In recent years, its very easy to get side tracked on what happened to the Star Wars franchise. Over clouded by the recent installments, most people get carried away with how terrible Jar Jar Binks is, how George Lucas is only concerned with money, or why they try to explain the magic that is the force. Behind all of this is a true miracle of film making. The Empire Strikes Back.
While I am a huge fan of the original three movies, Empire truly has a concept and never lets go of it. New Hope set up the idea that there was a big bad guy and there was a little guy that could triumph over the big guy. In story telling, this is as old as sand. However, as a sequel, Empire has a lot going for it. How could it possibly manage to capture the excitement and thrill created by the original.. The Star Wars? By flipping the script and showing the viewer that while miracles can happen in this universe you're better off betting on the fastest horse.
From the very start we are shown that the Empire has agents and fingers in every corner of the galaxy. There is no escape, even on a planet covered in ice. The goal of this middle part is to create dread. The way the Hoth battle is filmed from a low perspective showing the rebels looking up at the towering AT-AT is foreshadowing for the rest of the film. Whether or not this was done on purpose or if it was just easier to pull off is not important. It works. Posters and box art for TESB all convey the simple idea of.. fool the empire once good for you, fool it twice and you die. There is no escape from Darth Vader. Or another example of this dire feel is the Millennium Falcon being chased through the whole movie in the dark never ending space. Only to find a safe haven that is over thrown by.. guess who.. the Empire.
Everyone who has ever laid eyes on a television knows the reveal at the end. But one of the most significant revelations in the whole series occurs around the half way mark. The great Jedi master who will train Luke to defeat the great evil in the universe is.. a pint sized swamp monster? Yes, while we all assume the great and powerful Yoda would be a large and in charge force wielding machine (or at least a human) we were very incorrect. Size matters not we are taught, could this be an insight into dont count out the small scrappy rebels against the never ending Empire? I guess that's up to the viewer. I like to think that it had a deeper meaning and was meant to inject a little hope into a movie that overall is a downer. Especial after how great you felt after watching A New Hope. And of course we are treated to another up swing with Return of the Jedi. And while both bookends of the series are incredible in their own way, neither of them have the emotional grab of TESB. They are action adventure movies where the good guys win and the hero gets the girl. There are few down moments and overall they are bright and colorful films whereas TESB is mostly grey, white, and black with spots of color sparsely placed throughout.
Watching it for the first time tonight in probably 5 or 6 years, I see things from a different perspective. It means more to me now than when it did years and years ago when I was a young lad. One thing I never thought about but occurred to me is if they wanted to make it like the other two and end on a positive note, having Luke defeat Vader at the end would make for an interesting third act. But that's for a different blog on a different day (I really gotta stop blogging when I'm super tired!) Also, another thing I noticed, Boba Fett and all the Stormtoopers are all the same height.. is this just coincidence or were they all digitally changed to match Fetts new voice? Food for thought I suppose.