BlogalongaStarWars: Memories of The Empire Strikes Back
This is the second part in a monthly attempt to wax nostalgically about my experiences growing up watching the Star Wars saga, as part of The Incredible Suit’s BlogalongaStarWars project. If it’s actual reviews of the movies you want from me, click here.
The Empire Strikes Back is by far my favourite Star Wars movie. It is also, ironically, the film from the Original Trilogy that I have the least recollection of seeing while growing up. As mentioned last month, my first exposure to ‘Episode V’ was as part of a double-bill with A New Hope, so by default it became merely an extension of that experience.
In later years, the first film secured its place in my heart, while the creature-laden Return Of The Jedi instantly became the ‘cool’ one on release. Empire languished in comparison. Perhaps it was to do with the fact that, every Christmas, I would ask Santa in vain for an AT-AT Walker, but I pretty much snubbed the film for most of my childhood.
It stayed that way until I was at university in 1995. Some bright spark in my hall of residence had put on a Star Wars night and, being a student, the call could not go unanswered. Only trouble is, they couldn’t find the VHS tape of A New Hope, so we began with Empire.
It changed everything. Suddenly, it wasn’t the ‘one in the middle’ but a captivating, brilliantly made movie in its own right. I was a budding film student by then, so I was able to appreciate the Hawks-esque screwball wit of Han and Leia’s courtship or the elegantly structured rule-breaking of blockbuster conventions.
Crucially, it felt ‘new’ rather than a hangover of hazy childhood experience, a feeling reinforced by the Special Editions of 1997. The other films were tinkered with to damaging effect; Empire barely touched at all; it didn’t require any major adjustments. That summer I watched The Empire Strikes Back three times at the cinema, making up for lost time with the film that nearly got away… and it’s still my go-to choice if I fancy seeing some Star Wars.