Jump to content


Photo

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - 30th Anniversary


  • Please log in to reply
72 replies to this topic

#1 Overstreet

Overstreet

    Sometimes, there's a man.

  • Member
  • 17,381 posts

Posted 01 May 2010 - 10:31 AM

It was 30 years ago this month...



Gotta love Harrison Ford as a trailer narrator.

#2 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 01 May 2010 - 11:23 AM

Links to the threads on Episode I, Episode II, Episode III, Episode IV, the 2004 and 2006 editions of Episodes IV, V and VI on DVD, and the 2011 edition of all six episodes on Blu-Ray, as well as The Clone Wars and the various rumoured TV series (plus one quasi-duplicate thread on the comedy series).

See also the threads on 'Star Wars Debate Redux' (which began as a place to bash Episode II; Jul 8 - Nov 11, 2003), 'Sci fi = spiritual? Star Wars, X2, etc.' (Apr 12-14, 2004), 'Best Star Wars Movie? (with poll; Apr 18-20, 2004), Top 100 Discussion: The Star Wars original trilogy?' (May 6-7, 2004), 'Is Star Wars Blasphemous?' (Jun 15 - Jul 25, 2005), 'Star Wars in 20 minutes' (Aug 8-9, 2006) and 'Star Wars: Uncut' (Apr 2010).

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 27 December 2010 - 01:03 AM.


#3 John Drew

John Drew

    A vast sponge of movie minutiae... - Jason Bortz

  • Member
  • 3,657 posts

Posted 01 May 2010 - 12:42 PM

Notice at the 1:33 mark - "A galactic odyssey against oppression." - as, in a scene cut from the film, C3PO rips off the warning label on the door that contains the Wampa ice creatures, that were to attack the patrol of Imperial Snowtroopers.

#4 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 01 May 2010 - 01:08 PM

I love how the teaser includes a shot of Luke and Leia on the verge of a kiss that is more, shall we say, mutual than the one which ended up in the final movie. And it appears to be an entirely different kiss from the one that they had in a deleted scene later on, apparently just before the Battle of Hoth.

I mentioned this in a comment that I posted to your blog, Jeff, but apparently it didn't go through: Basically, while a lot of people remember how shocking it was that Vader "revealed" himself to be Luke's father, for me it was just as surprising back then to discover that Leia (whose name was now pronounced Lay-uh instead of Lee-uh for some reason) had a thing for Han Solo, in addition to (or instead of) her thing for Luke. In some ways the Han-and-Leia thing was even MORE surprising than the Luke-and-Vader thing, because it was plainly, indisputably up there on the screen, whereas Vader's "revelation" was a matter of debate for the next three years (James Earl Jones, the actor who actually spoke the words "I am your father", says he was convinced at the time that Vader was lying).

So it's been interesting to come across all this evidence which indicates that The Empire Strikes Back originally had a more fully fleshed-out love triangle between Luke, Han and Leia. In some ways, this would fit the movie's poster, which harks back to Gone with the Wind, with Han posed over Leia in much the same way that Rhett Butler was posed over Scarlett O'Hara ... which I guess would make Luke the Ashley Wilkes of the story.

In hindsight, The Empire Strikes Back holds a somewhat bittersweet place in Star Wars lore. It is easily the best of the films, both in terms of production value and in terms of how it developed the themes and the characters, etc. But it also marks the beginning of Lucas's massive retconning.

Vader wasn't Luke's father until the second draft of Empire, which was originally envisioned as Chapter II of a 12-part saga and not as Episode V of a 9-part saga (let alone the 6-part saga that Lucas settled for when he finally got around to making the prequels). Turning Vader into Luke's father opened up all sorts of dramatic possibilities, but it also meant turning Obi-Wan into a liar, and it ended up setting the stage for the prequels, which turned out to be very disappointing. And the fact that Lucas got away with the retconning here meant that he was free to add increasingly ridiculous retcons in his later films, turning Luke and Leia into siblings in Return of the Jedi, turning C3PO into an after-school project of Vader's in The Phantom Menace, and so on and so on and so on.

Ah well. The Empire Strikes Back is still a great film in its own right, and one of the handful of sequels that have improved upon their predecessors and thus guaranteed the longevity of their predecessors far beyond what their predecessors might have accomplished on their own. Would anyone remember the original Star Wars as fondly as we do if it weren't for Empire, which gave us Yoda, the "Darth Vader March" and various other things that now seem so integral to the franchise? I think not.

