Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – 35 years and still going strong


Do you remember the first time you saw The Empire Strikes Back? Was it in theaters? On VHS? Perhaps you were a late bloomer and you saw one of the greatest sequels in cinematic history, on DVD or Blu-ray. No matter when, where, or how you saw it, The Empire Strikes Back probably made an impression on you. On this day, 35 years ago (May 21, 1980), Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, was released in theaters.

I personally was only six years old in 1980, and didn’t see the Star Wars trilogy until I was age twelve…but I can still remember every line from that movie, as if it were yesterday. I was lucky enough to have an uncle that was a huge Star Wars fan, himself, and while keeping my siblings and I overnight while my parents were out of town, he decided to show us what he called the greatest movies of all time. He wasn’t wrong.

The moment that fanfare hit my uncle’s hi-fi speakers, and the chills began to crawl up my arm and down my back, I was hooked. I ravenously devoured A New Hope, but my favorite was Empire Strikes Back. The cool swagger of Han Solo, the growing confidence of the young Jedi, Luke, and the emerging leader of the Rebel Alliance, Princess Leia, had me utterly enthralled from Hoth and those cool Tauntauns, to Luke, Leia, C3Po and R2, looking out that ship window.

The Empire Strikes Back was full of some of the best one-liners ever uttered on the silver-screen. From Han and Leia’s “I love you,” “I know,” to “She’s the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy,” These quotes still live on to this day. And, how about that ending? Han encased in carbonite–headed to Jabba the Hutt, while Luke has a robotic hand, and Vader is still on the loose. What about Boba Fett? The characters, moments, and line from the entire original trilogy, have never faded away.

They don’t make sequels like ESB, anymore. Insane plot twists get spoiled now, thanks to camera phones, social media, and the internet (boy do I feel old saying that), so to watch someone’s face light-up with complete surprise at a huge reveal like the baddest guy in the galaxy being the hero’s father, is quite the rare occurrence.

My uncle is no longer with us, but I can only imagine his answer if I were to ask him what is was like to watch 12 year old me enjoying such a masterpiece as Empire Strikes Back, for the first time. He’d probably just grin and nod, because there are no words that can express that kind of joy.

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