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Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Poster

Alternate Versions

The 1995 THX remastered Pan and Scan VHS release of the 1980 theatrical version has one difference from all other pan and scan releases and the 1992 and 1995 widescreen releases of the same. At the end of the film, the scene simply cuts away to the end credits. All other versions use a wipe to cut away to the end credits.
In some German video releases of the original version, about 3 sec. where cut to obtain a "Not under 6" rating. The torture scene of Han, on Bespin was shortened, so you only see him lowering towards the torture machine, no actual light flashes could be seen, or any Han screaming. Never the less this scene was included completely in the last VHS release of the original cut, in 1995, Widescreen-THX-Remastered edition, and was still rated "Not under 6"!
Several dialogue changes were made for the 1997 Special Edition:
  • Before Rogue 2 is hit by a laser blast at the Battle of Hoth, Luke says "This is it!" when before he said nothing.


  • In the asteroid field, C-3PO says, "This is suicide. There's nowhere to go." Before all he said was, "This is suicide."


  • On Dagobah, after R2-D2 is spit out of the swamp, when Luke picks him up he says, "You were lucky to get out of there." In the original version he says, "You're lucky you don't taste very good."


  • During Luke's training on Dagobah, as he's running through the woods Yoda says, "Yes, run!" In the original version he's silent.


  • For some reason the stormtrooper's voice who shoots C-3PO on Cloud City has been dubbed over from the original voice.


  • During Luke's fight with Vader you can now hear Luke grunting as he falls down the steps in the freezing chamber.


  • Possibly the most obvious change is Luke's yelling as he falls down the cavern after fighting Vader.


  • After the duel, Vader is seen walking down a hallway and says, "Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival." In the original version he simply says, "Bring my shuttle."


When the film was first released, the scene at the end when the Millenium Falcon is docked to the medical frigate and the camera pans to the medical ward window was different. A running change was made while the film was in theaters because George Lucas thought that there was some confusion as to where the Falcon was in relation to Luke and Leia in the medical ward. The establishing close-up of the Falcon, the pan from it to the frigate window and the launch of the Falcon were all added to the 35mm prints of Empire.
The Super 8mm abridged version has different takes of Luke talking to Han whilst astride his tauntaun, and Han saying 'watch this' as he tries to jump to hyperspace in the asteriod field. Although the dialogue hasn't changed different emphasis are put on certain words.
The "Special Edition" also contains a scene where Lord Vader is seen emerging from his shuttle in what the scene implies to be his landing in his Super Star Destroyer (it is actually an outtake from "Return Of The Jedi").
The dialogue "You're lucky you didn't taste too good", was not redubbed. There were several variants of this line in the shooting script. All of the special editions used different takes every once in a while; mostly because some were of much greater quality than the others. The particular take that Lucas approved for this scene had Hamill reading straight from the script, instead of ad-libbing the now famous comment. Lucasfilm officials have stated that they didn't realize the dialogue was any different until the film was released. This also accounts for some of the other minor dialogue changes in the SEs.
In the Special Edition, during the sequence in which the Millenium Falcon escapes from the Imperial Fleet by hiding in a garbage stream ejected into space by a Star Destroyer, a new panning shot of Boba Fett's pursuing starship, Slave 1, has been inserted.
In both the original theatrical release, and the Special Edition release, James Earl Jones is not credited for voicing Darth Vader. In the Special Edition video release, a credit for him has been added.
Some Canadian theatrical prints of the 1997 "Special Edition" contained an added scene just before Han is shown entering the command centre on Hoth. The shot is inside the command centre and focusses on a "white C-3PO" using a penlight on a glass map. Then, the movie continues as normal and Han is shown entering the command centre. This scene was not present on the video release.
For the 2004 DVD release: Following their duel, Luke's yell (as he falls down and away from Vader into the exhaust shaft), that was added for the 1997 Special Edition; has now been omitted.
In the 2004 DVD release, the voice credit for James Earl Jones, which was added to the Special Edition video release, is once again removed.
The new sound mix for the special edition makes some of C-3PO's lines more audible, and some of Leia's lines less so. In the original, the noise of the carbon freezing chamber makes it difficult to hear his line to Chewbacca, "So don't do anything foolish." This was not a new line added to the Special Edition, but a line made more audible over the noise of the machines. Later in the film, when Chewbacca chokes Lando, Leia says, "You think that after what you did to Han that we're going to trust you?" In the Special Edition, Chewbacca's growl is so loud that part of her line is obscured.
Yoda actually has no new dialogue for the Special Edition, except for the frightened scream when Luke points his gun at him. Other than that, all the seemingly new lines are lines that are louder in the soundtrack, which before had been obscured by other noises.
In the original version, there is an exterior shot of Cloud City before cutting inside to the room where Han and Leia are waiting. The exterior shot shows Leia and a matte painting of the building they are in. The matte painting makes the building appear to have two stories, even though, from the inside, the room has a skylight window. For the Special Edition, the exterior is reduced to one story, to match the interior shot.
In the early 1990s, a Definitive Edition Laserdisc was released. One of the side changes came right before the scene of Leia welding on the Falcon before Han kisses her. In the original pressing of the laserdisc, the seven seconds that Leia spends welding have been cut out, so that the side begins with her sealing up the piece she was working on. Fans complained about that, and Lucasfilm issued a recall, allowing owners of the laserdisc to send them in and receive a reissued disc that restored those seven seconds.
A Special Edition was released on 21 February 1997 (USA). It includes a reworked soundtrack and among other things:
  • new shots of the Wampa;


  • new shots of the Hoth battle;


  • new shots of the Millennium Falcon flying through Cloud City;


  • new shots of Cloud City to make it seem bigger;


  • more "open window" shots to showcase the landscape;


  • new shots of Vader's shuttle flying to the Super Star Destroyer;


DVD released on September 21, 2004 features several revisions to the Special Edition cut, including:
  • Ian McDiarmid replaces Clive Revill as the Emperor, with new dialogue added (although Revill remains credited as "Voice of the Emperor);


  • Temeura Morrison provides the voice for Boba Fett


In the scene where C-3PO gets blasted by some "unseen assailant", when he enters the room he says "That sounds like an Artoo unit in there! i wonder if....hello? hello"? in the original version he only says hello once, in the Special Edition he says hello twice.

See also

Trivia | Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Connections | Soundtracks

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