#5 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 01 May 2010 - 01:25 PM

Incidentally, I'm wondering when the trailer above first came out. Unless I'm missing something, there are no special-effects shots in that trailer at all, except for two asteroid-field shots. There are lots of explosions and sparks flying, etc., but nothing that was added in post-production (though the trailer certainly has the SOUND EFFECT of laser blasters, etc.). That suggests this trailer came out pretty early.

Note also how the trailer above merely states the title but has no logo for the film, or at least not the logo that opened this other vintage trailer (and yet, even this second trailer must have been somewhat early, since it, too, includes the footage of C3PO ripping the warning sign off the wampa-room door):



#6 John Drew

John Drew

    A vast sponge of movie minutiae... - Jason Bortz

  • Member
  • 3,657 posts

Posted 01 May 2010 - 03:05 PM

Incidentally, I'm wondering when the trailer above first came out. Unless I'm missing something, there are no special-effects shots in that trailer at all, except for two asteroid-field shots. There are lots of explosions and sparks flying, etc., but nothing that was added in post-production (though the trailer certainly has the SOUND EFFECT of laser blasters, etc.). That suggests this trailer came out pretty early.

Note also how the trailer above merely states the title but has no logo for the film, or at least not the logo that opened this other vintage trailer (and yet, even this second trailer must have been somewhat early, since it, too, includes the footage of C3PO ripping the warning sign off the wampa-room door):


I remember first seeing this trailer at the end of Star Wars during a 2 week rerelease in the summer of 1979. This was the first time I had actually seen Star Wars in its entirety. I saw it with friends in late 1977, but the lines were still so long that by the time we had our tickets, we walked in when C3PO and R2 were splitting up in the desert. Needless to say, I was shocked by what I hadn't seen!

Also, the original opening crawl was still without the "Episode IV: A New Hope" title. Apparently the retitling of the crawl was first seen in the 1981 rerelease. The first indication that I can remember that Star Wars was "part four" in the series was introduced in the book "The Art of Star Wars", which I received as a Christmas gift in 1979. The inside title page reads, "The Art of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope from The Journal of the Whills. revised fourth draft".

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah, 01 May 2010 - 03:28 PM.


#7 John Drew

John Drew

    A vast sponge of movie minutiae... - Jason Bortz

  • Member
  • 3,657 posts

Posted 01 May 2010 - 03:19 PM

If only Lucas had carried through with this idea. From The Secret History of Star Wars site, an article entitled, Nature of the Beast: De-Centralization and the Star Wars Screenwriting Process in Critical Perspective

In an interview with Rolling Stone published in August 1977, Lucas asserted that he'd like to have a different director for every sequel to give them each a different personal touch, the franchise set at unlimited possibilities (later to be limited to twelve films). He says in the interview:

I think it will be interesting, it is like taking a theme in film school, say, okay, everybody do their interpretation of this theme. It's an interesting idea to see how people interpret the genre...I've put up the concrete slab of the walls and now everybody can have fun drawing the pictures and putting on the little gargoyles and doing all the really fun stuff. And it's a competition. I'm hoping if I get friends of mine they will want to do a much better film, like, 'I'll show George that I can do a film twice that good.' [45]

Only a few months later, in November 1977, he began preliminary writing work on the first sequel to Star Wars, indicating the mindset he brought to its construction.


Too bad that when a better film did emerge, rather than acknowledging the accomplishment, Lucas seems to have suffered a bruised ego...

With Lucas picking up the bill at the end of the day, he complained in 1983's Skywalking, "It was just a lot better than I wanted to make it."


Edited by Baal_T'shuvah, 01 May 2010 - 03:20 PM.


#8 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 01 May 2010 - 06:33 PM

The idea that Lucas once wanted his friends to compete with him is an interesting one.

According to the documentary that came with the 2004 DVDs, Lucas originally wanted Steven Spielberg to direct Return of the Jedi, but he couldn't go through with that because he had resigned his Directors Guild membership after the guild gave him a fine for not putting Irvin Kershner's name on the front of The Empire Strikes Back. I'm not sure what to make of this story, since Spielberg did direct all three of the Indiana Jones films for Lucas before, during and after the release of Return of the Jedi. But it does make you wonder what a Spielberg-directed Star Wars film might have been like. It's one thing for Spielberg to come in on a franchise like Indiana Jones when it's just getting started; indeed, the story there is that Lucas pitched the series to Spielberg when Spielberg expressed his interest in making a James Bond-style movie. But Star Wars seems, to me, to be much more exclusively Lucas's puppy. I don't know if it would have been wise to bring a strong director like Spielberg in on the project when two-thirds of the trilogy had already been completed and Lucas was itching to exert more control over the project.

