It Is Useless to Resist, by Daniel Bergamini
A couple of months ago, I decided to finally dive in and watch Star Wars: A New Hope for the first time. While discussing my first viewing, the main reaction I received from people was disbelief that I had never seen the films, let alone A New Hope. For those who have not read my review of the first Star Wars film, my feelings of the film were not quite dislike, rather disappointment that I was unable to feel the same passion for the film that millions of others did. It was not just the fact that I am no longer a child, but it was more that I saw a mediocre film. All the classic moments have been parodied, imitated, or just plain ripped-off so many times that no magic remained in viewing the original source.
Each person with whom I spoke would tell me that I just had to wait until The Empire Strikes Back, as it is the best film of the series. After watching the film last night for the first time, I can one hundred percent agree that not only is The Empire Strikes Back the best film in the series, it is also a great film. I do not want to simply compare this film to the first, however, as this is undoubtedly a middle chapter in a trilogy, it is appropriate to do so. Where the first Star Wars seemed strangely small scale and mediocre, this film seemed epic, exciting and honestly magical.
When I saw James Cameron’s Avatar for the first time, the sense of childhood wonder was so strong I almost teared up. Often the films I enjoy the most are the ones that allow me to feel like a child again, and while A New Hope was unable to do that for me, The Empire Strikes Back certainly did.
Just like the first film, The Empire Strikes Back has many flaws, from storytelling to filmmaking, this is not close to being a perfect film. And while I can see these flaws, my enjoyment of the film was so strong that I was able to put them in the back of my head. The scale is no longer small, as the budget and scope of the story have improved greatly.
For the second venture into the Star Wars universe, George Lucas gave up the directing chair to Irvin Kershner, and the change is both noticeable and very much a positive. Kershner’s ability to manage this large scale film is quite improved over Lucas’ in the first film. The size and scope puts the film in a similar vein as other classic epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Spartacus.
Having seen the iconic moments of the first film indirectly through other sources certainly hurt my viewing. And while the iconic moments of this film are possibly even more important, it didn’t affect my enjoyable to a noticeable degree. The great twist at the end has been parodied more then possibly any other scene in history, yet it was still a fantastic moment to see in the film. This is just further proof of this film’s superiority to the original, as no matter how much I have seen this film parodied, it still feels fresh.
I could criticize much of the film, mostly from a technical standpoint. However, to do so would leave this review with a negative tone. This is certainly not the feeling I want to leave with this review, as I haven’t felt such enjoyment from watching a film in a very long time. I can now understand why my friends growing up were constantly referencing these films, playing with light-sabers and imitating Han Solo. If anything else, watching this film makes me wish I could be a kid again.