“Do or do not, There is no try”
This review will contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film (which honestly by now if you haven’t seen any Star Wars films i would question your life choices) you may want to miss this review out.
Often when asked about my favourite film of all time, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (or shortened to Empire for this review) may come as no surprise. I love Sci-Fi films and Star Wars is honestly one of the best Science Fiction film universes out there. But to me, what makes The Empire Strikes Back so great is the darker tone the film takes throughout its duration and its use of techniques to achieve this.
The dark tone of the movie is established well throughout Empire, this movie is about the villains (the dreaded Empire) ‘winning’ (somewhat) for once. This darker tone begins by incorporating the main battle sequence (often used at the end of films) in the first act of the film instead. ‘The Battle of Hoth’ is the main action battle sequence and shows immediately the darker style of film by letting the evil empire win the battle and forcing the Rebellion to retreat and to evacuate. By including the large ‘final act battle’ at the start of the movie it allowed Empire to feel darker but also more of a continuation of the Star Wars saga by showing it off as a sequel. Using the battle worked incredibly well in the film and by having the main action sequence at the start of the film it achieved what no other major film at the time had.
A large mixture of techniques helps make Empire so great, the use of cinematography really helps establish the planets and people of the film. Shots such as the landscape of Hoth in the opening sequences help to show the gritty and bleak planet the Rebels (the good guys in case you were wondering) are on, compared to the contrast of the dark greys and metallic cold feel of the Empire’s vehicles. Even when flying towards cloud city (exactly what you think it is) we get a sense of wonder and awe with the city in the sky surrounded by the reds and blues of it. Even in the inside the city we get a contrast of the pristine whites of the rooms are contrasted with the dark greys and blacks of the ‘underbelly‘ of cloud city where the Empire hides to surprise the trio of rebels. On Dagobah the mise en scene shows us close up shots and close in scenes, to show Luke Skywalker’s training with Yoda in a small area of the planet and how he trains to use the force. We also get shown his facial expressions and struggle with grasping how to use the force around him which adds a lot to the scene as we get to see and feel his frustration. The use of shots and camera work is very much at the forefront of Empire and really helps us connect with the film and universe it is set in.
On top of the cinematography, the music of Empire is some of the best of any film ever. (there’s no ABBA but i can let that go) The iconic Star Wars fan fare is at the start of the film and the music that follows really helps set the mood and tone of the film and can capture emotions from the audience, such as panic, sadness, happiness or anything in-between. The score by John Williams really helps to capture the essence of Star Wars through the use of music.
Of course, I cant write this review without mentioning the large reveal at the end of the film where we find out that Darth Vader is… (massive spoilers ahead! seriously, its a big one! You’ve been warned.) …Luke Sky walkers father. This at the time, was one of the biggest plot twists/ reveals of any film to date. Even the cast were kept from the truth until they filmed the scenes during the filming. This reveal helped to progress the plot of the Star Wars trilogy as a whole in a strange and new direction and such a reveal had never been conceived by films before hand. On the topic of plot, Empire helps develop the characters we met in A New Hope even further, bringing in new complications, new characters, new connections and even more characterisation which all adds to the Star Wars universe Empire was apart of.
The beauty of Star Wars as a film saga and the film The Empire Strikes Back is the sense of excitement it gives me watching it. The cinematography and film shots throughout really help to build and establish the universe and it helps to make it feel like I am there on the planets or in the spaceships. The musical score adds to this effect by evoking emotions and bringing different emotions to different scenes, and even the characters and plot are well developed in Empire helping to further my captivation by the film. The Empire Strikes back is honestly one of my favourite films and its use of techniques help me to feel part of the universe rather than just an audience member in a cinema or in front of a TV, that is the beauty of this film.
My rating: 5/5