Thursday, June 24, 2010

How "The Empire" sealed it has an article out today about how the Star Wars franchise owes most of its success to "The Empire Strikes Back". Though Star Wars had been successful, very few sequels have measured up to the original. The success of "Empire" confirmed the franchise's staying power.
“It blew people away,” Roffman said. “It had this great integrity as a film and moved the story forward in a meaningful way. That was the birth of Yoda, the one where you realize Darth Vadar was Luke’s father, and (the film) looked like this simple black-and-white fantasy, and gave these layers of meaning and complexity.”
One of the most key pieces to the movie's success almost didn't happen. Director Irvin Kershner, who is largely credited for bringing depth to the series, was not interested in the project.

“I said I was not interested in this project,” Kershner said. “I responded that he had already done it, and I didn’t see what I could contribute. I also didn’t want to do it because none of us knew if a follow up to ‘Star Wars’ would work. It was a lot of pressure.”

Ultimately, Lucas persuaded Kershner to direct “Empire” by saying he’d put his own money into it, and would let Kershner have creative control. “George said, ‘This will be your picture, you’ll be on your own, and I won’t be looking over your shoulder,’” Kershner said. “That’s when I finally said, ‘OK, I’ll do it.’ And George kept his word.”
I know for myself "The Empire Strikes Back" remains my favorite of the six Star Wars movies. It was also the movie that helped me switch my idolization from Luke Skywalker to Han Solo. Han was cool in that movie. He continued his penchant for wise-cracks and brilliance under pressure, but added a new layer of sophistication. He got the girl. He had interesting friends. He had a noble side.

Yes, Luke was learning the Force and all that, but while Han's character developed, Luke's remained much the whiney, self-absorbed dork he had been in the first movie. And though his encounter with Vader changed him, we didn't really get a chance to see it until the third movie, by which point he had become the somber, brooding Jedi. Yes, he was key to the entire series, but he wasn't all that fun anymore. With Han Solo we got drama and fun!

The recent discovery of Star Wars by my children has given me a chance to go back and gain new appreciation for the newer trilogy, but the original trilogy will always remain my favorites. And "The Empire Strikes Back" will always lead the pack.

No comments: