Tag Archives: Darth Vader

Thoughts On the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back

*A New Hope will be referred to as ANH and Empire Strikes Back will be referred to as ESB.

Logically speaking, we know that a film (unless it is a documentary) is a work of fiction. It is the cumulative work of many who come together to create a final product that seems real. But a good film has a way of touching the audience in a way that lasts well beyond the final credits.

Thursday was the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. The second of three films in the first Star Wars trilogy, it is widely ranked as one of the best films in the overall series. While it’s predecessor, A New Hope, is the simple story of how a farm boy, a princess and a pirate destroy an evil empire, ESB takes that basic concept and expands it tenfold.

From a writing perspective, ESB is everything one would want in a sequel. The characters have grown and are facing new challenges. The world that the story takes place in is wider. The stakes are higher as the Empire has rebounded and is eager to take back the ground that they lost in ANH.

From a fan perspective, there are two major narratives that will forever hold a place in my heart. I love the will they or won’t they between Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (the late Carrie Fisher). The tension between them is absolutely perfect. I think that it goes without saying that the exchange between Han and Leia just before he is frozen in Carbonite is simple, sexy and utterly romantic.

And then, there is the most jaw dropping revelation in film history. To this day, new fans watch this scene and their minds are still blown that Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) father is no other than Darth Vader.

Here is to the 40th anniversary of the Empire Strikes Back. May this film live on for another 40 years and beyond.

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Bloodline Book Review

When it comes to Star Wars, it’s easy to get sucked into the world. Especially the narratives and characters that are not covered in the films.

In 2016, Claudia Gray published Bloodline, filling in the timeline in between The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens.

It’s been decades since the old Empire was defeated. The dream of a true intergalactic democracy has dissolved into partisan infighting among the leaders of The New Republic. With decades of political experience under her belt, Leia Ogana has become a respected senator.

Leia hopes that peace and co-existence will return to the galaxy, but hope turns to dread, especially when forces within and without are threatening to destroy The New Republic. Will Leia’s hopes turn into reality or will her instincts and her family history return the galaxy into the war zone that it once was?

I really liked this book. I enjoyed it not only because it is well written, but it fits into the previously established timeline between the original trilogy and the newer movies. It’s nice to read a fanfiction that feels unique to the writer while not disregarding the original characters and narratives that the fans are loyal to.

I recommend it.

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Happy Father’s Day-Star Wars Rap Battle Edition

Happy Fathers Day to all of the amazing fathers out there, especially my own.

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Happy Birthday Star Wars

40 years ago today, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, hit theaters.

It was more than the average movie. It is more than just a science fiction movie set in outer space. Star Wars is revolutionary because it changed the way movies are made. Star Wars is part fairy tale, part social commentary and all around awesome. Before May 25th, 1977, no one knew who Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader were. 40 years later these characters, the world they inhabited and the actors behind the characters have become iconic in their own right.

I could go on forever on why I love Star Wars, but I think the trailer of A New Hope says it all.

Thank you, George Lucas for creating this world and introducing us to these characters. You have made multiple generations of fans happy and I hope you will continue to do so for many years.

Happy Birthday Star Wars, here is to another 40 years.

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Star Wars Character Review: Darth Vader

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the original Stars Wars trilogy. Read at your own risk if you are just now discovering the original trilogy. For this post, I will also be briefly delving into some of the narratives in the prequels.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from the original Star Wars trilogy to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In previous posts, I have examined Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan (the late Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (the late Alec Guinness).In this post, I will be writing about the series’s most iconic character, Darth Vader.

Every hero needs a villain. In whatever world that hero inhabits, the villain is the one who keeps the hero on their toes and challenges them as they go on their journey.   There is no more iconic film villain than Darth Vader. Physically acted by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones, Vader is the ultimate villain. Physically imposing and a master of the dark side of the force, he is the overlord of the empire.

Darth Vader started his life as Anakin Skywalker, a young man who was blessed with force sensitivity and discovered by Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson). He would grow up and marry Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) and father Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. An enthusiastic, slightly hotheaded young man with an eye for adventure in his early years (much like his son a generation later), Anakin turns to the dark side, looses his humanity and becomes Darth Vader.

