Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars Episode V:
The Empire Strikes Back

Theatrical poster by Roger Kastel[1]
Directed by Irvin Kershner
Produced by Gary Kurtz
George Lucas
Screenplay by Leigh Brackett
Lawrence Kasdan
Story by George Lucas
Starring Mark Hamill
Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher
Billy Dee Williams
Anthony Daniels
David Prowse
Kenny Baker
Peter Mayhew
Frank Oz
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Peter Suschitzky, BSC
Editing by Paul Hirsch
Studio Lucasfilm
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) May 21, 1980 (1980-05-21)
Running time 129 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $32 million
Box office $538,375,067[2]

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (originally released as The Empire Strikes Back) is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. The screenplay, based on a story by George Lucas, was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. Of the six main Star Wars films, it was the second to be released and the fifth in terms of internal chronology.

The film is set three years after Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The Galactic Empire, under the leadership of the villainous Darth Vader, is in pursuit of Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. While Vader chases a small band of Luke's friends—Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, and others—across the galaxy, Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. But when Vader captures Luke's friends, Luke must decide whether to complete his training and become a full Jedi Knight or to confront Vader and save his comrades.

Following a difficult production, The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980, and initially received mixed reviews from critics, although it has since grown in esteem, becoming one of the most popular chapters in the Star Wars saga and one of the most highly-rated films in history.[3][4][5][6] It earned more than $538 million worldwide over the original run and several re-releases, making it the highest grossing film of 1980. When adjusted for inflation, it is the 12th highest grossing film the USA and Canada as of 2010.[7]



Three years after destroying the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance has suffered setbacks in their struggle against the Galactic Empire. Princess Leia now leads a contingent that includes Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in a hidden base on an icy planet of the Hoth system. A probe droid, one of many sent by Darth Vader throughout the galaxy in hopes of finding Luke and the other rebels, lands on Hoth. Luke goes to investigate but is ambushed by a monstrous, furry wampa. While Han Solo searches for him, Luke frees himself from the wampa's cave with his lightsaber but soon succumbs to the freezing temperatures of the snowy wasteland. The spirit of his late mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, appears before him and instructs him to go to the planet Dagobah to train under Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz). Han manages to find Luke and uses the warmth of his dead tauntaun mount to keep him alive while they wait to be rescued.

Just as Luke recovers, the Imperial fleet, having been alerted to the location of the Rebel base by the probe droid, launches an attack using gigantic AT-AT Walkers. The Rebels mount a strong defense, and Luke brings down a walker single-handedly after his fighter is disabled, but the base is nonetheless captured. Han and Leia escape on the Millennium Falcon with C-3PO and Chewbacca, but their hyperspace drive malfunctions, and they must hide in an asteroid field. Luke escapes with R2-D2 in an X-Wing fighter and crash lands on Dagobah. He is soon found by the diminutive Yoda, who at first pretends to be a simple swamp inhabitant in order to test Luke's patience. After conferring with Obi-Wan's spirit, Yoda accepts Luke as his pupil.

Han and Leia end their bickering and grow closer, but their courtship is interrupted when they must flee a giant asteroid worm. They avoid capture again by attaching the Millennium Falcon directly to the side of a Star Destroyer in Vader's fleet. Frustrated at having lost them, Vader turns to several notorious bounty hunters, including Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch). Meanwhile, Luke begins a brief period of intensive training, during which his power in the Force grows exponentially. He suffers a setback when he fails a test and sees the vision of his own face inside Darth Vader's helmet. Then he becomes troubled by premonitions of Han and Leia in pain and leaves to save them, promising to return to complete his training.

Having escaped detection, Han lets his ship float away with the star destroyer's garbage and sets a course for Cloud City, a floating gas mining colony in the skies of the planet Bespin. It is run by Han's old friend Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), but shortly after they arrive he turns them over to Vader to prevent the takeover of his city. Over Lando's objections, Vader uses them as bait to bring Luke into his trap.

Vader intends to hold Luke in suspended animation and selects Han as a test subject for the process. Leia and Han profess their love, and he is frozen in a block of carbonite. Reneging on his deal with Lando, Vader gives Han's hibernating form to Boba Fett, who plans to present this "prize" to Jabba the Hutt. Lando frees Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO, but they are too late to stop Fett from escaping with Han, forcing them to flee in the Falcon without him.

