Directed by Irvin Kershner
Writing credits George Lucas (story) and Leigh Brackett
Mark Hamill .... Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford .... Han Solo
Carrie Fisher .... Princess Leia Organa
Billy Dee Williams .... Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels .... C-3PO
David Prowse .... Darth Vader
Peter Mayhew .... Chewbacca
Kenny Baker .... R2-D2
Frank Oz .... Yoda
Alec Guinness .... Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi
Jeremy Bulloch .... Boba Fett/Lieutenant Sheckil
John Hollis .... Lobot
Jack Purvis .... Ugloste
Des Webb .... Wampa Snow Creature
Jim Bloom (associate), Gary Kurtz, George Lucas (executive), Rick McCallum (special edition), Robert Watts (associate)
Original music by John Williams
Cinematography by Peter Suschitzky
Film Editing by T.M. Christopher (special edition), Paul Hirsch and Marcia Lucas (uncredited)
MPAA: Rated PG for sci-fi action violence.
For rating reasons, go to FILMRATINGS.COM, and MPAA.ORG.
Parents, please refer to PARENTALGUIDE.ORG
The Empire Strikes Back:
The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Slimline Package)
London Symphony Orchestra,
By the end of the 1970s, John Williams was already a legend among filmmakers and film-scoring buffs. But the success of Star Wars elevated him to something he probably could have scarcely imagined--bona fide pop-culture icon. Williams's masterful score to the first Star Wars sequel (and the chapter many sci-fi fans cite as the series' most dark, emotionally complex, and satisfying) fleshes out his original character themes with some new ones while painting compelling musical portraits of alien worlds as disparate as the ice planet Hoth and the swampy Dagobah. Notable are the menacing, Prokofiev-inspired "Imperial Theme (Darth Vader's March)"; the noble "Yoda and the Force"; and Hoth's "Battle" cues, which are some of the most dramatic action cues ever. This expanded edition also fleshes out the already familiar themes with new tracks that restore the score to its status as a grand galactic symphony. A richly illustrated booklet is included as well, helping listeners place each piece of music in its proper cinematic context. Of his four attempts at coloring George Lucas's rich stellar saga, this remains Williams's most consistent and compelling. --Jerry McCulley
1. 20th Century Fox Fanfare
2. Main Title/The Ice Planet Hoth
3. The Wampa's Lair/Vision Of Obi-Wan/Snowspeeders Take Flight
4. The Imperial Probe/Aboard The Executor
5. The Battle Of Hoth (Ion Cannon/Imperial Walkers/Beneah The At-At/Escape In The Millennium Falcon)
6. The Asteroid Field
1. The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)
2. Yoda's Theme
3. Attacking A Star Destroyer
4. Yoda And The Force
5. Imperial Starfleet Deployed/City In The Clouds
6. Lando's Palace
7. Betrayal At Bespin
8. Deal With The Dark Lord
9. Carbon Freeze/Darth Vader's Trap/Departure Of Boba Fett
10. The Clash Of Lightsabers
11. Rescue From Cloud City/Hyperspace
12. The Rebel Fleet/End Title
The Empire Strikes Back
The battle was won but the war still rages. Though the heroic Rebel Alliance crippled the evil empire at the climax of the original Star Wars movie, the Imperial forces are back seeking revenge and the total destruction of the rebels.
In the second installment of the now legendary Star Wars trilogy we are carried even deeper into the world that George Lucas first introduced us to in the original movie Star Wars: Episode Four, A New Hope.
In Episode Five, The Empire Strikes Back we gain greater insight into the heroes, villains, and spiritual makeup of this incredible make believe world.
While the first movie introduced us to the major players and forces at work, The Empire Strikes Back showed us more depth to the characters and more importantly more depth to the Force, the spiritual fabric of their world.
In my review of Episode Four I made it clear that the use of the Force and spiritual symbolism by the filmmaker was not supportive of one particular religion or belief system, but rather a tool to incite the viewers to consider the impact that spirituality has on their own existence. And while the spiritual nature of the Star Wars universe was not to be construed for Christian allegory, I examined how the spiritual symbolism contained in the movie could be applied to the Christian experience. Of the movies of the original trilogy none contain more spiritual allusion than The Empire Strikes Back.
At the movie’s beginning we get a glimpse of how the characters have changed since the close of the last story. A true friendship has developed between Luke and Han Solo, to the point that Han is willing to risk his life to save Luke. Moreover, we see how Luke has gained a greater understanding of the force when he musters its power to retrieve his light saber in a life and death escape from a snow beast. Soon after his escape we see a greater depth to the force when Obi-Wan Kenobi appears to Luke encouraging him to study with a great Jedi teacher on a distant planet. The apparition that appears to Luke is not merely a vision parroting a religious message, but rather responds directly to him.
Although in the original movie Obi-Wan was struck down during a climactic confrontation with Darth Vader, he now appears to Luke as a lucid being surrounded by an aura of energy though still disembodied. This transfigured apparition gives us our first insight into the eternal nature of the force.
After helping the rebels battle and narrowly escape from the Imperial troops, Luke leaves his friends and heads for the planet that Obi-Wan told him about in the vision. Upon arriving there, Luke and the audience are thrust headlong into the realm of The Force. The planet is a thick, overgrown swamp teeming with every form of life imaginable and unimaginable. It is here that Luke begins his true study of the Force and what it means to be a Jedi. Like Adam awakening in the Garden of Eden, Luke begins his new life.
