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The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

by on 2010/11/30

“I’m sure he’ll be all right.  He’s quite clever, you know, for a human being.”

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The Empire Strikes Back is the widely lauded follow-up to George Lucas’ Star Wars (sometimes retconned A New Hope).  A gathering of memorable moments — the debut of “The Imperial March”; Luke and Leia’s controversial kiss; the (official) introductions of Boba Fett, Lando, and Yoda; Han Solo’s pitch-perfect farewell; and a watershed twist in the end — it moves with impressive fluidity, belying both the running time and any evidence of a sophomore slump.

My recounting plot details seems virtually irrelevant in a work that has achieved this level of commercial and critical acclaim.  Empire is one of those rare examples which elevates pop culture to the level of art.  It shares a synchronicity of myth and detail, cast and crew, dream and execution, with the other Star Wars films.  What then makes it so unique?

Many speculate the greatest distinction resides in its skillful direction.  Irvin Kershner, who died mere days ago, was also responsible for overseeing the return of the Prodigal Bond, Sean Connery, in Never Say Never Again.

His interpretation of Empire’s story and script was a landmark in 1980, and remains so thirty years on, even without adjusting expectations.  The scene blocking, unscripted performances, and pacing all combine to miraculous effect.  That so many fans have clamoured for the release of the unmodified original cut speaks volumes about its quality, appeal, and timelessness.

Great job, Kersh.  That was one in a million.

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Please note:  This review is a placeholder “stub” intended for future revision.

Rated PG for disturbing scenes and violence

124 minutes

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  1. Never Say Never Again (1983) « Geek vs Goth

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