Oscar Movies: Empire Strikes Back, The (1980)

The Empire Strikes Back, the second chapter in George Lucas’ Star Wars trilogy, is directed by Irvin Kershner from ascnario by vet Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the hero from the first film, is now a space warrior. Luke’s cohorts Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) are also more experienced in battling the insidious Empire, represented by the brooding Darth Vader (body of David Prowse, voice of James Earl Jones).

“The Force,” personified by the ghost of Luke’s mentor Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness), is with them all.

Retreating from Vader’s minions, Luke ends up on the Ice Planet Hoth, and then the tropical Dagobah, where he meets Yoda (voice of Frank Oz), whose wisdom helps during the various  perils.

Other characters include the duplicitous Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), who’s let in on a secret that affects both Luke and his arch-enemy Vader.

Some viewers consider this Oscar-winning film to be the best of the Star Wars trilogy, due to its sound and visual effects.

Oscar Nominations: 4

Sound: Bill Varney, Steven Maslow, Gregg Landaker, Peter Sutton

Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects: Brian Johnson, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, Bruce Nicholson

Art Direction-Set Decoration: Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley, Harry Lange, Alan Tomkins, Michael Ford

Original Score: John Williams


Oscar Awards: 2


Visual Effects

Oscar Context:

The Art Direction Oscar went to Polanski’s Tess, and Michael Gore won the Scoring Award for Fame.



Running time: 124 minutes.

Directed by Irvin Kershner

Written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan

Released: May 21, 1980.

DVD: September 21, 2004

Twentieth Century Fox