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					Star Wars Episodes IV–VI
George Lucas, Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
After the destruction of the Death Star, the Empire quickly regroups and begins searching for the new location of the Rebel base. Imperial probe droids fan out across various star systems, and one lands on the surface of the icy planet Hoth. On the surface of Hoth, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are on patrol near the newly hidden Rebel base. Luke sees the Imperial probe strike the surface and goes to investigate on his own. Before he can identify the probe, Luke is attacked and knocked unconscious by a hulking yeti-like creature. Meanwhile, having returned to the base, Han orders Chewbacca to prepare the ailing Millennium Falcon for departure. Han explains to the Rebel general that he feels compelled to leave because of the bounty hunters sent after him by Jabba the Hutt. As Han heads back to his ship, Leia confronts him and tries to convince him to stay for the sake of the Rebellion. Han tries to get Leia to admit that she has more personal reasons for wanting him to stay, but she refuses and the two quarrel. When Han learns that Luke has still not reported in, he heads out into the deadly Hoth night to find him. In the cave of the creature that attacked him, Luke has been pinioned in ice but is able to use the Force and his lightsaber to fight his way back to the surface. As he wanders blindly in a snowstorm, Luke has a vision of Ben Kenobi, who tells Luke that he must seek out Yoda, the Jedi master who is to train him in the ways of the Force. As Luke collapses, Han appears out of the night to rescue him. Luke recovers after a short stay in the sick bay, and Han and Leia discover that the Imperial probe has located the Rebel base. Aboard his command ship, Darth Vader sees the transmission from the probe and, instantly recognizing the Rebel base, orders his fleet to the Hoth system. However, Admiral Ozzel brings the fleet out of hyperspace in such a way that the Rebels are alerted and have time to prepare an evacuation. Furious, Vader uses the Force to strangle Ozzel and promotes Piett in his place. Luke leads the counterattack that attempts to hold off the approaching Imperial army of massive armored walking transports, as the Rebels hurriedly flee the base. Leia and C-3PO are forced to go with Han in the Falcon, while Luke and R2 head toward the Dagobah system, where Yoda is to be found. Unfortunately, the hyperdrive on the Millennium Falcon is broken, and Han and Leia are closely pursued by the Imperial fleet. In a desperate maneuver, Han flies into an asteroid field in order to escape the pursuit and barely avoids being crushed or shot down, ultimately finding shelter in a cave on one of the larger asteroids. Luke crash-lands on Dagobah, a swampy planet teeming with animal life but without any settlements or other signs of civilization. Luke and R2 make camp and are interrupted by the intrusion of an annoying, elderly little creature that pokes around, stealing food and offering to take Luke to Yoda. Luke reluctantly accompanies the creature to his home for a meal but quickly becomes impatient and angry at the delay. At this, the creature, who is of course Yoda himself, sighs and says that he cannot train someone so reckless and angry. To his surprise, Luke hears Ben's voice defending him and urging Yoda to take Luke on as a student. Luke begs Yoda for another chance, and Yoda agrees, warning Luke that what is to come will be the greatest challenge he has ever faced. Just as he is hiring a group of bounty hunters to find Han and the others, Darth Vader receives a call from the Emperor, who has sensed that Luke has begun his Jedi training. Vader is given the mission of luring Luke to him so that Luke can either be claimed for the dark side of the Force or destroyed. As the Imperial fleet searches the asteroid field, Han and the others work to get the

