“The Empire Strikes Back” is one of the few films that truly opened my mind to the possibilities of the cinema. Looking back on it now is like looking back on a long forgotten era. The film opened theatrically in the spring of 1980. I was a year and a half from being born. When I saw the film as a kid it was on VHS and had been recorded from tape to tape.
I won’t comment on the story as I’m sure it is ingrained in everyone’s minds at this point. I will say that the plot involves one of the biggest revelations in cinematic history. I am referring to the moment when Darth Vadar reveals that he is Luke Skywalker’s father. It is one of those few movie moments that people still discuss. It is fun to discuss your reaction to that single moment.
What I love to reflect on are the ground breaking effects that took place on screen. From the opening battle on the ice planet of “Hoth”, to the space chase through a vast asteroid field, this film was determined to take us to places we could barely dream of. What is truly remarkable is that not only did everything look breathtaking but that it was done with practical methods. This was done back in the day when visual effects were not as heavily aided by computers as they are now.
Think about this film then compare the images you see to almost any summer blockbuster from the last 25 years. This includes the three prequel films that were made in the last ten years. It is amazing to me that I now treasure films that rely less on computer generated visual effects and I think that audiences are starting to feel the same way.
“The Empire Strikes Back” is among my favourite films and is what I consider to be the best film of the eighties. I doubt we will see another like it in this life time.