Continuing the original Star Wars Trilogy breakdown, 10 mins at a time – starting with the first 10 minutes of A New Hope and ending with the last 10 minutes of Return of the Jedi. Each segment will include a brief synopsis, some truly nerdy trivia, thoughts about the scenes, as well as the moments that were Good, Bad, and Bantha Poodoo. All this leads to the premiere of the new Star Wars film The Force Awakens!”
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 01:00:01 – 01:10:00
• Han shoots the floor of the cave which causes an asteroid-quake, which in turn causes Han, Leia and Chewie to reenact an old episode of Star Trek: “Okay, now everyone fall to your right! Now fall to your left!
• “I am not a committee!”
• “This is no cave.” You’re right Han, it’s not a cave, its a exogorth, or “space slug.” The space slug was developed in sketches by artists Ralph McQuarrie and Nilo Rodis-Jamero before being realized as a puppet seventy-nine centimeters in length and twenty-eight in diameter. The puppet was covered with an exterior designed by visual effects supervisor Phil Tippett and was operated by special effects artist Jon Berg for more than fifty takes over a period of one week. The space slug was a heavy puppet whose jaws were closed by a return spring mechanism. Gag footage was shot by night shift camera operators involving an alternate space slug puppet made out of a sock.
Industrial Light & Magic chief model maker Lorne Peterson created a four-and-a-half foot long model of the creature’s hinged jaws for the shot of the Millennium Falcon racing out of the asteroid tunnel, casting the five-inch-tall teeth from a plastic urethane that possessed a translucent ivory quality. Additional teeth were later given as gifts to celebrities or industry guests to the model shop. The set of the interior of the space slug was created by the laying of black Visqueen plastic on the floor of the Echo Base hangar set, draping black curtains around the Millennium Falcon, and releasing a fog of dry ice. Visual effects supervisor John Knoll called it “undoubtedly the least expensive set built” for the film. To create the sound and feeling of slime when the film’s characters were walking on the slug’s tongue, Foley editors Scott Hecker and Robert R. Rutledge used nearly twenty-five pounds of pure beef fat in large slabs, as well as dozens of raw eggs, which they then walked on with various pieces of footwear to create the sounds of the characters’ footsteps.
• I like Luke’s Yoda Backpack. You can get one at Disneyland.
• Luke enters the cave that is powerful with the dark side. But how did that place get that way? welllll……Hundreds of years before the Clone Wars, the Jedi Minch battled and killed a powerful Bpfasshi Dark Jedi leader, and his energies absorbed into its surroundings, first tainting the passage with the dark side.
• Darth Vader shows up and fights Luke. This is what you call foreshadowing.
• “Bounty Hunters. We don’t need their scum.” No, but I do…
LETS GET READY TO RUUUUUMMMMMMBLLLLLLLLLLLLE!
Hailing from Corellia! Dengar, AKA Payback, is one of the galaxy’s most efficient bounty hunters. And just look at the way he rocks that head-scarf.
Next up we have what looks like a demonically possessed C3PO, but no, that’s just 4-Lom, an ambitious protocol droid who overwrote his own programming in order to embark on a life of crime! Well done, 4-Lom.
His friends know him as “The Uncanny One” but we just call him Zuckuss, the bounty hunter from Gand with a renowned ability to discover hidden quarry, Never play “hide-and-go-seek” with this guy.
Weighing in at 113 kilograms, Bossk is one heavy-hitting bounty hunter. This Trandoshian’s name means “Devours His Prey.” You don’t have to convince us of that, we believe it Bossk!
Designed by Holowan Laboratories, this Assassin Droid has made a name for himself as one of the deadliest bounty hunters out there. Ladies and Gents, IG-88!
From his first appearance on September 20, 1978, at the San Anselmo Country Fair parade, and on television two months later, animated by Nelvana Studios for The Star Wars Holiday Special as a mysterious figure who betrays Luke Skywalker after saving him along with Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 from a giant monster, this bounty hunter has become number one on everyone’s list. I give you Boba Fett! I’m sure we can look forward to many, many, many more years of Fett.
The Good: Boba Fett
The Bad: The “Star Trek” like flopping around during the space slug scene.
Bantha Poodoo: Dengar just looks like Bantha Poodoo.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 01:10:01 – 01:20:00
Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.
• Luke tries to get his X-Wing out of the swamp. But what he doesn’t realize is that there is no try, only do, or do not.
• Yoda shows Luke how it’s done and Luke goes off to pout like a big baby.
• This could be my favorite Yoda scene, where he talks about the Force. Seriously great job by Frank Oz and co. to pull off such a moving performance from a muppet. I wasn’t kidding when I said he should have been nominated for an Oscar. Man, if I was running things the Oscars would have went down a little different back in 1980.
