Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back

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This article is about the movie Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. You may be looking for the in-universe axiom "The Empire strikes back".

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"If you only knew the power of the dark side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father."
"He told me enough! He told me
you killed him."
I am your father."
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker[src]

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is the second film and the fifth chapter in the film series by George Lucas. Originally released in 1980, the film has proved to be one of the most popular films of the series among many fans and critics. It was the best selling Star Wars movie to date, making the top five most sold in theatre list. It was re-released with changes in 1997 and 2004. The film was re-released in the Blu-ray format in September of 2011. A radio adaptation was broadcast on National Public Radio in the U.S. The film was selected in 2010 to be preserved by the Library of Congress as part of its National Film Registry.

The film concerns the continuing struggles of the Rebel Alliance against the Galactic Empire. During the film, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia Organa are being pursued across space by Darth Vader and his elite forces. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker begins his major Jedi training with Yoda, after an instruction from Obi-Wan Kenobi's spirit. In an emotional confrontation with Vader, Luke is presented with a horrific revelation and must face his destiny.

Opening crawl

Episode V
It is a dark time for the
Rebellion. Although the Death
Star has been destroyed,
Imperial troops have driven the
Rebel forces from their hidden
base and pursued them across
the galaxy.

Evading the dreaded Imperial
Starfleet, a group of freedom
fighters led by Luke Skywalker
has established a new secret
base on the remote ice world
of Hoth.

The evil lord Darth Vader,
obsessed with finding young
Skywalker, has dispatched
thousands of remote probes into
the far reaches of space....


The search for Skywalker

"We have thousands of probe droids searching the galaxy. I want proof, not leads!"
Admiral Kendal Ozzel[src]

It is now three years after the events in A New Hope. The Rebel Alliance has been forced to flee its base on Yavin 4 and establish a new one on the ice planet of Hoth.

An Imperial Star Destroyer dispatched by the Sith Lord Darth Vader, continuing his quest for Luke Skywalker, launches thousands of probe droids across the galaxy, one of which lands on Hoth and begins its survey of the planet. Luke Skywalker, on patrol astride his tauntaun, discovers the probe, which he mistakes for a meteorite. After reporting to comrade Han Solo that he'll investigate the site, Luke is knocked unconscious by a deadly wampa creature.

When Luke does not come back to Echo Base, Han Solo goes out on his tauntaun to search for him in an encroaching storm. Upon waking up, Luke finds himself hanging upside down in an ice cave; his eyes opening to the sight of another wampa eating his tauntaun. Using the Force, Luke is able to pull his lightsaber towards himself. After he ignites it, he cuts himself free and cuts off the attacking wampa's arm, running out of the cave and escaping into the cold night of Hoth.

Luke tries to make his way to Echo Base on foot, but he finds himself caught in a blizzard and collapses in the snow. Suddenly, he sees the Force ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi appear before him. Ben tells Luke to go to Dagobah to undergo training under Yoda, a Jedi Grand Master. After the spirit disappears, Han rides up to an almost unconscious Luke, who is mumbling indistinctly about Ben, Yoda and Dagobah. At this point, the tauntaun that Han was riding on collapses and dies from the extreme cold. To keep Luke warm during the blizzard, Han uses Luke's lightsaber to cut open the dead tauntaun and places Luke in it. Han then sets about erecting a shelter that he and Luke will stay in during the night. They are forced to stay out during the night as the aircraft (snowspeeders) that the Rebels use for atmospheric flight had not yet been adapted for the extremely low temperatures of the Hoth night and are therefore unable to mount a rescue operation to retrieve Han and Luke.

The next morning, Rebel Pilots flying the snowspeeders set out from Echo Base to search for the missing men. Zev Senesca, one of the pilots in Rogue Group makes contact with Han over comlink and the pair are rescued. When they are taken back to base, Luke is put in a bacta tank for healing under the care of medical droid, 2-1B.

Princess Leia Organa tries to urge Han to stay with the rebels, and when Han assumes it is because she has feelings for him, Leia loses her temper and calls him a "stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder."

Meanwhile, the probe droid has spotted signs that indicate Hoth is occupied and sends a signal to the Imperial fleet, shortly before being destroyed by Han Solo and Chewbacca. Aboard the Executor, Admiral Kendal Ozzel dismisses the information as evidence of smugglers, nothing more. However, Darth Vader knows better and orders the fleet to Hoth. General Rieekan, realizing the Empire is probably aware of their location, orders the evacuation of Echo Base to begin.

The Battle of Hoth


AT-ATs on Hoth.

Darth Vader and the Imperial forces set course for the Hoth system to set up the attack. The rebels load whatever equipment they can onto transports and plan a rear-guard action to secure their escape. Luke, now fully recovered from the Wampa attack and subsequent exposure, says farewell to Chewbacca and Solo, who have decided to leave the Alliance to resolve their debt to Jabba the Hutt. As the Imperial forces enter the Hoth system, General Rieekan orders full power to the energy shield that is protecting the base from orbital bombardment.

Aboard the Executor, Vader senses Admiral Ozzel has emerged from lightspeed so close to Hoth that the Rebels have been alerted to the fleet's arrival. Via video communication, Vader Force chokes Ozzel to death for his incompetence, then appoints Captain Piett the new Admiral on the spot. As Vader previously ordered, the Imperial ground forces, commanded by General Veers, land outside the Rebels' shield and march overland to destroy the power generator.

