Second Installment: The Star Wars Original Trilogy


Not only was George Lucas’s first Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, the best in the original trilogy, but it is also the greatest sequel of all time. Why? Let’s run through the basic plotline.

Even though the rebels destroyed the Death Star at the end of Episode IV, they still had to hide from the vast and powerful imperial fleet on the frozen planet of Hoth. Why the imperial fleet was not with the Death Star to end the rebellion is a question that was never answered.

The Imperial Fleet finds the rebels, of course, leading to the grand battle with phenomenal graphics for the time. The empire’s huge “walkers,” giant metal four legged machines known as AT-ATs battle the rebels’ few aircrafts. While impractical, nothing looked more menacing than a giant metal  four legged creature marching toward your base with huge cannons for tusks, the inevitable nature of the machines making the scene that much more intimidating.

One of the most important parts of the movie was when Luke trains with Yoda on Dagoba. Being a wise and powerful Jedi master, Yoda teaches Luke how to wield the force. This part of the movie would have been slow and boring, if not for the intermittent back-story and his confrontation with the dark side of the force that lay within himself. This sequence is executed brilliantly; however, a giant plot hole presents itself in this sequence, and is one of the few flaws of the movie. Luke is able to nearly master the force after a small amount of training, but before the fall of the Jedi, Anakin was “too old to start training,” despite him being only ten at the time.

During the training, Yoda sends Luke to a cave where the dark side of the force is strong. After a quick and confusing light saber battle, Luke decapitates the false Vader. His mask falls off, and Luke discovers that it is his own face under the mask. Luke has always and will always struggle with his dark side, but the battle signifies Luke’s ultimate triumph over evil temptation. While the casual viewer might think it odd, it is probably one of the most important events in the entire trilogy, as Luke finally mustered the courage to wage war against the dark side.

Meanwhile, Han and Leia begin to fall in love while hiding in a giant asteroid-worms mouth. After escaping, they travel to Cloud City on a gas giant. There, Lando, a long lost friend, greets and helps Han and Leia. Darth Vader, through Boba Fett, ambushed Han and captured them. Han tries to shoot Vader, but he blocks the lasers with his hand, which raises another interesting question of the Star Wars world: Why do Jedi die from lasers at all? Vader has no protection but the force. All the armor on the storm troopers cannot protect them, but a hand can protect characters important to the plot. In spite of the confusion, the scene is still impressive, with Vader’s immense power demonstrated even more clearly.

Darth Vader lures Luke into a trap, by torturing Solo. I am not a fan of torture scenes, unless torture is a major theme in the plot. Lucas did it right, and only showed the before and after with some screams, none of the gratuitous gory glory. Luke, being one of the most powerful Jedi of all time, is able to sense his friend in need. He recklessly abandons Yoda and his training to rescue his friends, which, while seemingly rash, is understandable, as nearly everyone he has ever known or loved is dead, and Luke is desperate to not lose anyone more.

The film then reaches its ultimate climax. The best light saber battle in the original trilogy takes place, with Luke, the embodiment of good, fighting Darth Vader, the embodiment of evil. While the battles were not as well-choreographed as the prequel trilogy, the emotion and effort is far more palpable. Luke is of course untrained and outmatched, with Darth Vader playing with him, causing all of us to wonder, why is he not killing Luke?

We get this answer when Luke is cornered,and has his hand cut off. In our hero’s despair in failing to rescue Han and to kill Vader, who supposedly killed his father, Luke learns a shocking truth, a plot twist second only to the “Sixth Sense.” Darth Vader offers Luke a hand in ruling the Galaxy, bringing peace to the Empire, and returning the Jedi to glory. Why does he make the offer of a lifetime? Anticipations heightened, curiosity burning, George Lucas finally reveals all in the most dramatic climax of the decade as Darth Vader reveals “No, I am your father.” These immortal words are now perhaps the most famous ever uttered in a film.

Nothing is well at the end of the movie, with Han frozen in carbonite, Chewy captured, and Luke sporting a new robotic arm after losing the original in the violent final conflict. However, what truly sets this sequel apart from all other movie sequels is the scope of the universe it is set in, and a plot twist so unexpected, that its words have been permanently ingrained in today’s popular culture. Episode VI is perfectly set up for the best comeback since Manchester City beat the Queen Park Rangers. If only the Ewoks were left out…