Written by Richie Pepio
During the 124 days before the release of The Last Jedi, I’m reviewing all 124 minutes of the theatrical version of
The Empire Strikes Back. Join me and together we will watch Star Wars. . . .
What do lasers, explosions, couples counseling and Howie Mantel have in common? They’re NOT in this minute of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back!
Han and Leia continue to drag their sterling reputations through the ice while blocking the entrance to the main control room. After expecting the princess to melt and beg him to stay, Leia sidesteps Han's attempt at heart-melting by staying strong and pretending their relationship is strictly professional.
HAN: Come on. You want me to stay because of the way you feel about me.
LEIA: Yes! You’re a great help to us. You’re a natural leader.
HAN: No! That’s not it. What about that time we shared together on the Millennium Falcon when I diverted all the ship’s power to the “Hyper-love” setting. The hyper drive on the Falcon hasn’t worked right since.
This effectively paints them both at fault – Han’s cocky and Leia’s a workaholic. This moment's tight blocking and editing shows that while Leia won’t let Han win, he’s still dangling just enough info to keep her following him down the hallway. That smuggler’s good at mind games.
And speaking of the hallways: J.W. Rinzler’s extensive The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back goes into the design of Echo Base in deep detail. The walls are grooved because this whole base was carved into the ice by lasers. Also, is Echo Base has its name because of the echoes in the ice caverns: another reason why shouting secret feelings in one hallway could lead to word spreading around the Rebel camp like wildfire. The lighting of the base’s hallways make it feel thrown together in a slapdash way, which is a strong contrast to the gleaming metal and lockstep organization of the Empire.
Originally, the dialogue in the scene continued after “I’d just as soon kiss a wookiee”/”I can arrange that, he could use a good kiss.” It was way too on the nose and thankfully left on the cutting room floor.
“You’re leaving Hoth? Good. I’m going to tell you ‘I love you’ later, but first we need to
escape this planet, hide in an asteroid and get betrayed by the mayor of a sky-casino.”
What did remain in the scene was a throwaway line about a “bounty hunter they ran into on Ord Mantell” whose presence convinced Han to hightail it off Hoth. In 1981, a short comic strip was run in the LA Times to shade in the backstory of this line. In it, Han escaped from Skorr – a bounty hunter probably given that name so he could say: “Looks like it’s time for Skorr’s big score!”
Also, please don’t confuse this situation with the separate and entirely more horrifying incident involving the bounty hunter on Howie Mantel....
The edges of the frame have the faded quality that helps make this whole sequence feel a bit nostalgic. It harkens back to the classic bickering couples of Hollywood’s past. To emphasize this motif, Lucas had the advertising team place Han and Leia in dramatic “Gone with the Wind”-style poses.
In a less romantic moment, C-3P0 and R2-D2 show up and argue over the best way to dry all of Princess Leia’s wet clothes… whatever that means.
Looking at the film minute by minute, you can appreciate just how deftly this followup movie is structured. We’re only seven minutes in and each individual minute contains several straightforward scenes. Already, Luke’s in trouble, Han and Leia are fighting, the droids are complaining, and a general feeling of dread hangs over the Rebel Alliance.
Best Performance by a Human: Princess Leia/Carrie Fisher
Best Performance by a Non-Human: C-3P0/Anthony Daniels
Best Line: “I’d just as soon kiss a wookiee.” “I can arrange that, he could use a good kiss!”
Rating: 1920 out 1939, the year Gone with the Wind came out.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Minute 8:00 where there's more fighting, more droids, more everything. It's a sequel; what were you expecting?
This was originally posted on Mindctrlaltdel.tumblr.com