*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.