Falcon repaired. Han and Leia have a tender moment together, and Leia admits that she is drawn to Han when he isn't acting like a scoundrel, a term with which Han is inordinately pleased. The brief moment of peace is cut short, however, when Han realizes that the ―cave‖ they have taken shelter in is actually the gullet of an enormous, worm-like monster. Han speeds out of the maw of the creature, back into the asteroid field, and back into the sights of the Imperial fleet. Still unable to jump to hyperspace, Han improvises, hiding the Falcon by latching directly onto one of the Star Destroyers. The captain of the Star Destroyer assumes that the ship has escaped, apologizes to Vader, and pays for his error with his life. Meanwhile, Han detaches the Falcon when the larger vessel dumps its garbage and floats away, unseen, with the debris. Han decides to travel to the nearby planet of Bespin, where Lando Calrissian, an old friend, runs an independent mining station. However, Han himself fails to notice that his stealthy maneuver has been anticipated by the bounty hunter Boba Fett, who follows close behind. On Dagobah, Luke's training pushes him to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion. As Luke and Yoda rest before a sinister cave, Yoda tells Luke that the place is connected to the dark side and that Luke must go within and see what he finds. Luke enters the cave only to see a vision of Darth Vader approaching. Luke battles Vader and strikes off his head, but the face he sees within Vader's destroyed mask is his own. Later, when Luke is practicing levitating stones, he is distracted by the sound of his ship sinking further into the swamp where he crashed. Yoda encourages Luke to levitate the ship out of the water, but Luke is convinced such a feat is impossible. Luke makes the attempt, but he doubts himself and therefore fails. Luke is frustrated and angry but quickly awed by the ease with which Yoda then draws the ship out of the water. Han and Leia arrive at Cloud City on Bespin, where they are greeted by Lando, who pretends at first to be angry with Han. Han marvels at the way Lando, once a gambler and rogue, has become a responsible businessman. Leia still does not trust him, sensing something odd about the situation. C-3PO wanders off on his own and disappears, only to be found later, in pieces, by Chewbacca. Before Chewbacca can reassemble C-3PO and find out what happened, Han, Leia, and he are taken to a banquet by Lando. Much to their horror, Lando has betrayed them and Darth Vader is awaiting them in the dining room. The three are taken captive and Han and Chewbacca are tortured, though seemingly without purpose. Back on Dagobah, Luke has another vision, this time of his friends suffering. Yoda tells Luke that what he has seen is may in fact occur, but he warns Luke not to act rashly. Luke insists on going to rescue his friends, though both Ben and Yoda urge him not to face Vader before his training is complete. As Luke and R2 depart Dagobah, Yoda reminds Ben that even if Luke fails, ―there is another.‖ Lando, meanwhile, has come to regret his decision, which he made in order to preserve the independence of his settlement. Clearly, Vader has no intention of honoring his side of the bargain and plans to do just as he pleases. Vader's goal is to lure Luke to him so that he can be captured and brought before the Emperor, but first he needs to test one last part of his plan. Vader orders that Han be placed in ―carbon freeze,‖ a sort of suspended animation, so that Vader can be sure that the process he has in store for Luke is not fatal. As Han is lowered into the freezing chamber, Leia at last admits that she loves him, to which he replies, ―I know.‖ Han is frozen safely and is handed over to Boba Fett. As Luke arrives, Vader lies in wait and Lando resolves to free the others. Luke is guided into Vader's presence and the two at last stand face-toface. Lando's men surprise the Imperial troops and free Leia and the enraged Chewbacca, who almost kills Lando with his bare hands. Lando convinces them that there is still time to save Han, and they race off. Meanwhile, Luke and Vader duel within the depths of the mining complex. Luke is clearly overmatched by Vader, though he fights bravely and avoids the carbon-freeze ambush. Vader is relentless, however, and continues to push Luke, slowly increasing the intensity of his attacks. Eventually, Luke is bloody and desperate, fighting now simply to escape. Vader is too strong,

however, and slices off Luke's hand. Though he is defeated, Luke angrily refuses Vader's offer to join him on the dark side, saying that he could never join the man who killed his father. Luke is devastated by Vader's next revelation: he, Vader, is Luke's father. Unable to deny what the Force tells him to be true, Luke casts himself off of the bridge on which they stand. Leia, meanwhile, has just missed Boba Fett, who has made his escape with Han as his captive. Lando orders the city evacuated, and he, Leia and Chewbacca head to the Millennium Falcon, joined by R2-D2 and C-3PO. Clinging to a weather vane below the floating city, Luke calls out mentally to Leia, who hears him and orders Lando to fly back for him. Luke is saved but deeply shaken by what he has learned. The hyperdrive on the Falcon is still not operational, as Vader gave orders that it be disconnected. R2, fortunately, is aware of the problem and reconnects it just in time for the friends to escape the pursuing fleet. Once they are reunited with the Rebel forces, Luke is given a cybernetic replacement hand. Luke, Leia, and the droids watch as Lando and Chewbacca head off in search of Han.

Character List
Luke Skywalker - Played by Mark Hamill A courageous, orphaned young farm boy who is eager for adventure and for the chance to prove himself a hero. The chief protagonist of Star Wars episodes IV–VI, Luke must learn to control his emotions and desires in order to master the powers of a Jedi Knight, powers that flow from a mystic connection to the Force, an energy field created by life itself. Luke is tutored in the ways of the Force first by Obi-Wan Kenobi and later by Yoda, Kenobi's own master. Soon, however, Luke learns that Yoda and Obi-Wan have concealed from Luke his intimate connection to his greatest enemy, Darth Vader. Vader is in fact Luke's father and a servant of the dark side of the Force. Luke resolves to redeem his father from the evil that controls him, and this fateful decision determines both his own and Vader's fates, as well as that of the evil Galactic Empire. Luke Skywalker (In-Depth Analysis)

Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) - Played by David Prowse (Vader's body) and James Earl Jones (Vader's voice) A fallen Jedi Knight, now Dark Lord of the Sith and a fearsome evil presence. Darth Vader is the apprentice to the Sith Master, Emperor Palpatine, and serves as his chief enforcer, the iron fist with which the Emperor rules the galaxy. Vader pursues Luke and his friends relentlessly throughout the trilogy, ostensibly in order to crush the Rebellion of which they are a part. Vader's deeper motive, however, is to bring Luke, his long-hidden son, into the Emperor's orbit and to turn him to the dark side of the Force. In the end, Luke succeeds in awakening the good that is dormant within Vader, and Vader turns on his master, becoming, at the very end of his life, Anakin Skywalker once more. Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) (In-Depth Analysis)

Princess Leia Organa - Played by Carrie Fisher A member of the Imperial Senate and, secretly, one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance. Leia meets Luke Skywalker and Han Solo when they rescue her from the Death Star and soon becomes close to them both. Courageous, level headed, and sharp tongued, Leia's intense focus on the cause of overthrowing the Empire prevents her from acknowledging her growing

attraction to Han Solo until it is almost too late. Early in the trilogy, Leia loses the only home she has ever known, when the planet Alderaan is destroyed by Grand Moff Tarkin via the Death Star, only to find a new family when she learns that Luke is actually her twin brother and, more disturbingly, that Darth Vader is her true father. Princess Leia Organa (In-Depth Analysis)

