Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips
The content of this page was created directly by users and has not been screened or verified by IMDb staff.
Visit our FAQ Help to learn more

FAQ Contents


A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back can be found here.

Although the credits list Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan as having written the script, the pair of them did not collaborate on the screenplay. George Lucas came up with an outline for the movie and assigned Brackett to write the screenplay. Brackett completed a first draft in February 1978 and then sadly passed away from cancer in March 1978. Unfortunately the draft she had written did not satisfy Lucas, who then wrote a draft himself (for which he is uncredited) before hiring Kasdan, who had just finished writing an unseen draft of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Although all the major story points that take place are of Lucas' conception, Kasdan streamlined the story, tightened up the dialogue and deepened the character relationships. (Kasdan later went on to write the sequel, Return of the Jedi, with Lucas in much the same fashion.) Brackett is credited because she turned in a screenplay, even though none of her work made it on-screen. Lucas has commented that although she was a very gifted writer, Brackett was the wrong choice for a Star Wars movie; and he stated, "I didn't like the first script, but I gave Leigh credit because I liked her a lot. She was sick at the time she wrote it and she really tried her best." (source: The Making of The Empire Strikes Back by J.W. Rinzler)

Although Lucas opted not to direct again after the completion of the first Star Wars, he did direct the short scene where medical droid 2-1B talks to Luke Skywalker while he is getting into his flight suit. Lucas also directed the new Wampa shots (featuring a member of the Wampa species, creatures like the legendary Abominable Snowman) added in the 1997 Special Edition, and the revised elements of the scene of Vader's conversation with the hologram of the Emperor in the 2004 edition of the film.

Hamil was involved in a car accident in 1977, which resulted in a broken nose, and required surgery that resulted in some scarring on Hamill's face. It has since become a popular legend that this attack was written into the story to explain the scars. However, George Lucas explains in the DVD commentary that this attack was merely to keep the audience interested while the Empire searched for the Rebels and to introduce Obi-Wan Kenobi's Force ghost and, by extension, Yoda.

The original production, helmed by Irvin Kershner, did actually attempt to film the Wampa using a performer in a suit; however, the actor had a great deal of trouble moving in the costume, and found walking in it for more than a few steps nearly impossible (this can be seen in the making-of television special SPFX: The Empire Strikes Back). Consequently, the Wampa was seen only as a hand puppet in the original film (and in various tight shots of hands, legs, etc.). The suit used for the re-shoot was presumably better-designed and allowed for easier movement.

The Emperor was played by an uncredited older woman named Elaine Baker and voiced by Kiwi actor Clive Revill. To make the character appear stranger and more unsettling, a chimpanzee's eyes were superimposed over the actor's face by the ILM effects crew. For the DVD release, a slightly altered version of this scene was shot using Ian McDiarmid, who played the character for the sequel, Return of the Jedi, as well as the three prequel films. The altered scene that features McDiarmid changed some dialogue.

In the new version, the Emperor tells Vader that the one who destroyed the Death Star was, in fact, "the offspring of Anakin Skywalker," to which Vader acts confused, because Vader was under the impression that Anakin's child had died with his mother. This has led to some controversy, because earlier in the movie, Vader specifically searches for Luke Skywalker and already should have known that he was Anakin's son, though it is not impossible to think that perhaps some people around the galaxy would have the same last name and not be related. There were actually characters named "Bail Antilles" (merely mentioned in the first prequel, The Phantom Menace) and "Captain Antilles" (from Star Wars and the previous owner of R2-D2 and C-3PO). Also, the character "Wedge Antilles" is one of Luke's Rebel friends and a fighter pilot who appears in all three films of the original trilogy. None of these characters are ever suggested to have been related. The original scene can be viewed here.

However, another possible reason why Vader is surprised to hear that Anakin Skywalker has a son is that he merely acts surprised to foil the Emperor. Following the destruction of the Death Star, Vader found out the identity of the rebel who was responsible. The name coupled with the boy's strong connection to the Force was probably enough to identify Luke as his son (Vader later tells Luke to "search his feelings" for confirmation that Vader is his father as well). As Vader reveals later on, he plots to overthrow the Emperor, and he believes he needs Luke's help to do this. To keep this plot secret, he also kept his knowledge of Luke's existence from the Emperor; suddenly admitting to the Emperor that he already knew that he had a son would be most suspicious in the eyes of the Emperor, so Vader may therefore act like this information is completely new to him.

