recasting him was considered, but, determined to recruit him, Lucas agreed to a deal in late August 1979, just before filming finished. Guinness was paid 0.25% of ''Empire''s box office gross for his few hours of work. ''Empire'' introduces Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, the first
African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...
to portray a main role in the series. He found the character interesting because of his cape and
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
surname; Williams believed this gave him room to develop the character. Williams said Lando was much like himself a—"pretty cool guy". He believed it was a token role, but was assured it was not specifically written for a black actor. Kershner described Williams as possessing the fantastic charm of a "Mississippi riverboat hustler".
Howard Rollins Howard Ellsworth Rollins Jr. (October 17, 1950 – December 8, 1996) was an American stage, film, and television actor. Howard Rollins was best known for his role as Andrew Young in 1978's ''King (TV miniseries), King'', George Haley in the 1979 ...
, Terry Alexander,
Robert Christian Robert Christian (December 27, 1939 – January 27, 1983)page 116 was an American actor. Early life and education Christian was born in Los Angeles and began acting as a child, appearing on ''Amos 'n' Andy'' and ''The Andy Griffith Show''. He ...
, Thurman Scott, and
Yaphet Kotto Yaphet Frederick Kotto (born Frederick Samuel Kotto; November 15, 1939 – March 15, 2021) was an American actor known for numerous film roles, as well as starring in the NBC The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American Amer ...
were also considered for the part. Yoda was voiced and puppeteered by Frank Oz, with assistance from
Kathryn Mullen Kathryn Mullen is an American puppeteer, actress, and voice actress most closely associated with Jim Henson projects. History Mullen began performing on ''The Muppet Show'' in its third season, primarily as Gaffer the Backstage Cat. She also voic ...
, David Barclay, and
Wendy Froud Wendy Froud (''née'' Midener; born 1954) is an American doll-artist, sculptor, puppet-maker and writer. She is best known for her work fabricating Yoda Yoda () is a fictional character in the ''Star Wars ''Star Wars'' is an American e ...
. Lucas intended to dub Oz's Yoda voice but decided it would be difficult to cast someone who could match their voice to Oz's physical puppeteering performance. Jeremy Bulloch did not audition for Boba Fett; he was hired because the costume fit him. It was uncomfortable and top-heavy, making it difficult to maintain his balance, and the mask often steamed up. Bulloch assumed his lines would be dubbed over as he had little dialogue. Fett's voice actor, Jason Wingreen, remained uncredited until 2000. Bulloch also appears as an Imperial officer who restrains Leia on Bespin. There was no other cast member available for the role, so Kurtz had him quickly change out of the Fett costume to stand in. John Morton portrays Fett in the same scene. There was no extensive casting for the Emperor. Lucas chose Clive Revill to provide the character's voice, preferring it from the options given to him, while an older actress,
Marjorie Eaton Marjorie Lee Eaton (February 5, 1901 – April 21, 1986) was an American painter, photographer and character actress who physically portrayed Palpatine, Emperor Palpatine in the original release of ''The Empire Strikes Back'', though her face ...
, physically portrayed the Emperor in test footage. The footage proved unsatisfactory, and special effects artist
Rick Baker Richard A. Baker (born December 8, 1950) is an American retired Prosthetic makeup, special make-up effects creator and Acting, actor. He is mostly known for his creature designs and effects. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record ...
created a full mask that was worn by his wife Elaine. Chimpanzee eyes were superimposed over her face; cat eyes and assistant accountant Laura Crockett's were also considered.


Pre-production

Pre-production began in early 1978. Although Kershner wanted two years, this phase only lasted a year. Scouts looked at areas in Northern Europe such as Finland, Sweden, and the Arctic Circle to portray Hoth. The locations needed to be free of trees and near populated areas for amenities. Kershner credited a Fox distribution employee with recommending
Finse Finse is a mountain village area on the shore of the lake Finsevatnet in Ulvik municipality in Vestland county, Norway. The village is centered on Finse Station, a railway station on the Bergen Line. The village sits at an elevation of above sea ...

Finse
, Norway, although Kurtz said it was Reynolds who had done so. For the bog planet Dagobah, scouts looked at Central Africa, Kenya, and
Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Province * Sami District, Gambia * Sami, Cephalonia, a municipality in Greece * Sami (ancient city), in Elis, Greece * Sa ...

Scandinavia
. To avoid shooting on location, Lucas funded the construction of a "''Star Wars'' stage" at
Elstree Studios Elstree Studios is a generic term which can refer to several current and defunct British film studio A film studio (also known as movie studio or simply studio) is a major entertainment company or motion picture company that has its own pri ...
, London, to create the Dagobah and rebel base sets. Construction began at the end of August, costing $2million. Sets were the single biggest expense at $3.5million. By December 1978, the budget had increased to $21.5million, more than double the original estimate. Financial projections for The Chapter II Company suggested it would run a monthly deficit of $5–25million by the end of 1979, including over $2million in production costs and $400,000 to fund ILM. As the start of filming in January 1979 loomed, a fire on Elstree's Stage 3—where '' The Shining'' (1980) was being filmed—destroyed the space planned for ''Empire''s sets. The impact was significant, costing essential space. The production was forced to give up two stages so ''The Shining'' could continue filming. Sixty-four sets had to be moved through nine stages, and the timeline had to be rescheduled. Poor weather delayed construction of the ''Star Wars'' stage, sets and necessary props. Location crew traveled to Finse by February 25 to receive flown-in equipment containers and begin digging trenches for battle scenes.


Music

John Williams John Towner Williams (born February 8, 1932) is an American composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classical music in any fo ...
composed and conducted the musical score for ''The Empire Strikes Back'', performed by the
London Symphony Orchestra The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is a British symphony orchestra based in London. Founded in 1904, the LSO is the oldest of London's symphony orchestras An orchestra (; ) is a large Musical ensemble, instrumental ensemble typical of c ...

London Symphony Orchestra
, at a cost of about $250,000. Williams began planning in November 1979, estimating ''Empire'' required 107 minutes of music. For two weeks across 18 three-hour sessions just after Christmas, Williams recorded the score at Anvil Studios and
EMI Studios Abbey Road Studios (formerly EMI Recording Studios) is a recording studio at 3 Abbey Road ''Abbey Road'' is the eleventh studio album by the English Rock music, rock band the Beatles, released on 26 September 1969 by Apple Records. Nam ...

EMI Studios
, London. Up to 104 musicians were involved at one time; the instruments included oboes, piccolos, pianos, and harps.


Filming


Commencement in Norway

Principal photography began on March 5, 1979, on the
glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice Ice is into a state. Depending on the presence of such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less bluish-white color. In the , ice is abunda ...

glacier
near Finse, Norway, depicting the planet Hoth. Initially scheduled to conclude on June 22, by the end of the first week it was obvious it would take longer and cost more. Filming the Hoth scenes on a set was considered but rejected as inauthentic. However, the location filming coincided with the area's worst snowstorm in half a century, impeding the production with blizzards, winds, and temperatures around to . The weather cleared only twice; some days filming could not take place. The frigid conditions made the
acetate film Cellulose acetate film, or safety film, is used in photography as a base material for photographic emulsions. It was introduced in the early 20th century by film manufacturers and intended as a safe film base replacement for unstable and highly f ...
brittle, camera lenses iced over, snow seeped into equipment, and effects paint froze in their tins. To counter this, lenses were kept cool, but the camera body was warmed to protect the film, battery, and the camera operators' hands. The crew were outside for up to 11 hours, subjected to thin air, limited visibility, and mild frostbite; one crewman slipped and broke two ribs. Even so, the difficult conditions led to a strong camaraderie among the crew. Avalanches blocked direct transport links and dug trenches quickly filled with snow. Scenes could be prepared only a few hours in advance and many scenes were filmed just outside the crew's hotel as the shifting weather regularly altered the scenery. Although Fisher was not scheduled to film scenes in Norway, she joined Hamill on location because she wanted to observe the filming process. Ford was not scheduled for the Finse phase, but to compensate for the delays, he was brought there instead of creating a separate set in a Leeds studio. On a few hours' notice, he arrived in Finse, having traveled the last of the snow-laden journey by snowplow. Production returned to England after a week although Hamill had an additional day of filming, and the
second unit Second unit is a discrete team of filmmakers tasked with filming shots or sequences of a production, separate from the main or "first" unit. The second unit will often shoot simultaneously with the other unit or units, allowing the filming stage ...
remained through March to film explosions, incidental footage, and battle scenes featuring thirty-five mountain rescue skiers as extras. The skiers' work was compensated with a donation to the Norwegian
Red Cross The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life, whereby human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread specie ...
. To film the probe landing, eight sticks of dynamite were placed on the glacier to capture the explosion at sunrise, but the demolitions expert in charge knocked the battery out of his radio and received the message too late to capture the intended shot. The opening sweeping shot of the area was captured by flying a helicopter to and performing a controlled drop at a rate of or a minute. Filming the shot was delayed four weeks to construct a heated shelter for the helicopter. The second unit, scheduled to be in Finse for three weeks, was there for eight. When the crew returned to London, they had only half the planned footage, including background plates for special effects shots that were uneven. ''Empire''s budget increased to around $22million, because of the delays and having to rework scenes to compensate for the missing footage.