Han Solo - Played by Harrison Ford A brash, roguish smuggler who becomes a hero despite his cynicism and his instinct for selfpreservation. Solo is captain of the Millennium Falcon, a battered hotrod of a starship that, like its pilot, masks a valiant heart in an unprepossessing exterior. Initially Solo joins Luke and ObiWan on their quest purely for the money he is promised, but, moved by Obi-Wan's sacrifice and by the courage of his young friend, Solo ends up joining their cause and becoming a leader of the Rebel Alliance. Solo, always careful to preserve his independence, falls in love with Princess Leia but enjoys sparring with her far too much to make his true feelings known. All that changes when Solo is captured by Jabba the Hutt, a gangster to whom Solo owes a small fortune. Luke and Leia lead an elaborate rescue of Solo, after which Solo is more honest about his devotion both to Leia and to the Rebellion they both serve. Han Solo (In-Depth Analysis)

Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi - Played by Alec Guinness One of the last of the Jedi Knights and Luke's first mentor. Obi-Wan is a steady, wise, reassuring figure who, though old, is still a Jedi, with a Jedi's deadly skill and uncanny powers. Obi-Wan reveals to Luke that his father was once a Jedi Knight and that Luke is meant to follow in his footsteps, but he doesn't reveal the full truth: that Luke's father Anakin is not dead but has become the evil Darth Vader. Obi-Wan also neglects to mention that Princess Leia is Luke's twin sister, in an attempt to preserve her safety. Obi-Wan begins training Luke in the ways of the Force and continues to advise him even after Darth Vader strikes Obi-Wan down in a lightsaber duel. Far from being killed in the duel, Obi-Wan merges with the Force, preserving his consciousness even as he transcends the limits of the flesh. R2-D2 - Played by Kenny Baker A spunky, trashcan-shaped ―astromech droid.‖ R2, along with his friend C-3PO, is swept up into the epic battle for the fate of the galaxy when Princess Leia hides the stolen plans for the Death Star inside his databanks. R2-D2 becomes Luke's robotic copilot and all-around mechanical assistant and always seems to find himself in the thick of the action. Unswervingly loyal, brave, and feisty, R2-D2 is one of the films' most popular characters, as well as a main source of comic relief, all the while communicating only in a series of electronic whistles, beeps, and chirps. C-3PO - Played by Anthony Daniels A golden, humanoid protocol droid. C-3PO is best friends with R2-D2, though the two often quarrel. Unlike R2-D2, C-3PO has little taste for adventure and is mostly an unwilling participant in the action, convinced all along that he and his friends are ―doomed.‖ Though more a diplomat than a fighter, C-3PO always comes through, proving his worth time and again as a translator, a computer hacker (with R2), and a surprisingly quick thinker in a tight spot. Despite all his worries and complaints, C-3PO's saving grace is his strong loyalty to ―Master Luke‖ and his great affection for R2-D2.

Yoda - Voiced and performed by puppeteer Frank Oz The greatest Jedi master and Luke's teacher. At first, Yoda is reluctant to take Luke on as a student, fearing that he is too much like his father, driven by ambition, anger, and a love of adventure. Yoda's fears seem well-grounded when Luke rushes off to face Vader before his training is complete, a reckless decision that nearly costs Luke his life. Later, however, when a more humble, controlled Luke returns to complete his training, Yoda send him back to face Vader again, telling Luke that he must confront his father to become a true Jedi. Despite his elliptical way of speaking, Yoda is the most eloquent spokesman for the wisdom of the Force in the trilogy and represents the moral center of the films. Yoda, then, is the polar opposite of Emperor Palpatine, and it is by staying true to Yoda's teachings that Luke is able to triumph. Lando Calrissian - Played by Billy Dee Williams A gambler, card player, and all-around scoundrel turned semirespectable businessman. An old friend of Han Solo's, and the previous owner of the Millennium Falcon, Lando is the administrator of a floating mining colony (Cloud City) on the planet Bespin. When Han and Leia turn to Lando for help in their flight from the Empire, Lando welcomes them warmly, only to betray them to Darth Vader soon after. Although Lando justifies his betrayal by claiming that he has no choice—he is trying to preserve the independence of the mining colony—he quickly realizes that any deal struck with the Empire is worthless. Lando evacuates the city and has his guards free Leia and Chewbacca, but not in time to prevent Han being taken captive by Boba Fett. After helping rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt, Lando, now thoroughly respectable, joins the Rebellion and leads the direct assault on the new Death Star. Chewbacca - Played by Peter Mayhew Han Solo's friend and copilot of the Millennium Falcon. Chewbacca is a seven-feet-tall Wookie, a creature resembling a cross between a gorilla and an English sheepdog. Despite his intimidating appearance, ―Chewie‖ is something of a softy, affectionate and loyal to his friends. When provoked, however, Chewbacca is truly ferocious, capable of tossing grown men around like rag dolls. A crack shot, skilled mechanic, and daring pilot, Chewbacca is always at Solo's side, deferring to the human's leadership, though the origin of their friendship remains mysterious. Jabba the Hutt - Operated by puppeteers Tony Philpott, David Barclay, and Mike Edmonds A gangster based on Luke's home planet of Tatooine who places a huge bounty on Han Solo, who owes him for a lost shipment. Jabba is an enormous, sluglike creature, operated by puppeteers and enhanced by digital technology. He delights in his own cruelty and grossness but is strong enough mentally to resist Luke's Jedi mind-control. Jabba manages to capture Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO, as well as the frozen Han Solo, or so he thinks. In truth, Luke has stage-managed the entire captivity in order to get close enough to Jabba to strike him down and free Han. In the resulting struggle, Han is freed, Jabba's henchmen are destroyed, and Jabba himself gets his comeuppance at the hands of Princess Leia. Emperor Palpatine - Played by Ian McDiarmid and briefly voiced by Clive Revill The Sith Lord, ruler of the Galactic Empire, and the motivating force behind Darth Vader. Hideously scarred and twisted, the Emperor's own body seems to revolt against the evil it is forced to contain. The living embodiment of the dark side of the Force, the Emperor is driven purely by hatred, anger, and lust for power, and he desires to draw others to the dark side by bringing out these qualities in them as well. The primary focus of his attention is his apprentice,