Princess Leia gives the Rebel fighters instructions on the evacuation to leave Hoth two to three ships at a time past the energy shield to a rendezvous point, which is beyond the outer rim. Rieekan raises the shields to fire the Ion cannon at one of the Imperial Star Destroyers allowing the first transports to escape. The Rebel pilots assigned to hold off the Imperial ground assault depart the Hoth base for the oncoming battle against heavily equipped Imperial forces, who are armed with agile AT-STs (All Terrain Scout Transports) and monstrous AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) walkers, led by General Veers.

The snowspeeder group, led by Luke, commences the attack, but realizing the AT-AT's armor is far too strong for blasters, decides to use attached harpoons and tow cables to tangle the walker's legs. Luke's gunner Dak Ralter is hit and killed during the first approach so Wedge Antilles and his gunner Wes Janson take the first shot and manage to destroy one of the AT-ATs. The main AT-AT, commanded by General Veers, prepares to take their aim at the Rebel base's main power generator. Suddenly, Luke's speeder is shot down by the Imperials, and crash-lands in the snow. Luke escapes before the AT-AT can step on and crush his ship.

The Rebel base is now under direct attack and Imperial snowtroopers have entered the base, forcing Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO to escape. Leia gives the evacuation command for the base as they leave.

Rebels get pounded

The Rebels' desperate fight.

Luke, meanwhile, manages to destroy another AT-AT by using his hoist cable and lightsaber to get into the belly of the transport, tossing in a Thermal Detonator, and then detaching himself from the cable as a series of explosions neutralize the AT-AT. The Rebels suffer major casualties as the result of the battle. The main AT-AT, being driven by General Veers, gets within firing range of the power generator, then successfully blasts and destroys it.

Han, Leia, and company, now realizing they are being followed by Vader (who has arrived personally on Hoth), make their way to the Millennium Falcon in time to escape. As the Falcon flies off, Luke reaches R2-D2 and his X-Wing starfighter and finally departs Hoth. Changing course from the rendezvous point, he sets his coordinates for Dagobah.

Han and company are pursued by Imperial TIE fighters. Flipping the switch to take them to lightspeed, Han realizes (with reluctant help from Threepio) that the hyperdrive has been damaged. While trying to fix the hyperdrive system, Han enters an asteroid field to hamper pursuit. He manages to land his ship inside a cavern on one of the larger asteroids to rest and find a way to fix the ship.

The destiny of a Jedi

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Luke lands on the marshy planet Dagobah, swamping his X-Wing in the process. There, he discovers a diminutive and eccentric figure who fiddles around with Luke's gear. After Luke tells him that he is looking for a Jedi Master, the being offers to take Luke to Yoda.

Back on the Falcon, while Leia tries to make repairs, Han makes his move on the Princess, drawing himself closer to her before both end up in a passionate kiss. When Threepio arrives, Leia withdraws and walks away.

Vader orders the entirety of Death Squadron to begin sweeping the asteroid field to find the Millennium Falcon As the search continued, the dangers of the field begin to take their toll: an asteroid smashed into the bridge tower of a Star Destroyer, presumably killing all aboard. On the Executor, Vader communicates with the captains of the other ships (the captain of the demolished star destroyer throws his arms up in horror, and the transmission fades). One officer, Captain Lorth Needa, tells Vader that they should consider their damage. Vader firmly replies that they will continue the search. Shortly afterward, Admiral Piett informs Vader that Emperor Palpatine commands he make contact immediately. Vader orders his ship out of the asteroid field for a clear transmission.

In his private quarters, Vader receives a holographic message from Palpatine, alias Darth Sidious, who alerts the Dark Lord to a "new enemy who could destroy" the Empire - Luke Skywalker. Vader suggests that if Luke could be turned, he would be a "powerful ally". Lord Sidious agrees, saying that Luke would be a "great asset" and asks his apprentice if it could be done. Vader declares Luke will join the Empire "or die".

Instead of going straight to Yoda, Luke is brought to the creature's hut. Luke insists on going to find Yoda immediately, but the small creature only responds with "Not far Yoda is, not far." The diminutive figure then declares the boy lacks patience, but the voice of Kenobi tells the figure that the boy will learn patience if he is to be trained. Only then does Luke realize that the small green figure IS Yoda. Yoda asks Kenobi if he will finish whatever training he begins, then suspects that Luke will someday succumb to fear.


The next day, while cleaning parasitic creatures called Mynocks off the Falcon, Solo and his companions are forced to escape what turns out to be a titanic space slug (which resided in the asteroid the Falcon landed on). Meanwhile, Luke begins a rigorous training regime from Yoda which includes moral lessons about the dangers of the dark side of the Force. That particular lesson is driven home when he is told to enter a cave that is strong with the Dark Side's power. Ignoring Yoda's counsel to leave his weapons, Luke enters the cavern armed. Once inside, he has a vision of himself angrily confronting Darth Vader and beheading him. However, the severed head's mask bursts apart and reveals Luke's face underneath; it is a warning that if Luke battles Vader with no emotional control, he will become Vader himself, seduced by the Dark Side.

