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Entertainment Earth

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"Luke, I am your father. No, I'm just kidding.
I've never even met the kid."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

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It is a dark time for the Rebellion. Although the Death Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the Rebel forces from their hidden base and pursued them across the galaxy. Evading the dreaded Imperial Starfleet, a group of freedom fighters led by Luke Skywalker have established a new secret base on the remote ice world of Hoth. The evil lord Darth Vader, obsessed with finding young Skywalker, has dispatched thousands of remote probes into the far reaches of space....

STAR WARS EPISODE V - THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

The Empire Strikes Back (also known as Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back) is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, with George Lucas writing the film's story and serving as executive producer. The second installment in the original Star Wars trilogy, it was produced by Gary Kurtz for Lucasfilm and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew and Frank Oz.

The film is set three years after Star Wars. The Galactic Empire, under the leadership of the villainous Darth Vader and the Emperor, is in pursuit of Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. While Vader relentlessly pursues the small band of Luke's friends—Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and others—across the galaxy, Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. When Vader captures Luke's friends, Luke must decide whether to complete his training and become a full Jedi Knight or to confront Vader and save them.

Following a difficult production, The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980. It received mixed reviews from critics initially but has since grown in esteem, becoming the most critically acclaimed chapter in the Star Wars saga; it is now widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. It became the highest-grossing film of 1980 and, to date, has earned more than $538 million worldwide from its original run and several re-releases. When adjusted for inflation, it is the second-highest-grossing sequel of all time and the 13th-highest-grossing film in North America. The film was followed by Return of the Jedi, which was released in 1983.

In 2010, the film was selected for preservation in the United States' National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant." Like its predecessor, The Empire Strikes Back draws from several mythological stories and world religions. It also includes elements of 1930s film serials such as Flash Gordon, a childhood favorite of Lucas', that similarly featured a city afloat in the sky.

Whether The Empire Strikes Back would even be made depended on the success of the 1977 Star Wars, which did exceed all expectations in terms of profit, had a revolutionary effect on the film industry, and had an unexpected resonance as a cultural phenomenon. After the success of Star Wars there was no doubt Lucas would continue his space saga, but recalling the numerous problems with 20th Century Fox's financing of the first film, he decided to become independent from the Hollywood film industry by financing The Empire Strikes Back himself with $33 million from loans and the previous film's earnings. Of course, a successful sequel was by no means a sure thing, and its success would dictate whether the Star Wars trilogy would be completed.

Now fully in command of his Star Wars enterprise, Lucas chose not to direct The Empire Strikes Back because of his other production roles, including overseeing his special effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and handling of the financing. Lucas offered the role of director to Irvin Kershner (below right), one of his former professors at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Kershner was known for smaller-scale, character-driven films, but had more recently directed the true-life drama Raid on Entebbe (1977) and the thriller Eyes of Laura Mars (1978). Kershner initially turned Lucas down, citing his belief that a sequel would never meet the quality or originality of Star Wars. He only took the job when his agent convinced him that he shouldn't pass on the opportunity to make a sequel to one of the most popular movies in history. In an interview with Cinescape magazine, director Kershner said he had no interest in films with special effects and was determined to make the film more about characterizations than hardware. He spent several months working on the script, pushing the writers into humanizing the characters more (something that Lucas has often been criticized for failing to do).

Lucas hired science fiction author Leigh Brackett to write Star Wars II with him. They held story conferences and, by late November 1977, Lucas had produced a handwritten treatment called The Empire Strikes Back. The treatment is similar to the final film, except that Darth Vader does not reveal he is Luke's father. In the first draft that Brackett would write from this, Luke's father appears as a ghost to instruct Luke.