Darth Vader, and Vader's son, Luke Skywalker. The Emperor tries to pit father against son in a fight to the death, in the hope that Luke will destroy Vader and become the Emperor's new apprentice. The Emperor's twisted desire is thwarted, however, when Luke resists the lure of fear, anger, and hatred, becoming at last a true Jedi. Vader's love for his son is awakened by the Emperor's deadly attack on Luke, and he kills the Emperor, though not before sustaining a fatal wound himself. Grand Moff Tarkin - Played by Peter Cushing An Imperial governor in A New Hope. Tarkin is extremely powerful, unafraid of Darth Vader himself, supremely confident and cold. Tarkin orders the destruction of Princess Leia's home planet, Alderaan, merely to demonstrate the power of the Death Star. Tarkin is destroyed himself, along with the first Death Star, by Luke Skywalker. Admiral Ackbar - Played by Tim Rose A fish-headed alien who is the leader of the Rebel fleet that attacks the rebuilt Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Lando convinces Ackbar to press the attack, trusting that Han Solo will be able to destroy the shield generator protecting the Death Star. Admiral Piett - Played by Kenneth Colley An Imperial commander who rises through the ranks as Darth Vader kills off his superiors as they disappoint him. Piett dies in Return of the Jedi when his Super Star Destroyer is brought down by Admiral Ackbar's fleet. Boba Fett - Played by Jeremy Bulloch A deadly bounty hunter working for Jabba the Hutt and the Empire. Boba Fett shows great skill in tracking and capturing Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, but he dies ignominiously in the maw of the Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi. Greedo - Played by Paul Blake One of Jabba's flunkies. In A New Hope, Greedo corners Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina but can't resist gloating, which allows Han to get the drop on him and blast his way out of trouble. Admiral Ozzel - Played by Michael Sheard An Imperial commander. Ozzel angers Darth Vader through his ineptitude one too many times, and Vader uses the Force to strangle him to death on the bridge of his own ship in The Empire Strikes Back. Owen Lars - Played by Phil Brown Luke's uncle. A stern but loving man, Uncle Owen tries to keep Luke close to home but can't stop him from dreaming of adventure and excitement. Owen worries, with good reason, that Luke is very much like his father. Owen is killed by Imperial stormtroopers seeking R2 -D2 and C-3PO in A New Hope. Beru Lars - Played by Shelagh Fraser

Luke's aunt. Beru is a kind woman and sees that Luke is not meant to be a farmer. Beru tells Owen that they will have to let Luke go someday. She is killed by Imperial stormtroopers seeking the droids in A New Hope. Wicket - Played by Warwick Davis A fuzzy, forest-dwelling Ewok who befriends Leia in Return of the Jedi. Wicket is skittish at first but helps convince his tribe to assist the Rebel commandos led by Han and Leia when they assault the shield generator on the forest moon of Endor. Wedge - Played by Denis Lawson A Rebel fighter pilot. Wedge is one of the best pilots in the Rebel fleet, surviving the battle on Hoth and the assaults on both of the Death Stars. Biggs - Played by Garrick Hagon A Rebel fighter pilot and one of Luke's childhood friends. Biggs is shot down by Darth Vader in the attack on the Death Star in A New Hope.

Analysis of Major Characters
Luke Skywalker
Luke's quest to become a Jedi Knight is the main engine driving the plot of Star Wars Episodes IV–VI. Indeed, all of the epic battles and cosmic events going on around him are in a sense only the backdrop before which Luke's inner struggles are played out. When we first meet Luke on Tatooine, he is a callow youth, dreaming of adventure and escape from the backwater setting in which he finds himself. The classic image from A New Hope, in which Luke stands looking out at the horizon as the twin suns of his home planet are setting, captures perfectly this romantic, dreaming quality of his character. Early in A New Hope, we also see the reckless, impetuous side of Luke's character as he races off after R2 without telling his uncle and as he spies on the Sandpeople, almost getting himself killed thanks to his immaturity. However, Luke is also motivated by a strong sense of duty and a desire to be a part of something larger than himself. In the person of Ben Kenobi, Luke finds this desire answered, as Ben offers to help Luke become a Jedi Knight. Through Ben, Luke gets the opportunity to travel, to help the Rebel Alliance against the evil Empire, to feel closer to the father he never knew (who was also a Jedi), and to grow as a person through contact with the Force. In this way, Ben becomes a surrogate father to Luke, replacing Uncle Owen, who mainly wants to keep Luke safe, close to home, and, in that sense, in a state of immaturity. Ben is soon taken from Luke by Darth Vader, the man Luke believes killed his real father, repeating before Luke's eyes the act of parricide for which he already hates Vader. The irony, of course, is that Vader actually is Luke's father, a truth that devastates Luke when he learns it. Disappointed in Ben for hiding the truth from him and horrified at what Anakin Skywalker has become, Luke must learn at last to be his own man, moving out of the shadows of his various father figures and even learning to stand apart from the ―grandfather figures‖ of Yoda and the Emperor, who are also fighting for Luke's loyalty.