Meanwhile, Luke has arrived at Cloud City, as Vader planned. Luke and Vader engage in a lightsaber duel that leads them over the central air shaft of Cloud City. Vader severs Luke's right hand, disarming him, and reveals that he is actually Luke's father. Horrified, Luke refuses Vader's offer to rule the galaxy at his side, choosing instead to throw himself down the air shaft. He slides through a tube system and is ejected but catches onto an antenna under the floating city. He makes a desperate telepathic plea to Leia, who senses it and persuades Lando to return for him. Its hyperdrive finally repaired by R2-D2, the Falcon escapes. Aboard a Rebel medical frigate, Luke is fitted with an artificial hand. As Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO look on from the medical center, Lando and Chewbacca set off to rescue Han.


  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker: A commander in the Rebel Alliance, leader of the Rogue Squadron, and Jedi-in-training. After having a vision of his old mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke -- along with his droid R2-D2 -- sets out to find Yoda on Dagobah.
  • Harrison Ford as Han Solo: A mercenary smuggler who initially aided the Rebellion in exchange for money but has since accepted a ranking position within the Rebel Alliance. Although he intends to leave the rebels to go and pay off a debt to a gangster, Jabba the Hutt, he is trapped on Hoth by the Imperial blockade.
  • Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa: A high ranking official in the Rebellion chain of command.
  • David Prowse as Darth Vader: Vader, a Sith Lord and a loyal agent of Emperor Palpatine, is obsessed with finding Luke Skywalker, the young rebel who destroyed the Death Star. His search brings him to Hoth, where he orders the blockade of the ice planet. It is also revealed in the film that he is actually Luke's father, Anakin Skywalker. James Earl Jones provided the voice of Darth Vader.
  • Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian: Calrissian is the Baron Administrator of Bespin's Cloud City. He is a long-time friend of Han Solo and former captain of the Millennium Falcon.
  • Anthony Daniels as C-3PO: C-3PO is Princess Leia Organa's protocol droid.
  • Kenny Baker as R2-D2: R2-D2 is Luke Skywalker's astromech droid.
  • Frank Oz as Yoda: Yoda is a self-exiled Jedi Master, who lives on Dagobah.
  • Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca: Chewbacca is Han Solo's Wookiee copilot and close friend.
  • Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett: A bounty hunter, Fett has gained infamy throughout the galaxy and is hired by Darth Vader to hunt down the Millennium Falcon. Jason Wingreen provided Fett's voice in the original theatrical cut and the 1997 Special Edition of the film. Bulloch also makes a cameo appearance as the Imperial officer who grabs Leia when she tells Luke to avoid Vader's trap. In the 2004 special edition, Temuera Morrison, who played Jango Fett in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones replaced Wingreen as Fett's voice to create better continuity between the original and prequel trilogy.
  • Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi: Kenobi was killed by Darth Vader on the Death Star in A New Hope, but his "death" allowed him to become one with the Force, giving him the ability to appear as a spirit and give guidance to his former student, Luke Skywalker.
  • Denis Lawson as Wedge Antilles: Wedge is a pilot in the Rebel Alliance, who flew with Luke Skywalker at the Battle of Yavin. In the Battle Of Hoth, he pilots one of the speeders in the Rogue Squadron and is the first to bring down an AT-AT. In the closing credits, as with A New Hope, Denis Lawson's name is misspelled "Dennis."
  • Clive Revill as the voice of Emperor Palpatine: Palpatine, the ruler of the Galactic Empire, is displeased with the loss of the Death Star and consequently lists the Rebel Alliance as a top priority for his military forces. He is particularly interested in "the offspring of Anakin Skywalker", and orders Vader to convert the boy to the dark side of the Force. While Clive Revill played the voice of the Emperor, Elaine Baker, the wife of Rick Baker, appeared as Palpatine's physical form in the original theatrical cut and the 1997 Special Edition of the film with superimposed chimpanzee eyes.[8][9][10] McDiarmid, who portrayed Palpatine in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi as well as the prequel trilogy films, replaced both Baker and Revill as Palpatine in the 2004 DVD version, with filming taking place during the principal photography of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.[9][11]

Actor John Ratzenberger, best known as Cliff Clavin from the TV series Cheers and the voices of many characters from Pixar's animated films, has a small part as deck officer Major Bren Derlin. Character actor Treat Williams portrayed several background characters, including a trooper in the Hoth rebel base and a trooper in Cloud City.

