Favorite moments... from The Empire Strikes Back
In an admittedly rare display of following up, as promised, I'm posting my scintillating remembrances from the premier film of the series. Don't get all mushy on me...

The Empire Strikes Back moments
  • "No, I am your father." And the father of all shockers. According to Hamill, the original script had a fake line of dialogue (something like "No, Obi-Wan killed your father."), but right before he was to do the reaction to Prowse's reading, director Irvin Kirshner took him aside and began, "Now, what I'm about to tell you only George, I, and now you know. And you can't repeat it to anyone." Then he laid down the penultimate 20th century shocker, a line destined to join "Play it again, Sam" as one of the most misquoted lines in cinematic history. (Most people incorrectly quote it as "Luke, I am your father.")
    Not content with rocking his son's world, Vader immediately proposes they join forces to defeat the Emperor, which, because of what Anakin said to Padme at the end of Sith, we know not merely temptation but genuine desire. The desperation and intensity of the walkway fighting leading up to Luke's defeat perfectly builds up to what is, of course, the best moment in the Star Wars saga.
  • "I love you." And he responds, "I know." For the record, completely in character and simultaneously heartfelt. Always the cocky (and insecure) pilot, Han can't do the straightforward thing to confront his feelings. Instead of telling Leia how he feels about her, he spends the entire film taunting her, trying to get her to admit that she has feelings for him. Both too stubborn to let down their insulating layers, it is only at a moment when all appears lost does
    Leia blurt out in honesty. And Han responds in a way that tells it all. He knows she loves him, but he is also subtly revealing that he's been too scared of his own feelings to admit them. At least out loud. And all this from two perfectly placed, improvised words (thank you Harrison Ford!).
  • "I've just made a deal that'll keep the Empire out of here forever..." This is definitely one of my favorite bits from Empire. It is one of the first shocking moments of the film (guess who's coming to dinner? Darth? Nah... Incidentally, what did he have to eat? Some cantaloupe?). As a boy (okay, as a man sometimes too) with my toy gun I used to try to emulate the pose
    Han Solo strikes when he, upon seeing Vader and without fear or hesitation, whips out his blaster and fires a few vain shots at the Lord of the Sith. The first and only time we see what a Sith master does against naked blaster bolts, he casually blocks them with a hand and then telekinetically yanks the weapon from a stunned Solo. Without missing a beat, Vader hautily invites, "We would be honored if you would join us." Wowed by this impressive display of power and control, I had the creeping feeling that this one wasn't going to end on a happy note.
  • "Occasionally, maybe... when you aren't acting like a scoundrel." Otherwise known as the scoundrel moment, a wonderfully written (and performed) exchange that is the first breakthrough between two emotionally-walled people. The dialogue (from memory, natch) is the holy grail to me of how to write conversation that leads to an unexpected embrace:
      Han: Scoundrel? Scoundrel? I like the sound of that.
      He begins rubbing her hands.
      Leia: Stop that.
      Han: Stop what?
      Leia: Stop that. My hands are dirty.
      Han: My hands are dirty, too. What are you afraid of?
      Leia: Afraid?
      Han: Your hands are trembling.
      Leia: I'm not trembling.
      Han: You like me because I'm a scoundrel. There aren't enough scoundrels in
      your life.
      Leia: I happen to like nice men.
      Han: I'm a nice man.
      Leia: No you're not, you're...
  • "You want the impossible." Despondent after failing to raise his X-Wing from the swamp, Yoda shows young Luke just what it is to be a Master by delivering the impossible. Needless to say, Williams' backing music is as flawless and inspiring as the resolve displayed by the aged Jedi. Most poignantly, when Luke expresses disbelief at the amazing feat, Yoda, always the teacher, instructs, "That... is why you fail."
  • "You wanted to be around when I made a mistake -- this could be it, sweetheart." Packed with heart-stopping near-collisions, the Millenium Falcon's escape through the floating rocks is timelessly exciting.
  • "They're moving into attack position!" When I first purchased the soundtrack to Empire back in the day, this track wasn't included on the 70 minutes of music. Thankfully, with the CD releases, it was added back in -- it includes one of my favorite brass cues as the Falcon makes its unexpected turn to 'attack' the pursuing Star Destroyer. Just another of the suprises in Empire, and just another of the demonstrated ways that Leia remarks about Han: "You have your moments. Not many of them, but you do have them."
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