In the end, Luke saves his father's soul, gains a sister, and sees Yoda, Ben, and Anakin (his whole paternal set, as it were) united in the afterlife. Much of his success is thanks to Yoda, who encourages Luke to examine himself and to judge how much he has been motivated by a desire for glory and how much by a true devotion to others. Through Yoda's teaching, Luke finally, after many missteps, learns to master his own feelings and gains a deeper insight to the feelings of others. By the end of the trilogy, the eager youth, constantly in over his head, has become the confident Jedi Knight, coolly strolling unarmed into Jabba's palace and, even more challenging, refusing to take the easy, dark path of hatred and anger. Though actor Mark Hamill aged in the role over the course of the seven years it took to make the trilogy, it is impossible to imagine anyone else as Luke Skywalker—and to the detriment of Hamill's later career, it became impossible for audiences to imagine him as anyone else.

Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker)
Darth Vader is one of pop culture's universally recognized figures. His respirator-enhanced breathing, massive frame, and intimidating armored costume, as well as his tendency to enforce discipline in the Imperial ranks by summary execution, combine to make him the baddest of cinematic bad guys. Voiced by James Earl Jones, Vader is a truly awesome presence onscreen, easily one of the most convincing monsters ever to menace a princess and her rescuers. From the beginning, Vader represents the antithesis of the warmly human Ben Kenobi, who is full of wisdom and slow to anger but quick to defend others. Vader, on the other hand, lashes out casually at those who displease him, though he does so as if motivated by a cool, almost rational anger, rather than a raging fury. Vader's conscious goal is to inspire fear wherever he goes and to use the anger and hatred this fear stirs up to control those around him. However, the surprising thing about Vader is that the monster turns out to be human after all. For all of A New Hope and most of The Empire Strikes Back, Vader is a static character: the relentless foe of our heroes. At the end of Empire, however, comes the revelation that stunned twelve-year-old moviegoers everywhere in 1980—namely, that Vader is Luke's father, whom Luke, up to that point, believed to have been slain by Vader himself. Much of the subsequent drama of Return of the Jedi hinges on Luke's efforts to awaken the good that Luke believes, on rather little evidence, to be dormant within Vader's soul. The change finally comes when Vader is at last beaten and spared by Luke, who is then nearly killed by the Emperor. Vader's mask, impassive up to this point, is now lit cleverly in the glow of the Emperor's force-lightning so that pained expressions seem to flit anxiously across Vader's face. Finally, Anakin Skywalker reemerges from within Darth Vader, and he destroys the Emperor and saves his son. His last act is telling: he asks Luke to remove the mask so that he may see Luke with his own eyes—a rejection of the sinister man/machine aspects of Vader's being. In the end, Anakin Skywalker stands, purged of Darth Vader, with Yoda and Obi-Wan, the masters he once rejected.

Han Solo
Han Solo, the brash smuggler captain with a heart of gold, is the character that made Harrison Ford Harrison Ford. Before Solo, Ford had appeared onscreen in supporting roles exclusively— after Solo, he was a bona fide star. Ford's Han Solo is charismatic and sexy, the funniest character in A New Hope, and likable despite his apparent arrogance and selfishness. A major key to understanding Han's character is the clue provided by his last name. Han is used to looking after only himself, with the Wookie Chewbacca as the lone exception to the rule. If Luke starts out as the romantic dreamer, still immature but eager, Han is the wised-up cynic, willing to fight but only in it for the money. (Ben, with his quiet dedication to the cause of right, stands as a

rebuke to both Han and Luke.) Another clue is the connection between Han and his spaceship, the Millennium Falcon, a small freighter to which Solo has made extensive modifications in order to boost her speed. Like the Falcon, Solo is temperamental, something of a misfit, and distinctly untrustworthy in appearance. But over the course of the trilogy, Han, the quintessential loner, finds himself drawn into friendship with Luke, into a leadership position in the Rebellion, and into a romantic relationship with Leia. Throughout much of the trilogy, Solo tries to resist commitment, whether to a person or to a cause, but finds his instincts overruled by his affection. For example, Solo initially leaves once he has his reward, but he returns to help Luke take on the Death Star. Later, he is set to leave again, but he delays his departure first to help rescue Luke and then to make sure Leia escapes during the evacuation of Hoth. Similarly, Han constantly needles Leia in order to get her to admit her affection for him but would never dream of being the first to express his feelings. Solo is later captured and held by Jabba the Hutt, giving his friends the chance return his loyalty, and Han is the one rescued. From this point on, Solo is a changed man, still cocky and brash, but now clearly committed to the Rebellion and to the woman he loves.