Back on the Star Destroyer, Vader enlists the bounty hunters, Boba Fett, Dengar, IG-88, Bossk, 4-LOM and Zuckuss to find the Millennium Falcon for a "substantial reward". One of the Imperial commanders finally spots the Falcon, leading to another pursuit which results in the Falcon eluding the Empire by making the insanely counter intuitive move of attacking the lead Star Destroyer. However, at the last moment, the ship veers off and secretly attaches itself to the ship, which is not extensively covered by sensors, making it appear to have vanished in the Empire's point of view.

Days later, while training, Luke finds that his X-wing fighter has almost completely submerged into the swamp, then breaks concentration. Luke declares he will never be able to get the ship out, seeing that it is too big for him to extract from the water. Yoda says it is "no different, only different in your mind." Luke says he'll "try" to lift the ship, but Yoda says "No! Do or do not, there is no try." Luke tries to use the Force, but to no avail. Yoda reminds him that "size matters not" and gives him wisdom about the Force. Luke denies all of this, then Yoda decides to use the Force to lift the ship out himself. Luke is dumbfounded and incredulous. Yoda senses the youngster's failures within his mind.


Imperial pursuit.

When the fleet disperses to search for the Falcon, the Rebels wait for the ship to do its standard dump of refuse before jumping, then detach to float away with it. The Falcon's hyperdrive needs repairs, so Han decides to make their way to Cloud City, a gas-mining colony run by his "old friend" Lando Calrissian. Unfortunately, the bounty hunter Boba Fett had deduced the Falcon's escape method and had his ship jettisoned with the waste to stealthily follow the fugitives.

The next day, Yoda reminds Luke of the things the young Jedi will see in his mind, the future, the past, and of friends he recognizes. Luke breaks concentration again and has a vision of his friends in danger. He wants to leave Dagobah to rescue them. Yoda reminds him that if Luke leaves now, everything his friends fought and suffered for will be destroyed.

The city in the clouds

Leia: "I love you."
Han: "I know."
―Han and Leia, on Cloud City[src]

Upon arrival at Cloud City, Han's party is welcomed by Lando. However, there are numerous elements that make the Rebels suspicious, not the least of which being C-3PO being found deactivated, dismembered, and almost recycled.


That evening, Luke and Artoo prepare themselves to leave Dagobah, but are warned by both Yoda and the spirit form of Kenobi not to end training so soon for a fight Luke is not ready for. Ben declares that should Luke decide to face Vader, he will have to face him alone without interference. Luke understands this, and his ship takes off from Dagobah. Yoda is disappointed, declaring Luke is reckless. Ben tells Yoda that Luke is the Jedi's last hope, but Yoda answers back, "there is another..."

A day later, Han and company find themselves betrayed by Calrissian who was approached by the Empire before the Rebels' arrival and threatened him and the city unless he cooperated. They became the captives of Darth Vader, who proceeds to torture Han to create a disturbance in the Force for Luke to detect.

That afternoon, Vader enters a carbon-freezing chamber intending to freeze Luke Skywalker once he arrives. The Dark Lord uses the opportunity for Boba Fett to deliver Solo to Jabba the Hutt (to whom Han owed a debt) by testing the device on Solo himself. Han and company enter the chamber for the experiment. At first, Chewbacca resists the stormtroopers, but Han restrains him, saving his strength for another time. Han says goodbye to Leia with a passionate kiss before he is escalated into the carbon freezing chamber. When he is successfully entombed in carbonite in a state of suspended animation, Vader hands over Han to bounty hunter Boba Fett for transportation to Tatooine to receive a bounty from Jabba. One of the Imperial commanders informs Vader that Luke's starfighter has arrived on Bespin. The Dark Lord orders Lando to take Leia, Chewbacca, and Threepio to his Star Destroyer, reneging on a deal he made with Lando. But the Cloud City administrator has other plans.

Duel with the Dark Lord


Luke makes his way to Bespin safely. He quietly walks down the corridors of Cloud City. He spots Boba Fett who is taking the now-frozen Solo back to his ship. He attempts to follow but is thwarted when the bounty hunter notices and opens fire. Luke narrowly escapes and runs down farther into the corridor. He finally meets up with Leia, Chewie, and Lando, who have been captured by stormtroopers. Luke tries to ambush the group of Imperials, but is unsuccessful. Leia yells at him and tells him that "it's a trap!" Luke runs after his captured friends, hoping to save them, but wanders into the carbon-freezing chamber. There, he meets with Vader and the two fight in an epic lightsaber duel, where Luke's undeveloped Jedi skills are no match for Vader.

The Imperials (escorting the Rebel prisoners out of Bespin) are overpowered by Cloud City security, setting Lando and company free. Chewbacca turns against Lando for betraying Han and chokes him, but he manages to tell the Wookiee there's still a chance to rescue Han at the East Platform. Threepio is reunited with his companion Artoo. Lando and company arrive too late as Fett's ship takes off, then engage in a fierce battle with stormtroopers.

Luke and Vader continue their lightsaber battle in the bowels of Cloud City, just nearly freezing Luke in the carbon freezing chamber. Vader uses the Dark Side of the Force against Luke by using whatever equipment is at hand, eventually thrusting Luke through a window and landing on one of the emergency platforms.