(CUE TRIPPY MUSIC AND WAVY LINES SIMULATING GOING BACK INTO TIME OR A DREAM SEQUENCE)
Welcome back to the 53rd Academy Awards. Here is your host Johnny Carson.
“Ahh yes, good to be back from that commercial break. I uh, I have to say this year’s best actor nominees are truly an amazing bunch. I’m glad I don’t have to pick the winner. But someone did and we are about to find out which actor will take home that gold statue. Here to help with that process is Sally Field.”
“Thank you Johnny. Since 1927 when these awards first began, there have been 264 performances nominated for best actor of the year. These 5 perfor… errrr… I mean, 6 performances, will stand with the finest.
“As Jake Lamotta, a man whose violent career was only part of a violent life and whose success in and out of the ring were balanced by spectacular failures, in the film Raging Bull, Robert De Niro…
Go get’em champ. I’m da boss. I’m da boss. I’m da boss. I’m da boss. I’m da boss. I’m da boss. I’m da boss. I’m da boss. I’m da boss. I’m da boss. I’m da boss.
“For his performance as a husband and father who was unable to reconcile his obsession with military life with the deep needs of his family, The Great Santini, Robert Duvall…
I’d like to propose a toast, to my son. He is 18 today. He has just ordered his first drink. Before he drinks it, I’d like to wish him a long life, a wife as fine as his mother, and a son as fine as he’s been. To my son.
“For a role which combined the ugliest of exteriors, with the gentlest of souls, and which affirms the essential value of human dignity, in The Elephant Man, John Hurt…
My life is full because I know I am loved.
TEARS AND APPLAUSE
“As Scottie Templeton, a man alienated from his son and nearly powerless to change that alienation, until his own illness brings understanding to them both, in Tribute, Jack Lemmon…
I loved being a writer. Just hated writing.
“For his performance as the egocentric film director who stops at nothing to achieve his concept of the ultimate effect in a profession where effects are everything, in The Stunt Man, Peter O’ Toole…
I know a man who made an anti-war movie… a good one. When it was shown in his home town, army enlistment went up six hundred percent. I’m trying to convince the world with my movie that there is a reasonable and better way of getting home for thanksgiving.
“And as an 800 year old Jedi Master, this 66 centimeter tall alien taught Luke and all of us about the wonders of The Force and of what ultimately connects us all together in the universe. In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda…
Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size do you? Hmmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.
And the winner is…
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 01:20:01 – 01:30:00
Hello, what have we here?
• The Millennium Falcon lands at Cloud City. Cloud City was an outpost and a tibanna gas mining colony above the planet Bespin, named as such because it was perpetually surrounded by giant clouds. The city floated 60,000 kilometers above the core of the gas giant. It contained a large and famous luxury resort district on its upper levels, complete with hotels and casinos.
• First appearance of Lando Calrissian. There are two ways to describe Lando…
THE LONG WAY
Lando Calrissian was a Human male professional gambler, entrepreneur, smuggler, and general throughout various points in his life. Born on Socorro, he became a gambler and con man early in his life and acquired his own ship, the Millennium Falcon, in a game of sabacc with a man named Cix Trouvee. He went on to have numerous adventures with the Falcon and its piloting droid, Vuffi Raa, during which he ran afoul of a Sorcerer of Tund named Rokur Gepta, whom Calrissian eventually killed. After a series of events led to him losing the Millennium Falcon to a Corellian named Han Solo on Bespin, Calrissian eventually became the Baron Administrator of Cloud City for a time — a position he once again gained through sabacc.
THE SHORT WAY
• 3PO meets a friend. “Echuta.” Okay, maybe not.
• Then 3PO gets blown to bits. Not a good day to be a Protocol Droid.
• Well whattayaknow, Yoda was right about Luke. He is too impatient. If Luke had just stayed and completed his training, he no doubt would have defeated Darth Vader on their first meeting and the universe would have been saved and we would have never gotten Return of the Jedi and the Ewoks and a sad Han Solo. Ooops, I’m jumping the gun here. Back to Empire.
• Dudes, you know things are serious when the ghost of Obi Wan shows up.
• That snake that Luke pulls out of his X-Wing actually bit him on the first take. I believe they replaced the mean little guy with a rubber one after that.
• “No, there is another.” I wonder who the “other” is that Yoda is talking about? Oh well, anyway, we now cut to Leia in Cloud City where she… hey wait… they cut to Leia right after Yoda says… naaa, nevermind.
• Chewie finds C3PO about to be melted by a bunch of Ugnaughts. The Ugnaughts were porcine humanoids with slightly upturned noses from the planet Gentes. Compared to baseline humans, their height would be considered short or dwarfed. Ugnaughts were industrious and loyal workers and also had a rich oral tradition. They were quite hardy, able to withstand long periods of discomfort, and lived to around two hundred years of age.