Princess Leia Organa
Carrie Fisher was still a teenager when she was cast as Princess Leia, and George Lucas gets a lot of mileage, especially early in the trilogy, out of the contrast between Leia's youthful, sweet appearance and her sharp tongue and forceful manner. Leia is a post-feminist sort of princess, equally comfortable firing a blaster or piloting a ship as she is conducting a medal ceremony. Toward the end of the trilogy, we also learn that Leia has the potential to become a Jedi, just like Luke. Leia is a Senator, a princess, and a leader of the Rebel Alliance, and her devotion to duty and to the cause of freedom is one of her defining characteristics. This devotion prevents Leia from acknowledging to Han her growing love for him, and it even prevents her from admitting it to herself. Leia tells Han that he is needed as a leader and a pilot, but never that she needs him herself. Han, of course, tries to goad an admission out of her, but his efforts only cause her to bottle up her feelings even more, though she does make some efforts to inspire jealousy in Han by kissing Luke (before she learns that they are brother and sister). Leia finally tells Han that she loves him, just when it is almost too late and he is about to be frozen alive. Leia takes part in the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt, freeing him from the carbon freeze, only to be taken captive herself by Jabba. Up to this point in the trilogy, Leia has dressed modestly, favoring practical, functional clothing over anything fancy. Now, however, she is forced by Jabba to don a revealing harem outfit, complete with gold bikini, and to wear a chain around her neck. Leia's reaction to the situation is thoroughly in character and reveals the way her character smashes the adventure-fantasy stereotypes about sexy princesses. In the confusion caused by Luke's surprise attack, Leia hops behind Jabba, loops the chain around his massive neck, and strangles him to death. Leia then helps Luke destroy Jabba's barge before escaping with the others. The scene is a perfect summation of the kind of reversal of expectations typical of Leia throughout the trilogy.

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols


The Mystery and Power of the Force

As Ben and Yoda explain it to Luke, the Force is an energy field created and sustained by all the life in the universe. The Force is omnipresent, binding the universe and everything and everyone in it together. It can be manipulated and controlled by a trained Jedi (and by their evil counterparts, the Sith) and is the source of a Jedi's remarkable powers. The Force can also take a more active role, guiding a Jedi's actions, as when Luke allows the Force to guide his aim and destroy the Death Star. The Force is largely represented as nurturing and benign in nature, but it has a dark side as well. This dark side, the side of aggression, anger, and hatred, empowers the Emperor and his apprentice, Darth Vader. The Force provides a spiritual dimension to the action of the trilogy and has been the subject of much speculation and theorizing by fans of the films. George Lucas is careful not to spell out in any specific way what the Force is and what, exactly, the Jedi believe.

As Lucas presents it in the Star Wars series, the Force is a rather vague entity, serving primarily as a vocabulary for good and evil and as a way to explain the “magical” powers of the Jedi. Clearly, however, the Force cannot be identified with the God of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, as it is impersonal, created by life and not the creator of life. Rather, the Force is a new-agey amalgam of various eastern religious and western philosophical sources. One such source is Taoism, an ancient, nontheistic (without a personal deity) Chinese religion that teaches simplicity and conformity to the Tao, or “Way,” of nature. In the concept of “light” and “dark” sides of the Force, there is an echo of Manicheism, an ancient nearEastern religion that claimed the physical universe was the result of the combat between two equally matched spiritual forces, one good, the other evil. There are also elements of Romantic nature worship (as in the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson), Pantheism (a belief that the universe itself is God), and Western-influenced Buddhism in the way characters speak of the Force. Yoda's lecture to Luke on the importance of mindfulness in Empire is reminiscent of Buddhist teaching, for example. These are just a few interpretations, and though the Force is clearly central to the action of the Star Wars films, it ultimately remains mysterious. Lucas seems to intend a general life force with which one can be in harmony or conflict, and the details can be safely left to the imagination.

The Superiority of Nature over Technology

The Jedi strive to live in simplicity and in harmony with nature. They are not averse to technology, but they do not rely on it alone, at the expense of their own senses and feelings. When Luke encounters Ben and Yoda in their homes, he finds these Jedi masters living austere lives, close to the land. And when Luke must destroy the Death Star with one shot, Ben's voice encourages him to shut off his targeting computer, relying on his own senses, his intuition, and his connection to the Force. A stark contrast to the way of the Jedi is the behavior of their dark-side counterparts, the Sith. Darth Vader is, as Ben puts it, “more machine than man,” a walking hybrid with robotic limbs and built-in life support. The Emperor's deformed body seems to be in revolt against life itself, and he is seen exclusively in an overwhelmingly manmade, technological environment, the new Death Star. Clearly then, there is something soul destroying in an over-reliance on technology. Significantly, Darth Vader's last request is for Luke to remove his mask, so that Vader may see Luke directly, without the technological filter.