Leigh Brackett's first draft of the screenplay contained the revelation of Luke's sister, her existence disclosed by the ghost of Anakin Skywalker. Referred to as "Nellith Skywalker", Anakin explains that it was he, not Obi-Wan, who separated the twins at birth to protect them from Darth Vader, and that Nellith also underwent Jedi training in another part of the galaxy so she could join forces with Luke to defeat the Sith. This concept was dropped in the second draft of the screenplay, along with the appearance of Anakin Skywalker and replaced with a scene of Obi-Wan and Yoda discussing how they must find another Jedi apprentice in anticipation of Luke's failure. This too changed in later drafts, resulting in the more ambiguous scene in the final version where Yoda assures Obi-Wan that "another" exists.Kershner was known for smaller-scale, character-driven films, but had more recently directed the true-life drama Raid on Entebbe (1977) and the thriller Eyes of Laura Mars (1978).

Kershner initially turned Lucas down, citing his belief that a sequel would never meet the quality or originality of Star Wars. He only took the job when his agent convinced him that he shouldn't pass on the opportunity to make a sequel to one of the most popular movies in history. In an interview with Cinescape magazine, director Kershner said he had no interest in films with special effects and was determined to make the film more about characterizations than hardware. He spent several months working on the script, pushing the writers into humanizing the characters more (something that Lucas has often been criticized for failing to do).

Lucas hired science fiction author Leigh Brackett to write Star Wars II with him. They held story conferences and, by late November 1977, Lucas had produced a handwritten treatment called The Empire Strikes Back. The treatment is similar to the final film, except that Darth Vader does not reveal he is Luke's father. In the first draft that Brackett would write from this, Luke's father appears as a ghost to instruct Luke.

Leigh Brackett's first draft of the screenplay contained the revelation of Luke's sister, her existence disclosed by the ghost of Anakin Skywalker. Referred to as "Nellith Skywalker", Anakin explains that it was he, not Obi-Wan, who separated the twins at birth to protect them from Darth Vader, and that Nellith also underwent Jedi training in another part of the galaxy so she could join forces with Luke to defeat the Sith. This concept was dropped in the second draft of the screenplay, along with the appearance of Anakin Skywalker and replaced with a scene of Obi-Wan and Yoda discussing how they must find another Jedi apprentice in anticipation of Luke's failure. This too changed in later drafts, resulting in the more ambiguous scene in the final version where Yoda assures Obi-Wan that "another" exists.

Brackett had finished her first draft in early 1978; Lucas has said he was disappointed with it, but before he could discuss it with her, she died of cancer. With no writer available, Lucas had to write his next draft himself. It was this draft in which Lucas first made use of the "Episode" numbering for the films; Empire Strikes Back was listed as Episode II. As Michael Kaminski argues in The Secret History of Star Wars, the disappointment with the first draft probably made Lucas consider different directions in which to take the story. He made use of a new plot twist: Darth Vader claims to be Luke's father. According to Lucas, he found this draft enjoyable to write, as opposed to the yearlong struggles writing the first film, and quickly wrote two more drafts, both in April 1978. He also took the script to a darker extreme by having Han Solo imprisoned in carbonite and left in limbo.

This new story point of Darth Vader being Luke's father had drastic effects on the series. Michael Kaminski argues in his book that it is unlikely that the plot point had ever seriously been considered or even conceived of before 1978, and that the first film was clearly operating under an alternate storyline where Vader was separate from Luke's father; there is not a single reference to this plot point before 1978. After writing the second and third drafts of Empire Strikes Back in which the point was introduced, Lucas reviewed the new backstory he had created: Anakin Skywalker was Ben Kenobi's brilliant student and had a child named Luke, but was swayed to the dark side by The Emperor (who was really a Sith Lord and not simply just a politician). Anakin battled Ben Kenobi on the site of a volcano and was wounded, but then resurrected as Darth Vader. Meanwhile, Kenobi hid Luke on Tatooine while the Republic became the Empire and Vader systematically hunted down the Jedi.

