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


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  • Vader was trying to lure Luke to himself. Knowing that Luke was learning how to use the Force, Vader planned to capture Han, Leia and Chewbacca and subject them to torture -- actually Han was the only one of the trio we saw be tortured, however Chewbacca being subjected to the loud screeching noise in his cell could count as torture as well -- so that Luke would have a vague vision of their pain and be compelled to face Vader. There's that scene on Dagobah where Luke, doing a one-armed handstand, suddenly sees the Cloud City and feels the pain of his friends (he loses his concentration and topples, spilling Yoda with him). Yoda tells him it's difficult to know what Luke's vision means since the future is always in motion. However, Luke believes he must be loyal to his friends and leaves to rescue them, over Yoda's and Obi-Wan's advice. Edit

  • Imperial Stormtroopers hiding to ambush Han, Leia and Chewbacca. They did it so 3PO would not alert the others to their presence. Edit

  • The Falcon is an old and battered ship, and its hyperdrive system was an extremely complicated piece of machinery that had undergone many modifications over the years to make it even faster. Consequently, the modifications made the system more complex and harder for Han to locate what needed to be repaired. Eventually, Han has to abandon his attempt to repair the hyperdrive and escape the Imperial Fleet but also he wants someone with more expertise to look at the ship's system and fix it. When they land at Cloud City, Lando says he'll have his people get on the problem right away but he really turned the ship over to the Imperials, who simply deactivated the hyperdrive. However, R2-D2, being an astromech droid by design, reactivated the system in the nick of time. Edit

  • Look at where the shot is placed right after Wedge Antilles and his gunner Janson trip Walker with their tow cable: Wedge's shot hits the Walker right in its "neck" which was a vulnerable spot. Wedge had probably heard about a technique to take a Walker down and exploited it. Edit

  • Carbonite is a gaseous/liquid substance that, once hardened, becomes a strong metalic container used to store carbon-based items (such as tibanna gas) for shipment. Cloud City was built to collect tibanna gas, a substance that the planet Bespin had in abundance. Tibanna gas is vital to space travel because it's used to cool hyperdrives, which would overheat during hyperspeed. The gas itself is highly unstable and cannot be transported unless it was frozen in carbonite.

    In the freezing chamber, the gas would be pumped into the pit and liquid/gaseous carbonite would be poured in simultaneously, trapping the gas inside it.

    The reason Vader wanted to "test" the facility on Han was to see if he could use the same procedure to eventually freeze Luke and deliver him to the Emperor alive, hence Han was being used as a guinea pig to see if the process would kill him or put him into a state of deep hibernation. Fortunately the process worked and Han was alive inside the carbonite ingot. It also provided the perfect opportunity for Boba Fett to deliver the now helpless Han to Jabba the Hutt. Edit

  • Boba Fett is the cloned "son" of the bounty hunter Jango Fett, who appeared in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Jango Fett was the original genetic source template for the Clone Troopers which Palpatine would eventually use in his plans to destroy the Jedi Order and seize control of the galaxy as its Emperor. However, Boba was an unaltered clone of his father, and was raised by Jango himself until Jango's death at the battle of Geonosis at the start of the Clone Wars. Boba, who was only a child at the time, then followed in his father's footsteps and became a bounty hunter. Edit

  • After successfully destroying the Empire's Death Star and moving the Rebel base from Yavin IV to Hoth, a distant ice world, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), along with the R2-D2 droid (Kenny Baker) go to the swamp planet Dagobah in search of the ancient Jedi Master Yoda (voice of Frank Oz), whom Obi-wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) has named in a posthumous vision as the Jedi knight underwhich Luke must train. Meanwhile Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), along with Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and the protocol droid C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), must escape the relentless pursuit of Sith Lord Darth Vader (David Prowse; voice of James Earl Jones). Edit

  • The Empire Strikes Back is the second movie to be released in George Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy, preceded by Star Wars (1977) (1977) and followed by Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) (1983). Lucas' original trilogy was followed by a second trilogy of movies: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) (1999), Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) (2002), and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) (2005), actually prequels to the original storyline. The story for The Empire Strikes Back was written by Lucas, but the screenplay is credited to American screenwriters Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. The movie was novelized in 1980 by American writer Donald F. Glut. Edit

  • 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. 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. 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) Edit

  • Mark Hamill 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, 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. Edit

  • 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 SP FX: Special Effects - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)). 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. Edit

  • 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. Edit

  • The Emperor was played by an uncredited older woman named Elaine Alexander and voiced by Kiwi actor Clive Revill effects crew. For the DVD release, a slightly altered version of this scene was shot using Ian McDiarmid, who played the character for Return of the Jedi as well as the three prequel films. The altered scene that features McDiarmid changed some dialogue. Edit