He quickly meets a native of the area, a small wizened creature whose wisdom seems to be lost on the impatient acolyte. Soon it is revealed that this small and curious resident of the swamp that Luke has all but dismissed is the one-and-the-same Yoda, the Jedi master that Obi-Wan told him about. Luke's amazement at this discovery proves that he was expecting someone much different. The Bible warns about judging by only what we see and how God measures the heart of man while man measures the appearance. 1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
While Luke's training begins on the remote planet of Degobah, darker events are unfolding in another corner of the galaxy. The Emperor himself appears to his chief minion, Darth Vader, and convinces him that due to the strength of the force in Luke that the young Jedi must either be killed or turned to serve the Dark Side of the force. Although the force is the universal energy that binds all living things, the Dark side is its evil counterpart, providing a fast track to power but extracting the ultimate price of consuming the soul of its practitioner. Whereas a quick comparison may be made between the two sides of the Force and with God and the devil of the Bible, it's important to note that the Bible makes it clear that it is God who is all powerful and the devil was a created angel who rebelled against the love of God. Despite the fact that Satan may have quite an array of powers it's very clear that is far beneath the power of God and Jesus Christ. Moreover, Jesus didn't appear on the earth to counter-balance the power of the devil but rather to defeat him.1 John 3:8 The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work (Hebrews 2:14).
As Luke's training progresses he learns about the Dark Side from his master, Yoda. Yoda points out that the Dark Side is not more powerful than the "light" side of the force, but it is a quicker, easier and more seductive path. These words are very reminiscent of the teachings of Christ as he told His disciples that broad is the road and wide is the gate that leads to destruction, while the path to righteousness is "straight and narrow".
Midway through his training, Luke must venture into a forbidding cave that embodies the Dark Side of the Force. Though Yoda tells him that he won’t need his weapons, Luke takes them anyway, still relying more on the strength of the material rather than the spiritual. While he is in the cave, Luke encounters a vision of Darth Vader. A battle ensues resulting in Luke striking down the image of Vader, who, when his mask is stripped off, is actually Luke himself, a lesson that will have strong repercussions later in this movie and the rest of the trilogy.
While Luke is learning the ways of a Jedi, his friends, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca, are fleeing the clutches of the ever-present empire. They head for a spaceport that is operated by a former friend of Han only to find that Vader has arrived there first. It's the Emperor's intention to use them as bait in a trap that will lure Luke directly to Vader, who will bring him before the Emperor. Han's friend betrays the party and turns them over to Vader at a banquet table, reminiscent of the Last Supper when Judas left to betray Jesus to the Pharisees.
Due to his increasingly greater sensitivity to the force, Luke senses the danger his friends are in. But Luke still has a long way to go before he can call himself a Jedi. Yoda counsels him about his constant weakness in judging things by how they appear. Luke takes the lesson to heart and says he will try the seemingly impossible task of raising the sunken fighter ship from the swamp. Yoda reacts angrily to Luke's words. "No, try not! Do, or do not. There is not try!" And while Luke fails at the task Yoda is able to perform it successfully. He explains to Luke that he is able to do it because his ally is the force. Life creates it, makes it grow, its energy surrounds us and binds us. He tells Luke that people are really luminous beings, far more than the mere flesh and blood that we see with our physical eyes. In a similar fashion, the Bible teaches that we are much more than human vessels. We are spiritual creations of God, with an eternal soul.
But Luke can't dispel the image of his friends suffering from his mind and chooses to leave his training and rush to their aid. As Luke makes his decision the transfigured Obi-Wan appears to him and interacts with young Jedi having never really died but rather been "caught up" by the Force. In the Gospel of Matthew while Jesus is praying with his disciples he appears as transfigured, changed from an earthly being into a spiritual one, along with Moses and Elijah. (An interesting side note is that while Obi-Wan has "crossed over to the other side" as a spiritual being, he sits on a log while talking to Luke, proving that though you might be a transcended spiritual entity your feet still get tired.)
Luke leaves his training and arrives at the space station where his friends are held, walking right into the trap that has been laid for him. And while Luke and Vader begin battling it out, Luke's friends are able to make an escape, although Han Solo has been flash frozen and given to a bounty hunter.
The battle between Luke and Vader reaches a feverish pitch, leading to a point where Vader cuts off Luke's right hand, meaning almost certain death for our hero. It's at this point that Darth Vader reveals his true identity. He is actually Luke's father. Luke tries to deny it but senses that it's true. Luke discerns the hopelessness of his situation as Vader has him cornered at the end of a catwalk high in the air. It is here that Luke realizes that he has indeed learned a lot about the Force and for the first time ever wholly submits himself to the power of the Force. He releases his grip from the catwalk and is drawn by the Force to place of rescue. A message that rings clearly throughout the Bible is that turning over our self-will to the will of God is how we achieve the great blessings that God has in store for us. Matthew 11:28-30
As the story closes, Luke is safely back amongst his friends, his hand replaced with a mechanical one. The convoy of ships departs as Chewbacca and others head off in search of their kidnapped and frozen friend, Han Solo. And so the stage is set for the final installment of the original trilogy where two ultimate showdowns will take place: one between the military forces of the Rebel Alliance and the Empire, the other between the spiritual forces of Luke, Darth Vader, and the Emperor.