With this new backstory in place, Lucas decided that the series would be a trilogy, changing Empire Strikes Back from Episode II to Episode V in the next draft. Lawrence Kasdan had just completed writing Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the screenplay impressed Lucas, who hired him to write the next drafts with additional input from director Irvin Kershner. Kasdan, Kershner, and producer Gary Kurtz saw the film as a more serious and adult film, which was helped by the new, darker storyline, and developed the series from the light adventure roots of the first film.

After the release of Star Wars, ILM grew from being a struggling company and moved to Marin County, California. The Empire Strikes Back provided the company with new challenges. Whereas Star Wars mostly featured space sequences, The Empire Strikes Back featured not only space dogfights but also an ice planet battle opening sequence and elements of cities that floated among the clouds. For the battle scenes on the ice planet Hoth, the initial intent was to use bluescreen to composite the Imperial walkers into still-shots from the original set. Instead, an artist (Michael Pangrazio) was hired to paint landscapes, resulting in the Imperial walkers being shot using stop motion animation in front of the landscape paintings. The original designs for the AT-ATs were, according to Phil Tippett, "big armored vehicles with wheels". Many believe the finished design was inspired by the Port of Oakland container cranes, but Lucas denied this.

The Imperial AT-AT walkers were inspired by the walking machines in H.G. Wells's "War of the Worlds". Walking patterns of elephants were studied to make the movements seem as realistic as possible. The AT-AT walkers are animated through traditional stop-motion techniques, except for the scenes where they fall (e.g. the walker which is "tripped up" by cables and falls on its head, or the one that Luke throws a thermal detonator into, which falls on its side). These were filmed in real-time on high-speed cameras with precision-timed mini-pyrotechnic charges.

The debate on how to say AT-AT (either saying it like the word "at" or saying the letters "a" and "t") was finally settled when spokesmen of George Lucas stated (on Lucas' behalf) it is said like the word "at". Although, many people still say the letters "a" and "t".

In designing the Jedi Master Yoda, Stuart Freeborn used his own face as a model and added the wrinkles of AlbIn designing the Jedi Master Yoda, Stuart Freeborn used his own face as a model and added the wrinkles of Albert Einstein for the appearance of exceptional intelligence. Jim Henson, a friend of George Lucas, was offered the role of Yoda. Henson turned it down, as he was busy with The Great Muppet Caper (1981). He recommended Frank Oz for the role. Sets for Dagobah were built five feet above the stage floor, allowing the three puppeteers to crawl underneath and hold up the Yoda puppet. The setup presented communication problems for Frank Oz, who portrayed Yoda, as he was underneath the stage and unable to hear the crew and Mark Hamill above.

Hamill later expressed his dismay at being the only human character on set for months; he felt like a trivial element on a set of animals, machines, and moving props but Kershner would commended Hamill for his performance with the puppet. For proper interaction, Mark Hamill was given an earpiece so he could hear Oz doing Yoda's voice. On numerous occasions, Irvin Kershner would give a direction to Yoda by mistake and Oz would have to remind him who to talk to. When Hamill was having trouble with the Dagobah scenes with Yoda, Frank Oz brought in Miss Piggy to make him laugh. The Yoda puppet was made of a less than optimal material, resulting in it being quite a bit heavier than what Oz was used to from his time with the Muppets. The strain put on his arms meant the scenes had to be shot on a quite erratic schedule. In the film's novelization, Yoda is depicted as having blue skin.

Yoda's iconic manner of speech has the parts of speech in Object Subject Verb order. Very few languages on Earth use this and most are based in the Amazon river basin. George Lucas was so impressed by Frank Oz's performance as Yoda that he spent thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign to try and get him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Lucas's campaign ultimately failed because it was felt that a puppeteer wasn't an actor. Lucas felt this wasn't fair to Oz, who honestly didn't care.