The question of auteurship on the sequels is also interesting, especially with regard to The Empire Strikes Back, which everyone acknowledges was the Star Wars film that Lucas had the least amount of direct control over. Think of the scene near the end where Luke Skywalker gets his artificial hand: Kershner has said that he wanted to emphasize how Luke's life could essentially go back to normal, now; Kershner has even said that Luke would still be able to make love to a woman and to feel all the things that he needed to feel with this hand. Now how does that square with the message of Return of the Jedi, that Luke's artificial hand is, in essence, the thin edge of the wedge and the beginning of the slippery slope that will lead to Luke becoming a mechanized abomination like his father? (Consider also the closing scene in Attack of the Clones, where Anakin displays a much more obviously mechanical hand -- and on his wedding day, no less. That squares very well with the message of Return of the Jedi, and seems almost like a direct repudiation of Kershner's explanation for the closing scene in The Empire Strikes Back.)

#9 John Drew

John Drew

    A vast sponge of movie minutiae... - Jason Bortz

  • Member
  • 3,657 posts

Posted 01 May 2010 - 11:12 PM

According to the documentary that came with the 2004 DVDs, Lucas originally wanted Steven Spielberg to direct Return of the Jedi, but he couldn't go through with that because he had resigned his Directors Guild membership after the guild gave him a fine for not putting Irvin Kershner's name on the front of The Empire Strikes Back.


I don't know who might know the answer to this, but was Lucas himself also fined for not having his own directors credit at the beginning of Star Wars? Or did the DGA feel that "A Lucasfilm Ltd." after the Fox logo was sufficient?

Looking back on this practice now is kind of strange, since nowadays there seems like a 50/50 chance that a director will take first credit at the end of a film rather than last credit at the beginning of a film, or initial credit "a film by ________" at the opening.

The question of auteurship on the sequels is also interesting, especially with regard to The Empire Strikes Back, which everyone acknowledges was the Star Wars film that Lucas had the least amount of direct control over. Think of the scene near the end where Luke Skywalker gets his artificial hand: Kershner has said that he wanted to emphasize how Luke's life could essentially go back to normal, now; Kershner has even said that Luke would still be able to make love to a woman and to feel all the things that he needed to feel with this hand. Now how does that square with the message of Return of the Jedi, that Luke's artificial hand is, in essence, the thin edge of the wedge and the beginning of the slippery slope that will lead to Luke becoming a mechanized abomination like his father? (Consider also the closing scene in Attack of the Clones, where Anakin displays a much more obviously mechanical hand -- and on his wedding day, no less. That squares very well with the message of Return of the Jedi, and seems almost like a direct repudiation of Kershner's explanation for the closing scene in The Empire Strikes Back.)


It's interesting to compare how Kershner's sense of the material differs from Lucas'. Kershner, being Lucas's mentor in school, really approached this material with more of the sensibilities that Lucas's beloved contemporaries might have done (Coppola, Scorcese, Milius), people whose advice Lucas sought while in the trenches writing the first screenplay. The auteur Lucas, who exerted total control over the prequels was, according to the article I linked to above, less than concerned that "the characters were only mildly developed, that the pace was erratic, and the dialogue clumsy."

It's interesting to note that "erratic pace" is evident in Lucas' tinkering of The Empire Strikes Back for the 1997 rerelease. Most noticeably towards the end, when the Millennium Falcon is making its escape from Bespin. Lucas decides to redub a line of Vader's dialogue, and add a few scenes of Vader entering his shuttle, the shuttle making its way back to the Stardestroyer, and landing in the docking bay. This series of shots cut into the existing footage just stops cold much of the tension that was developed in the original edit. At least the added footage in Episode IV and VI, while obviously new, didn't seem to come during crucial dramatic moments.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah, 03 May 2010 - 09:56 AM.


#10 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 02 May 2010 - 06:07 PM

Baal_T'shuvah wrote:
: I don't know who might know the answer to this, but was Lucas himself also fined for not having his own directors credit at the beginning of Star Wars? Or did the DGA feel that "A Lucasfilm Ltd." after the Fox logo was sufficient?

Lucas wasn't fined for the first film, no. I imagine the "Lucasfilm" logo might have sufficed as far as the DGA was concerned, but I don't know.

