AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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The Empire Strikes Back
Alternate Title: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Director: Irvin Kershner (Dir)
Release Date:   21 May 1980
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 21 May 1980
Production Date:   5 Mar--fall 1979 in Norway and England
Duration (in mins):   124
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Cast: Starring Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) as
  Starring Harrison Ford (Han Solo) as
  Starring Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) as
  Starring Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) as
  Starring Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) as
  Co-starring David Prowse (Darth Vader) as
  Co-starring Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) as
  Co-starring Kenny Baker (R2-D2) as
  Co-starring Frank Oz (Yoda) performing
    Alec Guinness (Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi)  
    Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett)  
    John Hollis (Lando's aide)  
    Jack Purvis (Chief Ugnaught)  
    Des Webb (Snow creature)  
    Kathryn Mullen (Performing assistant for Yoda)  
    Clive Revill (Voice of Emperor)  
  Imperial forces: Kenneth Colley (Admiral Piett)  
    Julian Glover (General Veers)  
    Michael Sheard (Admiral Ozzel)  
    Michael Culver (Captain Needa)  
    John Dicks (Other officer)  
    Milton Johns (Other officer)  
    Mark Jones (Other officer)  
    Oliver Maguire (Other officer)  
  [and] Robin Scobey (Other officer)  
  Rebel forces: Bruce Boa (General Rieekan)  
    Christopher Malcom (Zev "Rogue 2")  
    Dennis Lawson (Wedge "Rogue 3")  
    Richard Oldfield (Hobbie "Rogue 4")  
    John Morton (Dak "Luke's gunner")  
    Ian Liston (Janson "Wedge's gunner")  
    John Ratzenberger (Major Derlin)  
    Jack McKenzie (Deck Lieutenant)  
    Jerry Harte (Head controller)  
    Norman Chancer (Other officer)  
    Norwich Duff (Other officer)  
    Ray Hassett (Other officer)  
    Brigitte Kahn (Other officer)  
  [and] Burnell Tucker (Other officer)  
    James Earl Jones (Voice of Darth Vader)  

Summary: During an intergalactic civil war, freedom fighters Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia battle against an evil empire. Imperial dictator Darth Vader is intent on finding young Luke, and sends exploratory robot “droid” probes into space, to discern the boy’s whereabouts. When the droids crash into the frozen planet Hoth, the secret location of a rebel base, the insurgents mistake the event for a meteorite shower, and Luke is sent to investigate. On his mission, Luke is knocked unconscious by a predatory Wampa creature. Meanwhile, back at rebel headquarters, Han Solo reports that he is being hunted by a former creditor, Jabba the Hut, and must abandon the base to protect its security. When Leia objects to Han’s departure, he chides her for being secretly in love with him, but she recoils at the notion and the two separate on bitter terms. Before Han leaves, however, he learns from droid C-3PO that Luke is missing. As Han searches for his friend in a blizzard, Luke awakens in the Wampa’s cave, conjures the metaphysical power of “the Force,” and assumes his novice faculties as a budding Jedi knight to escape. Back at rebel headquarters, Leia reluctantly agrees to close the outpost’s shield doors for the night. As Luke nears death in the blizzard, he envisions his former Jedi mentor, Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi, who orders the boy to travel to the Dagobah System and seek instruction from the universe’s senior Jedi master, Yoda. Just then, Han saves Luke and uses his friend’s lightsaber to cut open the stomach of his dead, bipedal “tauntaun.” The men take shelter in the animal’s corpse for the night, and are picked up by a search and rescue operation the following morning. Back at the base, the rebels detect an Imperial frequency. Han and his tall, hairy Wookie companion, Chewbacca, destroy Darth Vader’s probe droid, but the rebels realize their outpost has been discovered and prepare to evacuate. Meanwhile, Darth Vader navigates his Stardestroyer toward the Hoth System and deploys a fleet of armored Imperial walkers to conduct ground battle. Boarding fighter planes, Luke and his colleagues are unable to defend the base; Luke’s gunner is killed and he is forced to crash land. Back at rebel headquarters, Han is given clearance to leave in his spaceship, the Millenium Falcon, but he lingers, realizing that the station is threatened with imminent destruction. Just as Darth Vader takes over the rebel stronghold, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO narrowly escape in the Millenium Falcon. Outside, Luke watches his friends speed away, then pilots his own spaceship, navigated by droid R2-D2, and heads toward the Dagobah System. He crash-lands in a remote swamp. Meanwhile, the