Filming began in Norway, at the Hardangerjøkulen glacier near the town of Finse, on March 5th, 1979. Like the filming of Star Wars, where the production in Tunisia coincided with the area's first major rainstorm in fifty years, the weather was against the film crew. While filming in Norway, they encountered the worst winter storm in fifty years. Temperatures dropped to -20 °F (-29 °C), and 18 feet (5.5 m) of snow fell. On one occasion, the crew were unable to exit their hotel. They achieved a shot involving Luke's exit of the Wampa cave by opening the hotel's doors and filming Mark Hamill running out into the snow while the crew remained warm inside. Hamill's face had been scarred in a motor serious car crash that occurred between filming of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Despite reports to the contrary, the scene in which Luke gets knocked out by the Wampa was not added specifically to explain this change to Hamill's face. Lucas admitted that the scene "helped" the situation, though he felt that Luke's time fighting in the rebellion was sufficient explanation. In fact Hamill did not have any visible scars by the time Empire began filming over two years after the accident.

Luke Skywalker's confrontation with the Wampa results in cutting it's am off. Years later Mark Hamill confessed he was not pleased with the moment. Hamill said that he was under the impression during filming that the huge snow beast would be frightened off by his character's lightsaber and told his Twitter followers that the graphic arm removal was too much. He had gotten on the topic when a Twitter user shared a severed wampa arm cake for #NationalCakeDay.

"When filming scene I was assured my lightsaber swipe toward camera (creature not on set) would simply singe fur 2 scare him off-Horrified to later see amputation & unnecessary cruelty-Wampa was HUNGRY (not EVIL) - Luke would never do this! #StillAngry2017," Hamill tweeted.

And that is not even mentioning the special edition of Empire, which is far more graphic, showing the bloody wampa screaming in agony. It seems that Hamill - an outspoken animal lover - believed the scene would occur as it does in the novel, a note pointed out by a Twitter user responding to Hamill's post. "Heck, it was even in the book. Luke used the force to sense the Wampa's mind," the Twitter user said, to which Hamill replied, "My acting was much better in the book."

The production then moved to Elstree Studios in London on March 13th, where over 60 sets were built, more than double the number used in the previous film. A fire in January on Stage 3 (during filming of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining) forced the budget to be increased from $18.5 million to $22 million, and by July the budget increased $3 million more. Filming finished by mid-September.

During production, great secrecy surrounded the fact that Darth Vader was Luke's father. The film includes a brief image of Vader with his mask off, facing away from the camera. For the original viewers of the film, this scene made it clear that Vader is not a droid.

Like the rest of the crew, Prowse, who spoke all of Vader's lines during filming, was given a false page that contained dialogue with the revelatory line being "Obi-Wan killed your father." Hamill was informed just moments before cameras rolled on his close-up, and did not tell anyone, including his wife; Ford did not learn the truth until he watched the film. Prowse was also unaware until he saw the film and was quite upset with George Lucas afterwards, saying his physical acting would have been completely different if he'd known the real line. James Earl Jones himself believed that Darth Vader was lying about being Luke's father until he read the script for the next film. But why was it such a surprise? Darth Vader's name "Darth" is a variation of the word "Dark" and "Vader" is the Dutch word for "Father".

George Lucas was so determined that the ending be kept a secret that security surrounding this movie was very intense and Lucas had regular reports about "leaks" from actors. In the end, only five people eventually knew about the ending before the film's release: George Lucas (came up with the idea in his second draft, after the death of Leigh Brackett), director Irvin Kershner (informed of such during story conferences), writer Lawrence Kasdan (also informed during story and script conferences), Mark Hamill and James Earl Jones. The movie's novelization was published a month before the movie was released, and not even the first editions attempted to cover up the revelation of Vader's claim to be Luke's father.

The film's most famous line is often misquoted. While many believe that Darth Vader says, "Luke, I am your father." He actually says, "No, I am your father." Even James Earl Jones, who provided the voice for Darth Vader, misquoted the line when referring to it on the Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy (2004) documentary.