• “You truly belong with us in the clouds.” Oh man, I guarantee you Lo-Bot has heard Lando spit that line at least a hundred times.
• Darth Vader shows up for dinner with Boba Fett. Han doesn’t waste a second taking a shot at Vader. Han is pretty good at shooting first.
• Chewie gets the dreaded Dog Whistle for his torture.
The Good: Lando.
The Bad: Lando.
Bantha Poodoo: Lando.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 01:30:01 – 01:40:00
• Chewie puts 3PO’s head on backwards.
• I’m not sure what that device is that the Empire uses to torture Han Solo, but it looks like it might hurt, just a tad.
• “He’s no good to me dead,” says Boba. Apparently Greedo got the wrong memo.
• “That was never a condition of the agreement.” Okay, it is now clear that Lando isn’t really that bad of a guy, he just got “out pimped” by Vader is all.
• So Chewie got the Dog Whistle. Han got the Electrodes to the nads. But what about Leia? They never did reveal what kind of torture they put the Princess through.
• The set for the Carbon Freezing Chamber is incredible. Instantly recognizable.
• I think it’s time to give the director of Empire, Irvin Kershner, some love. Irvin took the unenviable task of following one of the greatest films of all time. How do you top Star Wars? Irvin answered that question – Empire is how you top it. Empire is a far superior film and has a style and vibe all its own. Sure it takes place in the Star Wars universe and has the same characters, but Irvin brought a sensitive touch to the Trilogy and along with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, made a film that can easily stand on its own.
• Remember how defiant Leia was to Vader in A New Hope? She didn’t back down to him and stood up to his threats. But here in Empire, and most notably in this scene, Leia looks genuinely scared of Darth Vader. Again, a testament to the directing and writing.
• Speaking of directing and writing, we now get the scene that propels Empire into the stratosphere…
Initially, the scene just wasn’t working. The lines written for Harrison just didn’t feel right, didn’t feel like Han Solo. Irvin, trusting Harrison, suggested they just roll camera and let him come up with something off the top of his head. Something that he thinks Han Solo would say.
Leia: “I love you.”
Han: “I know.”
THAT’S A WRAP!
The Good: Harrison Ford improvised line that made film history.
The Bad: Now I kinda feel bad for giving Lando such a hard time so I will take the BAD.
Bantha Poodoo: No Bantha Poodoo in this 10 minute section of the film. It is flawless.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 01:40:01 – 01:50:00
The Force is strong in you, but you are not a Jedi yet.
• “Luke Don’t! It’s a trap!” Leia sounding very Admiral Ackbarish.
• Luke’s lightsaber flashes on super quick, while Vader’s takes its time to open, like he is in no hurry to cut Luke’s hand off. Just wants to have some fun first. Speaking of “one handed,’ Vader also uses one hand for the entire lightsaber duel against Luke. Rub it in why don’t you Vader!
• Lando gets choked by Chewie. He’s not having a good day.
• Check out R2D2 dodging laser blasts!
• “You’ll find I’m full of surprises.” Yeah, just wait Luke, I think Vader’s got you beat in the “surprise” department.
• Luke jumps out of the chamber and grabs on to the overhanging cables. He’s all like “Good thing Yoda made me climb those vines on Dagobah.” Now this is just my theory, but I think Yoda KNEW Luke would take off to face Vader in this exact location and time. Yoda had Luke climb the vines and swing from them because he knew that skill would save him from the Carbon Freezing Chamber. I mean, what good is doing a handstand while Force lifting stones, unless later on Luke would be hanging upside down from an antenna at Cloud City and having nerves calm enough to call out to Leia for help. Yoda knew man. Yoda knew.
• And after all that training Yoda did, Vader goes and spits this line, “Obi Wan has taught you well.” Dude, all Ben did is have him put the blast shield down on the helmet so he couldn’t see a thing.
• Vader cheats in the lightsaber duel and starts to throw stuff at Luke.
• People are starting to loot Cloud City.
• Smokescreen thanks to R2.
The Good: Vader’s toying of Luke.
The Bad: Vader cheating.
Bantha Poodoo: Yoda getting snubbed by Vader.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 01:50:01 – 02:07:00
Together we can rule the Galaxy…
• After getting pushed out the window by Vader, Luke walks back in and gets attacked. This time Vader isn’t messing around and he is using TWO hands to hold his lightsaber.
• Luke gets a lucky shot in on Vader’s shoulder. Arrrrggghhh!