For most of Episode 4 (A New Hope) and part of Episode 5 (The Empire Strikes Back), Vader is the standard villain. Then something begins to change. He begins to sense that Luke is also force sensitive and pursues him with the end goal of turning him to the dark side.  The infamous “Luke, I am your father” scene is one of the greatest plot twists in all filmdom, in my opinion.

In episode 6 (Return of the Jedi), Vader finally redeems himself and turns back into Anakin after killing the Emperor while saving his son. Revealing another one of filmdom’s great plot twists that Luke and Leia are twins (and turning their kiss in the Empire Strikes Back into a moment of incest), Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader dies and is finally at peace.

A villain should more than Snidely Whiplash. A more interesting and well-rounded the villain creates a greater threat to the hero, compelling them to act to defeat the villain. A mustache twirling villain who uses the hero’s loved ones/love interest to draw them out into a fight is boring and predictable. A villain that is complicated, that is motivated by more than the standard villain motives, now that is going to grab an audience and keep them wanting more.

To sum it up: A good story deserves a good villain. But if the villain is 2D, predictable and boring, then there is no point to the story or the journey that the hero will go on to defeat the villain. In creating the iconic Darth Vader, George Lucas challenged future writers, regardless of genre to create villains that excite the audience and encourage them to cheer on the hero as they defeat the villain.

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Star Wars Character Review: Princess Leia

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the original Stars Wars trilogy. Read at your own risk if you are just now discovering the original trilogy.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from the original Star Wars trilogy to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Last week, I examined the character of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). This post will about his twin sister, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan (the late Carrie Fisher).

It’s no secret that the science fiction genre is a boys club. Female characters are usually relegated to the background or to the predictable role of the love interest and/or the damsel in distress. When the audience is introduced to Princess Leia in Episode 4 , she appears to be the standard female character that often appears within the genre. She is young, wearing white and is the prisoner of the evil Empire and it’s overlord, Darth Vader.

With just the initial introduction, it looks like Leia’s role within the narrative is predictable from the word go.

Then she grabs the blaster from Luke, shoots down a few storm troopers and aids her own rescuers by shooting a hole that will lead down to the garbage pit. From that moment on, not only did the world change, but women’s roles in the science fiction genre changed.

Leia is feisty, intelligent and takes no prisoners. She is the natural daughter of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Padme Amidala, Luke’s twin (and a Jedi in her own right) and the adopted daughter of Senator Bail Organa and Queen Breha Organa of Alderaan. While she may have some of the narratives and characteristics of predecessors, Leia is a game changer character.

In A New Hope, Leia does not flinch when her home planet is destroyed and resists the torture heaped upon her by Vader. In The Empire Strikes Back, while she does fall in love with Han Solo (Harrison Ford), she is still his equal. In Return Of The Jedi, not only does Leia rescue Han from the carbonite, but she kills Jabba by strangulation. I don’t know about anyone else, but the speeder bike chase is still one of the coolest movie sequences I’ve ever seen.

 

Leia could have easily been the standard damsel in distress/love interest. George Lucas could have taken the easy way out when writing the character. While she has her standard character trope moments (i.e. the gold bikini in Return Of The Jedi), she is so much more than the standard character trope. For many women, young and old, Leia is a role model. While she is in the company of men, she is not the quiet, subservient woman, sitting in the background. She is equal, she is powerful, she is intelligent and she is in charge.

To sum it up: Women need other women to look up to. We need strong, capable intelligent women who can take charge. Leia was one of those women. In creating the character of Princess Leia, George Lucas not only brought a new audience to the genre, but showed that women are as capable as men. Sometimes, as writers, its easy to get lost in tropes and standard characters. By creating a character who goes against type, the writer is not only inviting the audience to look at the character with new eyes, but the world that the character inhabits with new eyes.

RIP Carrie. It’s only a month since you left this world, but it feels like an eternity.

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