As the gunfight continues, Lando orders an evacuation of Cloud City, then the company manages to find their last hope of escape...the Millennium Falcon.

In the final phase of the lightsaber duel, Vader manages to cut off Luke's right hand, which then falls (along with the lightsaber which the hand grasped) into an abyss. In what has become one of the most memorable scenes in cinema history, Vader reveals to Luke the truth about his father:

Darth Vader: "Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father."
Luke Skywalker: "He told me enough! He told me you killed him!"
Darth Vader: "No, I am your father."
―Vader and Luke, on Cloud City[src]

A horrified Luke screams in denial. Vader attempts to persuade Luke to join him and embrace the Dark Side to defeat the Emperor. However, Luke chooses suicide over being corrupted and throws himself down a deep shaft.


"No. I am your father."

Luke is sucked into an air vent, exits the underbelly of the city and catches an antenna beneath Cloud City. Facing clear death, Luke calls out to Ben Kenobi in vain (Kenobi had warned Luke that he would not be able to help Luke once he faced Vader). Then, he calls out to the only other one who could help... Leia.

Leia mysteriously senses Luke's telepathic distress signal. The Falcon turns around and comes back to Cloud City. Using an escape hatch, Lando manages to catch Luke and rescue him before the wounded Jedi falls helplessly to the planet as TIEs race toward them. The Falcon finally leaves Bespin's gravitational field and is about to escape into hyperspace when the hyperdrive system again fails. Vader asks for confirmation that the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive system was deactivated to prevent their escape, then orders weapons be set to stun.


The Rebels regroup and plan to rescue Han.

As the Imperials pursue the Falcon, the injured Luke telepathically hears the voice of Vader calling to him. He answers, "Father...", while Vader telepathically calls, "Son, come with me". Luke senses it is Vader, then cries, "Ben, why didn't you tell me?"

Threepio commands that Artoo finish reconstructing him after his ordeal in Cloud City. However, with quick ingenuity, Artoo manages to re-activate the Falcon's hyperdrive system just in time for the ship to flee to hyperspace. Vader is disappointed and retreats to his secret quarters in his Star Destroyer, ignoring Piett's failure.

The film ends on a Nebulon-B Class Medical Frigate at the Rebel fleet's rendezvous point, where Luke under the care of 2-1B again which includes the implantation of a prosthetic hand. Lando and Chewbacca begin their parts of a most dangerous mission...rescuing Han. Lando promises to Leia they'll bring her back the man she loves. Luke, Leia, and the droids look on as the Falcon departs for unknown territories. Their own fates and futures are now uncertain. But the time will come when all will be is only a question of how long.




