It is Thursday once more and, if you are reading this, you’ve managed to survive the week. Congratulations! Death has nothing on you, so be proud. With Star Wars VII ever prevalent on the horizon, I thought it would be appropriate to pay homage to the best of the bunch (so far!), Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. Spoiler alert: Darth Vader is Luke’s father.
So. ITV has begun its quarterly showing of the most important science fiction series of all time (eat a dick, Trekkies!) and I thought to myself, “Screw adverts, screw waiting, I want to watch this now!” Queue this article…
Set three years after the events of the first [real] instalment from the salient science fiction saga, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Empire is a foray into the darker side of a galaxy far, far away. The rebel alliance is on the run from the malevolent empire; Han Solo, Leia Organa, et al. descend deeper into the clutches of their adversary; and Luke Skywalker continues his journey to become a full-fledged Jedi, with some pretty ground breaking revelations along the way.
Determining what specific factors resulted in the astronomical success of New Hope is a lengthy discussion, and one for another day, but Empire ups the ante on just about every level. Where initially the themes revolved largely around the basic principles of coming of age and overcoming evil, this sequel moves into more meaningful discourse. Although still rooted in the same thematic foundations, these ideas are expanded upon and translated into very real messages. This is what makes Empire phenomenal.
Take Luke’s journey as example: his desire to confront the destroyer of his cherished past life (Vader) is ultimately unsuccessful. His over eagerness despite a lack of readiness results in his downfall and he is forced to understand that he cannot just take on anything at whim (see: my life). I think that’s a message that us youngsters can all jam to.
Equally as important are Han Solo’s experiences, notably on the gas-planet, Bespin. Here is a character that just wants to ignore the galaxy’s problems, instead relying on his own resourcefulness to get by on his own. However, when he seeks refuge with a former friend he ensures his own doom and is imprisoned in carbonite. The minor realisations he makes along the way are inconsequential as he comes to understand that every man has a price when their own lives are at stake and he pays dearly for this.
These may seem like pessimistic readings of the text, but they’re a harsh reality. Galactic (or global, if you prefer) problems are ones everyone should heed; confronting them with an air of rationality is also important. Just look at the Gaza-Israeli conflict that’s happening right now: can you solve it by yourself? No, of course not. Don’t be stupid. That’s not to suggest that you should just ignore them, but instead you should look to those around you for strength and together you can deal with actual issues with a positive outcome in mind. This happens in the follow up and final instalment of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi. Really, what I’m saying is that you can take a lot from The Empire Strikes Back with practical implications. This makes for more than just enjoyable cinema; it makes for genuinely important cinema.
And you thought I was just going to bang on about how cool lightsabres are…
Disclaimer: Lightsabres are cool as shit.