If I could only watch one film for the rest of my life it would be The Empire Strikes Back.
It was the first Star Wars film I ever watched and was in fact the last one I watched recently.
As a kid I honestly believed that the AT-AT’s were real and Mark Hamill had his hand cut off by Darth Vader. The special effects were the best I had ever seen (I was seven).
I was in love with this whole new world I had entered and I needed to fill my life with it. It’s an emotional roller-coaster. One minute your laughing, the best your being educated by the best damned puppet ever made, then your feeling all lovey-dovey before laughing again and then you’re afraid for all of the characters, you feel their heartbreaks and their highs, you understand their happy moments and feel their lowest lows in the pit of your stomach.
My lasting memory of the first time I watched it is when Vader tell Luke that he is his father. My jaw hit the floor (luckily I was sat on the floor) and I turned to my Mum and asked if it was true. She told me I had to wait to find out… and wait I did for months until I could get the rest of the Original Trilogy.
The action-packed first act just doesn’t quit, in the first five minutes Luke is attacked by the Wampa, Han and Leia have already had an argument and C-3PO is already badgering R2-D2. Ten minutes later Luke is saved, he’s spoken to Obi-Wan, Han and Chewie have blown up the Probe Droid and Vader is closing in. Five minutes later ‘Imperial Walkers approaching on the north ridge.’ It’s freaking nerve-wracking!
When Dack is killed then Luke is shot down it’s unbearable, of course he escapes but when I first watched it I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then it’s Dagobah and Yoda and Luke’s training as Han, Leia, Chewie and 3PO are hunted by they Empire. How amazing is the asteroid chase?
I remember feeling horribly betrayed by Lando when he gave Han up to Vader and Boba Fett and hoping that the heroes could catch up with the Empire and save him from his trip to Jabba’s Palace.
The climactic duel between Luke and Vader, from their first encounter in the Carbon Freeze Chamber to Vader’s revelation is by far the best Star Wars duel, followed by Luke and Vader’s duel in Return of the Jedi, then Revenge of the Sith. Why? It’s the most personal fight. Luke if fighting the person who killed his father (so he thinks) and is throwing everything he has against Vader, which let’s admit, isn’t much at this point. Vader has one goal, turn Luke and use him to destroy the Emperor so they can rule the Galaxy together and it all builds to that infamous moment that will go down in cinematic history,
“No. I am your father.”
I must have seen this film hundreds of times and this moment still gives me chills. It’s one of the reasons that it’s my favourite film of all time and definitely my favourite Star Wars film and the one I hold all of the other Star Wars films up to in my mind, and as much as I love them all (yes even Attack of the Clones) none of them have a patch on Empire in my eyes. But a couple of them have come close(ish).
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