Star Wars leaves off in 1983, picks up in 2015 | The Empire Strikes Back

Alex Lasher

It is very rare to find a sequel film that not only lives up to its predecessor, but also surpasses its greatness. “The Empire Strikes Back” not only captures the magic of “A New Hope,” but expands the story and universe in original and captivating ways. “Empire” has been added to the National Film Registry, alongside the likes of “Chinatown” and “Groundhog Day,” because it is widely considered to be culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.” The movie was also the highest grossing film of 1980.

The story picks up right where “A New Hope” leaves off: the Death Star has been destroyed and the rebels have scored a great victory. However, as the title suggests, the Empire is still out there, and they come back with a vengeance. From the opening invasion of the ice planet Hoth, to the introduction of the Super Star Destroyer, to finally seeing the Emperor himself, the Empire’s presence in this film is everywhere and more threatening. This gives “Empire” a much darker tone than the lighthearted one of “A New Hope.”

The greatest strength of “Empire” is the character development we witness in our favorite characters. We watch as Luke meets Jedi master Yoda and begin his training in earnest. Yoda himself is a 3-foot-tall little
green alien.

Luke is skeptical when Yoda tells him he is indeed the Jedi master Luke seeks. Portraying Yoda as a diminutive and elderly yet incredibly strong character demonstrates the power of the Force. Despite his physical limitations, Yoda is the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy, proving that “size matters not.”

The best scene of the movie, however, is Luke’s duel with Darth Vader at the end of the film. What makes this scene so great is not the actual fighting, but the struggle going beyond that. During the whole fight Vader is toying with Luke, testing his abilities; he could end the fight whenever he wanted. Luke is struggling to keep up in the fight and keep his emotions in check.

There is so much going on in the fight with so little of it being said—what does Luke really have at stake in the battle? What is Vader’s motive beneath the surface?

It is this off-screen tension that makes this the best lightsaber fight of the series and one of the greatest scenes in the whole Star Wars series.