July 29, 2008


I suppose this post is as much about my love for the music of John Williams (in this case, the soundtrack to The Empire Strikes Back) as it is about one of my favorite scenes from the very same film. Other than the "Carbon Freeze" scene or the beautiful, heart-wrenching final moments of the film, that scene would be the one in which the hyperdrive damaged Millennium Falcon (containing Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and C3PO) manages to escape from Imperial Star Destroyers by going straight into an asteroid field. First of all, you can't tell me the special effects in this scene aren't at least equal, if not vastly superior, to any computer-generated imagery in any film of the last ten years. And the fact CGI isn't used in the original version of Empire makes this an even more breathtaking sequence. I recently watched the entire movie (not the 1997 re-release) for probably the twentieth time and realized something for the first time. It's after this exchange:

Leia: We're going to get pulverized if we stay out here much longer.
Solo: I ain't gonna argue with that.
C3PO: Pulverized?
Solo: I'm going in closer to one of the big ones.
Leia and C3PO (almost simultaneously): Closer?

It's a small thing, but at that moment, I always thought C3PO is thrown into Chewbacca due to turbulent movement of the ship. I hadn't noticed until seeing it, like I said, for the twentieth-something time, that C3PO is actually grabbing and holding onto Chewbacca for dear life. That little detail makes me love the scene all the more.

And of course the whole time, John Williams' brilliant score is working its magic. Has there ever been such a perfect marriage between what is happening on the screen and the music playing beneath? The moment when the "Han Solo and The Princess" theme kicks in melts me every time. It's one of those times in the movie when I can virtually smell the theater in which I first saw The Empire Strikes Back on the day it premiered, some twenty-eight (OMFG) years ago, it's impression on me was so profound.


Hooliganyouth said...

Well said! Empire is filled with moments like that which is why it still is the best out them all.

One of my favorite lines - that gets funnier the older I get is,

Leia: I love you!
Han: I know.

Chris said...

Thanks! Yep, that's the classic line. It does take on different nuances once you're an adult. I'll never forget the effect that scene had on the audience (who was seeing it for the first time on its premiere day, with me).