May 21st, 2010 – Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of epic Star Wars sequel “The Empire Strikes Back.” Quite possibly the greatest movie sequel ever made, “Empire” ushered fans back into the Sci-Fi world created by George Lucas which they first experienced with the ground-breaking “A New Hope.”
According to MTV’s Adam Rosenberg, the “Empire” 30th anniversary screening was “star-studded” with celebrity fans and former stars of the series. Harrison Ford, who portrayed the roguish Han Solo in the original trilogy, and Ewan McGregor, who was cast as young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy, were just two of the stars who commented on that makes “Empire” such an enduring fan favorite.
“(George Lucas) introduced us to that world with the first movie,” McGregor told MTV, “when it came time for us to see ‘Empire’ we were so familiar, we were so invested in that world that it worked.” Many fans believe that the prequel trilogy belonged to the character Obi-Wan, with the history involving Darth Vadar and the Jedi playing second-fiddle to the amazing performance of McGregor as the beloved, sage Obi-Wan Kenobi. McGregor continued to say: “(“Empire”) starts in the snow-starts in an environment we can relate to, but yet then it takes us into space. It’s clever.”
Harrison Ford, whose character Han Solo remains one of the most popular of the Star Wars cast, gave his take on the longevity of “Empire” to MTV’s Todd Gilchrist: “Because we were able to take advantage of the audience’s familiarity with the genre, with the characters, and deepen the relationships between the characters, and make a film that was probably more emotional.”
According to Andy Olin’s article at Chron Entertainment, “Happy 30th, Empire Strikes Back,” the epic sequel has an abundance of obscure tidbits and factoids unknown to many Star Wars fans. For example, Olin reports that producer Gary Kurtz came up with the title, not George Lucas, and supposedly “Han Solo was frozen in carbonite partly because it was uncertain whether Harrison Ford would be back for a third film. Unlike Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Ford refused to be signed for a three-picture deal. He even asked Lucas to kill off Han.”
Additionally, Olin explains, the most famous line in “Empire”-and possibly in the entire Star Wars collection of movies-is often misquoted. “Darth Vader did not say, ‘Luke, I am your father.’ Instead he said, “No, I am your father.'”
Olin also reports that George Lucas was so intent on keeping the ending of “Empire” a secret, that only six people knew about the true ending: Lucas himself, Kershner, writers Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), and James Earl Jones (who voiced Darth Vadar). In order to keep the shocking secret of Luke’s father a secret, Lucas instructed David Prowse (who portrayed Vadar) to say “Obi-Wan killed your father.” The crew later dubbed-in the shocking, final line.
With such dedication to the movie, it’s no wonder that Star Wars and “The Empire Strikes Back” have received such unquestionable devotion from fans, even though who considered “Empire” to be too dark and unresolved for their tastes. But with the growing chemistry between Han and Leia, the unprecedented secret of Luke’s father, the introduction of Yoda and the world-famous “No, I am your father” line, I will continue to consider “The Empire Strikes Back” my personal favorite of all the Star Wars films.
“Empire” is now titled “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.”
MTV, “The Empire Strikes Back’ Gets Star-Studded 30th Birthday Party”
Andy Olin, “Happy 30th, Empire Strikes Back,” Chron Entertainment Blog