The Empire Strikes Back

Phil Tippett animates an AT-AT. Geek factor 9.7

I am currently reading J.W. Rinzler’s excellent book on The Making of The Empire Strikes Back.  I’ve been thinking about this movie quite a lot over the last few months – 2010 was the thirtieth anniversary of its release and the film’s director Irvin Kirshner died in November.  Oh, and I bought and built a LEGO AT-AT.

Any attempt to objectively review the original Star Wars movies is pretty futile; especially if like me you’re a 30-something male who grew up with these films in the forefront of your overactive imagination.  Reading the book however confirms what an incredible achievement the film was.  Alright, making the sequel to the most successful movie EVER was always going to be an easy sell, but Lucas’ vision to finance it himself and expand the horizon of Star Wars to establish a franchise is visionary or just plain genius.

I think what I love about this movie is that it’s filled with things that just so incredibly, mind-numbingly awesome – the AT-ATs, Boba Fett, Darth Vader’s theme music, the Millennium Falcon being chased through asteroids, Han Solo being frozen in carbonite and a 900 year old midget leprechaun Jedi master – and yet then it blends these things into a story totally confounds your expectations.  I can’t remember watching The Empire Strikes Back for the first time, but imagine experiencing with only the original Star Wars as a blueprint for your expectations.  Imagine realizing for the first time that the midget leprechaun is actually the Jedi master we’ve heard so much about; that Han is going to stay frozen in Carbonite, that Darth Vader is actually Luke’s father – and that you’re going to have to wait 3 more years to find out what happens next!