Millenium Falcon malfunctions and is unable to activate its light speed hyper drive. Han evades attackers by steering through an asteroid field and hiding the ship in a cylindrical rock crevice. There, the crew struggles to repair the spacecraft, and Han and Leia kiss. Han soon realizes that he mistakenly landed the Millenium Falcon inside the belly of an enormous worm, and the rebels escape through the creature’s clenching jaws. Back in the Dagobah System, Luke is startled to find an aged troll-like creature, who reveals himself to be Yoda. Despite Yoda’s observation that Luke is too impatient and bitter to become a Jedi, he agrees to begin training the young man. Yoda warns that “the Force” can be wielded for evil as well as good, and that the dark side is seductive. However, Luke will know the difference between the opposing forces if he is at peace with himself and understands that Jedis never use power aggressively. Feeling a chill in the air, Luke confronts a vision of Darth Vader; Luke beheads the enemy with his lightsaber, only to see his own face appear in his opponent’s mask. Elsewhere, on the Imperial Stardestroyer, Darth Vader orders his starfleet to follow the Millenium Falcon. Darth Vader’s evil master, the Emperor, announces that Luke is the son of Anakin Skywalker, and will threaten the Empire if he becomes a full-fledged Jedi. Vowing to lure Luke over to “the dark side,” Darth Vader devises a trap. He hires bounty hunters to track down the Millenium Falcon, forcing Luke to come out of hiding and defend the lives of his friends. Meanwhile, Han navigates toward the Cloud City metropolis of a former associate and fellow-gambler, Lando Calrissian, who wields control over the Tibanna gas mine near planet Bespin. Back in the Dagobah System, Yoda orders Luke to telepathically lift his sunken fighter plane from the swamp in which it crashed, but Luke loses faith in his abilities, and fails. When Luke complains that the mystical ideals of “the Force” are impossible to attain, Yoda raises the spaceship himself. In time, Luke’s skills improve, but he is startled by a premonition that Han and Leia are in grave danger. He vows to rescue them, but Yoda warns that Luke will destroy the rebel movement if he ends his training too soon. An apparition of Obi-Wan Kenobi cautions Luke that he will soon be tempted by evil; Luke will have to battle Darth Vader alone. Ignoring the advice of his masters, Luke embarks on his rescue mission with a promise to return to Yoda. When Obi-Wan mutters that the boy was the last hope of the universe, Yoda professes: “There is another.” Meanwhile, Han reunites with Lando, and the two men cordially bicker over ownership of the Millenium Falcon, leaving Leia suspicious. Shortly after the rebels’ arrival, Lando betrays them to Darth Vader and they learn of the scheme to entice Luke. Darth Vader plans to carbon-freeze the boy for his transport back to the Emperor, and tests the dangerous congealing device with Han as an experimental subject. Leia declares her love for Han, and kisses him farewell. Han’s frozen body is handed over to the bounty hunters, who leave the city to claim their pending rewards. Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO are detained by stormtroopers, but Lando secretly rescues them, promising to help save Han. Meanwhile, Luke lands his spacecraft in the Cloud City and confronts Darth Vader. The two battle with lightsabers and Luke impresses the evil leader by controlling his fear. However, Darth Vader advises Luke to unleash his anger, because hatred is the only force strong enough to kill one’s enemies. Darth Vader unhinges part of the space station, causing Luke to be sucked out of the room. As Luke clings to a railing above an abyss and pulls himself to safety, his friends dodge gunfire in another part of the city; the rebels recover R2-D2 and escape in the Millenium Falcon. Luke continues to battle Darth Vader, who severs Luke’s lightsaber-bearing hand. Defenseless, the boy backs away to another perch above the abyss. Darth Vader invites Luke to embrace the power of evil and declares himself Luke’s long-lost father. Choosing between certain death or reuniting with the parent he always wished to know, Luke plummets into the void and lands inside a chute. He slides through the outskirts of the floating Cloud City and clings for life in outer space, calling aloud for Obi-Wan and Leia. Inside the Millenium Falcon, Leia hears Luke’s voice and insists on turning the ship around to save her friend. Meanwhile, Darth Vader returns to his Stardestroyer and orders the Millenium Falcon captured. Speaking telepathically to his son, Darth Vader tells Luke that their union is “destiny.” Just as the Stardestroyer places the Millenium Falcon in its magnetic “tractor beam,” R2-D2 fixes the spaceship’s hyper drive and it blasts into light speed to escape the Imperialists. At a rebel space station, Luke is outfitted with a new hand as Lando and Chewbacca set out to save Han. 