Filming at Elstree Studios

Filming at Elstree began on March 13. Production remained behind schedule without Stage 3, which had been destroyed by fire. The incomplete ''Star Wars'' stage lacked protection from the cold weather. The crew had to work out of any available space. To save time, some scenes were shot simultaneously, including the ice cavern and medical bay. Kershner wanted each character to make a unique entrance in the film. While filming Vader's entrance, the snow troopers preceding Prowse tripped over the polystyrene ice, and the stuntman behind him stood on his cape, breaking it off, causing Prowse to fall onto the snow troopers. The shoot was strenuous and mired in conflicts. Fisher suffered from influenza and bronchitis; her weight dropped to working 12-hour days, and she collapsed on set from an allergic reaction to steam or spray paint. She was also allergic to most makeup. Her overuse of
hallucinogen A hallucinogen is a psychoactive agent that often or ordinarily causes hallucinations A hallucination is a perception Perception (from the Latin ''perceptio'', meaning gathering or receiving) is the organization, identification, ...
s and painkillers, and anxiety while performing her speech to the rebels worsened her situation. Stress and personal traumas led to Hamill, Fisher, and Ford arguing frequently. Ford and Hamill fell ill or were injured at different times. Hamill was depressed by his isolation from human cast members, acting mostly against puppets, robots, and actors whose voices would be dubbed over or added to his scenes later. He used an earpiece to hear Oz's dialogue but for various reasons, this did not work and he struggled to form a relationship with the character. The Dagobah set was liberally sprayed with mineral oil, which caused him physical discomfort over long periods. Hamill described it as a "physical ordeal the whole time... but I don't really mind that". At one point, Oz cheered Hamill up with a
Miss Piggy Miss Piggy is a Muppet The Muppets are an ensemble cast In a dramatic production, an ensemble cast is one which comprises multiple principal actors and performers who are typically assigned roughly equal amounts of screen time.Random House ...
routine. Hamill recalled Ford giving him a kiss instead of reading his lines, entertaining the crew. Mayhew fell ill while filming Han's torture room scene because the set used bursts of steam, raising the ambient temperature to while he was wearing a wool suit. Bank of America representatives visited the set in late March, concerned about rising costs. Lucas rarely visited the set, but arrived on May 6, after realizing the production was over schedule and budget. An official Lucasfilm memo instructed staff to misstate the film's direct costs as $17million. Kurtz and Lucas estimated it would cost $25–28million to complete filming. Finances ran out by mid-July when Bank of America refused to increase the loan. The crisis was kept from the crew, including Kershner, and tactics were used to delay its impact, including paying staff bi-weekly instead of weekly and Lucas borrowing money from his merchandising company Black Falcon. Lucas worried he would have to sell ''Empire'' and its associated rights to Fox to sustain the project, losing his creative freedom. Fox was also threatening to buy out the bond and take over filming. With about 20% of ''Empire'' left to film, Lucasfilm president Charles Weber arranged for
Bank of Boston A bank is a financial institution that accepts Deposit account, deposits from the public and creates a demand deposit while simultaneously making loans. Lending activities can be directly performed by the bank or indirectly through capital ma ...
to refinance the loan to $31million, including $27.7million from Bank of Boston and a further $3million guaranteed by Fox in exchange for an increased percentage of the theatrical returns and 10% of merchandising profits. Lucasfilm took out the loan, making the company directly liable. The ''Star Wars'' stage was completed in early May, although it was too small to house the Rebel hangar and Dagobah sets and an extension had to be funded and built. Even so, the producers mandated filming begin on the stage on May 18, regardless of its state. The hangar scene involved 77 rebel extras, costing £2,000 per day. Around of dendritic salt, mixed with
magnesium sulfate Magnesium sulfate or magnesium sulphate (in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial ...

magnesium sulfate
for a sparkle effect, were used for the snowy sets; the combination gave the cast and crew headaches. Second unit director John Barry died suddenly in early June;
Harley Cokeliss Harley Cokeliss (born Harley Louis Cokliss, February 11, 1945) is an American director, writer and producer of film and television. Originally brought up in Chicago, he moved to Britain in 1966 to study at the London Film School, and has spen ...
replaced him a week later. The typical purpose of the second unit was to film time-consuming tasks for special effects, but they were involved in filming main scenes—including Luke's ice cave imprisonment—because the schedule had overrun by around 26 days. Hamill was unavailable for several days after injuring his hand during a stunt jump from a
speeder bike Speeder bikes (also known as "jumpspeeders" or "hover bikes") and swoop bikes (or just "swoops") are small, fast transports that use repulsorlift The space-opera Space opera is a subgenre Genre () is any form or type of communication Com ...
. Having been called in for the stunt the same day his son was born, combined with exhaustion and the aggravation of the salt-laden setting, Hamill angrily rebuffed Kurtz for not using a double for the scene. Kershner's hands-on directing style, acting out how he should perform a scene agitated Hamill; Kershner was frustrated that Hamill was not following his advice. The life-size hangar set was dismantled in mid-June to allow the construction of other sets around the full-scale ''Falcon''. These scenes had to be filmed efficiently, so the ''Falcon'' could be dismantled to make way for the Dagobah set. Filming began on the carbon chamber scene in late June while the second unit filmed anything they could. The raised set was largely incomplete, and low lighting and steam were used to conceal any obvious flaws. The fog machines and heat from the steam made many cast and crew members sick; it took approximately three weeks to film. The confession of love between Leia and Han was scripted with both of them admitting their feelings for the other. Kershner felt this was too "sappy". He had Ford improvise lines repeatedly until Ford said he would do only one more take. He responded to Leia's confession of love saying "I know". By the end of the month, cast and crew morale was low.


The duel, Dagobah, and conclusion

Hamill returned in early July to film his climactic battle against Darth Vader (portrayed by stunt double Bob Anderson). The latter described the experience as similar to fighting blindfolded because of the costume. Hamill spent weeks practicing his fencing routine, eventually growing frustrated and refusing to continue. The next scene, where Vader confesses he is Luke's father, was shrouded in secrecy. Prowse was given the line "Obi-Wan Kenobi is your father" to read because he was known for repeatedly leaking information. Only Kershner, the producers, and Hamill knew the actual line. Hamill was positioned on a platform suspended above a pile of mattresses. The filmed footage was damaged and the scene had to be reshot entirely in early August. The Vader confrontation took eight weeks to film. Hamill insisted on doing as many of his stunts as possible, although the insurers refused to allow him to perform a fall out of a window. He fell from a nine-inch ledge high but rolled on landing to avoid injury. Lucas returned to the set on July 15, staying for the rest of the filming. He rewrote Luke's scenes on Dagobah, removing or trimming them so they could be shot in just over two weeks. Most of the cast completed filming by the start of August, including Ford, Fisher, Williams, Mayhew, and Daniels. Hamill began filming on the Dagobah set against Yoda. They only had 12 days to film because Oz was scheduled for another project. With the film now over 50 days behind schedule, Kurtz was removed from his role and replaced by Kazanjian and Watts. One of the final scenes shot was of Luke exploring the dark side tree on Dagobah. A wrap party was held on the set to mark the official conclusion of filming on September 5, 1979, after 133 days. Guinness filmed his scenes against a blue screen the same day. Even so, Kershner and the second unit continued filming other scenes, including Luke's X-Wing being raised from the swamp. Kershner left the set on September 9, Hamill finished 103 days of filming 2 days later. The second unit finished filming on September 24 with Hamill's stunt double. There was approximately of film or 80 hours of footage. The final budget was $30.5million. Kurtz blamed
inflation In economics, inflation refers to a general progressive increase in prices of goods and services in an economy. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation corresponds to a r ...

inflation
, which had increased resource, cast, and crew costs significantly. Lucas blamed Kurtz for a lack of oversight and poor financial planning. Watts said Kurtz was not good with people and never developed a working relationship with Kershner, making it difficult for him to temper the director's indulgences. Kurtz had also given Kershner more leeway because of the delays caused by the Stage 3 fire. Kershner's slower work pace had frustrated Lucas. He described his filming style as frugal, performing two or three takes with little coverage film that could later compensate for mistakes. Watts and Reynolds said Kershner often looked at new ways of doing things, but this required planning that only delayed things further. Kershner had tried replicating the quick pacing of ''Star Wars'', not lingering on any scene for too long, and encouraged improvisation, modifying scenes and dialogue to focus more on characters' emotions, such as interrupting Han and Leia as they are about to kiss. Kazanjian said many mistakes were made but blamed Weber, Lucasfilm vice president John Moohr, and primarily Kurtz. Actor John Morton described Kurtz as an unsung hero, who brought his experience of filming war to the film.


