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….
I never noticed this before but, when taken out of context, the above photo kind of humanizes the stormtroopers, doesn't it? They're dumping Han Solo into his cell because it's they're job, but couldn't the Empire just have a floating droid do that? Do you think the stormtroopers have some compassion for their fellow man, even if Han is their worst enemy? This screen shot - along with the stormtroopers on that bridge in A New Hope, shooting the sh*t about the new BT-16 - gives us a taste of characters like The Force Awakens' Finn before we even knew it was possible for stormtroopers to have a soul. We're not so different after all...
What IS so different is the Cloud City prison cell. This is the Ritz Coruscant compared Detention Cell Block 1138 on the Death Star: There's retractible benches, studio lighting, blinds in the ceiling. Once Han is brought back from his trip to the dentist, he utters one of the most underrated lines in the series - "they didn't even ask me any questions." It sums up the evil of the Empire so casually and it's such a natural and easy line, put into this script (probably by Kasdan) as if conjured by Force magic. It's excellent. He utters this to Leia who, we assume, has been brought back from her own less-violent interrogation. On the other hand, you'd think the Empire would treat her much worse since she's the most wanted woman in the galaxy. Governor Tarkin signed an order to terminate her life custodian'ing Death Star plans around the galaxy - and now she's under house arrest? That's less of a punishment than the movie, House Arrest, starring Jamie Lee Curtis!
Empire is the dark successor to A New Hope, but this prison cell doesn't remotely include any of the creepy elements cut from Leia's detention scenes in Star Wars '77. In early versions of the original Star Wars script, Leia's imprisonment on the Death Star had her floating upside down with her eyes rolled in the back of her head. And that doesn't count the non-PC times that the Leia-character was pushed around in the rough draft.
But this short moment between Han and Leia gives us an honest interplay between the two - their defenses have been stripped away by outside forces and they can finally start being truthful to each other. Before anything progresses further, Lando arrives - like he's offering them a favor. Unlike the dinner scene (from Leigh Brackett's early Empire draft, cut from later script editions, and discussed in Minute 88:00), all of Vader's exposition (in which he revealed his plans to lure Skywalker by capturing Han and Leia) is revealed by Lando instead. It's a smooth move on the part of the filmmakers and another reason why this small scene is almost as essential as the events that follow it.
Best Performance by a Human: Han Solo, in the most vulnerable state we've ever seen him, so far...
Best Performance by a Non-human: Chewie's bitter growl at Lando's entrance.
Best Line: Han's simple and perfect description of the Empire in a nutshell, following his interrogation - "they didn't even ask me any questions."
Rating: 5304 out of Detention Cell 5305 in Cloud City.
This was originally posted on Mindctrlaltdel.tumblr.com