Production Company: Chapter II Company (Star Wars Corp.)  
  Lucasfilm Limited  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Irvin Kershner (Dir)
  Harley Cokliss (Dir, Studio 2d unit)
  John Barry (Dir, Studio 2d unit)
  Peter MacDonald (Dir, Loc 2d unit)
  Bruce Sharman (Prod supv)
  Svein Johansen (Prod mgr, Loc 2d unit)
  Patricia Carr (Asst prod mgr)
  David Tomblin (1st asst dir)
  Dominic Fulford (Asst dir, Studio 2d unit)
  Bill Westley (Asst dir, Loc 2d unit)
  Ola Solum (Asst dir, Loc 2d unit)
  Steve Lanning (2d asst dir)
  Roy Button (2d asst dir)
  Andrew Montgomery (2d asst dir, Studio 2d unit)
Producer: Gary Kurtz (Prod)
  George Lucas (Exec prod)
  Robert Watts (Assoc prod)
  James Bloom (Assoc prod)
Writer: Leigh Brackett (Scr)
  Lawrence Kasdan (Scr)
  George Lucas (Story)
Photography: Peter Suschitzky (Dir of photog)
  Chris Menges (Dir of photog, Studio 2d unit)
  Geoff Glover (Dir of photog, Loc 2d unit)
  Stanley Sayer (Matte photog consultant)
  Kelvin Pike (Op cam)
  David Garfath (Op cam)
  Bob Smith (Op cam, Loc 2d unit)
  Maurice Arnold (Asst cam)
  Chris Tanner (Asst cam)
  John Campbell (Asst cam, Loc 2d unit)
  Mike Brewster (Asst cam, Loc 2d unit)
  Peter Robinson (2d asst cam)
  Madelyn Most (2d asst cam)
  John Keen (2d asst cam, Loc 2d unit)
  Greg Dupre (2d asst cam, Loc 2d unit)
  Dennis Lewis (Dolly grip)
  Brian Osborn (Dolly grip)
  Frank Batt (Dolly grip, Loc 2d unit)
  Laurie Shane (Gaffer)
  John Clark (Rigging gaffer)
  Lee Electric (Lighting equip and crew from)
  George Whitear (Still photog)
  Wesscam Camera Systems (Europe) (Aerial cam system by)
  Ron Goodman (Aerial cam, Wesscam Camera Systems)
  Margaret Herron ([Aerial cam] asst, Wesscam Camera Systems)
  Dollar Air Services Limited (Helicopter supplied by)
  Mark Wolfe (Pilot, Dollar Air Services Limited)
  Continental Camera Systems Inc. (Cloud plates photographed with Astrovision by)
Art Direction: Norman Reynolds (Prod des)
  Ralph McQuarrie (Des consultant and conceptual artist)
  Leslie Dilley (Art dir)
  Harry Lange (Art dir)
  Alan Tomkins (Art dir)
  Michael Lamont (Asst art dir)
  Fred Hole (Asst art dir)
  Ivor Beddoes (Sketch artist)
Film Editor: Paul Hirsch (Ed)
  Duwayne Dunham (Asst film ed)
  Phil Sanderson (Asst film ed)
  Barbara Ellis (Asst film ed)
  Steve Starkey (Asst film ed)
  Paul Tomlinson (Asst film ed)
  Robert Hart (Negative cutting)
  Darrell Hixson (Negative cutting)
Set Decoration: Michael Ford (Set dec)
  Bill Welch (Const mgr)
  Ted Ambrose (Draftsman)
  Michael Boone (Draftsman)
  Reg Bream (Draftsman)
  Steve Cooper (Draftsman)
  Richard Dawking (Draftsman)
  Fred Evans (Modeller)
  Allan Moss (Modeller)
  Jan Stevens (Modeller)
  Edward Rodrigo (Chief buyer)
  Dave Middleton (Const storeman)
  Frank Bruton (Prop master)
  Charles Torbett (Prop supv)
  Joe Dipple (Prop dressing supv)
  George Gunning (Head carpenter)
  Bert Rodwell (Head plasterer)
  Red Lawrence (Head rigger)
Costumes: John Mollo (Cost des)
  Tiny Nicholls (Ward supv)
  Eileen Sullivan (Ward mistress)
Music: John Williams [composer] (Mus)
  The London Symphony Orchestra (Performed by)
  Fox Fanfare Music Inc./Bantha Music (Orig mus copyright ® 1980)
  Eric Tomlinson (Mus rec)
  Herbert W. Spencer (Orch)
  Kenneth Wannberg (Supv mus ed)
  Anvil Studios Denham, England (Mus rec at)
Sound: Peter Sutton (Prod sd)
  Don Wortham (Sd boom op)
  Ron Butcher (Prod maintenance)
  Ben Burtt (Sd des and supv sd eff ed)
  Richard Burrow (Sd ed)
  Teresa Eckton (Sd ed)
  Bonnie Koehler (Sd ed)
  Bill Varney (Re-rec)
  Steve Maslow (Re-rec)
  Gregg Landaker (Re-rec)
  Curt Schulkey (Dial ed)
  Leslie Shatz (Dial ed)
  Joanne D`Antonio (Dial ed)
  John Benson (Asst sd ed)
  Joanna Cappuccilli (Asst sd ed)
  Ken Fischer (Asst sd ed)
  Craig Jaeger (Asst sd ed)
  Nancy Jencks (Asst sd ed)
  Laurel Ladevich (Asst sd ed)
  Robert Rutledge (Foley ed)
  Scott Hecker (Foley ed)
  Edward M. Steidele (Foley asst)
  John Roesh (Foley asst)
  Randy Thom (Sd eff rec)
  Gary Summers (Rec tech)
  Howie (Rec tech)
  Kevin O'Connell (Rec tech)
  Don DiGirolamo (Dolby consultant)
  Samuel Goldwyn Studios Los Angeles, California (Re-rec at)
Special Effects: Brian Johnson (Spec visual eff)
  Richard Edlund (Spec visual eff)
  Roberta Friedman (Opt coord)