Post-production

The schedule overrun resulted in filming and post-production taking place simultaneously; filmed footage was shipped immediately to ILM to begin effects work. A
rough cut In filmmaking, the rough cut is the second of three stages of offline editing. The term originates from the early days of filmmaking when film stock was physically cut and reassembled, but is still used to describe projects that are recorded and e ...
was put together by mid-October 1979, resembling the finished film, minus special effects. Lucas provided 31 pages of notes about changes he wanted, mainly relating to altering dialogue and changing scene lengths. Jones recorded Vader's dialogue in late 1979/early 1980. In early 1980, Lucas changed the long-planned opening of Luke riding his tauntaun to a shot of the Star Destroyer launching probes. He continued tweaking elements to improve the special effects, but even with ILM staff working up to 24 hours a day, six days a week, there was not enough time to do everything they wanted. A Dagobah pick-up scene, in which R2-D2 is spat out by a monster, was filmed in Lucas's swimming pool; the Emperor's scenes were filmed in February 1980. Fox executives did not see a cut of the film until March. That month, Lucas decided he wanted an additional Hoth scene and auditioned 50 ILM crew to appear as Rebels. The final 124-minute cut was completed on April 16, which triggered a $10million payment from Fox to Bank of Boston. Lucasfilm also launched an employee bonus scheme to share ''Empire''s profits with its staff. Test screenings were held in San Francisco on April 19. While the tauntaun special effect was criticized, audiences liked Han's reply of "I know" to Leia's confession of love. Lucas was unimpressed by the scene, believing it was not how Han would act. Because the magnetic soundtrack could flake from the film reels, Kurtz hired people to watch the film reels 24 hours a day to identify defects; 22% were defective. Shortly after the film's theatrical release, Lucas decided the ending was unclear about where Luke and Leia were in relation to Lando and Chewbacca. In the three week window between its limited and wider release, Lucas, Johnston, and visual effects artist
Ken Ralston Kenneth Ralston (born 1954) is an American visual effects artist, currently the Visual Effect Supervisor and Creative Head at Sony Pictures Imageworks Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. is a Canadian-American visual effects Visual effects (sometimes ...
filmed enhancement scenes at ILM, using existing footage, a new score, modified dialogue, and new miniatures to create establishing shots of the Rebel fleet and their relative positions. By the project's conclusion around 700 people had worked on ''Empire''.


Special effects and design

Lucas's firm, Industrial Light & Magic, developed ''The Empire Strikes Back''s special effects at a cost of $8million, including staffing and the construction of the company's new facility in Marin County. The building was still under construction when staff arrived in September 1978, and initially lacked the equipment that would be necessary to complete their work. Compared to ''Star Wars'' 360 special effects shots, ''Empire'' required around 600. The crew, supervised by
Richard Edlund Richard Edlund, A.S.C. (born December 6, 1940) is a multi-Academy Award-winning US special effects cinematographer. Edlund was born in Fargo, North Dakota and raised in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. After first joining the United States Navy, he devel ...
and
Brian Johnson Brian Francis Johnson (born 5 October 1947) is an English singer and songwriter. In 1980, after the death of Bon Scott, he became the third lead singer of the Australian rock band AC/DC. He and the rest of the band were inducted into the Rock a ...
, included Dennis Muren, Bruce Nicholson, Lorne Peterson, Steve Gawley, Phil Tippett, Tom St. Amand, and Nilo Rodis-Jamero. Up to 100 people worked on the project daily, including Stuart Freeborn, who was responsible mainly for crafting the Yoda puppet. Various techniques, including miniatures, matte paintings, stop motion, articulated models and full-size vehicles were used to create ''Empire''s various effects.


Release


Context

Industry professionals expected comedies and positive entertainment to dominate theaters in 1980 because of low morale in the United States caused by an Early 1980s recession in the United States#1980, economic recession. This generally increased theatrical visits as audiences sought escapism and ignored romantic films and depictions of Blue-collar worker, blue-collar life. A surge of interest in science-fiction following ''Star Wars'' led to many low-budget entries in the genre attempting to profit by association and big-budget entries such as ''Star Trek: The Motion Picture'' and ''The Black Hole (1979 film), The Black Hole'', both released just months before ''The Empire Strikes Back''. Sequels were not expected to perform as well as their originals, and there were low expectations for merchandising. Even so, tie-in deals were arranged with Coca-Cola, Nestlé, General Mills, and Topps collectibles. Fox was confident in the film and spent little money on advertising, taking out small advertisements in newspapers instead of full-page spreads. The studio's market research showed 60% of those interested in the film were male. Lucasfilm set up a telephone number allowing callers to hear a message from cast members. Fox demanded a minimum 28-week appearance in theaters, where 12 weeks was the norm for major films. Estimates suggested ''Empire'' needed to earn $57.2million to be profitable, after marketing, distribution, and loan interest costs.


Credits and title

As with ''Star Wars'', Lucas wanted to place all of the crew credits at the end of the film to avoid interfering with the opening. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Directors Guild of America (DGA) had allowed this for the first film because Lucas directed and it opened with the logo for his namesake Lucasfilm, but for ''Empire'' they refused to allow Kershner or the first and second unit directors to be credited only at the end, fined Lucas $250,000 when he ignored them and tried to have the film removed from theaters. Because Lucas had followed the laws relevant to the United Kingdom where it was produced, the DGA was unable to sanction him and instead fined Kershner $25,000. Lucas paid his fine but was so frustrated that he left the WGA, DGA, and Motion Picture Association, which restricted his ability to write and direct future films. ''The Hollywood Reporter'' leaked the film's title in January 1978; it was officially announced in August. The opening credits identified the film as ''Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back'', establishing Lucas's plan to make a nine-part ''Star Wars'' series. ''Star Wars'' was also renamed ''Episode IV — A New Hope''. Roger Kastel designed the theatrical poster.


Box office

''The Empire Strikes Back'' debuted at the Dominion Theatre, London, on May 6, 1980, followed by a premiere on May 17, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. This event featured the principal cast. 600 children, including Special Olympics, special olympians, attended. Its world premiere took place on May 20 at the Odeon Leicester Square, London. Dubbed "Empire Day", the event included actors in Stormtrooper attire interacting with people across the city. In North America, ''Empire'' opened in mid-week in 126 theaters on May 21, leading into the extended Memorial Day holiday weekend. The number of theaters was deliberately limited to make it difficult to get a ticket, thus generating more appeal—a strategy used with films expected to receive positive word of mouth. It earned $1.3million during its opening day—an average of $10,581 per theater. ''Empire'' earned a further $4.9million during the weekend and $1.5million during the holiday Monday for a total of $6.4million—an average of $50,919 per theater—making it the number one film of the weekend, ahead of the counterprogramming (film distribution), counterprogrammed debuts of the comedy ''The Gong Show Movie'' ($1.5million) and ''The Shining'' ($600K). By the end of its first week, the film had earned $9.6million—a 60% increase over ''Star Wars''—averaging $76,201 per theater, the highest-ever figure for a film in over 100 theaters. It remained number one until its fourth weekend when it fell to third with $3.6million, behind spoof comedy ''Wholly Moses!'' ($3.62million) and western ''Bronco Billy'' ($3.7million). It regained the number one position in its fifth weekend, expanding its theater count to 823 and earning $10.8million. Combined with its weekday gross, ''Empire'' earned a single week gross of approximately $20million, a box office record the film would hold until ''Superman II''s $24million the following year. It remained number one for the next seven weeks, before falling to number two in its thirteenth week with $4.3million behind the debuting ''Smokey and the Bandit II'' ($10.9million). Detailed box office tracking is unavailable for the rest of ''Empire''s 32-week, 1,278 theater total run. ''Empire'' earned approximately $181.4–209.4million, making it 1980 in film, the highest-grossing film of the year, ahead of the comedy films ($103.3million), ''Stir Crazy (film), Stir Crazy'' ($101.3million), and ''Airplane!'' ($83.5million). Although it earned less than ''Star Wars'' $221.3million, ''Empire'' was considered a financial success, and industry experts estimated the film returned $120million to the filmmakers, recouping Lucas's investment and clearing his debt; he also paid out $5million in employee bonuses. Box office figures are unavailable for all the releases outside of North America in 1980, although ''The New York Times'' reported the film performed well in the United Kingdom and Japan. According to ''Variety (magazine), Variety'', ''Empire'' earned approximately $192.1million, giving the film a cumulative worldwide gross of $401.5million, making it the highest-grossing film of the year. ''Empire'' did not receive the same repeat business as ''Star Wars'', which Lucas blamed on its inconclusive ending. ''Empire'' has received multiple theatrical re-releases, including in July 1981 ($26.8million), November 1982 ($14.5million), and Changes in Star Wars re-releases, Special Edition versions, modified by Lucas, in February 1997 ($67.6million). Cumulatively, these releases have raised the North American box office gross to $290.3–$292.4million. It is estimated to have earned a worldwide total of $538.4–$549million. Adjusted for inflation, the North American box office is equivalent to $920.8million, making it the List of highest-grossing films in Canada and the United States, thirteenth highest-grossing film ever.