Having Han Solo frozen in carbonite was (at least in part) due to the fact that they were not sure that Harrison Ford would return for a third film. When the original Star Wars (1977) was made, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill were signed for a three picture deal, but Harrison Ford refused. Ford even requested George Lucas to kill off Solo. When Han Solo is about to be frozen, Princess Leia says, "I love you." In the original script, Han Solo was supposed to say, "Just remember that, Leia, because I'll be back," but at the time of filming, Ford wasn't entirely certain he would be. There is a recurring legend that his line, "I know", was ad-libbed; however Alan Arnold's book "Once Upon A Galaxy: A Journal of the Making of The Empire Strikes Back" includes a transcription of the discussion between Ford and Irvin Kershner in which Ford suggested the line. According to Carrie Fisher, the carbon freezing chamber set was extremely hot - consequently, Peter Mayhew's Chewbacca costume began to stink.

During principal photography it remained unclear if Sir Alec Guinness would return as Obi Wan Kenobi as he had just had an eye operation at the time. He finally did agree and worked just one day on the film (Wednesday, September 5th, 1979). He arrived at 8.30am and completed his scenes by 1pm, for which he was paid a quarter of a percentage point of the film's gross which was worth millions of dollars.

To preserve the dramatic opening sequences of his films, Lucas wanted the screen credits to come at the end of the films. While this practice has become more common over the years, this was a highly unusual choice at the time. The Writers and Directors Guilds of America had no problem allowing it on Star Wars, back in 1977, because the writer-director credit (George Lucas) matched the company name, but when Lucas did the same thing for the sequel it became an issue because Lucas had his last name on the start of the film (Lucasfilm), while the director and the writers had theirs on the end. They fined him over $250,000 and attempted to pull Empire out of theaters. The DGA also attacked Kershner; to protect his director, Lucas paid all the fines to the guilds. Due to the controversy, he left the Directors and Writers Guilds, and the Motion Picture Association.

The initial production budget of $18 million was 50 percent more than that of the original. After the various increases in budget, The Empire Strikes Back became one of the most expensive films of its day and after the bank threatened to pull his loan, Lucas was forced to approach 20th Century Fox. Lucas made a deal with the studio to secure the loan in exchange for paying the studio more money, but without the loss of his sequel and merchandising rights. After the film's box office success, unhappiness at the studio over the deal's generosity to Lucas caused studio president Alan Ladd, Jr. to quit. The departure of his longtime ally caused Lucas to take Raiders of the Lost Ark to Paramount Pictures.

The world premiere of The Empire Strikes Back was held on May 17th, 1980, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (as a special Children's World Premiere event). The film had a Royal Charity Premiere in London at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square on May 20th. The special event was dubbed "Empire Day", a playful take the British Commonwealth Day holiday (known as Empire Day prior to 1958), where legions of stormtroopers were unleashed across the city. A series of other charity benefit premieres were held before the film went on to official general release in North America and the U.K. on May 21st, 1980. The first wave of release included 126 70 mm prints, before a wider release in June 1980 (which were mostly 35 mm prints). During the initial theatrical run in Europe and Australia, the short film Black Angel by Star Wars art director Roger Christian was shown before the feature.

Though the film was simply titled The Empire Strikes Back in its original promotional materials, the film still started with the title Star Wars on-screen which was followed by the opening crawl that gave the film's subtitle as Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, causing some surprise among cinema goers at the time as the original Star Wars film had not been given an episode number or subtitle for its first release in 1977. However, Episode IV: A New Hope was added to its opening crawl from its 1981 re-release onwards. Like A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back was rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America, and certificate U in the United Kingdom. This original version was released on VHS and Laserdisc several times during the 1980s and 1990s.

