Film of the day – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back - Mark Hamill

A long time ago in a northern town far, far away … the second instalment in the Star Wars saga was totally lost on me. I walked out at the credits “Thinking what the hell was that all about” – though I wasn’t big on appreciating plot lines at 11 years old.

It is rare a sequel eclipses its predecessor but Empire Strikes Back does, it is visually and technically the superior of Star Wars and develops a far stronger story. It’s just a shame it took another decade for that fact to become clear to me. Anyway, back to the story; The rebel alliance is in full retreat as the empire hunts and destroys all opposition – the ice planet of Hoth provides the setting for the opening of this detail-rich adventure and, even now, 30-odd years on the old magic is still there – if at times it is a little plasticky.

Man/boy last-hope-for-the-Jedi, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), embarks on his spiritual awakening in the ways of the Force under the tutelage of Yoda, an ancient, green-skinned, little alien. Yoda has achieved Zen Master Status in all things related to the Force and riddle talk and takes great pleasure in letting his new pupil know it. Of course, Skywalker is a headstrong young firebrand and you can’t have a sci-fi epic filled with the discourse between a decrepit Jedi master and a too-big-for-his-boots know it all. Thus, Skywalker goes in search of his destiny and nemesis, the brutal sabre-waving, PVC-clad, sub/dom heavy breather, Darth Vader. And, as Yoda forewarns: “When you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.”

Star Wars: The Empire Strike Back – Monday 8.00pm on Sky One.

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