Here I explore how Irvin Kirshner, George Lucas and Lawrence Kasden prioritized character and structure in the making of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. All music is taken from John Williams’ score for the film
The Empire Strikes Back (also known as Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back) is a 1980 American epic space-opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, with George Lucas writing the film’s story and serving as executive producer. It was produced by Gary Kurtz for Lucasfilm and stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, and Frank Oz. It is the middle installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, and the fifth episode in the nine-part ‘Skywalker saga‘ (albeit being the second released).
After the success of the original Star Wars film, Lucas hired Leigh Brackett to write the sequel, before personally outlining the saga as a whole and finishing the film’s script himself. The story follows the Galactic Empire, under the leadership of the villainous Darth Vader and the mysterious Emperor, in pursuit of Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. While Vader relentlessly pursues Luke’s friends—Han Solo, Princess Leia, and others—Luke studies the Force under Jedi Master Yoda. When Vader captures Luke’s friends, Luke must decide whether to complete his training and become a Jedi Knight or to confront Vader and save them.