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Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! 

By Sean Axmaker

The middle film in George Lucas's enormously popular Star Wars science fiction trilogy is a darker, more somber entry, considered by many fans as the best in the series. Gone is the jaunty swashbuckling of the first film; the rebellion led by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) suffers before the superior forces of the Empire, young hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) faces his first defeats as he attempts to harness the Force under the tutelage of Jedi master Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz), and cocky Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is betrayed by former ally Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). In the tradition of the great serials, this film is left with a hefty cliffhanger. The leap in special effects technology in the three years since Star Wars results in an amazing array of effects, including a breathtaking chase through an asteroid field and a dazzling, utopian Cloud City, where Luke faces the black-clad villain Darth Vader (David Prowse, voice of James Earl Jones) in a futuristic sword fight and learns the secret of his Jedi father. Veteran director Irvin Kershner (The Eyes of Laura Mars, Never Say Never Again) took the directorial reins from creator and producer Lucas and invested the light-speed adventure with deeper characters and a more emphatic sense of danger. The special edition expands Luke's encounter with the Abominable Snowman-esque wampa and establishes the creature as a tangibly more terrifying beast, in addition to refining many of the existing effects. The trilogy is concluded in The Return of the Jedi.

Academy Awards

The Empire Strikes Back won Academy Awards for Sound (Bill Varney, Steve Maslow, Gregg Landaker, Peter Sutton) and Special Achievement Awards (Brian Johnson - Visual Effects, Richard Edlund - Visual Effects, Dennis Muren - Visual Effects, Bruce Nicholson - Visual Effects). It was also nominated for Art Direction/Set Decoration (Norman Reynolds - Art Direction, Leslie Dilley - Art Direction, Harry Lange - Art Direction, Alan Tomkins - Art Direction, Michael Ford - Set Decoration) and Music Scoring (Best Original Score; John Williams).


Share Your Memories!

Is Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back one of your favorite movies? What do you remember about it? Share your stories (or your reviews) with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"THIS MOVIE ROCKS! Darth Vader is back! Obi Wan sends Luke to Degobah to be trained by Yoda The Jedi Master. Han Solo still has not paid off Jabba The Hutt. Princess Leia is still leading The Rebellion against The Empire. C-3PO is still nagging R2-D2 and Chewbacca is... Chewbacca - everyone's favorite galactic 7ft puppy dog who you got to love no matter what. Vader and Skywalker clash on Bespin and a terrible truth is revealed about who Vader really is. This movie set the standard for what Sci Fi sequels are supposed to be. This is the 5th chapter in a 6 part saga. It has a more darker edge which sci fi movie lovers have come to crave. In 1997 on the 20th Anniversary of Star Wars Episode 4, George Lucas went back and completely upgraded his original trilogy with newly enhanced picture and sound quality by way of computers and added some newly filmed bonus scenes. Although some Star Wars purists call the "Special Edition" a total blasphemy, Lucas liked what he saw and went for it. The Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition is currently available on VHS and won't be available on DVD untill the final run of Episode 3 which won't culminate till 2006 or 2007 - the 30th Anniversary of Episode 4. Lucas has also stated that if and when all 6 are released on DVD the only print of the original trilogy will be the 1997 Special Edition release. He wants to keep the original 1977, 1981, and 1983 releases out of print and buried deep inside the National Archives in Washington D.C."

--Star Wars fan from VA.

"One of the greatest movies ever made. You need only watch this Star Wars film to see how far the New Triology has fallen. This movie has more depth, grit and better acting than any other Star Wars film. High on my all-time list along with Vertigo, Psycho, The Wizard of Oz, Lawrence of Arabia, A Raisin In The Sun and Citizen Kane."

--Eva Green



Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Irving Kershner

Stars: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Alec Guinness, Clive Revill, Julian Glover, John Ratzenberger, James Earl Jones

Released: May 21, 1980

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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