We begin Season Three with the first of our two bookend issues this time around, with a major format change for the show. In this issue, we talk a bit about what’s to come this season and Aaron and I sit down to record a commentary track to Aaron’s most favorite film of all time, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
We sat down with the 2004 DVD release of the Special Edition of The Empire Strikes Back, and talk a bit about the movie, the myths behind the movie, and the myths that come from the movie.
About The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (also known 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. The Galactic Empire, under the leadership of the villainous Darth Vader, is in pursuit of Luke Skywalker and the rest of theRebel 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 underJedi 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. It earned more than US$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 in history as of 2010
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 theFalcon 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. 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.”
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. 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.