Reception


Critical response

Upon its initial release, ''The Empire Strikes Back'' received mixed reviews compared to ''Star Wars'' positive reception. The film appeared fourth-most on 24 critics' top-ten films of the year lists. Fan reactions were decidedly mixed, concerned by the change in tone and narrative reveals, particularly Leia's love for Han over Luke and his relationship with Vader. Some critics believed ''Empire'' was a good film but not as enjoyable as ''Star Wars''. They believed the tonal shift featuring darker material and more mature storylines detracted from the charm, fun, and comic silliness of the original. ''The Wall Street Journal''s Joy Gould Boyum believed it was "absurd" to add dramatic weight to the light-hearted ''Star Wars'', stripping it of its innocence. Writing for ''The Washington Post'', Gary Arnold found the darker undercurrents and greater narrative scale interesting because it created more dramatic threads to explore. ''The New Yorker''s David Denby argued it was more spectacular than the original, but lacked its Camp (style), camp style. ''The Hollywood Reporter''s Arthur Knight (film critic), Arthur Knight believed the novelty of the original and plethora of space opera films produced since made ''Empire'' seem derivative; even so, he called it the best in the genre since ''Star Wars''. Writing for ''Time (magazine), Time'', Gerald Clarke (author), Gerald Clarke believed ''Empire'' surpassed ''Star Wars'' in several ways, including being more visually and artistically interesting. ''The New York Times''s Vincent Canby described it as a more mechanical, less suspenseful experience. Writing for the ''Los Angeles Times'', Charles Champlin described the inconclusive ending as cleverly completing the narrative while serving as a cliffhanger, but Clarke described it as a "not very satisfying" conclusion. Canby and the ''Chicago Reader''s Dave Kehr believed as the middle film it should have focused on narrative development instead of exposition, but found little progression between the film's beginning and end. ''The Washington Post''s Judith Martin labeled it a "good junk" film, enjoyable but fleeting, because it lacked a stand-alone narrative. Knight and Clarke found the story sometimes difficult to follow—Knight because the third act jumped between separate storylines, and Clarke because he missed important information in the fast-paced plot. Kehr and ''Sight & Sound''s Richard Combs wrote that characterization seemed to be less important than special effects, visual spectacle and action set pieces that accomplished little narratively. Reviews were mixed for the central cast. Knight wrote Kershner's direction made the characters more human with fewer archetypes. Hamill, Fisher, and Ford received some praise, with Champlin describing Hamill as "youthfully innocent" and engaging and Fisher as independent. Arnold described the character progression as less development and more "finesse", with little change taking place, and Kehr felt the characters were "stiffer" without Lucas's direction. Knight described Guinness' performance as half-hearted, and Janet Maslin criticized Lando Calrissian, the only major black character in the film, as "exaggeratedly unctuous, untrustworthy and loaded with jive". The ''Chicago Tribune''s Gene Siskel said the non-human characters, including the robots and Chewbacca, remained the most lovable creatures, with the Yoda character being the film's highlight. Knight, Gould Boyum, and Arnold considered the characters expressions so realistic that they believed an actor's face had been composited onto the puppet. Canby said the human cast was bland and non-descript, and even the robot characters offered diminishing enjoyment, but Yoda was a success when used sparingly. Although Arnold praised Kershner's direction, others believed that Lucas's oversight was obvious and ''Empire'' lacked Kershner's established directorial sensibilities. Denby described his work as "impersonal" and Canby believed it was impossible to identify what work Kershner had contributed himself. Combs believed Kershner was an "ill-advised" director because he emphasized the characters, but the result was common tropes at the expense of ''Star Wars''s comic-strip pace. Cinematographer Peter Suschitzky's work was praised for its visuals and bold color choices. The special effects were lauded as "breathtaking", "ingenious", and visually dazzling. Jim Harwood wrote they were let down only by the competence of those in the original, which were emulated by other films. Champlin appreciated the effects were used to enhance scenes instead of being the focus.


Accolades

At the 53rd Academy Awards, 1981 Academy Awards, ''The Empire Strikes Back'' won the award for Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound (Bill Varney, Steve Maslow, Gregg Landaker, and Peter Sutton (sound engineer), Peter Sutton) and the Special Achievement Academy Award for Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, Best Visual Effects (Brian Johnson, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, and Bruce Nicholson). The film received a further two nominations: Academy Award for Best Production Design, Best Art Direction (Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley, Harry Lange (film designer), Harry Lange, Alan Tomkins, and Michael D. Ford, Michael Ford) and Academy Award for Best Original Score, Best Original Score (Williams). For the 39th Golden Globe Awards, Williams earned the film's sole nomination, for Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, Best Original Score. He won two 23rd Annual Grammy Awards, Grammy Awards for Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition, Best Instrumental Composition and Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. The 34th British Academy Film Awards earned the film one award for BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, Best Music (Williams), and a two additional nominations: BAFTA Award for Best Sound, Best Sound (Sutton, Varney, and Burtt) and BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, Best Production Design (Reynolds). At the 8th Saturn Awards, ''Empire'' received four awards: Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Science Fiction Film, Saturn Award for Best Director, Best Director, (Kershner) Saturn Award for Best Actor, Best Actor (Hamill), and Saturn Award for Best Special Effects, Best Special Effects (Johnson and Edlund). The film also won a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and a 7th People's Choice Awards, People's Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture.


Post-release


Special Edition and other changes

Coinciding with Lucas's plans to develop a Star Wars prequel trilogy, prequel trilogy of films in the late 1990s, he remastered and re-released his original trilogy, including ''Empire'', under the title ''Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition'' to test special effects. This included altering or adding new scenes, some of which tied into the prequel films. Lucas described it as bringing the trilogy closer to his original vision with modern technology. Among the alterations, full shots of the Wampa were introduced, and computer-generated imagery shots of locations with added buildings or people. These editions were well-received by critics. Roger Ebert described ''Empire'' as the best and "heart" of the original trilogy. Since their initial release, the Special Editions have been altered multiple times. For the 2004 re-release, the Clive Revill/Elaine Baker Emperor was replaced with Ian McDiarmid who had performed the role since ''
Return of the Jedi ''Return of the Jedi'' (also known as ''Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi'' is a 1983 American epic Epic commonly refers to: * Epic poetry, a long narrative poem celebrating heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nati ...
'' (1983). Temuera Morrison, who portrayed Fett's clone predecessor in ''Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones'' (2002), also dubbed over Wingreen's lines. Minor changes were made for the 2011 Blu-ray release, including adding flames to the probe droid's impact crater and color modifications. The Special Edition releases were controversial with fans who considered the changes to the original films unnecessary or to have altered them substantially. The unaltered versions have been commercially unavailable since a 2006 DVD release, that used unrestored footage from an early 1990s Laserdisc release. ''Harmy's Despecialized Edition'' is an unofficial fan-effort to preserve the unaltered films. The 2010 documentary ''The People vs. George Lucas'' documents the relationship between the films, their fans, and Lucas.