Empire strikes back poster vader

Poster with Vader's helmet

Credit Name
Directed By Irvin Kershner
Produced By Gary Kurtz
Screenplay By Leigh Brackett
Lawrence Kasdan
Story By George Lucas
Executive Producer George Lucas
Production Designer Norman Reynolds
Director Of Photography Peter Suschitzky B.S.C.
Edited By Paul Hirsch A.C.E.
Special Visual Effects Brian Johnson
Richard Edlund
Music By John Williams
Performed By The London Symphony Orchestra
Original Music Copyright 1980 Fox Fanfare Music Inc. / Bantha Music
Associate Producers Robert Watts
James Bloom
Design Consultant And Conceptual Artist Ralph McQuarrie
Art Directors Leslie Dilley
Harry Lange
Alan Tomkins
Set Decorator Michael Ford
Construction Manager Bill Welch
Assistant Art Directors Michael Lamont
Fred Hole
Sketch Artist Ivor Beddoes
Draftsmen Ted Ambrose
Michael Boone
Reg Bream
Steve Cooper
Richard Dawking
Modellers Fred Evans
Allan Moss
Jan Stevens
Chief Buyer Edward Rodrigo
Construction Storeman Dave Middleton
Operating Cameramen Kelvin Pike
David Garfath
Assistant Cameramen Maurice Arnold
Chris Tanner
Second Assistant Cameramen Peter Robinson
Madelyn Most
Dolly Grips Dennis Lewis
Brian Osborn
Matte Photography Consultant Stanley Sayer, B.S.C.
Gaffer Laurie Shane
Rigging Gaffer John Clark
Lighting Equipment And Crew From Lee Electric
Make-Up And Special Creature Design Stuart Freeborn
Chief Make-Up Artist Graham Freeborn
Make-Up Artists Kay Freeborn
Nick Maley
Chief Hairdresser Barbara Ritchie
Yoda Fabrication Wendy Midener
Costume Designer John Mollo
Wardrobe Supervisor Tiny Nicholls
Wardrobe Mistress Eileen Sullivan
Property Master Frank Bruton
Property Supervisor Charles Torbett
Property Dressing Supervisor Joe Dipple
Head Carpenter George Gunning
Head Plasterer Bert Rodwell
Head Rigger Red Lawrence
Sound Design And Supervising Sound Effects Editor Ben Burtt
Sound Editors Richard Burrow
Teresa Eckton
Bonnie Koehler
Production Sound Peter Sutton
Sound Boom Operator Don Wortham
Production Maintenance Ron Butcher
Re-Recording Bill Varney
Steve Maslow
Gregg Landaker
Music Recording Eric Tomlinson
Orchestrations Herbert W. Spencer
Supervising Music Editor Kenneth Wannberg
Assistant Film Editors Duwayne Dunham
Phil Sanderson
Barbara Ellis
Steve Starkey
Paul Tomlinson
Dialogue Editors Curt Schulkey
Leslie Shatz
Joanne D'antonio
Optical Coordinator Roberta Friedman
Assistant Sound Editors John Benson
Joanne Cappuccilli
Ken Fischer
Craig Jaeger
Nancy Jencks
Laurel Ladevich
Foley Editors Robert Rutledge
Scott Hecker
Foley Assistants Edward M. Steidele
John Roesh
Sound Effects Recording Randy Thom
Recording Technicians Gary Summers
Kevin O'Connell
Production Supervisor Bruce Sharman
Assistant Production Manager Patricia Carr
Production Coordinator Miki Herman
First Assistant Director David Tomblin
Second Assistant Directors Steve Lanning
Roy Button
Location Manager Philip Kohler
Continuity Kay Rawlings
Pamela Mann
Casting Irene Lamb
Terry Liebling
Bob Edmiston
Assistant To Producer Bunny Alsup
Assistant To Director Debbie Shaw
Assistant To Executive Producer Jane Bay
Production Assistants Barbara Harley
Nick Laws
Charles Wessler
Stunt Coordinator Peter Diamond
Stunt Doubles Bob Anderson
Colin Skeaping
Production Accountant Ron Phipps
Assistant Accountant Michael Larkins
Set Cost-Controller Ken Gordon
Location Accountant Ron Cook
Still Photographer George Whitear
Unit Publicist Alan Arnold
Assistant Publicist Kristen Wing
Studio Second Unit
Directors Harley Cokliss
John Barry
Director Of Photography Chris Menges
Assistant Director Dominic Fulford
Second Assistant Director Andrew Montgomery
Location Second Unit
Director Peter Macdonald
Director Of Photography Geoff Glover
Operating Cameraman Bob Smith
Assistant Cameramen John Campbell
Mike Brewster
Second Assistant Cameramen John Keen
Greg Dupre
Dolly Grip Frank Batt
Production Manager Svein Johansen
Assistant Directors Bill Westley
Ola Solum
Production And Mechanical Effects Unit
Mechanical Effects Supervision Nick Allder
Location Unit Supervisor Allan Bryce
Senior Effects Technician Neil Swan
Dave Watkins
Robot Fabrication And Supervision Andrew Kelly
Ron Hone
Effects Technicians Phil Knowles
Barry Whitrod
Martin Gant
Brian Eke
Guy Hudson
Dennis Lowe
Effects Engineering Roger Nichols
Steve Lloyd
Electrical Engineer John Hatt
Electronics Consultant Rob Dickinson
Model Construction John Pakenham
Effects Assistants Alan Poole
Digby Milner
Robert McLaren
Effects Secretary Gill Case
Minature And Optical Effects Unit
Effects DirectorOf Photography Dennis Muren
Effects Cameramen Ken Ralston
Jim Veilleux
Camera Operators Don Dow
Bill Neil
Assistant Cameramen Selwyn Eddy
Jody Westheimer
Rick Fighter
Clint Palmer
Michael McAlister
Paul Huston
Richard Fish
Chris Anderson
Optical Photography Supervisor Bruce Nicholson
Optical Printer Operators David Berry
Kenneth Smith
Donald Clark
Optical Line-Up Warren Franklin
Mark Vargo
Peter Amundson
Loring Doyle
Thomas Rosseter
Tam Pillsbury
James Lim
Optical Coordinator Laurie Vermont
Laboratory Technicians Tim Geideman
Duncan Myers
Ed Jones
Art Director-Visual Effects Joe Johnston
Assistant Art Director Nilo Rodis-Jamero
Stop Motion Animation Jon Berg
Phil Tippett
Stop Motion Technicians Tom St. Amand
Doug Beswick
Matte Painting Supervisor Harrison Ellenshaw
Matte Artists Ralph McQuarrie
Michael Pangrazio
Matte Photography Neil Krepela
Additional Matte Photography Michael Lawler
Matte Photography Assistants Craig Barron
Robert Elswit
Chief Model Maker Lorne Peterson
Modelshop Foreman Steve Gawley
Model Makers Paul Huston
Tom Rudduck
Michael Fulmer
Samuel Zolltheis
Charles Bailey
Ease Owyeung
Scott Marshall
Marc Thorpe
Wesley Seeds
Dave Carson
Rob Gemmel
Pat McClung
Animation And Rotoscope Supervisor Peter Kuran
Animators Samuel Comstock
Garry Waller
John Van Vliet
Rick Taylor
Kim Knowlton
Chris Casady
Nina Saxon
Diana Wilson
Visual Effects Editorial Supervisor Conrad Buff
Effects Editor Michael Kelly
Assistant Effects Editors Arthur Repola
Howard Stein
Apprentice Editor Jon Thaler
Production Administrator Dick Gallegly
Production Secretary Patricia Blau
Production Associate Thomas Brown
Production Accountant Ray Scalice
Assistant Accountant Glenn Phillips
Pam Traas
Laura Crockett
Production Assistant Jenny Oznowicz
Transportation Robert Martin
Still Photographer Terry Chostner
Lab Assistant Roberto McGrath
Electronics Systems Designer Jerry Jeffress
Systems Programming Kris Brown
Electronic Engineers Lhary Meyer
Mike Mackenzie
Gary Leo
Special Project Coordinator Stuart Ziff
Equipment Engineering Supervisor Gene Whiteman
Design Engineer Mike Bolles
Machinists Udo Pampel
Greg Beaumonte
Draftsman Ed Tennler
Special Projects Gary Platek
Supervising Stage Technician T.E. Moehnke
Stage Technicians William Beck
Bobby Finley
Leo Loverro
Edward Hirsh
Dick Dova
Ed Breed
Miniature Pyrotechnics Joseph Viskocil
Dave Pier
Thaine Morris
Optical Printer Component Manufacturer George Randle Co.
Camera And Movement Design Jim Beaumonte
Special Optics Designer David Grafton
Special Optics Fabrication J.L. Wood Optical Systems
Optical Printer Component Engineering Fries Engineering
High Speed Camera Movements Mitchell Camera Corp.
Ultra High Speed Camera Bruce Hill Productions
Color Timer Ed Lemke
Negative Cutting Robert Hart
Darrell Hixson
Dolby Consultant Don Digirolamo
Additional Optical Effects Van Der Veer Photo Effects
Modern Film Effects
Ray Mercer & Company
Westheimer Company
Lookout Mountain Films