As part of Star Wars's 20th anniversary celebration in 1997, The Empire Strikes Back was digitally remastered and re-released along with A New Hope and Return of the Jedi under the title Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. Lucas took this opportunity to make several minor changes to the film. These included explicitly showing the Wampa creature on Hoth in full form, creating a more complex flight path for the Falcon as it approaches Cloud City, digitally replacing some of the interior walls of Cloud City with vistas of Bespin, and replacing certain lines of dialogue. A short sequence was also added depicting Vader's return to his Super Star Destroyer after dueling with Luke, created from alternate angles of a scene from Return of the Jedi. Most of the changes were small and aesthetic; however, some fans believe that they detract from the film.

The film was also resubmitted to the MPAA for rating; it was again rated PG, but under the Association's new description nomenclature, the reason given was for "sci-fi action/violence". This version of the film runs 127 minutes.

In the DVD commentary, Carrie Fisher relates that during some of the London filming, she stayed a house rented from Eric Idle. Idle and the Pythons were filming Life of Brian (1979) at the time. One evening, Idle had a small party, including Harrison Ford and The Rolling Stones, and served a potent liquor (which the Pythons had been distributing to extras on their film, to help boost morale) that he referred to as "Tunisian Table Cleaner". They stayed up most of the night drinking and having fun. The first scenes shot the next day were the arrival at Cloud City, which she says helps explain why she and Ford were so happy in those scenes. Idle is said to be pleased that he had a small hand in how the finished film turned out.

The Empire Strikes Back was released on DVD in September 2004, bundled in a box set with A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, and a bonus disc of extra features. The films were digitally restored and remastered, with additional changes made by George Lucas. The bonus features include a commentary by George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher, as well as an extensive documentary called Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy. Also included are featurettes, teasers, trailers, TV spots, still galleries, video game demos, and a preview of Revenge of the Sith.

For the DVD release, Lucas and his team made changes that were mostly implemented to ensure continuity between The Empire Strikes Back and the recently released prequel trilogy films. The most noticeable of these changes was replacing the stand-in used in the holographic image of the Emperor (with Clive Revill providing the voice) with actor Ian McDiarmid providing some slightly altered dialogue. With this release, Lucas also supervised the creation of a high-definition digital print of The Empire Strikes Back and the original trilogy's other films. It was reissued in December 2005 as part of a three-disc "limited edition" boxed set that did not feature the bonus disc.

The film was reissued again on a separate two-disc Limited Edition DVD for a brief time from September 12th, 2006, to December 31st, 2006, this time with the film's original, unaltered version as bonus material. It was also re-released in a trilogy box set on November 4th, 2008. There was controversy surrounding the initial release, because the DVDs featured non-anamorphic versions of the original films based on LaserDisc releases from 1993 (as opposed to newly remastered, film-based high definition transfers). Since non-anamorphic transfers fail to make full use of the resolution available on widescreen televisions, many fans were disappointed with this choice.

On August 14th, 2010, George Lucas announced that all six Star Wars films in their Special Edition form would be released on Blu-ray Disc in Fall 2011. On January 6th, 2011, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment announced the Blu-ray release for September 2011 in three different editions.

On April 7th, 2015, Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm jointly announced the digital releases of the six released Star Wars films. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released The Empire Strikes Back through the iTunes Store, Amazon Video, Vudu, Google Play, and Disney Movies Anywhere on April 10th, 2015.

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Within three months of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas had recovered his $33 million investment and distributed $5 million in bonuses to employees. The film grossed $10,840,307 on its opening weekend in limited release. It earned $209,398,025 during its first 1980 run in the United States and about 450 million worldwide. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold more than 70 million tickets in the US in its initial theatrical run. When The Empire Strikes Back returned to cinemas in 1997, it grossed $21,975,993 on its first weekend of re-release. As of 2007, the film has grossed $290,475,750 domestically and $538,375,067 worldwide. 35 years after the film's initial release, it re-entered the UK box office at number 9 grossing $470,000 from June 4–7, 2015.