Home media

''Empire'' was released on VHS (Video Home System), Laserdisc, and Capacitance Electronic Disc, CED videodisc formats in 1985. The VHS and Laserdisc versions received various releases in the following years, often alongside the other original trilogy films in collections, with minor alterations such as widescreen formats or remastered sound. The 1992 Special Collector's Edition included the documentary ''From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga''. In 1997, the Special Edition of the original trilogy was released on VHS. When the film debuted on television in November 1987, it was preceded by a second-person introduction by Darth Vader, framed as an interruption of the Earth broadcast by the Galactic Empire. The film was released on DVD-Video, DVD in 2004, collected with ''Star Wars'' and ''Return of the Jedi'', with additional alterations to each film. The release included the documentary ''Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy'', which is about the making of the original trilogy. Lucas said the modified versions were the way he had wanted them to be, and he had no interest in restoring the original theatrical cuts for release. Public demand eventually led to the release of the 2006 Limited Edition DVD collection that included the original unmodified films transferred from the 1993 Laserdisc Definitive Edition, creating problems with the image display. ''Empire'' was released on Blu-ray in 2011, as part of a collection containing the Special Edition original trilogy and a separate version containing the original and prequel trilogies alongside featurettes about the making of the films. ''Empire'', alongside the other available films, was first released digital distribution, digitally in 2015 across various platforms, and in 4K resolution restored from the 1997 special edition print for its 2019 launch on Disney+. In 2020, a 27-disc Skywalker Saga box set was released, containing the nine films in the series, with each film on three discs, a Blu-ray version, a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, and special features found on the 2011 release.


Other media

Merchandise for ''The Empire Strikes Back'' includes posters, children's books, clothing, character busts and statues, action figures, furnishings, and Lego sets. The novelization of the film, written by Donald F. Glut and released in April 1980, was a success, selling 2–3million copies. A ''Star Wars (1977 comic book), Star Wars'' comic book series launched in 1977 by Marvel Comics and written by Archie Goodwin (comics), Archie Goodwin and Carmine Infantino, adapted the original trilogy of films; ''Empire''s run began in 1980. The book ''The Making of the Empire Strikes Back'' (2010) by J. W. Rinzler provides a comprehensive history of the film's production, including behind-the-scenes photos and cast interviews. The film was the first in the series to be adapted for video games, beginning with ''Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1982 video game), Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'' (1982) developed by Parker Brothers for the Atari 2600 games console. This was followed in 1985 by the ''Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1985 video game), Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'' arcade game. ''Star Wars Trilogy Arcade'' (1998) features the Hoth battle as a level. ''Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1992 video game), Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'' was released in 1992 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy, and ''Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'' followed in 1993 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Scenes from ''Empire'' have also appeared in games like ''Star Wars: Rogue Squadron'' (1998) and ''Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron'' (2007). ''The Empire Strikes Back'' pinball, pinball machine (1980) was the first officially licensed ''Star Wars'' pinball machine. It became a collector's item, as only 350 machines were produced exclusively in Australia.


Thematic analysis


Mythology and inspirations

Critical analysis has suggested various inspirations for ''Empire'', particularly the early 1930s ''Flash Gordon (serial), Flash Gordon'' serials that include a cloud city similar to Bespin. Film critic Tim Robey wrote that much of ''Empire''s imagery and narrative can be connected to the 1975 film ''Dersu Uzala (1975 film), Dersu Uzala'' directed by Akira Kurosawa—whose work inspired Lucas. Muren described the Empire's assault on Hoth with AT-AT vehicles as an analogy for the Vietnam War (1955–1975), specifically an invading military employing equipment inappropriate for the local terrain. Clarke identified Luke as the heir to mythological heroes, such as Prometheus, Jason, and Galahad. He is guided initially by a traditional aide, Obi-Wan, who offers the promise of destiny until he is replaced by Yoda. Anne Lancashire wrote the Yoda narrative is a traditional mythological tale in which the hero is trained by a wise old master and must abandon all his preconceived notions. Clarke described Luke's journey as the hero who ventures into the unknown to be tested by his own dark impulses but eventually overcomes them. He believed this represented the human ability to control the irrational impulsiveness within to serve love, order, and justice. Lucas wanted Yoda to be a traditional fairytale or mythological character, akin to a frog or an unassuming old man to instill a message about respecting everyone and not judging on appearance alone, because he believed that would lead the hero to succeed. ''The New York Observer''s Brandon Katz described Yoda as deepening the Force through philosophy. The character describes how they are all luminous beings beyond just flesh and matter, and presents the Jedi as Zen warriors that work in harmony with the Force. Kasdan described them as enlightened warrior priests, similar to Samurai.


Religion

In developing the Force, Lucas said he wanted it to represent the core essence of multiple religions unified by their common traits. Primarily, he designed it with the intent that there is good, evil, and a god. Lucas's personal faith includes a belief in God and basic morality, such as treating others fairly and not taking another's life. ''The Presbyterian Journal'' described the film's religious message as closer to Eastern religions such as Zoroastrianism or Buddhism than Judeo-Christian, presenting good and evil as abstract concepts. Similarly, God or the Force is an impersonal entity, taking no direct action. ''Christianity Today'' said that the film's drama is caused by the absence of a righteous god or being creating a direct influence. Lancashire and J. W. Rinzler described Luke's journey as based purely on Christianity, focused on destiny and free will, with Luke serving as a Jesus, Christ-like figure and Vader as a fallen angel attempting to lure him toward evil. Kershner said any religious symbolism was unintentional, as he wanted to focus on the power of an individual's untapped potential instead of magic.


Duality and evil

Anne Lancashire contrasted ''Star Wars'' message of idealism, heroics, and friendship with the more complex tone of ''Empire''. The latter challenges the former's notions, primarily because Luke loses his innocence in coming to perceive people as neither entirely good nor evil. The scene in which Luke enters the dark side cave on Dagobah represents where his anger will lead him and forces him to move beyond his belief that he is completely on the light side of the Force. Kershner said the cave tests Luke against his greatest fear, but because the fear is in his mind, and he brought his weapon with him, it creates a scenario where he is forced to use it. After defeating the avatar of Vader, the mask splits open to reveal Luke's face, suggesting he will succumb to the temptations of the dark side unless he learns patience and to abandon his anger. The darkness is similarly presented in Han, a self-interested smuggler struggling with his growing feelings for Leia and the responsibility associated with her cause. The film represents his two sides in Leia and Lando, a representative of his smuggler life. ''Empire'' questions the cost of friendship. Where ''Star Wars'' presents traditional friendship, ''Empire'' presents friendship as requiring sacrifice. Han sacrifices himself in the frigid cold of Hoth to save Luke's life. Similarly, Luke abandons his Jedi training, something he has longed for, to rescue his friends. This can be seen as a selfish choice, however, as he does so against Yoda and Obi-Wan's instructions, potentially sacrificing himself for his friends instead of training to defeat the Empire, a cause his friends support. According to Lancashire, characters are shown to be heroic through sacrificing for others instead of fighting battles. Lancashire believed that Luke's impatience to leave for Bespin exemplifies his lack of growth from his training. There, Vader tempts him with the power of the dark side and the revelation that he is Luke's father. Vader wants Luke's help to destroy the Emperor, not for good, but so that Vader can impose his own order over the galaxy. This admission robs Luke of the idealized image of his Jedi father, reveals Obi-Wan's betrayal in hiding his parentage, and takes the last of his innocence. Gerald Clarke suggests Luke is not strong or virtuous enough to resist Vader during this confrontation, and so allows himself to fall into the airshaft below, showing the antagonist does sometimes win. The concept of a character having a good father and an evil father is a common story trope because of its simple representations of good and evil. At the film's finale, Luke has a greater understanding of the relationship between good and evil, and the dual nature of people.


Legacy


Critical reassessment

''The Empire Strikes Back'' remains an enduringly popular piece of cinema. It is considered groundbreaking for its cliffhanger ending, influence on mainstream films, and special effects. Writing for CNN, Brian Lowry said that without the "groundwork laid by one of the best sequels ever, [the ''Star Wars'' franchise] wouldn't be the force that it is now". Despite the film's initial mixed reception, it has since been re-evaluated by critics and fans and is now considered the best film in the ''Star Wars'' series, and one of the List of films considered the best, greatest films ever made. ''The Hollywood Reporter''s entertainment industry-voted ranking in 2014 recognized it as the thirty-second-best film of all time (behind ''Star Wars'' at number eleven), describing it as a "William Shakespeare, Shakespearean tragedy" with a daringly dark ending that few films would replicate. ''Empire (film magazine), Empire'' magazine named it the third-best film of all time, stating the modern cliché of sequels using a darker tone can be traced back to ''Empire''. A retrospective review in 1997 by Ebert praised the film as the best of the original trilogy, describing its ability to create a sense of wonder in the audience, using story-beats that are core to the concept of storytelling, and it is included in the 2003 film reference book ''1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die''. A 2014 vote by 250,000 ''Business Insider'' readers listed it as the greatest film ever made. The reveal of Vader being Luke's father continued to be seen as one of the greatest
plot twist A plot twist is a literary technique A narrative technique (known for literary fiction Literary fiction is a term used in the book-trade to distinguish novels that are regarded as having literary merit, from most commercial or "genre" fiction. ...
s in cinema. Similarly, Han saying "I know", in response to Leia's love confession, is considered one of the most iconic scenes in the ''Star Wars'' films and one of the more famous lines of improvised dialogue in cinema. ''Empire'' magazine selected it as the sixth greatest movie sequel, lauding the "bold" unresolved ending and willingness to not follow the same formula as the original film. Den of Geek described it as the second best sequel, after ''Aliens (film), Aliens'' (1986), labeling it Lucas's "masterpiece", and ''Playboy'' named it the third-best, describing the reveal of the relationship between Luke and Vader as the "emotional core that has elevated ''Star Wars'' to the pantheon of timeless modern sagas". The BBC and Collider (website), ''Collider'' listed it as one of the best sequels ever made. ''Time'' and ''Playboy'' described it as a sequel that surpasses the original. Rotten Tomatoes recognizes it as the twenty-seventh best sequel, based on review scores. ''Rolling Stone''s reader-voted list of the best sequels lists ''Empire'' at third. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes offers a approval rating from the aggregated reviews of critics, with an average score of . The website's critical consensus reads, "Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than ''A New Hope'', ''The Empire Strikes Back'' defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels." The film has a score of 82 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 25 critics' reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". Characters introduced in the film, such as Yoda and Lando Calrissian, are now considered iconic. The American Film Institute listed Vader's appearance in the film as the third best on its 2003 list of the AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains, 100 Best Heroes & Villains, after Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter.