  Nick Allder (Mechanical eff supv, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Allan Bryce (Loc unit supv, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Neil Swan (Senior eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Dave Watkins (Senior eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Andrew Kelly (Robot fabrication and supv, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Ron Hone (Robot fabrication and supv, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Phil Knowles (Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Barry Whitrod (Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Martin Gant (Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Brian Eke (Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Guy Hudson (Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Dennis Lowe (Eff tech, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Roger Nicholls (Eff eng, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Steve Lloyd (Eff eng, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  John Hatt (Elec eng, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Rob Dickinson (Electronics consultant, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  John Pakenham (Model const, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Alan Poole (Eff asst, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Digby Milner (Eff asst, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Robert McLaren (Eff asst, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Gill Case (Eff secy, Prod and mechanical eff unit)
  Dennis Muren (Eff dir of photog, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Ken Ralston (Eff cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Jim Veilleux (Eff cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Don Dow (Cam op, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Bill Neil (Cam op, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Selwyn Eddy (Asst cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Jody Westheimer (Asst cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Rick Fichter (Asst cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Clint Palmer (Asst cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Michael McAlister (Asst cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Paul Huston (Asst cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Richard Fish (Asst cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Chris Anderson (Asst cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Bruce Nicholson (Opt photog supv, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  David Berry (Opt printer op, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Kenneth Smith (Opt printer op, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Donald Clark (Opt printer op, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Warren Franklin (Opt line-up, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Mark Vargo (Opt line-up, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Peter Amundson (Opt line-up, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Loring Doyle (Opt line-up, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Thomas Rosseter (Opt line-up, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Tam Pillsbury (Opt line-up, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  James Lim (Opt line-up, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Laurie Vermont (Opt coord, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Tim Geideman (Laboratory tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Duncan Myers (Labratory tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Ed Jones (Laboratory tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Joe Johnston (Art dir-Visual eff, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Nilo Rodis-Jamero (Asst art dir, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Jon Berg (Stop motion anim, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Phil Tippett (Stop motion anim, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Tom St. Amand (Stop motion tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Doug Beswick (Stop motion tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Harrison Ellenshaw (Matte painting supv, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Ralph McQuarrie (Matte artist, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Michael Pangrazio (Matte artist, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Neil Krepela (Matte photog, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Michael Lawler (Addl matte photog, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Craig Barron (Matte photog asst, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Robert Elswit (Matte photog asst, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Lorne Peterson (Chief model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Steve Gawley (Modelshop foreman, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Paul Huston (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Tom Rudduck (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Michael Fulmer (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Samuel Zolltheis (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Charles Bailey (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Ease Owyeung (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Scott Marshall (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Marc Thorpe (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Wesley Seeds (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Dave Carson (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Rob