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10 Things You Didn't Know About THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

It was on this date in 1980 that Star Wars officially became a franchise with the release of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Not only was the movie a glorious follow-up to a great movie, but it also introduced one of the biggest plot twists in movie history, and cemented Star Wars into all our hearts and minds. Widely considered by fans to be the best film of the entire series, we here at Geek Twins decided to honor the movie with some lesser-known trivia. Add this to your databases for your next Star Wars marathon.

1. The Subtitle Started Here - Contrary to popular belief, the original release of Star Wars was not subtitled A New Hope. On its release, the opening crawl just started with "Star Wars." Empire Strikes Back was the first Star Wars movie to open with a number and title. Later on, the opening titles for the original Star Wars were changed to add "Episode IV: A New Hope."
2. Lucas Didn't Direct - George Lucas did not direct The Empire Strikes Back. He gave that responsibility to Irvin Kershner, so Lucas could focus on his first love: special effects.
3. Lucas Didn't Write ESB - Only one of the three drafts of Empire Strikes Back was written by George Lucas himself. The first draft of Empire was completed by Leigh Brackett in 1978, based on notes from Lucas. She died of cancer shortly after completing her draft. Lucas penned the second draft, and then handed writing the third draft over to Lawrence Kasdan, who also went on to write Raiders of the Lost Ark. Many attribute the lack of input from Lucas as the reason why this was the best written movie of the series.
4. "I Know" Wasn't Scripted - Harrison Ford created his famous response to Leia's declaration of love, changing it from "Just remember that, Leia, because I'll be back" to "I know."But this was not (as widely believed) technically an ad-lib, because he discussed it with the director before he said it.
5. The Secret of ESB - Until the film was screened for the first time, only the screenwriters, Lucas, Mark Hamill, Kershner, and James Earl Jones knew that Darth Vader was Luke's father. The script given to actors and the scene as filmed had Vader saying, "Obi-Wan is your father." And even James Earl Jones didn't know it was true, thinking that Vader was lying to Luke.
6. Hamill's Car Accident Changed ESB - Before filming, Mark Hamill got into a horrific car accident, and the scars on his face in Luke's recovery scene were his real injuries. Movie legend has it that the Wampa scene was not in the original script, but was added to explain the scars. However, Lucas denies that's the case and says that even without the Wampa scene, he could have just explained the injuries as war wounds.
7. ESB Got Poor Reviews - When the film was originally released, it got mixed reviews. Many critics criticized the fact that Empire had no real beginning or end, a fair critique considering the final conclusion wouldn't be released for another three years with Return of the Jedi. This structure of making the second movie a bridge to the third has now become common in movie trilogies, from Lord the Rings to the Matrix Trilogy to Pirates of the Caribbean.
8. The Emperor is an Ape - In the first appearance of the Emperor, Lucas wanted an ethereal look to the character, so they used a old woman's face, a man's voice, and a chimpanzee's eyes to create him. In the re-release, they changed it to the face of Emperor Palpatine.
9. Hoth Was a Hotel - The scenes on Hoth were filmed in Norway during a snowstorm so bad that at one point, they couldn't leave the hotel. The shot of Luke running out of the Wampa's cave was actually filmed by having Hamill run out of the hotel lobby.
10. Lando Was Han Solo - Billy Dee Williams originally auditioned for the part of Han Solo for the original movie. He didn't get the part, but they liked him so much that they had him play Lando Calrissian for Empire.
Sources: IMDB, Starwars.com, Wikipedia


  1. Cool. I've seen the movie umpteen million times and never knew half of this stuff. They had a SW5 marathon over the weekend and it still holds up.

  2. Wow. Some of this trivia is really bad. "Many say", who say? "Widely believed", by whom? Weasel words. Hamill was in the accident two years before filming, those scars are make-up, just like this factoid.


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