Why I Love Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Welcome to my latest series of articles called “Why I love Star Wars”. This is a series that was inspired by reading Ken Napzok’s book Why We Love Star Wars: The Great Moments That Built A Galaxy Far, Far Away, a countdown of the top 100 moments from Star Wars that made him love it all, including canon stories from every medium. As I was reading this book, I found myself thinking of some of my own favourite moments and wanted to discuss them.

Unlike in the book, I will not put the moments in any specific order (I do things like that enough in my Top 10s!) as the order would probably change on every viewing. Today I will be looking at The Empire Strikes Back

Beware: this will contain spoilers for the movie!

This is my favourite film in the Star Wars galaxy, so it was hard to narrow it down to just 5 moments. It says it all that Captain Needa’s death and the Battle of Hoth don’t make it onto the list!

Why I Love Star Wars:

“I am your father”

Imagine you are watching Star Wars for the first time. You have seen A New Hope but that is it. You’ve heard the stories of how Darth Vader hunted down and destroyed the Jedi, including Anakin Skywalker. Now Anakin’s son is fighting his father’s killer, but has been trapped on a catwalk and lost his right hand and lightsaber. Vader is trying to convince Luke to join him, but Luke refuses. Vader talks of the power of the dark side, teasing that Obi-Wan didn’t tell Luke what happened to Anakin. We watch in horror, imagining what terrible fate befell Anakin at Vader’s hand, only to hear what has become one of the most famous (though often misquoted) lines in cinema:

“Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.”

“He told me enough. He told me you killed him.”

“No. I am your father.”

Star Wars I am your fatherWhat?!!!

In one of the greatest twists in movie history, the brave Jedi that we have heard about has suddenly been revealed as the greatest villain. Hearing this makes you instantly wonder what made him fall and how Luke will be affected by the news, so you can’t help wanting to watch more the moment the film finishes.

“I know”

Star Wars Han Leia kissStar Wars I love youstar wars i knowAnother line that has become iconic among Star Wars fans, we have seen Han and Leia’s romance growing throughout the film, and in the moment before Han is put into carbonite, they kiss for the second time, before Han is pulled away by stormtroopers. Unsure if she will ever see him alive again, Leia throws caution to the wind and tells him how she truly feels: “I love you” to which he tells her “I know” before being lowered into the carbon freezing unit. This is pure Han Solo and I love the stories that this was a suggestion from Harrison Ford that he felt this fit the character far better than the scripted “I love you too” – he was spot on! Add in more beautiful music from John Williams and the beautiful visuals from the lighting and this is a beautiful moment.

star wars carbon chamberAs an aside, I love how Return of the Jedi calls back to this moment as 2 stormtroopers go to capture Han and Leia. Noticing that Leia is hiding her blaster and is ready to fire, Han admiringly tells her “I love you” only for her to reply “I know”.

The Imperial Fleet

Star Wars Empire Strikes Back Imperial FleetWhen picking my moments from A New Hope, I talked about the introduction of the Devastator and the idea of scale that we are given in that first shot. This film takes things further, showing a whole fleet of these ships, more than we have seen in on place before. As we begin to wonder at the might of the Imperial fleet, a shadow falls over the nearest Star Destroyer and the camera angle changes to reveal that the ship is being dwarfed by something infinitely larger: the Super Star Destroyer and Vader’s new flagship, the Executor. Through this scene we are also given the first rendition of “The Imperial March” in its full glory. Suddenly things are clear: the Death Star may be destroyed but the Empire is as strong as ever… and the rebels are going to be in trouble!

Asteroid Field

Han, Leia, Chewie and Threepio are being chased in the Millennium Falcon by Imperial forces and Han decides that the best chance of escaping is through the asteroid field they have ran into. While 4 TIE fighters follow in close pursuit, Han expertly pilots the Falcon through the asteroid field, while the TIEs are destroyed one by one. This is on of the moments that really gives you an idea of just how good a pilot Han is, while it also allows for some great character moments, including Threepio’s worrying and Han’s “Never tell me the odds!” All of this is highlighted by another wonderful piece of music from John Williams, which returns in Solo: A Star Wars Story as a great homage as they are chased through the Akkadese Maelstrom.

Star Wars Asteroid field cockpitI also want to give a shout out at this point to Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars, which has one of the lead characters Ciena Ree trying to coordinate the TIEs in the chase and having to deal with the pilots not making it. A really great moment that is probably underrated in one of my favourite canon novels.

“For my ally is the Force”

star wars yoda lukeSoon after starting this blog, I did a “31 Days of Star Wars series” to allow readers to get to know me a little better. At the time, it had been a while since I had sat down to watch The Empire Strikes Back, so when I next watched this film, I almost kicked myself for forgetting Yoda’s iconic speech from this film when picking my favourite quote. Having failed to lift his X-wing out of the swamp using the Force, Luke tells Yoda that it was too big, to which the great Jedi Master replies:

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes, even between the land and the ship.”

A New Hope introduced us to the Force, but did not go into things in too much detail. This speech makes the Force much more spiritual and it is a full credit to everyone involved in that we full believe this puppet is a real being who we are learning from. Luke clearly felt that the feat was impossible, but Yoda quickly showed him otherwise by lifting the X-wing up onto the land with relative ease while Yoda’s Theme plays and comes to a crescendo as Luke realises the power this little green creature has.

What are your favourite moments from The Empire Strikes Back?

Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…

Screengrabs from cap-that.com

2 thoughts on “Why I Love Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

  1. Oh, it has to be “I am your father” for the win. Since “Empire” came out, I’ve noticed other film franchises trying to mimic the second-act-tragedy of Star Wars where the villain wins and the heroes barely escape. Some do better than others (e.g. “Infinity War”.) It makes for great drama when you hope things will turn around but don’t know how when the odds are stacked against the heroes.

    But what resonates with me is the iconic theme of tragedy dating back to Greek myth. Ian Doescher mentioned in “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back” how Luke’s discovery was parallel to Oedipus Rex. Rex unknowingly fulfilled his prophecy that he’d murder his father and marry his mother and promptly blinded himself. “Minority Report” covered the themes of predestined events and blindness too. Luke doesn’t go *that* far (he did kiss his sister…) but the truth about his family tears his mindset apart. He he loses a limb, and his innocence, for his hubris by trying to take down Vader. In the Hero’s Journey, the protagonist has to be brought low before he can rise again, resurrected wiser and better than before.

    Liked by 1 person

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