Gemmel (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Pat McClung (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Lorne Peterson (Chief model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Steve Gawley (Modelshop foreman, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Paul Huston (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Tom Rudduck (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Michael Fulmer (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Samuel Zolltheis (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Charles Bailey (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Ease Owyeung (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Scott Marshall (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Marc Thorpe (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Wesley Seeds (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Dave Carson (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Rob Gemmel (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Pat McClung (Model maker, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Peter Kuran (Anim and rotoscope supv, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Samuel Comstock (Anim, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Garry Waller (Anim, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  John Van Vliet (Anim, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Rick Taylor (Anim, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Kim Knowlton (Anim, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Chris Casady (Anim, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Nina Saxon (Anim, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Diana Wilson (Anim, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Conrad Buff (Visual eff ed supv, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Michael Kelly (Eff ed, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Arthur Repola (Asst eff ed, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Howard Stein (Asst eff ed, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Jon Thaler (Apprentice ed, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Dick Gallegly (Prod admin, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Patricia Blau (Prod secy, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Thomas Brown (Prod assoc, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Ray Scalice (Prod accountant, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Glenn Phillips (Asst accountant, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Pam Traas (Asst accountant, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Laura Crockett (Asst accountant, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Jenny Oznowicz (Prod asst, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Robert Martin (Transportation, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Terry Chostner (Still photog, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Roberto McGrath (Lab asst, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Jerry Jeffress (Electronics systems des, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Kris Brown (Systems programming, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Lhary Meyer (Electronic eng, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Mike MacKenzie (Electronic eng, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Gary Leo (Electronic eng, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Stuart Ziff (Spec project coord, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Gene Whiteman (Equip eng supv, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Mike Bolles (Des eng, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Udo Pampel (Machinist, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Greg Beaumonte (Machinist, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Ed Tennler (Draftsman, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Gary Platek (Spec projects, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  T. E. Moehnke (Supv stage tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  William Beck (Stage tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Bobby Finley (Stage tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Leo Loverro (Stage tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Edward Hirsh (Stage tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Dick Dova (Stage tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Ed Breed (Stage tech, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Joseph Viskocil (Miniature pyrotechnics, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Dave Pier (Miniature pyrotechnics, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Thaine Morris (Miniature pyrotechnics, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  George Randle Co. (Opt printer component manufacturer, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Jim Beaumonte (Cam and movement des, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  David Grafton (Spec optics des, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  J. L. Wood Optical Systems  
