30 Years of “Empire”

Thirty years ago today, one of the greatest films ever made graced the silver screen for the first time and moviegoers everywhere got to catch up on the latest adventures of our band of heroes in that “galaxy far far away.” This film of course was “The Empire Strikes Back,” the second film in the Star Wars series (or fifth depending on how you look at it).

In honor of this anniversary, I thought I would share a few thoughts about the film. I’ll start by saying that I sort of got to see it when it first came out. I was in the womb when my Mom went to see it, so technically I was there. Being exposed to Star Wars before I was even born may explain why I’m still obsessed with it thirty years later. 🙂

And it just so happens that, when I was about six years old, Empire was the first Star Wars movie I actually sat down and watched. I was bored that day, and only decided to watch it with my Dad because I had nothing better to do. From then on I was totally hooked.

What I love about Empire is that it’s the most character driven of all of the Star Wars films. There’s no overall mission like rescue the princess, or destroy the Death Star. Instead, the film focuses more on the characters’ relationships with each other and what they discover about themselves (namely Luke’s discovery about his heritage). This film also introduces one of the greatest movie characters of all time (in my opinion), the wise Master Yoda. This little green troll like creature seems rather silly at first. But as the film progresses, you find that the his fortune cookie type quotes are kind of little life lessons such as believing in yourself and focusing on the present instead of “craving adventure and excitement.”

The film also has some amazing visuals, such as the huge snow walkers lumbering across the frozen plains of Hoth, and the Millenuim Falcon just barely escaping from the giant slug creature our heroes mistook for a cave. The freezing chamber at Cloud City, where Han is frozen and Luke fights Vader, has got to be one of the coolest movie sets ever. During these scenes everything is basked in an eerie red glow, a really cool effect. There’s even a really cool shot of Vader’s mask appearing through a column of steam. Great stuff! And it goes to show that you doesn’t always need lasers and big explosions to create a great visual.

I also really like the darker tone of this film. From Luke’s unfortunate encounter with a wampa ice creature, to Han’s torture at the hands of Darth Vader just before being frozen in a block of carbonite, then throw in C-3PO getting blasted to pieces and Luke losing his hand, our heroes get a really big dose of reality and discover that their galaxy is not a very friendly place. And we, the audience, discover that the good guys don’t always win.

So there’s my little synopsis of the film in honor of the 30th anniversary. I may have to throw the DVD in sometime this weekend as well. 🙂

Here are some things going on to mark the anniversary:

The offical Star Wars website has redesigned their homepage with an all Empire Strikes Back theme, complete with some really good video clips:

You can upload some pictures of yourself, and some friends, and star in your own version of Empire, courtesy of JibJab.com:
Put Yourself in The Empire Strikes Back

Boba Fett, a very popular character introduced in Empire is making a bit of a come back on the Clone Wars TV show:
The Clone Wars: Death Trap

There’s a new set of “Vintage” action figures coming out this summer. The first wave are all characters from Empire:
What’s Coming For The Vintage Collection?

Speaking of action figures, check out this Empire Strikes Back poster, made using action figures:
Action Figure Anniversary Wishes

The Star Wars podcast “The ForceCast” has released a special commentary track to go with the movie. I haven’t listened to it yet. But they always do a great job.
ForceCast Special: The Empire Strikes Back Commentary

This week in LA, there was a star studded charity screening of the Empire Strikes Back, followed by a Q&A with Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. All the proceeds are to be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Harrison Ford Empire Screening Coverage

And the biggest celebration of all is of course the “Star Wars Celebration V” coming to Orlando Florida this August. Man I’d love to go to that!
Star Wars Celebration V

Some other ideas on how you can celebrate: Watch the movie, play your favorite video game and reenact that Battle of Hoth (I’m a huge fan of Battlefront 2), watch the hilarious Family Guy parody Something Something Something Darkside (definitely not for the kids), or go order your tickets to see Star Wars In Concert. It’s coming back this way!

In closing, there are two other anniversaries I would like to mention. Today also happens to be the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man. In celebration,  Google.com replaced its logo with a playable Pac-Man game:
Google Turns Homepage Logo into a Playable Game of Pacman

And, I’d like to wish my very good friends, Aaron and Melissa, a very Happy 5th Wedding Anniversary!!


I’m a husband, web programmer, and big time Star Wars fan. I’m addicted to social media and I enjoy reading sci-fi, watching action movies, listening to country music, and playing the occasional video game.

Posted in Star Wars
One comment on “30 Years of “Empire”
  1. John says:

    Nice review! I have so many great memories surrounding the whole original trilogy. They pretty much make up the bulk of my childhood recollections actually. But Empire was always the one that stuck out for me when I was growing up. Every snow fort I made after than became Echo Base, and I even rigged up an x-wing training device using jump ropes and a big wheel… good times. 🙂

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