  • Yoda's species has never been revealed 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 is his female fellow Jedi councilmember, Yaddle, who is shown in 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.) Edit

  • By the time of the original trilogy's release, with audiences having seen the movie's sequel, Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), 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 Lucas' earlier notes was that Luke had an unnamed sibling, also undergoing Jedi training, on the opposite side of the galaxy. It is also possible that line was inserted to open up the possibility that Luke may die in his confrontation with Vader in order to add suspense. Edit

  • An explanation is hinted at in the second prequel, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002). 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, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)), after the Empire was established but before Yoda migrated to Dagobah and went into hiding. Since Yoda was one of the few Jedi masters to survive Order 66 in Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan sent Luke to him to train. Edit

  • 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'. 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." Edit

  • In the Expanded Universe stories, the Millennium Falcon had arrived at Ord Mantell for repairs, which caught the attention of bounty hunter Skorr. Concluding that a direct confrontation with Han and Chewbacca would be suicide (due to the latter's brute strength), 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. Edit

  • As with 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". In reality, he probably intends for Luke and Vader to fight it out to see who is most worthy to be his servant. Edit

  • 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. Edit

  • 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 felt that Han saying "I love you" did not sound right, so Ford came up with the response "I know." Lucas wanted to keep Han's "I love you" in but Kershner decided not to. Edit

  • The most likely explanation is that Boba Fett was able to alert the Imperial Fleet once he an idea of where the Falcon was going. Remember, Han is checking the charts for a viable system and makes it clear that there is not much in the area except for Bespin. Fett would also know this. As it has been pointed out, the Falcon has no functioning hyper-drive, and Han states, "it's pretty far but I think we can make it" meaning that without the hyperdrive, it would take a lot longer to get there, whereas the hyperdrive could get them there instantly. This would easily give Fett enough time to alert the Imperial Fleet and for Vader to easily arrive at Bespin before Han and the others. Edit

  • 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." Edit

  • Yes. By 1980, Star Wars fans were told that George Lucas originally intended to shoot a series of nine movies, three in the present timeline 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 at that time, 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 in 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 before abandoning the idea of a sequel trilogy during production of the prequel trilogy and saying that only Episodes I to VI would be made. This remained the case until he sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, and they made episodes VII to IX. Edit

  • Although Lucas opted not to direct again after the completion of 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 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. Edit

  • See the Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Enhanced Script Presentation, with highlighted dialogue, and over 800 screenshots appropriately placed. Edit

  • 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 confusion, 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 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, as in 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.

    According to the canon Marvel Star Wars and Darth Vader comic series, Vader did indeed know that Luke was his son prior to the events of The Empire Strikes Back. This is further supported by the fact that the opening crawl text says he is searching for "Young Skywalker." Edit

  • In 1997, Lucas re-released the 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 at 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. Edit

  • 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. A scream which had been added to the 1997 version as Luke falls down the Cloud City reactor shaft was removed again for the DVD and subsequent Blu-ray releases. 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. Edit

  • For the Blu-ray discs released in 2011, 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, viewers will hardly notice the alterations in this Star Wars movie. Edit

  • 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, the technology to bring Lucas' true vision to the screen simply did not exist and the cost to realize it would have been astronomical. With the technology finally 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. Edit

  • 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. As of October 2017, there has been no word at all on the 3D conversions of the saga. There may also be legal distribution issues as 20th Century Fox still owns the distribution rights to the first six films. However, now that Disney have acquired Fox, this will no longer be an issue and there is every chance that the other Star Wars films will be released in 3D. Edit



The FAQ items below may give away important plot points.

  • When Darth Vader tells Luke that he is Luke's father, Luke refuses to believe him. Rather than join Vader, he throws himself off the catwalk into Cloud City's central airshaft and ends up falling out of the floating city's exhaust chute. Fortunately, he is able to grab onto an antenna before tumbling down into the gaseous planet below, but, with only one hand, he is unable to pull himself back into the chute. He calls to Obi-wan but gets no answer, so he uses the Force to telepathically contact Leia, who is currently on the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca, C-3PO, and Lando Calrissian. Leia senses Luke's distress and guides the Falcon back to Cloud City where they rescue Luke. R2-D2 is able to reactivate the hyperspace drive, thus eluding Darth Vader's forces. In the final scene, Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO gaze out of a window, watching Chewbacca and Lando set out in the Falcon to locate the carbonite-frozen Han, who is being taken by Boba Fett to Jabba the Hutt for the reward. Edit

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