Special Edition Crew

Credit Name
Producer Rick McCallum
Editor T.M. Christopher
Sound Designer Ben Burtt
Re-Recording Mixer Gary Summers
First Assistant Editor Samuel Hinckley
Assistant Editor Robert Marty
Assistant Avid Editors Mike Jackson
Robin Lee
Sound Editor Teresa Eckton
Assistant Sound Editor Lisa Storer
Re-Recordist Ronald G. Roumas
Digital Mix Technician Gary A. Rizzo
Archivist Tim Fox
Optical Supervisors Phillip Feiner
Chris Bushman
Film Restoration Supervisor Pete Comandini
Color Timer Robert J. Raring
Negative Continuity Ray Sabo
Negative Cutter Bob Hart
Special Edition Digital Remastering Provided By Skywalker Sound A Lucas Digital Ltd. Company
Film Restoration Consultant Leon Briggs
Optical Restoration Pacific Title
Film Restoration By Ycm Laboratories
Industrial Light And Magic
Visual Effects Supervisor Dave Carson
Visual Effects Producer Tom Kennedy
Computer Graphics Supervisor Tom Hutchinson
Visual Effects Art Director George Hull
Visual Effects Editor Michael McGovern
Color Timing Supervisor Bruce Vecchitto
Visual Effects Coordinator Lisa Todd
Digital Effects Artists Don Butler
Michael Conte
Howard Gersh
Marshall Krasser
Tia Marshall
Stuart Maschwitz
Julie Neary
Ken Nielsen
Eddie Pasquarello
Ricardo Ramos
Tom Rosseter
Lawrence Tan
Paul Theren
Hans Uhlig
Li-Hsein Wei
Ron Woodall
Digital Matte Artists Ronn Brown
Eric Chauvin
Brian Flora
William Mather
3d Matchmove Artist James Hagedorn
Digital Paint & Roto Artists Lisa Drostova
Heidi Zabit
Chief Creature Maker Howie Weed
Model & Creature Makers Carol Bauman
Don Bies
Giovanni Donovan
Wendy Morton
Anne Polland
Mark Siegel
Steven Walton
Sabre Group Supervisor Daniel McNamara
Sabre Artists Rita Zimmerman
Chad Taylor
Mary McCulloch
Grant Guenin
Caitlin Content
Software Research And Development David Benson
Jim Hourihan
Zoran Kacic-Alesic
Florian Kainz
Jeff Yost
Digital Scanning Supervisor Joshua Pines
Digital Scanning Operators Randall Bean
Michael Ellis
Earl Beyer
Negative Supervisor Doug Jones
Negative Line-Up Andrea Biklian
Tim Geideman
Projectionist Tim Greenwood
Digital Plate Restoration Melissa Monterrosa
Mike Van Eps
Wendy Hendrickson
Assistant Visual Effects Art Director Alex Laurant
Assistant Visual Effects Editor John Bartle
Video Editor Angela Leaper
Animatic Artist Jonathan Rothbart
Digital Effects Technical Assistants Okan Ataman
Peter Chesloff
Joshua Levine
Dawn Matheson
Daniel Shumaker
Digital Effects Resource Assistant Daniel Brimer
Visual Effects Production Staff Julie Creighton
Joshua Marks
Video Assistants Dawn Martin
Wendy Bell
Production Engineering Ken Beyer
Ken Corvino
Gary Meyer
Aerial Camera System By Wesscam Camera Systems (Europe)
Aerial Cameraman Ron Goodman
Assistant Margaret Herron
Helicopter Supplied By Dollar Air Services Limited
Pilot Mark Wolfe
Cloud Plates Photographed With Astrovision(c) By Continental Camera Systems Inc.
Snow Vehicles Supplied By Aktiv Fischer
R2 Bodies Fabricated By White Horse Toy Company
Special Assistance From Giltspur Engineering And Compair
Photographed On The Hardengerjekulan Glacier, Finse, Norway And At Emi - Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, England
Music Recorded At Anvil Studios, Denham, England
Re-Recording At Samuel Goldwyn Studios, Los Angeles, California
Special Visual Effects Produced At Industrial Light And Magic, Marin County, California