This is a scheme often employed by Sith Lords, it seems: in the second prequel, Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku also acted surprised in front of the Separatists at the news that the Jedi had a Clone army, yet later it became perfectly clear that it was he himself who had ordered the creation of the army; "lies, deceit and creating distrust" are the ways of the Sith, as Yoda pointed out.

By the time of the original trilogy's release, with audiences having seen the movie's sequel, Return of the Jedi, it seems obvious that Yoda is speaking about Leia. However, at the time that The Empire Strikes Back was written and released, Leia was not meant to be Luke's sister and one potential storyline in George Lucas' earlier notes was that Luke had an unnamed sibling, also undergoing Jedi training, on the opposite side of the galaxy.

Yes. By 1980, Star Wars fans were told that George Lucas originally intended to shoot a series of nine movies, three in present of Star Wars, three in its past, and three in its future. In many interviews done around the time of the original film's release, Lucas said simply that he planned on making a series of Star Wars films, even if the first film was not successful. He did not name the number, but he would fund the sequels himself and, if necessary, he would shoot them as much smaller, cheaper films. By 1978, however, Time magazine confirmed that sequels were being planned and reported as many as twelve films total, and The Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz was quoted as saying there were as many as five planned Star Wars sequels. By 1979, Lucas confirmed in interviews on the set of Empire that a total of nine films (a trilogy of a trilogies) were planned: "The first Star Wars movie was one of six original stories I had written in the form of two trilogies. After the success of Star Wars, I added another trilogy. So now there are nine stories. The original two trilogies were conceived of as six films of which the first film was number four." Also around this time, actor Mark Hamill was quoted as saying that Lucas had told him he wanted to shoot the later sequels when Luke Skywalker was Obi-Wan Kenobi's age.

Many other people involved in the making of Empire also stated that Lucas had planned a nine-part saga, with the original Star Wars trilogy being the middle trilogy (this is also stated in the liner notes for The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack album). So by 1979, fans knew that Lucas planned to shoot a trilogy of Star Wars films and that he had another six planned after that. Lucas continued to talk about Episodes VII through IX, in interviews throughout the 1980s and '90s; however in 1999, he started back-pedaling, saying, "I'd always envisioned it as six movies", and in 2001, "the idea of a third trilogy was more of a media thing than it was me."

Yes, it is true, though this inside gag is often misattributed to having occurred in Return of the Jedi during the final space battle. The shoe actually appears during the asteroid field sequence, and can be seen tumbling from the upper left to lower right of frame in the exterior shot immediately following Han's proclamation that he's "going in closer to one of the big ones."

It is never explained in the movies. In Episodes II and III, the Galactic Republic's armored troops are clone troopers, cloned from the DNA of Jango Fett (played by Temuera Morrison). Boba Fett is also an unaltered clone of Jango, raised as his son. For the DVD release of The Empire Strikes Back, Temuera Morrison dubbed over the voice of Boba Fett to help tie in the original trilogy to the prequel trilogy. In Episodes IV through VI, the Galactic Empire has armored troops known as Imperial stormtroopers. A possible reason that Morrison does not provide the voice is because the stormtroopers may not be of the same genetic stock as Jango and very well could be men who were recruited without having prior Imperial affiliation (meaning the Empire did not commission their conceptions, births and upbringings), or they could be clone troopers constructed from more than one genetic template, excluding Jango.

It is possible and perhaps likely that, as the years went on, the Emperor disbanded Clone squads and started recruiting and drafting men from traditional families, and while there are still some Clone units scattered throughout the galaxy, they are mostly obsolete. However, Lucas has since gone on record saying that the stormtroopers that board Leia's ship in Star Wars are actually the clone troopers that Anakin led in the assault on the Jedi Temple in Revenge of the Sith, so make of that what you will. Another explanation is given in the video game Star Wars: Battlefront II. The game follows the story of the 501st legion of the Grand Army of the Republic, later becoming "Vader's Fist," Darth Vader's personal unit of stormtroopers. It is revealed in the game that they were, in fact the same troops that assaulted the Jedi Temple. It is also explained in the game that after clones are created by the Rebel Alliance using Jango Fett's DNA, the Empire decided to clone from a variety of sources, hence the differing voices, while the 501st legion remained "pure."

