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…
Han Solo's getting frozen in carbonite but this is Leia's minute. Cutting between wide shots and closeups of all the main characters involved, the audience's feelings are most closely intertwined with those of the princess and although she keeps her emotions close to her white vest, this is Leia at her most vulnerable (outside of... you know).
It only took a quick 30 seconds during the movie's 95th Minute for the lead characters to enter the chamber and learn what was going on. By the end of that minute, the romantic leads already uttered the two famous lines, "I love you" and "I know." Now, Minute 96:00 is the climate. Outside of a darker version of the love-theme-morphing-into-Vader's-theme and the whirring/clanking machinery, there's no dialogue. It's as close to a silent moment that we're going to get in Empire and that lack of spoken word allows the scene to pack a gut punch of feeling.
That's not to say Carrie Fisher didn't want to say anything. In fact, you can read her frustration throughout the transcript of this scene's shoot - found in J.W. Rinzler's The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Ford and Kershner had a closer working relationship and they viewed this as Han Solo's big moment. Harrison Ford wasn't officially signed on to the sequel so this could have been his send off. As they tinkered with the dialogue to eventually discover Han's "I know," Fisher grew annoyed over her lack of input. While she may not have officially recognized herself as a writer at the time, she'd go on to become a script doctor on movies like Hook and Sister Act. She didn't get to add any new spins to the lines and she sometimes felt stymied by what some saw as one-dimensional traits of the character. When asked what she likes about Leia, for instance, Fisher would dryly say, "I know she likes white." Copies of Fisher's script (which recently went to auction for $20,000 to $30,000) reveal that she had much deeper ideas for the character than she originally let on.
Even in Return of the Jedi, Carrie Fisher tried to add a fun quip into the drama at Jabba's Palace. Han and Luke got to exchange witty banter, Carrie wanted to throw in a type of "don't worry about me, guys"-line while she was chained to the Hutt. Sadly, the director, Richard Marquand, had that cut from the finished movie.
In this carbon-freezing moment, we don't get any smart words, just faces and feelings. It's a solid scene and one of the best in the movie.
Best Performance by a Human: Leia, watching the carbon-freezing in horror and serving as the audience surrogate.
Best Performance by a Non-human: That giant claw.
Best Line: The screeching machinery.
Rating: 11 out of 11 writing credits on Carrie Fisher's IMDB page.
This was originally posted on Mindctrlaltdel.tumblr.com