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Behind the scenes

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Lucas hired screenwriter Leigh Brackett to write a screenplay based on his story treatment. Brackett finished the first draft on February 23, 1978 but she died soon afterward. According to Lucas, he didn't like the direction in which her screenplay went. Without a writer to fix it, he was forced to write the second draft himself throughout March. Major plot changes were made compared to the first draft and the storyline that is in the film was formed in this draft. One of the most notable changes was making Vader Luke's father. When Lawrence Kasdan finished writing the screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark he was hired to rewrite and improve Lucas' draft. He wrote a few more drafts before the script conference was held in November between George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan, Irvin Kershner and Gary Kurtz. After some additional input, the shooting script was finally formed. Minor changes to dialogues came from Kershner and actors throughout the filming and were mostly approved by Lucas.


Filming lasted from March 5 until September 24, 1979. Some of the Hoth sequence was filmed in Norway, in the area from the railway station Finse to the Hardangerjøkelen glacier. The scenes on Dagobah, Cloud City and inside the Hoth Echo Base were shot at Elstree Studios, England.

Major musical themes

Critical reception

The Empire Strikes Back initially received mixed reviews. Many critics had problems with the story, but at the same time said the film was a technical achievement. Critics also had various reactions to changes introduced in re-releases of this film.

Since the release of its sequel Return of the Jedi however, many consider this installment to be the best of the entire saga[source?]. The acting is arguably much stronger than in any of the other Star Wars films[source?]. The direction is arguably the most operatic and confident, and is not over-reliant on editing[source?].

According to the actors, Irvin Kershner would encourage group discussions and improvisations from the actors, and would do many takes of each scene, in contrast to Lucas, who would always stick to the script, usually do about three takes, and offer little direction to the actors.

It is believed to be the most morally ambiguous and darkest of the original trilogy and it is also the only one of the six Star Wars films in which no major character dies.

The film was selected in 2010 to be preserved by the Library of Congress as part of its National Film Registry.[2][3]


TESB 30th Anniversary logo

2010 marked the film's 30th Anniversary

Along with the other two films of his original trilogy, George Lucas issued a Special Edition of The Empire Strikes Back in 1997, making a number of changes and additions, including replacing a piece of music from the closing scene.

On September 21, 2004 the three original movies were finally released on DVD. There have been a few further minor changes to the film on this release—such as sound effects and improvements to the visual quality of the film. One highly noticeable change involving visually quality improvement is that the odd pink glow was removed from the Cloud City entrance scene, where the Cloud Car was replaced with a Tibanna gas refinery in the 1997 theatrical version.

In addition, the scene in which Darth Vader speaks with the Emperor was altered for the DVD release. Clive Revill, who performed Palpatine's voice, and Elaine Baker, who portrayed Palpatine, were both replaced with Ian McDiarmid, who would eventually be cast for the same role in Return of the Jedi, and all three prequels. Originaly, a woman was cast as Palpatine's profile with chimpanzee eyes superimposed over her own, with a male's voice dubbed in later. However, Clive Revill's name still appeared in the movie's credits as the voice actor for Palpatine. McDiarmid re-recorded the dialogue with James Earl Jones and they both added more lines for this scene.

Another addition was Temuera Morrison providing the voice for Boba Fett, further establishing the fact that Boba is indeed a clone of Jango Fett. It is unknown in this film if Boba is the last remaining clone of Jango.

The trilogy was re-released on separate two-disc Limited Edition DVD sets from September 12, 2006 to December 31, 2006; the original versions of the films were added as bonus material. Controversy surrounded the release because the unaltered versions were from the 1993 non-anamorphic Laserdisc masters, and were not retransferred with modern video standards.[4]

Empire Strikes Back was re-released for a Blu-ray format re-release in September of 2011. [5]

The film is set for theatrical 3D re-release in 2016.[6]

Cut content

The Death of General Veers

General Veers is about to destroy the shield generators when Hobbie, a rebel pilot, is damaged and flies toward Veers's Walker. One of Veers's men says "Look out! He's going to..." Hobbie crashes his fighter into the cockpit of Veers's AT-AT Walker, which is blown up, killing both Hobbie and Veers. (Though they are both shown alive in the Expanded Universe) This was likely cut because Veers succeeds in destroying the shield generators, and the film makers would have found it difficult to alter the scene so it takes place after Veers destroys them.

Wampa attack

Wampa attack top

R2-D2 escapes a wampa

According to the fourth version of the script for The Empire Strikes Back, there is some extra dialogue concerning the wampas and a scene involving R2 getting chased down a hallway by one while the Rebels blast it. One of the Rebels calls in the report saying, "We got it, sir, but there may be more," (talking to General Rieekan). Alarms are buzzing and Leia inquires if the creature has been examined yet. The general tells her they are working on it and then they are alerted to a "visitor"—the Imperial probot. Since it is revealed to be metallic, Leia remarks, "Then it couldn't be one of those creatures"—referring to the wampas, of course.

