There’s been a debate over which is the best Star Wars film since the final of the original trilogy was released in 1983. If you look at IMDB though, the fans have spoken and mark Star Wars : The Empire Strikes Back as their favorite of the six, placing it at number ten on their list of the top films.
The Empire Strikes Back was just that, the Empire striking back, and hard. Everything about this film was epic in scope – from the monumental revelation by Vader to Luke of his heritage, to the secretive dark training on Dagobah with the quirky little Jedi. Luke’s development truly takes off in this film, and we begin to see Luke the Jedi Knight instead of Luke the whiny farmhand. Han and Leia’s relationship takes on a new level as well, as the two become closer than they expected and the whole thing ends with Han in carbonite, Luke’s hand missing, and the rebellion in disarray. Leading into the concluding film, this one did everything right. The real reason for the dilemma among fans is the depressing nature of the film. It’s hard to consider a film your favorite when it’s such a down note, and the next film is such an up note.
Released in 1980, the second film in Lucas’s original trilogy was actually written and directed by a whole different troupe of writers and directors. From Lucas’ original ideas the script was penned by Lawrence Kasden and Leigh Brakket, and directed Irvin Kirschner, a professor from Lucas’s time at USC film school. The film was released to mixed reviews at the time, but as its aged so has it increased in the eyes of the masses. Now considered to be one of the best, if not the best Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back is a tale of deception, defeat, and overcoming ones shortcomings.
After delegating most of the responsibilities of the film, Lucas was able to take on more pressing duties in production and with his special effects company. He financed the film himself from the profits of the first film and some loans and LucasFilms was more or less born. The work of ILM, his special effects company grew to an even more impressive level than with the massive array of effects presented in the sequel, from the snow battles on Hoth to the Cloud City of Bespin.
The film itself went considerably over budget, forcing Lucas to approach 20th Century Fox to secure his loans and cover the difference. He retained the sequel and merchandising rights, but we now see the 20th Century Fox logo at the beginning of the film. Another interesting back story to the film is that Lucas demanded there be no credits until after the film, for which the Directors Guild fined him.
The film picked up substantially at the box office and though it saw mixed reviews at first is now considered one of the finest Star Wars films made.