: Looking back on this practice now is kind of strange, since nowadays there seems like a 50/50 chance that a director will take first credit at the end of a film rather than last credit at the beginning of a film, or initial credit "a film by ________" at the opening.

Yeah. This was also around the time that Francis Ford Coppola produced Apocalypse Now (based on an idea by Lucas, and featuring Harrison Ford as a character named "Col. G. Lucas"!), which originally didn't have any credits whatsoever. That, they say, is why the words "Apocalypse Now" are scrawled on the wall at Kurtz's compound; for copyright purposes, you had to have the title on the screen at SOME point in the movie. But the rest of the credits? Originally, the movie didn't have 'em, though I believe they were added for later releases and/or re-issues.

: It's interesting to note that "erratic pace" is evident in Lucas' tinkering of The Empire Strikes Back for the 1997 rerelease.

Oh, goodness, yes. I remember complaining about that at the time. I couldn't believe Lucas thought it was really all that important to see HOW Vader got from Cloud City to the Star Destroyer.

#11 Buckeye Jones

Buckeye Jones

    Killer of threads

  • Member
  • 1,742 posts

Posted 02 May 2010 - 07:36 PM

Oh, goodness, yes. I remember complaining about that at the time. I couldn't believe Lucas thought it was really all that important to see HOW Vader got from Cloud City to the Star Destroyer.


Really? I thought it was so he could show off the shuttle design in ESB so he had some kind of continuity with the next movie. As it was, each movie had more advanced technology (like the TIE fighters : basic, bomber, then interceptors). I thought he was just playing catch up to give the whole series some sort of consistent look. Dramatically, yawn. But doesn't seem to be a big deal to the grand poobah.

#12 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 02 May 2010 - 11:56 PM

Buckeye Jones wrote:
: Really? I thought it was so he could show off the shuttle design in ESB so he had some kind of continuity with the next movie.

That, too, is possible. Though if memory serves, Lucas never updated the shuttle that Captain Needa takes when he goes to report his failure to Darth Vader personally. The fact that Needa's shuttle didn't match the shuttles that everyone was using in Return of the Jedi was always one of those little sticking points for me, so when the "special edition" came out in 1997, the fact that Lucas didn't insert the Tydirium in this scene the way he did in that other scene kinda bugged me.

#13 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 16 May 2010 - 03:06 PM

If y'all haven't read this account of how Irvin Kershner workshopped the carbon-freezing scene with the actors, you really should. (Lucky me, I have a copy of the book from which this transcript was taken.)

Many people have said over the years that George Lucas lacks "curiosity" about his characters; he just makes them do whatever he wants them to do, and he expects the actors to do whatever he wrote for them to do, without giving any thought to the characters' motivations or anything else that might give them some believability. Kershner, on the other hand, was definitely "curious" about the characters, and it led him to make the scene much, much better than it originally was.

#14 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 18 May 2010 - 07:41 PM

The guy who wrote The Secret History of Star Wars has uncovered more details on Lucas's original ideas about the never-filmed Episodes X, XI and XII, courtesy of a 1980 issue of Prevue magazine.

He has also found a rare interview with Leigh Brackett that was conducted a few years before she collaborated with Lucas on the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back. In his intro, he notes:

She is the only person other than Lawrence Kasdan to have written an entire Star Wars script on her own, and the only person ever hired to write said script from scratch, rather than revising Lucas' early drafts. She is also the first and only person that Lucas hired in full collaboration to create the film's plot, rather than enhancing the base already in place as Kasdan, Hales, Marquand or Kershner did. Her only completed Star Wars screenplay is much different than George Lucas thought it would be, and contains some unique elements such as Luke meeting the ghost of his slain Jedi father. But she is an enigma in a more profound way because of her untimely death in 1978--directly after completing her handwritten first draft of The Empire Strikes Back.

And now, as of a few weeks ago apparently, you can read Brackett's first draft of The Empire Strikes Back here.

#15 John Drew

John Drew

    A vast sponge of movie minutiae... - Jason Bortz

  • Member
  • 3,657 posts

Posted 18 May 2010 - 10:43 PM

I'm just going to keep it pure. It's a nine-part saga that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It progresses over a period of about fifty or sixty years with about twenty years between trilogies, each trilogy taking about six or seven years."


Timelines in the Star Wars films have always been... sketchy at best (especially the original trilogy). For example, is there a definitive time that Han Solo spent encased in carbonite? IIRC, the novelization of Jedi refers to it as a number of years. The Wookiepedia Time of Galactic History says he was encased in 3 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), and rescued in 4 ABY - so, a year or less?