  Fries Engineering (Opt printer component eng, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Mitchell Camera Corp. (High speed cam movements, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Bruce Hill Productions (Ultra high speed cam, Miniature and opt eff unit)
  Van Der Veer Photo Effects (Addl opt eff)
  Modern Film Effects (Addl opt eff)
  Ray Mercer & Company (Addl opt eff)
  Westheimer Company (Addl opt eff)
  Lookout Mountain Films (Addl opt eff)
  Industrial Light and Magic Marin County, California (Spec visual eff prod at)
Make Up: Stuart Freeborn (Make-up and spec creature des)
  Graham Freeborn (Chief make-up artist)
  Kay Freeborn (Make-up artist)
  Nick Maley (Make-up artist)
  Barbara Ritchie (Chief hairdresser)
  Wendy Midener (Yoda fabrication)
Production Misc: Miki Herman (Prod coord)
  Philip Kohler (Loc mgr)
  Kay Rawlings (Cont)
  Pamela Mann (Cont)
  Irene Lamb (Casting)
  Terry Liebling (Casting)
  Bob Edmiston (Casting)
  Bunny Alsup (Asst to prod)
  Debbie Shaw (Asst to dir)
  Jane Bay (Asst to exec prod)
  Barbara Harley (Prod asst)
  Nick Laws (Prod asst)
  Charles Wessler (Prod asst)
  Ron Phipps (Prod accountant)
  Michael Larkins (Asst accountant)
  Ken Gordon (Set cost controller)
  Ron Cook (Loc accountant)
  Alan Arnold (Unit pub)
  Kirsten Wing (Asst pub)
  Aktiv Fischer (Snow vehicles supplied by)
  White Horse Toy Company (R2 bodies fabricated by)
  Giltspur Engineering and Compair (Spec assistance from)
Stand In: Peter Diamond (Stunt coord)
  Bob Anderson (Stunt double)
  Colin Skeaping (Stunt double)
Color Personnel: Ed Lemke (Col timer)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs:
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Lucasfilm, Ltd. 13/6/1980 dd/mm/yyyy PA72282

PCA NO: 26034
Physical Properties: Sd: Recorded in Dolby Stereo™
  col: Rank Film Laboratories®
  Lenses/Prints: Filmed in Panavision®; Prints by Deluxe®

 
Genre: Science fiction
 
Subjects (Major): Civil war
  Dictators
  Insurgency
  Long-lost relatives
  Search and rescue operations
  Space warfare
  War
 
Subjects (Minor): Air pilots
  Aliens, Extraterrestrial
  Battles
  Courtship
  Duels
  Faith
  Fathers and sons
  Fights
  Firearms
  Friendship
  Ghosts
  Government agents
  Government officials
  Gunfights
  Heroes
  Heroism
  Imperialism
  Military bases
  Military government
  Military occupation
  Mind-reading
  Monsters
  Partnership
  Planets
  Political corruption
  Princesses
  Robots
  Romance
  Secret plans
  Space travel
  Sword fights
  Swords
  Teachers
  Telepathy

Note: End credits include the following location information: “Photographed on the Hardangerjøkulen Glacier, Finse, Norway, and at EMI-Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, England.”
       The main title card is preceded by the statement: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....” The Empire Stikes Back was the second installment in the Star Wars series, and its prologue explains events that unfolded since the conclusion of its precursor, Star Wars (1977, see entry): “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 prologue heading “Episode IV: The Empire Strikes Back” introduced audiences to the non-sequential timeline of the series, as noted in a 19 May 1980 Time article, leading Lucas to explain that Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were centerpieces in a nine-part narrative; only two characters were planned to continue their roles throughout the series, robots “R2-D2” and “C-3PO.”
       On 22 Jun 1977, HR announced that Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. was negotiating with executive producer George Lucas for a sequel to Star Wars, which had been released one month earlier to record-breaking revenues surpassing $13 million. Referring to the picture as Star Wars 2, a 12 Oct 1977 Var reported that preproduction was scheduled to begin one year later, in Nov 1978, for an anticipated start date in Jan 1979. A 1 Mar 1978 Var article, which noted that preproduction would be delayed until summer 1979, confirmed that Lucas had finalized a deal with Twentieth Century-Fox, and the three principal actors in Star Wars, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher, were contracted to reprise their roles. However, Lucas intended to finance the $10 million unnamed sequel independently through Lucasfilm Limited, with Twentieth Century-Fox serving only as distributor. Director Irvin Kershner was hired to direct his first science-fiction picture based on his “insights into human relationships,” according to production notes in AMPAS library files, and principal photography was planned to begin in Africa and Europe within six months. A 16 May 1980 NYT article added that Kershner was one of Lucas’ film professors at the Univeristy of Southern California (USC).
