So last week, after finishing reading Choices of One, it seemed like a pretty good time for a re-watch of Empire Strikes Back.
Being my long time favourite Star Wars film (unoriginal, I know) I’ve watched this more recently, but even so not for a year or so. And of course it was as wonderful as ever, because leaving aside the story and characterisation, it is such a beautifully shot film, both stunning and exhilarating.
When you re-watch something for the zillionth time, I find that particular things tend to jump out and get struck in my brain. The first is (and perhaps influenced by recent reading) that poor Luke spends so little time with the rest of the ‘gang’, and indeed doesn’t for the rest of the trilogy. The big three re together so very little, which is a pity because they are so awesome and fun together, but it serves wonderfully to show Luke’s loniliness in his destiny, which makes his risk of falling to the dark side so much more convincing in Jedi. It also makes you realise why giving him a foil in Mara Jade in the Thrawn trilogy books was such a good idea, becuase whilst it works fine on screen, Luke wandering around on his own the whole time might have been a bit boring on the page. (Also, Luke is an inherently likable character who really doesn’t feel like he should spend his days being alone. One thing I really hope for the sequel trilogy is that Luke has been allowed to have at least a little happiness somewhere in the last 30 odd years!)
The other thing that really struck me was that moment (pictured above) when Leia and Chewie totally lose it with Lando for betraying Han. She has such total, focused, unreasonable rage in those moments, and they come so close to killing him. Leia is fantastic throughout Empire - given that the destruction of her homeworld is never verbally mentioned again in the films, Carrie Fisher did a great job of putting across a moody, troubled Leia, even as she’s being romanced and is snarking wittily at Han. Having lost everything she unexpectedly finds love - and then has that ripped away from her too. And she looses it. And in that moment, you can maybe see why Kenobi and Yoda decided to teach Luke, not Leia, because in that moment, considering all she’s been through, I can really believe that if she’d ended up in the Emperor’s throne room, she would totally have gone over to the dark side…
Now that could have been and interesting story.