• Later for your hand Luke. So I wonder, what happened to Luke’s blue lightsaber (formerly his father’s lightsaber), Let’s do some digging (AKA, Googling)
The lightsaber was first owned by Anakin Skywalker. He had lost his first lightsaber during the Battle of Geonosis and constructed a new one (that would eventually make its way to Luke) and used it during the Clone Wars (and also used it to execute Count Dooku by chopping off his head and to slaughter countless children that were training to be Jedi. But hey, that’s a story for another time). Anakin last used the lightsaber during his duel with Obi Wan Kenobi. Kenobi pretty much amputated every limb of Anakin’s and as Skywalker was flopping around on the ground catching fire, Kenobi picked up the lightsaber and would later tell Luke, “Your Father wanted you to have
this.” Yeah right, your Father wanted to chop your head off with it.
Shortly after this, Luke carried the weapon with him to the Cloud City on Bespin in a bid to rescue his friends from Darth Vader. Engaging the Sith Lord in a lightsaber duel, Luke demonstrated his vastly increased skill with the weapon, impressing its former wielder. Ultimately, however, Luke’s lightsaber hand was sliced off by Vader and fell, along with the lightsaber it carried, into the depths of Cloud City.
The lightsaber, still clutched by Luke Skywalker’s hand, had become lodged in one of Cloud City’s lower air shafts and eventually was recovered by a maintenance drone. The drone deposited the hand and the lightsaber in Smelting Core D. There, it was discovered by Groggin, the Smelting Core’s supervisor.
Groggin had no use for the hand and decided to have it incinerated while he would keep the lightsaber, which he planned to melt down. However, the arrival of Darth Vader in the smelting facility prevented Groggin from taking such action. After a round of aggressive negotiations, Vader left the facility with the hand and the lightsaber in his possession. Though he had other plans for the hand and the lightsaber in mind, Vader was compelled by Palpatine to bring the two items to the Mount Tantiss storehouse on Wayland. There, the Emperor made Vader turn Skywalker’s hand and lightsaber over to him.
Six years later, the mad Jedi clone Joruus C’baoth ordered that a clone of Luke be produced from the limb, and that he be armed with Anakin’s old weapon. When Skywalker arrived, leading a New Republic strike team to destroy the cloning tanks of Wayland, he was forced to fight the clone, which was being controlled by C’baoth. It was ultimately killed by Mara Jade who then used Anakin’s old saber to kill C’baoth himself. Upon the team’s return to Coruscant, Luke presented her with the weapon as a gift.
Mara Jade owned the weapon until her death at the hands of her fallen nephew Jacen Solo in 40 ABY.
Around 40 ABY, shortly before he became Darth Caedus, Jacen Solo dreamed of his mother Leia Organa Solo using Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber against him, as he was contemplating on whether or not to sacrifice her and his father so he could become a Sith.
During the time around the Second Corellian Crisis, the lightsaber seemed to have been taken from the possession of Skywalker survivors and ended up in the hands of a Dark Jedi.
Ben Skywalker managed to track down the lightsaber, still in the possession of the Dark Jedi. The Dark Jedi was preparing to imbue the weapon with the power of the dark side, but Ben took it from him before he was able to do so. Though it is not known what happened in the ensuing battle, it can be assumed that Ben slew the Dark Jedi as well as the other dark-siders who were present and took his grandfather’s weapon as his own.
After the death of his wife, Luke Skywalker retired the weapon, where it remained in the Jedi Temple.*
Alright, that’s enough of that.
*[editor’s note: it remains to be seen whether or not the Mara Jade storyline and, indeed, all of the Thrawn stories, will be folded into official Star Wars canon. The rumors that Anakin’s blue lightsaber reappears in The Force Awakens may hint at a forthcoming answer.]
• It’s hard to believe but there was a time in history when NOBODY knew Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father. This period in history lasted from May 1977 to May 1980.
• After Luke finds out Vader is his Father he cries out, “NOOooooo, noo, pooowerr converteerrrrrsss.”
• Luke falls and gets sucked into gas port and dumped outside onto a weather vane.
• As Luke is hanging upsidedown he calls out to Leia, almost like they might be…related?
• I love the shot of the Falcon as it’s turning back to rescue Luke, and it does that loop over the cloud.
• Luke is safe but messed up. I’m sure he was all, “Man, where’s that Bacta Tank when you need it?”
• “It’s not my fault.” I got a feeling Lando has probably said that about a million times.
• As the Falcon makes the jump to lightspeed you can just feel the tension in the Star Destroyer. “Someone is getting force-choked.”
• Is Lando wearing Han’s vest?
• Luke’s got a new hand. One step closer to becoming more machine now than man.
• That Galaxy that Luke, Leia and the droids are looking at IS that Galaxy far far away. That is the place where all these films take place. It is a Disc Galaxy and that bright star you see there on the outer rim is Tatooine.
Next up: Return of the Jedi!
< The Empire Strikes Back, Part 1 | The Return of the Jedi, Part 1 >