Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back


Release date: May 17, 1980

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz

Budget: $18-33 million

Box office: $534.1-538.4 million


Luke Skywalker furthers his Jedi training with a new master while his friends are pursued by the Galactic Empire.

The sequel to a film which had surpassed nearly everyone’s expectations, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back proved to be an even better film than its predecessor. Whereas the film before it presented audiences with heroes who may have found themselves in precarious situations but wound up quickly figuring a way out of them, this film throws them nothing but blow after blow. It starts them at a disadvantage and follows them through their attempts to escape the shadow of the villains who seem to be one step ahead of them. This film’s story is a complete subversion of the prior story and it’s done wonderfully. Further the film’s great ending is a fantastic way to show how a beaten and divided group of heroes plan to keep the fight going.

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Additionally, the film does well in its continuation of Luke’s character arc, demonstrating his torn feelings between being a rebellion hero and Jedi through the weapons he uses. At the same time, though he may have understood a little bit about the Force and the ways of the Jedi when he began his journey in the last film, here it shows he still has a lot to learn and may not be the Jedi he thinks he is. Throughout the film, Luke is shown as being impatient and aggressive, qualities that result in unfortunate outcomes for him along with nearly everyone around him.

Darth Vader’s characterization remains constant and consistent too, with him getting more screen time and moments to shine as the foreboding villain he is. His attitude towards his enemies and his subordinates has not changed, choosing to swiftly remove anyone who fails him without a second thought. Likewise, his introduction in this film provides yet another satisfying shot solidifying how it will use the same excellent effects and cinematography. Though the Star Destroyers on screen are large in size, the film shows them as dwarfed in size by Vader’s massive ship, first through its completely eclipsing them with its shadow before it’s even seen by the audience.

It’s an exceptional sequel to an enjoyable film with nothing detracting from the overall experience.



Academy Awards

  • Best Sound

  • Special Achievement Award (for visual effects)

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA - Saturn Awards

  • Best DVD Collection (As a part of “Star Wars Trilogy”)

  • Best Science Fiction Film

  • Best Actor (Mark Hamill)

  • Best Director

  • Best Special Effects

BAFTA Awards

  • Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music

DVD Exclusive Awards

  • Best Menu Design (For “Star Wars Trilogy”)

  • Best Overall DVD, Classic Film (For “Star Wars Trilogy”)

Golden Screen, Germany

  • Golden Screen Award

Grammy Awards

  • Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special

Guinness World Record Awards

  • Highest box-office gross for a screenwriter

  • Biggest opening weekend ever for a re-released film

  • First Star Wars videogame

Hugo Awards

  • Best Dramatic Presentation

IGN Summer Movie Awards

  • Best Movie Blu-Ray (For the “Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes 1-VI)” on Blu-Ray.)

  • IGN People’s Choice Award - Best Movie Blu-Ray (For the “Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes 1-VI)” on Blu-Ray.)

Jules Verne Awards

  • The Jules Verne Award

National Film Preservation Board, USA

  • National Film Registry

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • OFTA Film Hall of Fame - Motion Picture

People’s Choice Awards

  • Favorite Motion Picture

Satellite AWards

  • Best DVD Extras (Star Wars: The Complete Saga)



Academy Awards

  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration

  • Best Music, Original Score

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA - Saturn Awards

  • Best DVD Collection (As part of “Star Wars Trilogy.”)

  • Best Supporting Actor (Billy Dee Williams)

  • Best Writing

  • Best Music

  • Best Costumes

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Production Design/Art Decoration

  • Best Sound

DVD Exclusive Awards

  • Best Audio Commentary (New for DVD) (For “The Empire Strikes Back” in the “Star Wars Trilogy”)

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best original Score - Motion Picture

Golden Schmoes Awards

  • Best DVD/Blu-Ray of the Year (The Complete Saga)

  • Best DVD/Blu-Ray of the Year (‘Trilogy’)

Golden Trailer Awards

  • Most Innovative Advertising for a Brand/Product (For Star Wars: The Complete Saga “Every Moment :30.”)

Grammy Awards

  • Best Pop Instrumental Performance (For the “Star Wars Trilogy.”)

  • Best Pop Instrumental Performance (For “Yoda’s Theme”)

Satellite Awards

  • Best Overall DVD (For the Star Wars Trilogy.)

  • Best Classic DVD (For the Star Wars Trilogy.)

Writers Guild of America, USA Awards

  • Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium