The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back ★★★★★

Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.

[My original review still pretty much says it all. So I’ll just say it again]

What is there that hasn’t been said about Empire Strikes Back? If the original Star Wars was a flight of fantasy that took us to a galaxy far, far away and set our childhood’s eyes and hearts ablaze with visual splendour and narrative spectacle, mythos establishment and heroes to roar for and villains to fear, then ESB gives us a framework for the reality in the fantasy. There is failure and despair, familial cracks bust wide open and fledgling romances forged in sardonic jibes and the declaration of love in the face of near-certain death. There is a farm boy, deified for his victory in his first battle and thrust into battle with the demons of his ancestry and the shadow of his own confliction, his fight for identity in a world governed by oppressors and seeking liberation through rebels with a cause but little to counteract the Empire other than belief and a will to do something. There is frailty and intimacy, yet immense fortitude and expansion, the Star Wars universe opens up with new characters, new worlds, new lore, new depths to probe and new heights to hit. Williams’ score is transcendent, the theme of Han & Leia even more emotive than ever in the face of the tragic loss of the greatest princess the galaxy ever saw, whilst the design, from the lumbering menace of the AT-ATs to the wise and yet whimsical Yoda, the tundric Hoth to the truly inspired Cloud City, to Lando’s effortlessly suave and sexy capes, is absolutely iconic and shows the absolute strength in depth and vision that Lucas possesses and that the crew on the film managed to capture. It’s cheesy without contrivance, bold without abrasion, magical without naivety, and emotional with not a scrap of misguided melodramaticity or a single misplaced beat. It holds the single most incredible twist in cinematic history, proven to be so for its ceaseless impact and reverence by cinema goers and film lovers for over three decades, a Shakespearean moment of tragedy and epochal moment in narrative film-making history. Everything Star Wars was, is, could be, represents, and means to the cinematic world and the legions of fans of the franchise, comes from Empire.

Empire Strikes Back is not just the best Star Wars film. Empire Strikes Back is not just one of the best blockbusters of all time. Empire Strikes Back is not just a milestone in the history of cinema. Empire Strikes Back is not just a cultural institution and a phenomenon. Empire Strikes Back is not just for me or for you to appreciate.

Empire Strikes Back is a true moment of divinity in a world often governed by senselessness and hollow inspirations. It is a gift to a world that needed, still needs, the ability to break free from the bonds of normalcy and reductive reality. It is a beacon of light shining on the unwavering power of imagination and artistic creation. It is more than a film and more than an experience. It is an unending revelation and the progeny of a man whose singular humility of vision, selfless desire to show the world good and evil, the fractious divides between the two and the truth held out there in the stars, is going to inspire, emancipate, and entertain the holy fucking shit out of generations for time immemorial. And for that, I thank you George Lucas, the cast, the crew, the fans, the everyone and anyone who keeps this precious piece of cinema on its rightful course to eternal adulation.

Man, I fucking love Star Wars. What would I be without it? I really don’t know.

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