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….
As Minute 22:00 opens, Vader gives the order to move on Hoth. And after the Sith Lord leaves, one-by-one, each Imperial officer gives the other a knowing look - whether it's “I told you so” or “you’re making a big mistake” or "I think I just crapped my pants." It's really up to the audience to decide what they're really thinking, and isn't that what makes good filmmaking? Props to Irvin Kirshner for taking a short table-setting moment and introducing a small power struggle within the ranks of Imperial command.
And before we jump back to the Rebel Base, let’s look at the bridge itself. A piece of set was constructed for any place you see a human character standing. Otherwise, the rest of the bridge was a matte painting.
Some backstory: The Shining had been filming at Elstree Studios at the same time in 1979, and both had very troubled productions. The Shining probably took a more psychological toll on everyone involved and that turbulence reached its peak when a fire burned down much of the set. In conjunction with the studio, Lucas offered to give some of Empire’s space to Stanley Kubrick so both films could be completed as close to schedule as possible. It also probably helped that the two were acquaintances and Lucas was a big admirer of the other director’s work. This was, however, a bit of a sacrifice where Empire was concerned and probably contributed to the use of more matte paintings, like the one mentioned above.
Apparently, Kubrick had some thoughts on Lucas’ work as well. In Three Interviews With Stanley Kubrick by Michel Ciment, the director of The Shining states: “If I made as much money as George Lucas, I wouldn’t decide to become a studio mogul. I can’t understand why he doesn’t want to direct films anymore, because American Graffiti and even Star Wars were very good.”
When we cut back to the Rebels, we see them preparing in front of some well-painted mattes as well. Unnamed Rebel commanders discuss the plans for “Groups 7 and 10 to stay behind to fly the speeders…” These ships will distract any Imperial attack while the larger freighters escape. Ok, that plan’s straightforward enough. Although the Rebels are getting their act together, Han’s hunk of junk isn’t ready to go. The Falcon’s parts are exploding, alarms are going off and - for all his talk of leaving Hoth as quickly as possible - Han and Chewie should be the last people to fly off this snowball.
T-47’s, for those not in the know, are the technical name for snowspeeders. But according to Google, it’s also a Residential Real Property Affidavit, which tells the person purchasing your home the exact size of the property. And yes, the Rebel’s need to evacuate all that paperwork too.
Luke bids farewell to Chewbacca and waits to say goodbye to Han. They don't mention it in this exchange, but Luke probably senses he won't see Han again until 1983.
You’ll notice following the introduction of the Empire, each scene or exchange between the characters is shorter and snappier as the pacing amps up for a confrontation on the ice fields.
Best Performance by a Human: Admiral Ozzel trying to exert control over his subordinates in the face of Vader.
Best Performance by a Non-human: The matte painting of those Rebel transports.
Best Line: Vader’s “Set your course for the Hoth System.”
Rating: Group 8 out of Group 10.
This was originally posted on Mindctrlaltdel.tumblr.com