Cultural impact

''The Empire Strikes Back'' was ubiquitous in places such as the United States and the United Kingdom on its release. It was referenced in political cartoons, and events such as "Empire Day". Freddie Mercury ended a 1980 Queen (band), Queen concert by riding on the shoulders of someone dressed as Darth Vader. Kershner described receiving letters from fans around the world asking for autographs and psychologists who used the Yoda character to explain philosophical ideas to their patients. Other films, television, and video games have extensively referenced or parodied the film, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ''Spaceballs'', ''The Muppet Show'', ''American Dad!'', ''South Park'', ''The Simpsons'', ''Laugh It Up, Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy, Family Guy,'' and ''Robot Chicken''. In 2010, the United States
Library of Congress The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library A library is a collection of materials, books or media that are easily accessible for use and not just for display purposes. It is responsible for housing updated information in order ...

Library of Congress
selected ''The Empire Strikes Back'' to be preserved in the
National Film Registry The National Film Registry (or NFR for short) is the United States National Film Preservation Board The United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contigu ...
for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Landon Palmer, Eric Diaz, and Darren Mooney argued that ''Empire,'' and not ''Star Wars,'' embedded the concept of the modern blockbuster film franchise and sequels serving as a chapter in an infinitely expanding narrative, creating a template that was emulated over the following decades. This defied the contemporary popular trend of exploiting a popular film by creating low-budget sequels to diminishing returns as in the ''Jaws (franchise), Jaws franchise''. Instead, more was spent on ''Empire'' to expand the fictional universe and reap greater box office returns. The cliffhanger ending, setting up a future sequel, is seen in many modern films, particularly those in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has also been suggested that ''Empire'' forged a narrative structure that continues to be emulated in trilogies, where the middle film will be darker than the original and typically feature an ending in which the protagonists fail to defeat the antagonists, leading into a subsequent film. Emmet Asher-Perrin and Ben Sherlock cited the film series ''Back to the Future (franchise), Back to the Future'', ''The Matrix (franchise), The Matrix'', ''Pirates of the Caribbean (film series), Pirates of the Caribbean'', and ''The Lord of the Rings (film series), The Lord of the Rings'' as examples. Filmmakers such as the Russo brothers, Roland Emmerich, and Kevin Feige cited it as an inspiration in their careers or identified as fans.


Sequels, prequels, and adaptations

The film was adapted into a Star Wars (radio), 1982 radio play broadcast on NPR, National Public Radio in the U.S. ''The Empire Strikes Back'' was followed by ''Return of the Jedi'' in 1983, concluding the original film trilogy. The film's plot follows the Rebel assault on the Empire and Luke's final confrontation with Vader and the Emperor. Like the previous films, ''Jedi'' was a financial success and fared well with critics. Nearly two decades after the release of ''Empire'', Lucas wrote and directed the prequel trilogy, consisting of ''Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, The Phantom Menace'' (1999), ''Attack of the Clones'' (2002), and ''Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Revenge of the Sith'' (2005). The films chronicle the history between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, and the latter's fall to the dark side and transformation into Darth Vader. The prequel trilogy polarized critics and fans on their release for the storylines and certain new characters. Following Lucas's sale of the ''Star Wars'' franchise to The Walt Disney Company in 2012, Disney developed a sequel trilogy, consisting of ''Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Force Awakens'' (2015), ''Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Last Jedi'' (2017), and ''Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Rise of Skywalker'' (2019). Original trilogy cast, including Ford, Hamill, and Fisher, reprised their roles, alongside new characters portrayed by Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac. Star Wars#Film, Standalone films and Star Wars#Television, television series have also been released, exploring adventures set around the main trilogy arcs.


