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The gigantic and unexpected success of 1977’s Star Wars had turned a film that initially seemed like a joke into the biggest event in the world. Suddenly, 20th Century Fox, who had initially believed they had a flop on their hands, were clamouring for more and George Lucas now had the clout to make the story he wanted to tell, knowing it would be a hit. The safest thing to do would be to replicate what had come before, but Lucas had other ideas. Forty years on, The Empire Strikes Back stands not only as the best of the Star Wars films, but a remarkable and powerful movie on its own terms.

Unlike with Star Wars, Lucas elected to take a smaller role in the making of the film, contributing the main story but otherwise handing the screenplay and directing duties to other people. The final screenplay would be credited to Lawrence Kasdan, who would later write Raiders of the Lost Ark and Leigh Brackett, best known for Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo and who would pass away in 1978 before filming began. To direct, Lucas chose Irvin Kershner, one of his former mentors, whose more relaxed, character-focussed style would serve the more complicated story better. Lucas had final approval on all production aspects, yet debate has raged for years as to how much of the film is his responsibility. Certainly, the narrative and plot is his work, even if the final script is not his own.

Full article available to read in our first issue available to order here

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