       According to the 19 May 1980 Time article, Star Wars had grossed approximately $400 million by the time The Empire Strikes Back began development. Although Lucas’ percentage participation netted $51 million, he siphoned away much of his fortune in cash rewards for cast and crew. Time explained that Lucas had secured talent for Star Wars by wagering one quarter of his profits as “points,” or percent-shares in the picture’s income. For example, Alec Guiness was paid an additional $2,880,000 in accordance with his “points” agreement. Other actors, such as Carrie Fisher, were not initially awarded points, but Lucas voluntarily supplemented their salaries; Fisher was paid an extra $320,000. Lucas also gave crew and staff members another fraction of 1%, which resulted in anywhere from to $6,400 to $64,000 per recipient. Because of these contributions, Lucas was left with approximately $12 million after taxes; he used nearly the entire sum as collateral for a $22 million loan to make The Empire Strikes Back. Lucas told Time that he kept only $50,000, for “living expenses.” While a 16 May 1979 Var article estimated the final budget at between $15-20 million, Kershner reported a total cost of $26 million in a 10 Apr 1997 letter to New Times.
       Despite Lucas’ Star Wars contract with Twentieth Century-Fox, he retained film rights to all twelve stories in his “Adventures of Luke Skywalker” series, as noted in the 1 Mar 1978 Var. The first adaptation of the Star Wars sequel was scripted by prolific science-fiction novelist and screenwriter Leigh Brackett, who was known for her work on The Big Sleep (1946, see entry) and Rio Bravo (1959, see entry). However, Brackett died of cancer several weeks after completing the sequel’s first draft, according to her 24 Mar 1978 LAT obituary. Lawrence Kasdan, who had recently adapted another George Lucas story for the upcoming production Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, see entry), was hired to replace Brackett shortly after her death; The Empire Strikes Back marked his first theatrically released feature film.
       By the beginning of 1979, the sequel had been titled The Empire Strikes Back, as first noted in a 3 Jan 1979 Var news item, which listed a secondary working title of Star Wars Two. A 6 Mar 1979 DV column reported that principal photography began 5 Mar 1979 in Finse, Norway, despite the interference of blizzards and avalanches. The production was scheduled to continue filming for up to two weeks before moving to EMI Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England, for an additional fifteen weeks. However, Kershner told the 16 May 1980 NYT that filming actually began at Elstree in Sep 1978, six months before location work began in Norway. A 24 Jan 1979 fire at Elstree’s Stage 3, which was being used at the time for Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980, see entry), caused delays in returning to the studio.
       According to production notes, a first unit crew officially started work at Elstree by 12 Mar 1979. The studio’s existing eight soundstages, which were all used for Star Wars, did not provide enough space, so a new building was added to the facility. Its foundation was set before winter 1978 in preparation for the shoot, but bad weather delayed construction. Upon its completion in May 1979, the so-called “Star Wars” stage became one of the largest studio facilities in the world at the time, measuring 250 feet long, 122 feet wide, and forty-five feet high.
       Meanwhile, maritime engineers constructed a full-sized, forty-ton model of the Millenium Falcon at a hangar in Pembroke Dock, Wales. The prop was divided into sixteen parts and moved by a convoy of trucks to Elstree Studios, where it was outfitted with “compressed air pads” to float above the stage like a hovercraft.
       By early summer 1979, a second unit crew was hired to hasten production, with Star Wars production designer John Barry as second unit director. On 1 Jun 1979, just two weeks after joining The Empire Strikes Back, Barry collapsed on set and died soon after, as noted in his 5 Jun 1979 Globe and Mail obituary. Producer Gary Kurtz briefly took over Barry’s role until Harley Cokliss was hired as a replacement.
       According to the 19 May 1980 Time article, the set was shrouded in secrecy. To prevent the shooting script from being publicized, several actors had access only to their own lines, and David Prowse performed the role of “Darth Vader” with “dummy lines,” since the character’s voice was later overdubbed by the uncredited James Earl Jones. Prowse told Time that he remained oblivious to the film’s actual story throughout production, with no concept of events in the narrative before or after he appeared onscreen. He also reported that the filmmakers were “really paranoid, about security.”
       The completion of principal photography in fall 1979 was met with months of post-production special effects work centered at Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic, which had moved from Van Nuys to San Rafael, CA, in 1978.
       During production, The Empire Strikes Back marked several first-time marketing ventures. On 16 Apr 1979, Publishers Weekly reported that the novelization rights to The Empire Strikes Back, and a companion book, The Making of the Empire Strikes Back, were sold “for the highest amount paid for a license in England” to that time, $420,000. The same day, a 16 Apr 1979 HR news item announced that Twentieth Century-Fox broke an industry record by bidding the picture to exhibitors thirteen months before its 25 Mar 1980 release date. Although thirteen U.S. states had recently outlawed “blind bidding,” in which exhibitors agreed to rent a picture without viewing it, Twentieth Century-Fox received theater-owner guarantees of approximately $26 million, according to a 12 May 1979 LAT brief.