References


Notes


Citations

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, access-date=July 27, 2014 , date=December 28, 2010, archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20140714125738/http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2010/10-273.html, archive-date=July 14, 2014, url-status=live
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archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210309005720/https://www.starwars.com/news/studying-skywalkers-themes-in-star-wars-the-empire-strikes-back , archive-date=March 9, 2021 , url-status=live {{cite web , url=http://www.starwars.com/themovies/saga/preorder_bluray/index.html , title=Pre-order ''Star Wars'': The complete saga on Blu-ray now! , website=StarWars.com , date=January 6, 2011 , access-date=August 29, 2021 , url-status=dead , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20110109001917/http://www.starwars.com/themovies/saga/preorder_bluray/index.html , archive-date=January 9, 2011 {{cite web, title= ''Empire'' at 40 | Great gifts for fans of ''Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'' - updated, url= https://www.starwars.com/news/empire-at-40-great-gifts-for-fans-of-star-wars-the-empire-strikes-back, website= StarWars.com, date= May 21, 2020, access-date= August 29, 2021, archive-url= https://web.archive.org/web/20210520132804/https://www.starwars.com/news/empire-at-40-great-gifts-for-fans-of-star-wars-the-empire-strikes-back, archive-date= May 20, 2021, url-status= live Multiple sources, in chronological order: * {{cite web , first=Bill , last=Detwill , title=''The Empire Strikes Back'' gifts for the ultimate ''Star Wars'' fan - Page 1 , url=https://www.techrepublic.com/pictures/the-empire-strikes-back-gifts-for-the-ultimate-star-wars-fan/ , website=TechRepublic , date=May 21, 2010 , access-date=August 29, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210520132917/https://www.techrepublic.com/pictures/the-empire-strikes-back-gifts-for-the-ultimate-star-wars-fan/ , archive-date=May 20, 2021 , url-status=live * {{cite web , first=Bill , last=Detwill , title=''The Empire Strikes Back'' gifts for the ultimate ''Star Wars'' fan - Page 9 , url=https://www.techrepublic.com/pictures/the-empire-strikes-back-gifts-for-the-ultimate-star-wars-fan/9/ , website=TechRepublic , date=May 21, 2010 , access-date=August 29, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210520132918/https://www.techrepublic.com/pictures/the-empire-strikes-back-gifts-for-the-ultimate-star-wars-fan/9/ , archive-date=May 20, 2021 , url-status=live * {{cite web , first=Bill , last=Detwill , title=''The Empire Strikes Back'' gifts for the ultimate ''Star Wars'' fan - Page 10 , url=https://www.techrepublic.com/pictures/the-empire-strikes-back-gifts-for-the-ultimate-star-wars-fan/10/ , website=TechRepublic , date=May 21, 2010 , access-date=August 29, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210520132916/https://www.techrepublic.com/pictures/the-empire-strikes-back-gifts-for-the-ultimate-star-wars-fan/10/ , archive-date=May 20, 2021 , url-status=live {{cite web , first=Tim , last=Robey , title=10 films that influenced ''Star Wars'' , url=https://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/star-wars--a-new-hope/movies-influences-george-lucas/ , website=The Daily Telegraph , date=December 14, 2015 , access-date=September 1, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210309234618/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/star-wars--a-new-hope/movies-influences-george-lucas/ , archive-date=March 9, 2021 , url-status=live , url-access=limited {{cite web , url=https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/19/actor_who_played_rogue_two_in_star_wars_dies_aged_67/ , title=Actor who played Rogue Two in ''Star Wars'' dies aged 67 , first=Lewis , last=Page , date=February 19, 2014 , access-date=October 25, 2018 , website=The Register , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20181026025119/https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/19/actor_who_played_rogue_two_in_star_wars_dies_aged_67/ , archive-date=October 26, 2018 , url-status=live {{cite web, title=Hollywood's 100 favorite films , url=https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/100-best-films-ever-hollywood-favorites-818512/item/amadeus-hollywoods-100-favorite-films-818460 , date=June 25, 2014 , website=The Hollywood Reporter, access-date=July 5, 2019 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V: The Empire Strikes Back'' , publisher=The Numbers (website), The Numbers , access-date=May 13, 2013 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210629191738/https://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Star-Wars-Ep-V-The-Empire-Strikes-Back#tab=summary , archive-date=June 29, 2021 , url-status=live {{cite magazine , first=Eliana , last=Dockterman , date=December 13, 2016 , title=How ''Rogue One'' fits into the ''Star Wars'' timeline , url=https://time.com/4594017/rogue-one-star-wars-timeline/ , magazine=Time (magazine), Time , access-date=August 29, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210817153226/https://time.com/4594017/rogue-one-star-wars-timeline/ , archive-date=August 17, 2021 , url-status=live , url-access=limited {{cite magazine , title=Cinema: Cinema, May 19, 1980 , magazine=Time (magazine), Time , date=May 19, 1980 , url=http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,924123,00.html, access-date=April 22, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20200720223730/http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,924123,00.html , archive-date=July 20, 2020 , url-status=live , url-access=limited {{cite magazine , first=Eliana , last=Dockterman , title=35 sequels that are better than the original movie , url=https://time.com/5353143/sequels-better-than-original/ , magazine=Time (magazine), Time , date=August 30, 2018 , access-date=May 26, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210824083545/https://time.com/5353143/sequels-better-than-original/ , archive-date=August 24, 2021 , url-status=live , url-access=limited {{cite web , last=Asher-Perrin , first=Emmet , title=You must unlearn what you have learned: How ''The Empire Strikes Back'' ruined everything , url=https://www.tor.com/2011/05/25/you-must-unlearn-what-you-have-learned-how-the-empire-strikes-back-ruined-everything/ , website=Tor.com , date=May 25, 2011 , access-date=August 31, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20180701171700/https://www.tor.com/2011/05/25/you-must-unlearn-what-you-have-learned-how-the-empire-strikes-back-ruined-everything/ , archive-date=July 1, 2018 , url-status=live {{cite magazine , url=http://www.totalfilm.com/features/100-greatest-movies-of-all-time/page:9 , title=Film features: 100 greatest movies of all time , magazine=Total Film , access-date=June 17, 2010 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20100210200551/http://www.totalfilm.com/features/100-greatest-movies-of-all-time/page:9, archive-date=February 10, 2010, url-status=live {{cite web , first=Brian , last=Truitt , title=May the fourth be with you: The definitive ranking of all 11 ''Star Wars'' movies , url=https://eu.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/movies/2019/12/19/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-all-11-movies-ranked/2691349001/ , website=USA Today , access-date=May 26, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210308172634/https://eu.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/movies/2019/12/19/star-wars-the-rise-of-skywalker-all-11-movies-ranked/2691349001/ , archive-date=March 8, 2021 , url-status=live {{cite web , url=https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/photos/2010/10/the-making-of-the-empire-strikes-back-201010, title=Impressive. Most impressive. , date=October 15, 2010 , access-date=March 15, 2021 , website=Vanity Fair (magazine), Vanity Fair , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20200811111557/https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/photos/2010/10/the-making-of-the-empire-strikes-back-201010 , archive-date=August 11, 2020 , url-status=live , url-access=limited {{cite web , last=Moreau , first=Jordan , url=https://variety.com/2019/film/news/billy-dee-williams-the-rise-of-skywalker-lando-calrissian-1203421823/ , title=Billy Dee Williams on getting back into Lando's cape for ''The Rise Of Skywalker'' , date=December 5, 2019 , access-date=March 19, 2021 , website=Variety (magazine), Variety , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20200408014909/https://variety.com/2019/film/news/billy-dee-williams-the-rise-of-skywalker-lando-calrissian-1203421823/ , archive-date=April 8, 2020 , url-status=live {{cite web , first=Ian Carlos , last=Campbell , title=Yoda has no time for shoes, but you might for Adidas' Yoda-themed sneakers , url=https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/23/22399753/adidas-yoda-shoes-stan-smith-star-wars-feet , website=The Verge , date=April 23, 2021 , access-date=May 26, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210525151900/https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/23/22399753/adidas-yoda-shoes-stan-smith-star-wars-feet , archive-date=May 25, 2021 , url-status=live {{cite web , first=Mike , last=Ryan , title=Lucasfilm's J.W. Rinzler talks about ''The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back'' , url=https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2010/10/jw-rinzler-talks-about-the-making-of-star-wars-the-empire-strikes-back , website=Vanity Fair (magazine), Vanity Fair , date=October 11, 2010 , access-date= , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20200812121430/https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2010/10/jw-rinzler-talks-about-the-making-of-star-wars-the-empire-strikes-back , archive-date=August 12, 2020 , url-status=live , url-access=limited {{cite web , first=Mike , last=Ryan , title=Boba Fett on the ''Empire Strikes Back'', that crazy suit, and the ''Star Wars'' legacy , url=https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2010/10/boba-fett-talks-about-the-empire-strikes-back-that-crazy-suit-and-the-star-wars-legacy , website=Vanity Fair (magazine), Vanity Fair , date=8 October 2010 , access-date=August 29, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210211194534/https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2010/10/boba-fett-talks-about-the-empire-strikes-back-that-crazy-suit-and-the-star-wars-legacy , archive-date=February 11, 2021 , url-status=live , url-access=limited {{cite web , first=Kristopher , last=Tarly , title=Inside ''Solo: A Star Wars Story''{{'s bumpy ride to the big screen , url=https://variety.com/2018/film/features/solo-a-star-wars-story-directors-reshoots-ron-howard-1202817841/ , website=Variety (magazine), Variety , date=May 22, 2018 , access-date=August 29, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210817133703/https://variety.com/2018/film/features/solo-a-star-wars-story-directors-reshoots-ron-howard-1202817841/ , archive-date=August 17, 2021 , url-status=live {{cite web , first=Matthew, last=Yglesias , title=This is the best version of ''Star Wars'' — and watching it is a crime, url=https://www.vox.com/2015/1/30/7952859/despecialized-edition-download , website=Variety (magazine), Variety , date=May 12, 2015 , access-date=December 20, 2021 , archive-url=https://archive.today/pbnEN , archive-date=January 31, 2015 , url-status=live {{cite magazine , first=Jamie , last=Benning , title=Jamie Benning reviews the ''Star Wars'' Blu-ray set , url=https://www.wired.com/2011/09/jamie-benning-reviews-the-star-wars-blu-ray-set/ , magazine=Wired (magazine), Wired , date=September 16, 2011 , access-date=August 29, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210116042251/https://www.wired.com/2011/09/jamie-benning-reviews-the-star-wars-blu-ray-set/ , archive-date=January 16, 2021 , url-status=live , url-access=limited {{cite magazine , first=Drew , last=Stewart , title=Disney+ should offer the ''Star Wars'' original cuts—all of them , url=https://www.wired.com/story/put-original-star-wars-on-disney-plus/ , magazine=Wired (magazine), Wired , date=March 31, 2020 , access-date=August 29, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210303152849/https://www.wired.com/story/put-original-star-wars-on-disney-plus/ , archive-date=March 3, 2021 , url-status=live , url-access=limited {{cite web, first=Alyssa , last=Rosenberg , title=Opinion: ''Star Wars'' and the enduring appeal of Lando Calrissian , url=https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2015/11/13/star-wars-and-the-enduring-appeal-of-lando-calrissian/ , website=The Washington Post , date=November 13, 2015 , access-date=May 26, 2021 , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210829230712/https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2015/11/13/star-wars-and-the-enduring-appeal-of-lando-calrissian/ , archive-date=August 29, 2021 , url-status=live , url-access=limited {{cite web , last=Kornheiser , first=Tony , url=https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1980/05/19/the-empire-strikes-back/02fcd9c0-4abf-4f69-9ab3-a7228c669e40/ , title=''The Empire Strikes Back'' , date=May 19, 1980 , access-date=April 22, 2021 , website=The Washington Post , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210422131543/https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1980/05/19/the-empire-strikes-back/02fcd9c0-4abf-4f69-9ab3-a7228c669e40/ , archive-date=April 22, 2021 , url-status=dead , url-access=limited {{cite magazine , last=Anders, first=Charlie Jane , url=https://www.wired.com/2010/10/10-things-empire-strikes-back/ , title=10 things you didn't know about ''The Empire Strikes Back'' , date=December 10, 2010 , access-date=March 15, 2021 , magazine=Wired (magazine), Wired , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20151218203244/https://www.wired.com/2010/10/10-things-empire-strikes-back/ , archive-date=December 18, 2015 , url-status=live , url-access=limited


