5 little (or big) things that made The Empire Strikes Back one of the best ever movies

Oct 12, 2018
Gone with the Wind poster inspiration for Empire Strikes Back

5 little (or big) things that made The Empire Strikes Back one of the best ever movies

For many people, The Empire Strikes Back movie is not only the best Star Wars movie but one of the greatest movie sequels of all time.

While it didn’t win an Oscar for Best Movie like The Godfather Pt II did (it still won for Best Sound!), we're pretty sure if you asked people to name the best film sequel of all time, people would name drop Empire just as much as the movie that bumped off poor Fredo.

We could go on and on about how the whole of Empire is the best thing since sliced bread but let’s take the time to look at some of the smaller, more nuanced things that went into this film that helped it become such a great movie.

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind was one of the biggest films on movie history both in terms of production scale and box office reward. Some still say that when inflation is taken into account, it is the highest grossing film ever.

Star Wars is number 2 behind it and one of the reasons could well be the obvious inspiration that Lucas took from GWTW. Look at the relationship of Han Solo and Princess Leia, it features an archetype anti-hero falling in love (perhaps somewhat unwillingly) with a beautifully strong woman.

This is the exact same scenario that occurred in GWTW. Lucas knew it too and so he even agreed to have the now iconic Empire promotional poster (as above) to cast Leia and Han in the same romantic pose as Rhett Butler & Scarlett O'Hara took in GWTW. 

The posters are also very clever in that a 'bad thing' that happens in each film is obviously lurking in the background. For Empire, it's obviously the specter of Vader and for GWTH, it's the great fire.


Star Wars’ place in history was cemented before Empire turned up but you could argue that the little green guy, Yoda turned things on its head.

This seemingly go-lucky goblin turned out to a be a Jedi Master who would train Luke to become a great Jedi of his own accord.

It was Yoda’s “Do or do not, there is no try” that spoke loudly to film viewers everywhere, helping cast Empire as one of the greatest films ever.

A key to the success of Yoda was the puppetry skills and voice talents of Frank Oz. The momentum of Empire actually lead to a campaign to get Oz nominated for an acting Oscar, however, it came to naught.

The legacy of Boba Fett

Boba Fett features in the film for like only three scenes and yet he spawned a legion of fans. In some circles, he's considered more bad ass than Darth Vader.

Ever since Vader warned him on the deck of the Executor that he wanted 'no more disintegrations' fanboys and girls have marveled over the character - so much so he turned up in Jedi and also featured prominently with his father Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones. 

I Know

Han Solo’s “I know” line in response to Leia’s declaration of her love for Han just as he's about to be frozen in carbonite has become one of the most iconic lines from the entire film franchise.

Women love it because it's romantic and men love it because it's smart ass.

While the line is often described as being ad-libbed by Harrison Ford, he didn't simply make it up as he was going along. It was a suggestion that came out of rehearsals and not the scripted line of "I'll be back".

That big twist which we are still talking about 20 years later

Vader’s confession to Luke that he was his father in The Empire Strikes Back is considered by many movie fans to be the best plot twist in a movie.


Bigger than that of Planet of the Apes.

The A New Hope film clearly intended that Vader and Anakin Skywalker were different people - please recall Obi Wan’s expository scene with Luke which explained how Vader was seduced by the Dark Side and killed Luke’s father.

So it was a great move to introduce the best bad guy ever as the father of the hero.

Why is this film so popular?

It’s a dark tale that has no real ending but it did feature one of the greatest movie twists at its highest point.

If you weren't around back on the day, it was a big a plot twist as Bruce Willis’ character was actually a ghost in The Sixth Sense or that in the Planet of the Apes, they had been on Earth the whole time.

Consider the Sixth Sense – would it have been any good if Bruce Willis was actually alive and the film had a slightly different ending?


If the twist had not of been in Empire, one could argue the movie would have merely been classed a good movie, rather than being great. 

One should bear the time when the movie came out with this point – many movies now try to come up with the key plot twist. Now-a-days such a twist may seem cool but not amazing – it certainly was back in the day.

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