Cinematic and literary allusions

Like its predecessor, The Empire Strikes Back draws from several mythological stories and world religions. It also includes elements of 1930s film serials such as Flash Gordon, a childhood favorite of Lucas', that similarly featured a city afloat in the sky.[12][13]


George Lucas' 1977 film Star Wars exceeded all expectations in terms of profit, its revolutionary effect on the movie industry, and its unexpected resonance as a cultural phenomenon. Lucas hoped to become independent from the Hollywood film industry by financing The Empire Strikes Back himself with $33 million from loans and the previous film's earnings, going against the principles of many Hollywood producers to never invest one's own money.[14] Now fully in command of his Star Wars enterprise, Lucas chose not to direct The Empire Strikes Back because of his other production roles, including overseeing his special effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and handling of the financing. Lucas offered the role of director to Irvin Kershner, one of his former professors at the USC School of Cinema-Television,[15] and known for smaller-scale, character-driven films. Kershner initially refused, citing his belief that a sequel would never meet the quality or originality of the original Star Wars. He called his agent, who immediately demanded that he take the job.[14] In addition, Lucas hired Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett to write the screenplay based on his original story.[14] Brackett completed her draft in February 1978 before dying of cancer, and Lucas wrote the second before hiring Kasdan, who impressed him with his draft for Raiders of the Lost Ark.[16]

The Imperial AT-AT walkers at the Battle of Hoth were created using models and a new stop motion animation technique developed by Phil Tippett for The Empires Strikes Back. When making Dragonslayer (1981) Tippett called it "go motion". Landscape paintings (by Mike Pangrazio) were used as backgrounds to enhance the scenery.

After the release of Star Wars, ILM grew from being a struggling company and moved to Marin County, California.[14] The Empire Strikes Back provided the company with new challenges. Whereas Star Wars mostly featured space sequences, The Empire Strikes Back featured not only space dogfights but also an ice planet battle opening sequence and elements of cities that floated among the clouds. For the battle scenes on the ice planet of Hoth, the initial intent was to use bluescreen to composite the Imperial walkers into still-shots from the original set. Instead, an artist was hired to paint landscapes, resulting in the Imperial walkers being shot using stop motion animation in front of the landscape paintings.[14] The original designs for the AT-ATs were, according to Phil Tippett, "big armored vehicles with wheels". Many believe the finished design was inspired by the Port of Oakland container cranes, but Lucas denied this.[17]

In designing the Jedi Master Yoda, Stuart Freeborn used his own face as a model and added the wrinkles of Albert Einstein for the appearance of exceptional intelligence.[18] Sets for Dagobah were built five feet above the stage floor, allowing puppeteers to crawl underneath and hold up the Yoda puppet. The setup presented Frank Oz, who portrayed Yoda, with communication problems as he was underneath the stage and unable to hear the crew and Mark Hamill above.[19] Hamill later expressed his dismay at being the only human character on set for months; he felt like a trivial element on a set of animals, machines, and moving props. Kershner commended Hamill for his performance with the puppet.[14][20]

Filming began in Norway, at the Hardangerjøkulen glacier near the town of Finse, on March 5, 1979. Like the filming of Star Wars, where the production in Tunisia coincided with the area's first major rainstorm in fifty years, the weather was against the film crew. While filming in Norway, they encountered the worst winter storm in fifty years. Temperatures dropped to −20 °F (−29 °C), and 18 feet (5.5 m) of snow fell.[14] On one occasion, the crew were unable to exit their hotel. They achieved a shot involving Luke's exit of the Wampa cave by opening the hotel's doors and filming Mark Hamill running out into the snow while the crew remained warm inside.[14] Despite reports to the contrary, the scene in which Luke gets knocked out by the Wampa was not added specifically to explain the change to Hamill's face after a motor accident that occurred between filming of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Lucas admitted that the scene "helped" the situation, though he felt that Luke's time fighting in the rebellion was sufficient explanation.[20] The production then moved to Elstree Studios in London on March 13,[16] where over 60 sets were built, more than double the number used in the previous film.[14] A fire in January on Stage 3 (during filming of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining) forced the budget to be increased from $18.5 million to $22 million, and by July the budget increased $3 million more. Filming finished by mid-September.[16]