Works cited

;Books * {{cite book , title=Once Upon a Galaxy: A Journal of Making the Empire Strikes Back , last=Arnold , first=Alan , url=https://archive.org/details/OnceUponAGalaxyAJournalOfTheMakingOfTheEmpireStrikesBackAlanArnold.rar/page/n153/mode/2up , publisher=Sphere Books , location=London , year=1980 , isbn=978-0-345-29075-5 , ref={{sfnref, Arnold, Alan, 1980 * {{Cite book , first=Marcus , last=Hearn , title=The Cinema of George Lucas , url=https://archive.org/details/cinemageorgeluca00hear , url-access=limited , publisher=Abrams Books, H. N. Abrams , year=2005 , location=New York City , isbn=978-0-8109-4968-3 * {{cite book , last=Rinzler , first=J. W. , author-link=J. W. Rinzler , title=The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back , url=https://archive.org/details/TheMakingOfTheEmpireStrikesBackJWRinzler/mode/2up , publisher=Aurum Press , location=London , year=2010 , isbn=978-1-84513-555-3, oclc=657407687 * {{cite book, last=Schneider, first=Steven Jay, title=1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, chapter=1980s, date=2013, publisher=Murdoch Books Pty Limited, location=Boston, Massachusetts , isbn=978-0-7641-6613-6 ;Journals * {{cite journal, last=Lancashire , first=Anne , title= Complex Design in ''The Empire Strikes Back''. , journal=Film Criticism , volume=5 , number=3 , date=1981 , pages= 38–52 , url=http://www.jstor.org/stable/44018994 , publisher=Allegheny College , location=Pennsylvania, United States, jstor=44018994 ;Magazines * {{cite magazine, title=Box Office News , magazine=Variety (magazine), Variety , location=Los Angeles , volume=375 , issue=1 , date=May 17, 1999 , url=https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A54701224/ITOF?u=wikipedia&sid=ITOF&xid=767a73b0 , access-date=April 20, 2021 , url-status=live , issn= , ref={{sfnref, VarietyMay, 1999 * {{cite magazine , first= Gerald , last=Clarke , author-link=Gerald Clarke (author), title=''The Empire Strikes Back''! And so does George Lucas in the second of his ''Star Wars'' epics. , url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f6h&AN=54218184&site=ehost-live , date= May 19, 1980 , magazine=Time (magazine), Time , access-date=September 1, 2021 , volume=115 , issue=20 , page=66, location=New York City, url-status=live, ref={{sfnref, ClarkeB, 1980 * {{cite magazine , first= David, last=Denby , author-link=David Denby , title=''Star Wars'' Strikes Back , url=https://books.google.com/books?id=vOUCAAAAMBAJ&q=New+York+Magazine+David+Denby+Star+Wars+67+George+Lucas&pg=PA67 , date= May 26, 1980 , magazine=The New Yorker , access-date=August 30, 2021 , url-status=live * {{cite magazine, last=Groves , first=Dan , title='Back' Strikes Big In O'seas B.O. , magazine=Variety (magazine), Variety , location=Los Angeles , volume=366 , issue=11 , date=April 14, 1997 , url=https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A19513513/AONE?u=wikipedia&sid=AONE&xid=cdac6da1 , access-date=April 20, 2021 , url-status=live , issn= * {{cite magazine, last=Hutchison, first=David , date= November 1980 , issue=40 , pages=64–69 , title=Building An FX Shop To Shoot The ''Empire'' In Space , magazine=Starlog, publisher= Starlog Group, Inc. , location=New York, url=https://archive.org/details/starlog_magazine-040/page/n63/mode/2up?q=empire+strikes+back , access-date=October 31, 2020 * {{cite magazine, last=Mandell, first=Paul , title=Tauntauns, Walkers and Probots , magazine=Cinefex, location=Riverdale, CA , issue=3 , date=December 1980 , url=https://cinefex.com/backissues/issue3.htm , access-date=February 18, 2021 , url-status=live , issn= * {{cite magazine, last=Packer , first=David S. , date= November 1980 , issue=40 , pages=16–20, 61, title=Mark Hamill , magazine=Starlog, publisher= Starlog Group, Inc. , location=New York , url=https://archive.org/details/starlog_magazine-040/page/n15/mode/2up?q=empire+strikes+back, access-date=October 31, 2020 * {{cite magazine, last=Shay , first=Don , title=Of Ice Planets, Bog Planets And Cities In The Sky , magazine=Cinefex, location=Riverdale, CA , issue=2 , date=August 1980 , url=https://cinefex.com/backissues/issue2.htm , access-date=February 18, 2021 , url-status=live , issn= * {{cite magazine , magazine=Variety (magazine), Daily Variety , title=Smokey 2 No. 1 in Domestic B.O. Maiden Wk. With $17,805,900 , date=August 25, 1980, location=Los Angeles , ref={{sfnref, VarietyAugust, 1980 * {{cite magazine, last=Woods , first=Mark , title=''Liar'' Leads, But ''Selena'' Cooks In Mexico , magazine=Variety (magazine), Variety , location=Los Angeles , volume=367 , issue=2 , date=May 12, 1997 , url=https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A19693395/AONE?u=wikipedia&sid=AONE&xid=6343f1c4 , access-date=April 20, 2021 , url-status=live , issn= ;Newspapers * {{cite news , last=Buckley , first=Tom , date=May 16, 1980 , title=At the Movies; The 'Force' behind ''Empire Strikes Back''. , url=https://www.nytimes.com/1980/05/16/archives/at-the-movies-the-force-behind-empire-strikes-back.html , page=C13, work=The New York Times , location=New York , access-date=March 17, 2021, url-access=limited , archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20210317141149/https://www.nytimes.com/1980/05/16/archives/at-the-movies-the-force-behind-empire-strikes-back.html , archive-date=March 17, 2021 , url-status=live * {{cite news , date=May 24, 1980 , title=''Empire Strikes'' Tops ''Star Wars'' Opening Sales , url=https://www.nytimes.com/1980/05/24/archives/empire-strikes-tops-star-wars-opening-sales.html?searchResultPosition=12 , page=13, work=The New York Times , location=New York , access-date=March 17, 2021, url-access=limited , archive-url=, archive-date= , url-status=live , ref={{sfnref, NYTimesMay24, 1980 * {{cite news , date=June 1, 1980 , title=Hollywood: The ''Empire'' Strikes It Rich, url=https://www.nytimes.com/1980/06/01/archives/hollywood-the-empire-strikes-it-rich.html , page=F19 , work=The New York Times , location=New York , access-date=March 18, 2021, url-access=limited , archive-url=, archive-date= , url-status=live , ref={{sfnref, NYTimesJune1, 1980


External links

* {{Official website, https://www.starwars.com/films/star-wars-episode-v-the-empire-strikes-back at {{URL, starwars.com * {{Official website, https://www.lucasfilm.com/productions/episode-v/ at {{URL, lucasfilm.com/, Lucasfilm.com * {{IMDb title, 80684 * {{Tcmdb title, 74051 * {{Amg title, 15750
''Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back''
at Filmsite.org * {{AFI film, 56403 {{Navboxes , title = ''The Empire Strikes Back'' , list ={{Star Wars Trilogy {{Irvin Kershner {{Star Wars {{George Lucas {{Lawrence Kasdan {{Lucasfilm {{Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation 1981–2002 {{Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film 1972–1990 {{Subject bar, portal1=1980s, portal2=Film , portal3=United States, portal4=Science fiction, commons=yes, n=no, wikt=no, q=no, d=no, voy=no, d-search=Q181795 {{Authority control {{DEFAULTSORT:Empire Strikes Back, The 1980 science fiction films 1980s science fiction action films 20th Century Fox films American films American science fiction war films American sequel films Articles containing video clips BAFTA winners (films) Family in fiction Films directed by Irvin Kershner Films featuring puppetry Films produced by Gary Kurtz Films scored by John Williams Films shot at Elstree Studios Films shot in Norway Films that won the Best Sound Mixing Academy Award Films using stop-motion animation Films with screenplays by George Lucas Films with screenplays by Leigh Brackett Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation winning works Prosthetics in fiction Rebellions in fiction Science fiction adventure films Science fantasy films Star Wars Skywalker Saga films The Empire Strikes Back, United States National Film Registry films