Star Wars
itself seems to take place in the span of 3 or 4 days.

Empire has the strangest timeline - you have two stories being told simultaneously, yet Luke's training on Dagobah must cover a significant portion of time, while Han and Leia's story seems to take place all on the same day (or at least short period of days) as the battle of Hoth.

The prequels seem a little better at timelines (at least Ep. I and III). Ep. II suffers the same disconcerting timeline that Empire did, with Obi-wan's timeline seeming to take place in a relatively short span of time, while Anakin and Padme's timeline seems to span a few weeks.

OK, enough of this... I know I'm not bringing up anything new here, so I'll leave you with this...

Han Solo in carbonite soap
Posted Image

#16 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 18 May 2010 - 11:12 PM

Baal_T'shuvah wrote:
: Timelines in the Star Wars films have always been... sketchy at best (especially the original trilogy).

Heh. And matters are complicated by the question of how long it takes to travel from one planet to another.

: Empire has the strangest timeline - you have two stories being told simultaneously, yet Luke's training on Dagobah must cover a significant portion of time, while Han and Leia's story seems to take place all on the same day (or at least short period of days) as the battle of Hoth.

Yeah, that has occurred to me occasionally, too. What makes it even stranger is that Han and Leia are apparently able to get from Hoth to Bespin without jumping to light speed -- so wouldn't that mean that those two planets are in the same system? (And even then, wouldn't the trip take months or years, rather than a few hours or whatever?)

#17 John Drew

John Drew

    A vast sponge of movie minutiae... - Jason Bortz

  • Member
  • 3,657 posts

Posted 19 May 2010 - 08:55 AM

Yeah, that has occurred to me occasionally, too. What makes it even stranger is that Han and Leia are apparently able to get from Hoth to Bespin without jumping to light speed -- so wouldn't that mean that those two planets are in the same system? (And even then, wouldn't the trip take months or years, rather than a few hours or whatever?)


See, now you're going to make me get all geeky on you. Hoth, Bespin and Dagobah are relatively close to each other on the outer arms of the Star Wars galaxy. Here's a blow-up section of a larger galactic map (pre-Revenge of the Sith holographic version)from Star Wars Insider - so you know it has to be the end-all-be-all in accuracy. :D

Posted Image

Hoth and Bespin are supposedly on a branch of the Corellian trade route (which makes one wonder if Solo suggested the Hoth system as a possible new Rebel base). Dagobah (looks like Dagoiah on this map) isn't too out of the way, and I guess Luke has lightspeed capability on his X-wing.

Still, as far as the weird timeline goes (yes, I know it's pure entertainment, edited for the best flow of action), by the time Chewie releases the Falcon from the star destroyer and the journey to Bespin begins, it seems as though only one long day had passed for this storyline. While Luke's story has had him travel to Dagobah - begin his training - face Vader in the "Cave of the Dark Side" (I chuckle as a fan of LOST, since they just introduced the "Glow Cave of Goodness") - failed to get his X-wing out of the swamp....

...OK, like I said last night, enough of this... and like last night, I'll leave you with this...

Tie-Fighter Computer Desk
Posted Image

#18 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 19 May 2010 - 09:04 AM

Baal_T'shuvah wrote:
: Hoth, Bespin and Dagobah are relatively close to each other on the outer arms of the Star Wars galaxy.

Well, fine, but still, c'mon; without going to light speed, it would take YEARS to get from one system to another.

: Hoth and Bespin are supposedly on a branch of the Corellian trade route (which makes one wonder if Solo suggested the Hoth system as a possible new Rebel base).

Hmmmm.

: Dagobah (looks like Dagoiah on this map) isn't too out of the way, and I guess Luke has lightspeed capability on his X-wing.

Oh, for sure. TIE fighters may be "short-range fighters", as Obi-Wan puts it, but X-wings don't seem to have that limitation; remember how, when the Rebel fleet made the jump to light speed prior to its assault on Death Star II, all the fighter pilots were flying separately instead of, I dunno, sitting in a docking bay on one of the larger ships or something?

#19 MattPage

MattPage

    Bible Films Geek.

  • Member
  • 4,194 posts

Posted 10 June 2010 - 03:16 AM

Darth Vader displays signs of borderline Personality Disorder say researchers.

So says The Guardian.

Matt

#20 Peter T Chattaway

Peter T Chattaway

    He's fictional, but you can't have everything.

  • Member
  • 29,992 posts

Posted 28 June 2010 - 01:05 PM