One memorable exchange of dialogue was partially ad-libbed. Originally, Lucas wrote a scene in which Princess Leia professed her love to Han Solo, with Han replying "I love you too." Harrison Ford felt the characterization was not being used effectively, and Kershner agreed. After several takes, the director told the actor to improvise on the spot. Ford changed Solo's line to "I know."[14]

During production, great secrecy surrounded the fact that Darth Vader was Luke's father. Like the rest of the crew, Prowse—who spoke all of Vader's lines during filming—was given a false page that contained dialogue with the revelatory line being "Obi-Wan killed your father."[14][21][22] Hamill did not learn of the plot point until just before the scene was filmed, astounding the actor; Kershner advised him to ignore Prowse's dialogue and "use your own rhythm". Until the film premiered, only George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Hamill, and James Earl Jones knew what would really be said; Jones' initial reaction to the line was, "He's lying!"[14] Interestingly, though, according to the San Francisco Examiner, during a fan gathering in the late 1970s, David Prowse revealed to a crowd of cheering fans that Vader was going to be revealed as Luke's father in the next film.[23] The film includes a brief image of Vader with his mask off, facing away from the camera. For the original viewers of the film, this scene made it clear that Vader is not a droid.[20]

To preserve the dramatic opening sequences of his films, Lucas wanted the screen credits to come at the end of the films. Even though this is more common now, this was a highly unusual choice at the time. The Writers Guild and the Directors Guild had allowed it for Star Wars, back in 1977, but when Lucas did the same thing for the sequel, they fined him over $250,000 and attempted to pull Empire out of theaters. The DGA also attacked Kershner; to protect his director, Lucas paid all the fines to the guilds. Due to the controversy, he left the Directors Guild, Writers Guild, and the Motion Picture Association.[14]

The initial production budget of $18,000,000[24] was 50% more than that of the original. After the various increases in budget, The Empire Strikes Back became one of the most expensive movies of its day and after the bank threatened to pull his loan, Lucas was forced to approach 20th Century Fox. Lucas made a deal with the studio to secure the loan in exchange for paying the studio more money, but without the loss of his sequel and merchandising rights. After the film's box office success, unhappiness at the studio over the deal's generosity to Lucas caused studio president Alan Ladd, Jr. to quit. The departure of his longtime ally caused Lucas to take Raiders of the Lost Ark to Paramount Pictures.[14]


The world premiere of The Empire Strikes Back was held on May 17, 1980 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (as a special Children's World Premiere event). The film had a Royal Premiere in London three days later, and a series of other charity benefit premieres were held in numerous locations on May 19 and 20. The film went on to official general release in North America and the UK on May 21, 1980. The first wave of release included 126 70mm prints, before a wider release in June 1980 (which were mostly 35mm prints).[25]

Simply titled The Empire Strikes Back in the publicity, the opening scroll stated "Episode V".[26] The first Star Wars film, now known as "Episode IV: A New Hope", had, at that point, not been given an episode number but this would be included from its 1981 re-release onwards. Like A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back was rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America, and certificate U in the UK. This original version was released on Capacitance Electronic Disc in 1984[27] and on VHS and Laserdisc several times during the 1980s and 1990s.[citation needed]

Special Edition

As part of Star Wars' 20th anniversary celebration in 1997, The Empire Strikes Back was digitally remastered and re-released with A New Hope and Return of the Jedi under the campaign title The Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. Lucas took this opportunity to make several minor changes to the film. These included explicitly showing the Wampa creature on Hoth in full form, creating a more complex flight path for the Falcon as it approaches Cloud City, digitally replacing some of the interior walls of Cloud City with vistas of Bespin, and replacing certain lines of dialogue. A short sequence was also added depicting Vader's return to his Super Star Destroyer after dueling with Luke, created from alternate angles of a scene from Return of the Jedi. Most of the changes were small and aesthetic; however, some fans believe that they detract from the film.[9] The film was also resubmitted to the MPAA for rating; it was again rated PG, but under the Association's new description nomenclature, the reason given was for "sci-fi/action violence."[28]