Nature proves to be superior to technology when the Ewoks rise up against the Empire on Endor. Despite the primitive nature of the Ewoks' weapons—sticks, stones, arrows, and spears—they are able to defeat the technologically advanced Imperial troopers, with their walking tanks and laser blasters. Lucas himself has said that he intended this sequence to be reminiscent of the Vietnam War, in which the less technologically advanced side was ultimately victorious. Again, Lucas is not trying to say that technology is bad in itself. Indeed, this would be an odd thing to claim in films that are themselves the product of the most advanced technology available at the time (some characters are completely computer-generated in certain scenes). After all, R2-D2 and C-3PO, two of the best and most beloved characters in the films, are, by their very nature, completely products of technology. Lucas's point is that we must not allow the machines that surround us to make us less than human ourselves, as Darth Vader does but Luke does not.

The Myth of the Hero's Destiny

Joseph Campbell, in his classic study of world mythology The Hero with a Thousand Faces, makes the case that all mythology about heroes is really a symbolic retelling of a basic “monomyth” about the growth and personal development of the individual. Drawing on the work of psychologists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, Campbell argues that the hero of myth must struggle against society and culture as he finds them in order to define himself both outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly, the hero struggles to find his place and role in society even as he struggles inwardly to understand his own nature. Symbolically, these struggles take the form of an orphaned hero who discovers the secret of his birth (often that he is of royal blood) and must make his way in the world. Along the way, the hero encounters resistance in the form of monsters he must battle (which symbolize his own fears or failings), and he receives aid from wise older counselors. Ultimately, the hero aspires to rise to full maturity by taking his place as a figure of patriarchal authority, often by displacing or destroying a faulty father figure who occupies the hero's rightful place. Classic examples of heroes who fit Campbell's pattern include King Arthur and Oedipus, though in each case the specifics and outcomes of the hero's quest will vary.

The case of Luke Skywalker can easily be seen to fit this mythic pattern. Luke is an orphan, uncertain of his place in the world and even of his own identity. He is cast adrift but is guided along his path by Ben and by Yoda, who share the wise elder counselor function. Luke faces many adversaries, but his greatest challenge is in learning self-mastery, and with each battle Luke grows in wisdom and self-understanding. In the end, however, Luke must face his own father in order to take his father's (abandoned) place as a Jedi Knight and as the symbolic head of his family. Note that Luke fights Vader in the end primarily to defend his sister, Leia. Ultimately, the son overthrows, and saves, the father, achieving the full maturity and goodness that the failed father figure could never achieve himself. In this sense, then, the story of Luke Skywalker is the story of any man's maturation and self-definition, told symbolically through the structure of myth and adventure.

Lucas himself claims to have been influenced by Campbell's ideas as he wrote. However, according to Campbell's theory, such influence would not have had to have been conscious, as he claims that all

mythic stories work in essentially the same way. Incidentally, later editions of The Hero with a Thousand Faces have featured a picture of Luke Skywalker prominently on the cover.

Color Used for Characterization

Certain characters in the Star Wars trilogy are closely identified with certain colors, with Darth Vader's all-black outfit being the most obvious example. Vader's black makes a stark contrast with Luke's allwhite clothes in A New Hope, hearkening back to the serial westerns of the 1940s and 1950s, in which the good guys had white hats and the bad guys wore black. Leia wears an all-white costume in A New Hope as well, signaling the goodness of her character and linking her visually with Luke, her (unknown) brother. The Jedi Masters Yoda and Obi-Wan favor brown, a warm color recalling a monk's robes and the earth itself. Han Solo, meanwhile, wears a white shirt with a black vest for much of the trilogy, in an apt reference to the initial ambivalence of his character. Luke's outfits continue to emphasize his characterization in this way throughout the trilogy. In Empire, for example, when Luke journeys to Bespin to rescue his friends, his fatigues are a light gray, showing that Luke has traveled a bit from the innocent idealism of his youth and that he has placed himself in peril of straying to the dark side. By the time we get to Return of the Jedi, Luke has adopted an all-black wardrobe, though this does not mean that he has gone over to the dark side. Instead, the black robes he wears recall a priest's garb and link him visually to his father, with whose fate he is so deeply concerned. Orchestral Soundtrack

John Williams's thematic compositions for the Star Wars trilogy have been justly acclaimed, and the films use the soundtrack expertly to heighten the drama and intensify the mood. In many ways, the full orchestral accompaniment provided by Williams and powerfully performed by the London Symphony Orchestra is a throwback to the symphonic scores of classic Hollywood films, at a time when pop music was being used more and more in film soundtracks. There is an intensity and excitement in the Star Wars music, especially in the heroic opening theme, with its instantly recognizable fanfare, which contributes greatly to film's overall effect. Another dramatic musical moment is the Imperial march introduced in The Empire Strikes Back as the theme music for Vader's pursuit of Han and Leia. The march's rhythm is driving and relentless, capturing Vader's own relentless progress through the story. Williams's score can also be delicate and humorous, introducing themes for tender moments and minor characters and mixing in passages from the main themes in minor keys to emphasize crucial moments of dramatic tension. Speed

Although it may be hard to believe now, one of the things that set the Star Wars movies apart from the very beginning was the speed with which the stories moved and the speed with which certain scenes took place. Each of the films has at least one set-piece moment that is meant to make the audience members grab their armrests to steady themselves. In A New Hope, it is the trench runs during the attack on the Death Star—this scene was like nothing else that had come before, and it had theater viewers swaying as if they were on a roller coaster. Though this scene is comparatively slow by today's

standards, it is the reason no action movie seems complete now without one super-fast air trip shot from the pilot's point of view. The Empire Strikes Back featured Han's vertiginous flight through the asteroid field, while Return of the Jedi sent Luke and Leia zooming through the forest of Endor on speeder bikes. Such scenes had many critics comparing the films, disparagingly, to amusement park thrill rides, but for George Lucas, such a comparison was hardly a criticism—more like an indication that he had achieved the effect he was after.