The Empire Strikes Back received mixed reviews from critics upon its initial release. For example, Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote a largely negative review. David Denby of New York magazine called the film "a Wagnerian pop movie, grandiose, thrilling, imperiously generous in scale, and also a bit ponderous". Judith Martin of The Washington Post criticized the film's "middle-of-the-story" plot, which she claimed had no particular beginning or end. However, this was a concept that Lucas had intended.

On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, The Empire Strikes Back holds a 94% approval rating, with an average rating of 8.9/10. Rotten Tomatoes summarizes: "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." Bob Stephens of The San Francisco Examiner described The Empire Strikes Back as "the greatest episode of the Star Wars Trilogy" in 1997. Roger Ebert described the film as the strongest and "most thought-provoking" film of the original trilogy.

Chuck Klosterman suggested that while "movies like Easy Rider and Saturday Night Fever painted living portraits for generations they represented in the present tense, The Empire Strikes Back might be the only example of a movie that set the social aesthetic for a generation coming in the future."

At the Academy Awards in 1981, The Empire Strikes Back won the Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing, which was awarded to Bill Varney, Steve Maslow, Greg Landaker, and Peter Sutton. In addition, this film received the Special Achievement Academy Award for Best Visual Effects that was awarded to Brian Johnson, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, and Bruce Nicholson. Composer John Williams was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score, and Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley, Harry Lange, Alan Tomkins, and Michael Ford were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Production Design.

The Empire Strikes Back received four Saturn Awards, for Mark Hamill as Best Actor, Irvin Kershner for Best Director, Brian Johnson and Richard Edlund for Best Special Effects, and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film.

The Empire Strikes Back won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and won the Golden Screen Award in Germany.

In addition, John Williams was awarded the British Academy Film Award for his compositions: the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music. The Empire Strikes Back also received British Academy Film Award nominations for Best Sound and Best Production Design.

Williams was also nominated for a Grammy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his musical score of the film.

The musical score of The Empire Strikes Back was composed and conducted by John Williams, and it was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra at a cost of about $250,000. In 1980, the company RSO Records published this film's original musical score as both a double LP album and as an 8-track cartridge in the United States. Its front cover artwork features the mask of Darth Vader against a backdrop of outer space, as seen on the advance theatrical poster for the film.

In 1985, the first Compact disc (CD) issue of the film score was made by the company Polydor Records, which had absorbed both RSO Records and its music catalog. Polydor Records used a shorter, one compact-disc edition of the music as their master. In 1993, 20th Century Fox Film Scores released a special boxed set of four compact discs: the Star Wars Trilogy: The Original Soundtrack Anthology. This anthology included the film scores of all three members of the original Star Wars Trilogy in separate CDs, even though there was significant overlap between the three (such as the Star Wars theme music).

In 1997, the record company RCA Victor released a definitive two-CD set to accompany the publications of all three of the Special Editions of the films of the Star Wars Trilogy. This original limited-edition set of CDs featured a 32-page black booklet that was enclosed within a protective outer slip-case. The covers of the booklet and of the slip-case have selections from the poster art of the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. All of the tracks have been digitally re-mastered supposedly for superior clarity of sound.

RCA Victor next re-packaged the Special Edition set later on in 1997, offering it in slim-line jewel case packaging as an unlimited edition, but without the packaging that the original "black booklet" version offered.

In 2004, the Sony Classical Records company purchased the sales rights of the original trilogy's musical scores, primarily because it already had the sales rights of the music from the trilogy of prequels: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Hence in 2004, the Sony Classical company began manufacturing copies of the film-score CDs that RCA Victor had been making since 1997, including the one for The Empire Strikes Back. This set was made with new cover artwork similar to that of the film's first publication on DVD. Despite the digital re-mastering by Sony Classical, their CD version made and sold since 2004 is essentially the same as the version by RCA Victor.

A novelization of the film was released on April 12th, 1980, and published by the company Del Rey Books. The novelization was written by Donald F. Glut, and it was based on the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, Leigh Brackett, and George Lucas.