       On 8 Jun 1979, Var reported that music manager Robert Stigwood was working with Lucas on the film’s soundtrack, and Mick Jagger had been approached to compose the score, but one week later, a 15 Jun 1979 HR news item announced that Star Wars composer John Williams was set to reprise his role for The Empire Strikes Back.
       The picture opened 21 May 1980, nearly three years to the day after the debut of its predecessor, to general acclaim and vast marketing. As reported in the 25 Mar 1980 LAHExam, many Los Angeles, CA, theaters screened the picture twenty-four hours straight on its Wednesday opening, earning nearly $1.4 million, and audiences camped out in lines for up to ten hours to gain admittance. The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood ran the picture for 144 consecutive hours, according to the 21 May 1980 DV. By 10:30 p.m. Friday, 23 May 1980, the film had grossed $3,731,953 nationally, breaking house records in 125 of the 127 theaters in which it opened, as noted in the 25 May 1980 DV. A 21 May 1980 HR news item reported that the opening also coincided with new, record-high ticket sale prices in Los Angeles: $5.50 at theaters and $3.50 at drive-ins.
       In a 12 Jun 1980 Rolling Stone interview, Lucas announced his plan to filter income from The Empire Strikes Back into a professional filmmaking retreat, think-tank, and studio on the 2,000 acres of land he recently purchased in Lucas Valley, CA.
       On 16 Jan 1996, DV announced that Twentieth Century-Fox and George Lucas were planning to reissue a special edition of the picture, although a deal had not yet been confirmed. Lucas had used updated technology to “punch up” Star Wars with visual effects, and he wished to do the same for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (1983, see entry), the third film in the original Star Wars series. A 21 Feb 1997 HR review of the reissued The Empire Strikes Back declared it: “unquestionably the best installment of [the]… trilogy and arguably the crowning achievement of the fantasy-adventure genre reinvented in the 1970s and ‘80s by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.”
       The Empire Strikes Back was followed by Return of the Jedi (1983, see entry), as well as a trilogy of prequels, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999, see entry), Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002, see entry), and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005, see entry). In addition, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released in 2008, and as of Dec 2013, the Walt Disney Company was in pre-production for Star Wars: Episode VII with the three stars of Star Wars, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford cast in their original roles. J. J. Abrams was set to direct the picture for a projected release date in 2015.
       The Empire Strikes Back was nominated for two Academy Awards in the following categories: Art Direction and Music (Original Score). It received an Academy Award for Sound, as well as a Special Achievement Award for special visual effects artists Brian Johnson and Richard Edlund, effects director of photography (miniature and optical effects unit) Dennis Muren, and optical photography supervisor (miniature and optical effects unit) Bruce Nicholson. AFI named "Darth Vader" as the number three villain in their "100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains" list.
 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   6 Mar 1979.   
Daily Variety   12 May 1980.   
Daily Variety   21 May 1980.   
Daily Variety   25 May 1980   p. 1, 21.
Daily Variety   16 Jan 1996.   
Globe and Mail   5 Jun 1979   p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jun 1977.   
Hollywood Reporter   16 Apr 1979.   
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jun 1979.   
Hollywood Reporter   12 May 1980   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   21 May 1980   p. 1, 17.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Feb 1997   p. 6, 20.
LAHExam   25 Mar 1980.   
Los Angeles Times   24 Mar 1978   Section G, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times   10 Mar 1979.   
Los Angeles Times   12 May 1979.   
Los Angeles Times   18 May 1980   p. 1.
New Times   10 Apr 1997.   
New York Times   16 May 1980.   
New York Times   21 May 1980   p. 25.
Publishers Weekly   16 Apr 1979.   
Rolling Stone   12 Jun 1980.   
Time   19 May 1980.   
Variety   12 Oct 1977.   
Variety   1 Mar 1978   P. 3, 146.
Variety   3 Jan 1979.   
Variety   16 May 1979.   
Variety   8 Jun 1979.   
Variety   14 May 1980   p. 14.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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