Luke's Cybernetic Hand

At the very end of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke's right hand, sliced off by Darth Vader during their duel on Bespin, is replaced by a cybernetic prosthesis that looks, on the surface, just like a real hand. Symbolically, however, Luke's mechanical hand moves him one step closer to being like his father, a fullfledged hybrid of man and machine. Early in Return of the Jedi, we are reminded of Luke's hand when it is damaged during the fight on Jabba's barge. Rather than having the hand repaired, Luke simply pulls a black glove over it, and from then on, the glove serves as a reminder of Luke's connection to his father. At the climax of Jedi, Luke beats Vader to the ground and slices off Vader's own right hand in a flurry of blows. Vader cries out in pain, but only wires and circuitry dangle from the wound. Luke looks in horror at his own right hand and back to his father, making the connection once again and realizing that he too has the capacity within him to turn to the dark side. With his father's example before him, however, Luke abstains from revenge, becoming a true Jedi Knight.


The lightsaber is, as Ben teaches Luke, the traditional weapon of the Jedi. In contrast to a blaster, Ben tells Luke, the lightsaber is elegant and precise, an eminently “civilized” weapon. By passing Luke's father's lightsaber on to Luke, Ben is beginning Luke's initiation and symbolically placing him in his father's footsteps. When we add in the fact that the final stage of a Jedi's apprenticeship is the creation of his own lightsaber, the symbolism of the gift becomes even clearer. In order to attain full maturity, Luke will have to release his father's lightsaber and take up his own—symbolically moving from a position of dependence on the father to a position of independence. Of course, Luke doesn't relinquish his father's lightsaber willingly, as it is literally severed from him by Vader, who is, of course, the very father Luke wishes to replace.

A Freudian interpretation would read the lightsabers in this scene as phallic symbols and Luke's amputation as a symbolic castration by his father, but one needn't go quite so far to see the symbolism. Once again, Luke's two father figures are placed in opposition, with Ben as the giving father and Vader as the domineering, taking father. Ultimately, Luke does create his own lightsaber to replace the lost one, and this is a major step on his path to becoming a Jedi and his own man. Note that another example of the expressive use of color involves the lightsabers: Jedi lightsabers are cool blue, whereas

Vader's Sith blade is angry red. Luke's own blade is green, perhaps in allegiance to the green-skinned Yoda who trained him.

The Death Star

The exact symbolic meaning of the Death Star is ambiguous, though it is certainly a symbol of evil. On one hand, the Death Star is a virtually blasphemous instance of the worship of technology over nature. The station is the size of a moon, an artificial world with enough firepower to obliterate a real planet with one shot. When its commander makes the mistake of calling the station “the ultimate power in the universe” in Darth Vader's presence, however, Vader swiftly corrects him, first by reminding him that his “technological terror” is nothing compared to the Force, and then by force-choking the man into submission. On the other hand, Vader himself is something of a “technological terror,” and the Emperor, the ultimate voice of the dark side of the Force, seems quite fond of his new Death Star, so the opposition is not complete. In the end, the Death Star represents the innate fragility of even the most potent technology. Just as the Ewoks are unexpectedly able to defeat the Emperor's legion, so are the Death Stars destroyed by unsuspected forces technology could never prepare for.

Darth Vader: “Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy! . . . If you only knew the power of the dark side! ObiWan never told you what happened to your father. . .”

Luke: “He told me enough! He told me you killed him!”

Darth Vader: “No, I am your father!”

This exchange, which occurs in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back on the catwalk within Cloud City after Vader has thoroughly beaten Luke, is one of the central moments of the trilogy. The most important thing we learn along with Luke is the Vader's true identity and his relation to Luke. The loss that Luke experiences in this scene is profound and multifaceted. He has lost, for one thing, the narrative that has given his life meaning up to this point: that his father was killed by Vader and that he, Luke, will someday avenge his death. Instead, Luke now finds he has a villain, not a hero, for a father. At the same time, he has, in a way, lost another father in Ben, who not only was struck down by Luke's real father but now stands revealed as having been less than honest with Luke. This is the very moment, the very realization, that Ben had tried to spare Luke, until he was ready to handle it. As it is, Luke would rather die than face the reality of the situation. He throws himself over the side and is saved from death only by luck—or perhaps destiny. At the same time, Vader's statement here sheds a bit of light on his own motivations and reveals some of the seductiveness of the dark side. Vader offers Luke a chance to belong, a chance to seize power, and a chance to know his father all at once. Vader claims here to be motivated by a desire for peace, stability, and order, which certainly doesn't sound all that evil. In truth, however, the only order offered by the dark side is the order of absolute submission to the will of

the Emperor, and the only peace the peace of surrender, or death. A Jedi, Luke learns, fights so that others may be free, not to subordinate others to a specious ―order‖ or ―stability.‖

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