DVD release

The Empire Strikes Back was released on DVD in September 2004, bundled in a box set with A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, and a bonus disc of extra features. The films were digitally restored and remastered, with additional changes made by George Lucas.[9] The bonus features include a commentary by George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher, as well as an extensive documentary called Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy. Also included are featurettes, teasers, trailers, TV spots, still galleries, video game demos, and a preview of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

For the DVD release, Lucas and his team made changes that were mostly implemented to ensure continuity between The Empire Strikes Back and the recently released prequel trilogy films. The most noticeable of these changes was replacing the stand-in used in the holographic image of the Emperor (with Clive Revill providing the voice) with actor Ian McDiarmid providing some slightly altered dialogue. With this release, Lucas also supervised the creation of a high-definition digital print of The Empire Strikes Back and the other films of the original trilogy. It was reissued in December 2005 as part of a three-disc "limited edition" boxed set that did not feature the bonus disc.[29]

The film was reissued again on a separate two-disc Limited Edition DVD for a brief time from September 12, 2006, to December 31, 2006, this time with the original, unaltered version of the film as bonus material. It was also re-released in a trilogy box set on November 4, 2008.[30] There was controversy surrounding the initial release, because the DVDs featured non-anamorphic versions of the original films based on Laserdisc releases from 1993 (as opposed to newly remastered, film-based high definition transfers). Since non-anamorphic transfers fail to make full use of the resolution available on widescreen televisions, many fans were disappointed with this choice.[31]

Blu-ray release

On August 14, 2010, George Lucas announced that all six Star Wars films will be released on Blu-ray Disc in Fall 2011.[32] On January 6, 2011, the release was announced for September 2011 in three different editions.[33]

3D re-release

On September 28, 2010, it was announced that all six films in the series will be stereo converted to 3D. The films will re-release in chronological order beginning with The Phantom Menace on February 10, 2012. The Empire Strikes Back is scheduled to re-release in 3D in 2016.[34]


Box office

The Empire Strikes Back premiered at a limited number of theaters, and those all in large metropolitan areas because it was first released only on 70 mm wide film, for which only the largest and most prosperous movie theaters had projectors. It was many weeks later that the film was published on standard 35 mm film for other movie theaters in North America and around the world.

Within three months of the release of The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas had recovered his $33 million investment and distributed $5 million in bonuses to employees.[14] The film grossed $10,840,307 on its opening weekend in limited release. When The Empire Strikes Back returned to cinemas in 1997, it grossed $21,975,993 on its first weekend of rerelease. As of 2007, the film has grossed $290,475,750 domestically and $538,375,000 worldwide.[2]

Critical response

The Empire Strikes Back received mixed reviews from critics upon its initial release. However, by the turn of the 1990s and up to now, fans and critics alike now widely consider The Empire Strikes Back to be the best film in the franchise.[35]

Some critics had problems with the story of The Empire Strikes Back, but they admitted that the film was a great technological achievement in filmmaking. For example, Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote a largely negative review.[36] Judith Martin of The Washington Post complained of the film's "middle-of-the-story" plot, which featured no particular beginning or end, in her opinion.[37] However, this was a concept that Lucas had intended.[20]

On the other hand, in later years, Bob Stephens of The San Francisco Examiner described The Empire Strikes Back as "the greatest episode of the Star Wars Trilogy" in 1997.[38] The Empire Strikes Back is now considered to be the most morally and emotionally ambiguous and the darkest episode of the Star Wars Trilogy.[35] In his review of the Special Edition in 1997, the critic Roger Ebert called the film the strongest and "the most thought-provoking" of the original trilogy.[39] On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, The Empire Strikes Back currently holds a 97% "Certified Fresh" rating, from a total of 72 reviews, making it the highest-rated episode of the Star Wars Saga,[35] and also one of the highest-rated science fiction films of all time.[40] Rotten Tomatoes summarizes: "Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels."[35]