This novelization was originally published as Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. However, the later editions have been renamed Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back to conform with the change in the titles of the Star Wars saga. Like the other novelizations of the Star Wars Trilogy, background information is added to explain the happenings of the story beyond that which is depicted on-screen.

Marvel Comics published a comic book adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back which was written by Archie Goodwin and illustrated by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon. It was published simultaneously in four formats: as a magazine (Marvel Super Special #16), an oversized tabloid edition (Marvel Special Edition Featuring Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back), as part of a serialized comic book series, and as a paperback pocket book. In the paperback and tabloid versions, which were published first and for which early concept designs were the only available art reference, Yoda was given a quite different appearance than in the films: Yoda is thinner, he has long white hair, and he has purple skin, rather than green skin. For the magazine and serialized comic book editions, there was enough time for the artwork featuring Yoda to be revised extensively, and his appearance was changed to match that in the film.

Comic book historians and industry professionals have remarked that Marvel's Star Wars comics published in the years before The Empire Strikes Back include plot points similar to those later used in the film. However, the film's makers have not acknowledged receiving any inspiration from the comic books.

Lucasfilm adapted the story for a children's book-and-record set. Released in 1980, the 24-page Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back read-along book was accompanied by a record. Each page of the book contained a cropped frame from the film with an abridged and condensed version of the story. The record was produced by Buena Vista Records.

Video games based on the film have been released on several consoles. Additionally, several Star Wars video games feature or mention key events seen in the film, but are not entirely based upon the film. In 1982 Parker Brothers released Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for the Atari 2600 games console, which featured the speeder attack on the AT-ATs on Hoth. The arcade game Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back followed in 1985. The game features familiar battle sequences and characters played from a first-person perspective. Specific battles include the Battle of Hoth and the subsequent escape of the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field. A conversion was released in 1988 for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga.

In 1992, JVC released the LucasArts-developed video game also titled Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console. The player assumes the role of Luke Skywalker and maneuvers through Skywalker's story as seen in the film. In 1992, Ubisoft released a version for the Game Boy. Like its previous incarnation, it follows the story of Luke Skywalker. Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was developed for the console Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) by LucasArts and was released by JVC in 1993. The SNES game is similar in spots to the 1991 NES release, and is on a 12-megabit cartridge.

A radio play adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back was written by Brian Daley, and was produced for and broadcast on the National Public Radio network in the U.S. during 1983. It was based on characters and situations created by George Lucas, and on the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. Its director was John Madden, with sound mixing and post-production work done by Tom Voegeli.

Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and Anthony Daniels reprised their roles as Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, and C-3PO respectively, with John Lithgow voicing Yoda. This radio play was designed to last for five hours of radio time, usually presented in more than one part. Radio agencies estimate that about 750,000 people tuned in to listen to this radio play series beginning on February 14th, 1983. In terms of the canonical Star Wars story, this radio drama has been given the highest designation, G-canon.

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon? It would seem the TV classic Cheers has connections to two of our major sci-fi pop culture franchises. Cheer's know-it-all postman, John Ratzenberger played Major Bren Derlin in The Empire Strikes Back. Kelsey Grammer appeared in the role of Captain Morgan Bateson in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Cause and Effect". Kirstie Alley appeared in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, playing Vulcan officer Lieutenant Saavik. The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine character of Morn was inspired by and anagrammatically named after the Norm Peterson character portrayed by George Wendt. Kate Mulgrew (Voyager's Captian Janeway) guest starred on Cheers as Sam Malone's temporary romantic interest Councillor Janet Eldridge. Ratzenberger also did voice work on the animated Toy Story films which starred Tom Hanks who appeared in Apollo 13 with Kevin Bacon. Ah, the circle of life. I only mention this to have an excuse to show the photo of Ratzenberger from The Empire Strikes Back (above).

What actor pulled out of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith when he discovered that non-union actors were being used in the film?

Toby Jones
Ian McKellen
Gary Oldman
John Cleese

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