Wampas infiltrate Echo Base

Wampas infiltrate top

2-1B attends to the dead tauntaun

In the scene where Han Solo is about to go after Luke Skywalker on a tauntaun, a dead tauntaun is seen on the floor being examined by 2-1B, the medical droid. On the wall is what appears to be some blood, presumably from the dead animal. In the fourth draft of the script, one of the rebels says to his deck officer, "...I can't imagine, sir. Their necks are broken." (The script refers to three dead creatures, not one.) The wampas have already broken into the base at this point and have obviously attacked some tauntauns. They break in once around the time of Han and Leia's argument in the hallway (see the picture below from the comic adaptation) and again when C-3PO and R2-D2 are walking towards the hangar and commenting about the temperature in Leia's chamber. Later, when Han is wondering where Luke is, he comes across the Rebels examining the dead tauntaun. They are wondering what happened to this creature as they have no idea yet that wampas have infiltrated the base. It can be noted however, that this senario is present in the instant action mode of Star Wars: Battlefront II.

The Wampa Pen

Wampa pen top

The pursuing snowtroopers enter the wampa pen

Out of all the cut scenes featuring wampas, this one is the most well-known, perhaps because this scene has left the most evidence behind. Sometime during the Hoth scenes, it's discovered that R2-D2's beeping noises attract the wampas—just like in the famous "Pied Piper" fairy tale. R2-D2 leads the wampas into a large room and the Rebels then place a red and yellow warning sign on the door so Rebels won't wander inside unaware and get eaten. This scene with R2-D2 was allegedly filmed, but never made it into the final cut. Later on, while on their way to the medical center to see Luke, R2-D2 and C-3PO pass by the wampa pen and discuss the creatures briefly.

Jumping ahead to the Rebel heroes' exodus from Echo Base during the Battle of Hoth, Han, Leia, and C-3PO are scurrying to get Leia to her transport. On the way out, they pass a door with a familiar yellow sign with red lettering. Han gives the door a quick look and almost stops but continues on past it after recognizing the warning (the quick shot is in the finished film, it appears directly after General Veers destroys the power generators). What wasn't included in the film was C-3PO (who is running behind Han and Leia trying to keep up) trudging up to the door after them. He stops and tears off the yellow warning sign (C-3PO is seen tearing off the sign on the "bonus features" DVD of the Trilogy box DVD set. The moment is briefly seen in the trailer for Episode V). He then proceeds to catch up with Han and Leia as they make their way to the Millennium Falcon.

After the snowtroopers burst into the base, they come across the door, left with only a small piece of the original warning sign. They open the door, only to be attacked by the already annoyed wampas inside.

Luke: Gunner

Luke gunner 01

Luke Skywalker mans a heavy artillery weapon against the attacking wampas.

There have always been rumors and images that state there was originally a scene from Empire inside Echo Base where Luke mans a gun and blasts a few wampas. The only thing that really makes most fans believe this scene was actually shot is the following quote from Jon Knoles in the Star Wars Insider 33 (page 59) talking about the game, Shadows of the Empire for Nintendo 64:

"We knew, for instance, of the scene where a wampa actually broke through into Echo Base and mauled a tauntaun (and possibly some Rebel troops) and a scene where Luke actually took over an auto-laser cannon and blasts a wampa or two. The wampa filmed in this shot looked absolutely hilarious with a big fluffy face and metallic round eyeballs. We saw the picture in a Kodak shoebox Photo CD that Lucasfilm Ltd. provided us with some time ago."


A novelization of the film was written by Donald F. Glut and was published on April 12, 1980.

One strange inaccuracy in the book is that several times it mentions Yoda as having blue skin instead of the well-known green of the movies. The Marvel Comics version of Yoda also depicted the character with blue skin. Possibly both Marvel and Glut were working with versions of the script that were later changed.

The novel also refers to Zuckuss as a Human bounty hunter when in fact he is a Gand. Furthermore, the novel omits 4-LOM from the lineup of bounty hunters. On top of that, the story includes a much expanded account of Luke's training by Yoda, as well as other inserted scenes. Also, Darth Vader's lightsaber is mentioned during the cave scene on Dagobah to be blue rather than the usual red.

There is a major discrepancy between the novel and the Expanded Universe, as the book shows Rebel pilot Hobbie, Luke's wingman during the battle, flying his snowspeeder into the head of General Veers's AT-AT walker on Hoth in a suicide run after he had been wounded. It also mentions that his gunner was killed prior to this. However, Hobbie is seen alive and well in the books and comics set after Hoth, and the Star Wars customizable card game features a card with Hobbie's gunner Kesin Ommis, which states that he survived the battle with minor injuries. In the Expanded Universe, Veers is stated to have survived as well.

Radio drama

A radio drama of the film was written by Brian Daley and produced for and broadcast on the National Public Radio in 1983.


The film was adapted into comics form by Marvel Comics as part of their ongoing Star Wars series. Released in six parts (issues 39 to 44), the adaptation was scripted by Archie Goodwin and illustrated by Al Williamson.

A manga adaptation illustrated by Toshiki Kudo was released in Japan in 1998 and in the United States in 1999.


In 2007, Hasbro released a series of collectible tins in celebration of Star Wars 30th anniversary. It contained four figures in vintage packaging. The four figures included were a Snowtrooper, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca. It was tin number five of six.

Notes and references

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