Chuck Klosterman suggested that while "movies like Easy Rider and Saturday Night Fever painted living portraits for generations they represented in the present tense, The Empire Strikes Back might be the only example of a movie that set the social aesthetic for a generation coming in the future."[41]


For Academy Awards in 1981, The Empire Strikes Back won the Oscar for Best Sound, which was awarded to Bill Varney, Steve Maslow, Greg Landaker, and Peter Sutton.[42] In addition, this film received the Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects that was awarded to Brian Johnson, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, and Bruce Nicholson. The composer John Williams was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, for The Empire Strikes Back, and a team from this film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Art Direction - Set Decoration: Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley, Harry Lange, Alan Tomkins, and Michael Ford.[43]

In addition, John Williams was awarded the BAFTA Film Award for his compositions: the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music. The Empire Strikes Back also received nominations for the BAFTA Awards for Best Sound and Best Production Design.

Williams' film score also received the Grammy Award and the Golden Globe Award for best original soundtrack.[43]

The Empire Strikes Back received four Saturn Awards, including those for Mark Hamill as Best Actor, Irvin Kershner for Best Director, Brian Johnson and Richard Edlund for Best Special Effects, and this film was also presented with the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film.

The Empire Strikes Back won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. The film was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[44]

The Empire Strikes Back was awarded the Golden Screen Award in Germany.[citation needed]


Darth Vader was ranked as the third-greatest film villain of all time in the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest heroes and villains (2003),[45] and Wizard magazine selected the ending of The Empire Strikes Back as the greatest cliffhanger of all time.[46]

The most well-known line of The Empire Strikes Back – "No, I am your father" – is often misquoted as "Luke, I am your father."[47] The line was selected as one of the 400 nominees for the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes, a list of the greatest American movie quotes.[48] Yoda's pointed statement to Luke Skywalker, "Try not! Do, or do not, there is no try," was also a nominee for the same list by the AFI.[48]

The film was selected in 2010 to be preserved by the Library of Congress as part of its National Film Registry.[49][50]

American Film Institute Lists

  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies - Nominated
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills - Nominated
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains:
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
    • "I am your father." - Nominated
    • "Do, or do not. There is no try." - Nominated
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated


The musical score of The Empire Strikes Back was composed and conducted by John Williams, and it was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra at a cost of about $250,000.[51] In 1980, the company RSO Records published this film's original musical score as both a double LP album and as an 8-track cartridge in the United States. Its front cover artwork features the mask of Darth Vader against a backdrop of outer space.[52]

In 1985, the first Compact Disc (CD) issue of the film score was made by the company Polydor Records, which had absorbed both RSO Records and its music catalog. Polydor Records used a shorter, one compact-disc edition of the music as their master. In 1993, 20th Century Fox Film Scores released a special boxed set of four compact discs: the Star Wars Trilogy: The Original Soundtrack Anthology. This anthology included the film scores of all three members of the original Star Wars Trilogy in separate CDs, even though there was significant overlap between the three (such as the Star Wars theme music).[53]

In 1997, the record company RCA Victor released a definitive two-CD set to accompany the publications of all three of the Special Editions of the films of the Star Wars Trilogy. This original limited-edition set of CDs featured a 32-page black booklet that was enclosed within a protective outer slip-case. The covers of the booklet and of the slip-case have selections from the poster art of the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. All of the tracks have been digitally re-mastered supposedly for superior clarity of sound.

RCA Victor next re-packaged the Special Edition set later on in 1997, offering it in slim-line jewel case packaging as an unlimited edition, but without the packaging that the original "black booklet" version offered.[54]

In 2004, the Sony Classical Records company purchased the sales rights of the musical scores of the original trilogy - primarily because it already had the sales rights of the music from the trilogy of prequels: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Hence in 2004, the Sony Classical company began manufacturing copies of the film-score CDs that RCA Victor had been making since 1997, including the one for The Empire Strikes Back. This set was made with new cover artwork similar to that of the first publication of the film on DVD. Despite the digital re-mastering by Sony Classical, their CD version made and sold since 2004 is essentially the same as the version by RCA Victor.[55]

Other media


A novelization of the film was released on April 12, 1980, and published by the company Del Rey Books. The novelization was written by Donald F. Glut, and it was based on the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan, Leigh Brackett, and George Lucas.[56]