What exactly is Yoda?

Yoda's species has never been explained in any Star Wars film or related media. All that is known about them is that members of his species are long-lived and that Yoda is around 900 years old. The only other character belonging to the same species as Yoda to appear in any of the movies is his female fellow Jedi councilmember, Yaddle, shown only in the first prequel, The Phantom Menace, with no speaking part. (Yaddle is around 400 years old at the time of that setting, according to Star Wars: Episode I - The Visual Dictionary; and she had a full head of hair and was around the same height as Yoda.)

In the Expanded Universe stories, the Millennium Falcon had arrived at Ord Mantell for repairs, which caught the attention of a bounty hunter named Skorr. Concluding that a direct confrontation with Han and Chewbacca would be suicide, Skorr ambushed and captured Luke and Leia, threatening to kill them unless Han came to his hideout alone. Han managed to foil Skorr with an elaborate ruse of his own, but the encounter caused Han to question his allegiance to the Rebels.

An explanation is hinted at in the second prequel, Attack Of The Clones. It is revealed that Yoda teaches younglings (very young children and underdeveloped aliens) the basics of the Force and how to control it. After a certain amount of time, usually by the time the child is bordering on young adult, he/she is promoted to the status of Padawan, and a Jedi Knight (without an apprentice) takes him/her on for the completion of his/her training until the Padawan is granted the level of Jedi Knight. So Obi-Wan would have been instructed by Yoda until he became a Padawan, then Qui-Gon Jinn would have been paired up with him. Note also that Yoda resumed functioning as a mentor for Obi-Wan (who became a Jedi Master before the third prequel, Revenge of the Sith), after the Empire was established but before Yoda migrated to Dagobah.

As with the previous film, Star Wars, the Emperor does not have a large role, although he is actually seen this time via a hologram. He plots with Vader to capture Luke Skywalker so that Luke can be turned to the dark side of the Force. The Emperor acknowledges that Luke would be a great asset, but in reality, he probably intends for Luke and Vader to fight it out to see who is most worthy to be his servant. For the final steps, see the FAQ for Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.

When Yoda first appears in this installment, he is characterized as a mischievous, impish creature. However, it becomes clear that this is simply to test Luke's patience as Yoda is unconvinced that Luke is ready to be trained as a Jedi Knight. However, once this "test" is over and Luke becomes aware of who Yoda is, the character becomes much more serious and direct as he had been in the prequels.

Yes. During the scene of the carbon freezing, Leia says "I love you" to Han, who was supposed to say "I love you" back. The director, Irvin Kershner, felt that Han saying "I love you" did not sound right, so Ford came up with the response "I know." George Lucas wanted to keep Han's "I love you" in but Kershner decided not to.

The movements of the All-Terrain Armoured Transport (AT-AT), as depicted in the Hoth battle scene, are based on an elephant's walk. The effects artists first used animation to decide what movements were best for the Walkers and decided elephants' gaits looked best because they are slow and mechanical. The movements from the hand drawn animation were copied when the stop motion was created for the Walker scenes on Hoth. The slow, methodical elephant-like movements gave the giant Walkers a sense of scale and an ominous creepy presence as they moved towards the Rebel stronghold.

It would seem that the Empire could not have arrived at Cloud City before the Millennium Falcon did if they did not know where Han was planning to go, but it is plausible if you look at a few facts:

* The simplest explanation is that Boba Fett was hot on the Falcon's tail when Han camouflaged the Falcon's escape from the Imperial fleet with the garbage that was dumped out. It was easy for Boba to track the Falcon; because he has made a career of expert tracking of his quarries, and the Falcon could not travel through hyperspace. When the heroes started to get close to the Bespin system, Boba just transmits their location to Vader and the fleet.

* The Falcon was hampered by an impaired hyperdrive that was, for all purposes, virtually impossible for Han to repair in a short time. Therefore, when the heroes started getting close to Bespin with Fett tracking them, the fleet would have the definitive advantage of speed and could have jumped to hyperspace instantly.

