8. The Empire Strikes Back

7 Jul

The Empire Strikes Back

dir. Irvin Kershner

Our tastes change as we get older. That’s not necessarily something to either mourn or celebrate; we just have to learn to accept the fact that as we evolve both biologically and psychologically, we’ll experience and respond to the world differently (I don’t care for jelly now that I would’ve devoured as a child, but I also am much more tolerant of pop music than I was while in college). Revisiting the (only) Star Wars trilogy (that matters) now, I find that I grow impatient with the pacing of A New Hope and that I don’t respond as well to the sentimentality of Return of the Jedi. On the other hand, each rewatch of The Empire Strikes Back solidifies its reputation as not even the finest Star Wars film or as one of the finest sci-fi films, but as one the finest films of all time without qualifiers. It’s easy to make the joke that Empire is better because it’s darker, but that belies an honesty and a much more accurate truth – that Empire was a film that understood its universe, its characters, and both the narrative and emotional stakes in play. Empire has stood the test of time thanks to, yes, a phenomenal script and director, but also because its focus was not on how to explore its genre, but how its genre could be used to explore and supplement truths and investments that ring true outside of any single medium or time. Depending on what version you watch, it’s also the one installment least tainted by its creator’s needless tinkerings.

One Response to “8. The Empire Strikes Back”

  1. W. David Lichty July 11, 2016 at 9:23 am #

    I’m glad this is here, because it’s easier to consider first films in a series as individual films, like The Matrix or Back to the Future, to break them off and rate them next to other singular pictures. How it compares with other Star Wars movies is no longer high enough praise for it. The Empire Strikes Back deserves to be on lists with Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Seven Samurai and the like. It is a great film all on its own. It has John Fordian character pauses and proper uses of dollying in for emotion, because the characters and their circumstances really matter. This movie is driven! Its grandeur has not been at all sullied by the prevalence of CGI hugeness. Color? Someday digital cinema will become appropriately sharp for the big screen (an 8k minimum we’re nowhere near), and once it has caught up with that, we will find ourselves with Technicolor quality finally returning to our screens, but somehow this movie seemed to have brought it back early. Cloud City swimming in orange? Dagobah almost as green as Cyd Charisse’s slinky skirt in Singing in the Rain? It has a lavish palette, constantly a feast for the eyes.

    This was a fabulously directed picture.

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