This novelization was originally published as Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. However, the later editions have been renamed Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back to conform with the change in the titles of the Star Wars Saga. Like the other novelizations of the Star Wars Trilogy, background information is added to explain the happenings of the story beyond that which is depicted on-screen.[citation needed]

The Marvel Comics company published a comic book adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back which was written by Archie Goodwin and illustrated by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon. This comic book was published to accompany the premiere of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. It was published simultaneously in three forms: as a magazine, as a serialized comic book, and as a pocket book (paper-backed book). In the paperback version, which was published first and for which early concept designs were the only available art reference, Yoda was given a quite different appearance than in the films: Yoda is thinner, he has long white hair, and he has purple skin, rather than green skin. For the magazine and serialized comic book editions, there was enough time for the artwork featuring Yoda to be revised extensively, and he was therefore made to look like the way he appeared on film.

Book-and-record set

Lucasfilm adapted the story for a children's book-and-record set. Released in 1980, the 24-page Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back read-along book was accompanied by a 33⅓ rpm 7-inch gramophone record. Each page of the book contained a cropped frame from the movie with an abridged and condensed version of the story. The record was produced by Buena Vista Records.

Video games

Video games based on the film have been released on several consoles. Additionally, several Star Wars video games feature or mention key events seen in the film, but are not entirely based upon the film. In 1982 Parker Brothers released Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for the Atari 2600 games console, which featured the speeder attack on the AT-ATs on Hoth.[57] The arcade game Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back followed in 1985. The game features familiar battle sequences and characters played from a first-person perspective. Specific battles include the Battle of Hoth and the subsequent escape of the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field.[58] A conversion was released in 1988 for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga.[59]

In 1992, JVC released the LucasArts-developed video game also titled Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console.[60] The player assumes the role of Luke Skywalker and maneuvers through Skywalker's story as seen in the film. In 1992, Ubisoft released a version for the Game Boy. Like its previous incarnation, it follows the story of Luke Skywalker.[61] Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was developed for the console Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) by LucasArts and was released by JVC in 1993. The SNES game is similar in spots to the 1991 NES release, and is on an 12-megabit cartridge.[62]

Radio adaptation

A radio play adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back was written by Brian Daley, and it was produced for and broadcast on the National Public Radio network in the United States during 1983. It was based on characters and situations created by George Lucas, and on the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. Its director was John Madden, with sound mixing and post-production work done by Tom Voegeli. Much of John Williams's film score is included, in addition to the sound design from Ben Burtt.[citation needed]

Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and Anthony Daniels carried forward their roles as the voices of Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, and C-3PO. respectively. The actor John Lithgow presented the voice of Yoda. This radio play was designed to last for five hours of radio time, usually presented in more than one part.[63] Radio agencies estimate that about 750,000 people tuned in to listen to this series radio play beginning on February 14, 1983.[64] In terms of the canonical Star Wars story, this radio drama has been given the highest designation, G-canon.[65][66]

See also



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  37. ^ Judith Martin (May 23, 1980). "'The Empire Strikes Back'". Washington Post. Retrieved February 12, 2007. 
  38. ^ Stephens, Bob (February 21, 1997). ""Empire Strikes Back' is the best of "Star Wars' trilogy". Retrieved July 26, 2006. 
  39. ^ Ebert, Roger (February 21, 1997). "The Empire Strikes Back". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 26, 2006. 
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  41. ^ Klosterman, Chuck (June 22, 2004). Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. Scribner. p. 150. ISBN 978-0743236010. 
  42. ^ "The 53rd Academy Awards (1981) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
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  45. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Heroes & Villains". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on December 3, 2003. Retrieved January 20, 2007. 
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  47. ^ Michael French (2003). "The Common Concept of Indiana Jones". Retrieved February 26, 2007. 
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  50. ^ "'Empire Strikes Back,' 'Airplane!' Among 25 Movies Named to National Film Registry". Retrieved December 28, 2010. 
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  59. ^ Advertising poster
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  61. ^ "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for Game Boy". Moby Games. Retrieved February 24, 2007. 
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Arnold, Alan. Once Upon a Galaxy: A Journal of Making the Empire Strikes Back. Sphere Books, London. 1980. ISBN 978-0-345-29075-5

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