* The Empire has the advantage of a large fleet that can cover the galaxy at most or all points. An outpost or small detachment of the fleet could have taken what Fett was reporting and surmised where the Falcon was heading. Such a detachment would have at least one commanding officer that could speak for Vader and tell Lando that the fleet was on its way. We can assume that Han, Leia and the rest of the group were there for at least a few hours before Vader himself arrived—after he did, Lando would have been given the go-ahead for the banquet. Remember, there's a brief scene where C3P0 is lured into a small room & is blasted to pieces. A voice that him "Hey, who are YOU??" and was definitely an Imperial stormtrooper who'd been hiding in the room, perhaps with a group of them. Confirmation of the incident occurs when Chewie re-assembles C3P0 & he says "Stormtroopers? Here?? Oh, I've been shot!!!"

In 1997, George Lucas re-released the complete (original) Star Wars trilogy with some updated digital effects and new or expanded scenes. Of the three films, The Empire Strikes Back had the fewest changes made to it, though the most prominent changes include the expanded scene with the Wampa (the creature that attacked Luke, on Hoth, in the beginning of the film) and the expanded shots of Cloud City in order to make the city look bigger and more crowded. A brief scene of Darth Vader returning to his Star Destroyer towards the end of the film was also included. A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here and here.

Despite the intention to present the original trilogy in the best way possible, many fans were not happy with the 2004 DVD release. The DVD edition is actually the 1997 Special Edition, which was released in theaters and on video in 1997 and has been the cause of much debate among fans ever since. The 2004 DVD release has further minor changes and enhancements (mostly cosmetic such as color correction); the most notable of which is the scene, in which Vader talks with the hologram of the Emperor, which contains some new dialogue and the Emperor now being played by Ian McDiarmid (who portrayed the character in the sequel—Return of the Jedi—and the prequel trilogy). After massive protests by die-hard Star Wars fans, Lucasfilm decided to also release the original films in their original theatrical presentations (i.e. without the 1990s digital effects), in 2006. However, besides smaller changes, the second release is not anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions but is presented in 4:3 letterboxed format. In order to use the full frame of a 16:9 television set, the picture thus has to be zoomed in, which lowers the image quality significantly. A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here and here.

For the recently released Blu-ray discs, George Lucas altered some shots and dialogues of the Star Wars movies again. Only little changes were made for The Empire Strikes Back, like corrected colors in the scene where Chewbacca is searching C-3PO, and other small things. In general, one will hardly notice the alterations in the second Star Wars movie. Nonetheless a detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be seen here and here.

George Lucas has stated that the more recent versions of the original trilogy are the "definitive" versions. The reason for this is because at the time the original films were made, 1977, 1980, and 1983; the technology to bring Lucas' true vision to the screen simply did not exist and the cost to realize it would have been astronomical. So with the technology available in the late '90s through the 2000s; Lucas was able to touch-up, re-envision or create from scratch scenes from his original trilogy.

On the flip-side, many die-hard Star Wars fans disagree with many of the changes or additions that Lucas made to his original trilogy (most infamous is Greedo shooting first in Episode IV) and consider the original theatrical releases of the films the definitive "perfect" versions of the movies. As the technology is still a product of its time, the films themselves are still timeless. Also, the effects are still considered fairly good even when compared to newer films. The bottom line: it depends on what side of the fence you land on. It is your own personal opinion what version you consider "definitive," but according to the creator himself, you will find the newer "special editions" are the definitives.

You can view the Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back Enhanced Script Presention, with highlighted dialogue, and over 800 screenshots appropriately placed.

Originally the plan was the release each Star Wars movie, post-converted to 3D every February, starting with The Phantom Menace, in 2012. Many fans complained about having to invest six years into getting to see each Star Wars movie in 3D. In late 2012, it was announced that both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith would be released back-to-back in late 2013. However, once Walt Disney Studios acquired Lucasfilm, and the production of Episode VII was announced, Disney eventually declared that they were postponing the conversion to 3D and release of any more of the previous movies in order to focus on Episode VII. They also added that after production wraps on Episode VII, they may continue to release the previous movies in 3D. Some fans theorize that they may actually be converting the movies already and plan to release them shortly prior to the release of Episode VII as a way to boost interest in the new movie, similar to the way in which the special editions of the original trilogy were released back-to-back from January 31st to March 7th in 1997.

Page last updated by myturn21, 4 weeks ago
Top 5 Contributors: doctorcrimedog, J. Spurlin, register-555, chiz95, briangcb

r73731


Related Links

Plot summary Plot synopsis Parents Guide
Trivia Quotes Goofs
Crazy credits Alternate versions Movie connections
User reviews Main details