Fun with Franchises: Favorite Images from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
One of the recurring features that we do in Fun with Francises (a feature within a feature) is, after we finish watching a film, we go through and pick out our favorite images from that film. These images could be anything from really famous images from the film or franchise, really beautifully composed shots, shots that are funny to us because of the facial expressions being made in them or because of what we said about them in the article in which they appeared, or simply because they have boobs in them.
What we usually do is, just how we watch the films, Colin and I go in separately and pick out about ten to fifteen shots that we really liked. Then we compare lists, and whichever ones we both picked automatically go on our final list. And everything else we talk through and discuss why we like them, and eventually we’re left with a final list of ten images we liked the best, along with ten honorable mentions, which were also as good, but just missed out on making the list proper.
It’s not very complicated (like most things we do here on B+ Movie Blog), and is just a way for us to point out shots that we really liked in the films, especially since we tend to pick stuff that’s not always on the beaten path. (We also don’t officially rank the list of shots. We just put them in chronological order. Simply picking them is hard enough. We don’t want to make our lives any harder. Plus, we’re lazy.)
That said — here are our favorite images from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back:
We’ve all been there.
So, you know the deal. I run down a couple of shots I like, then we get to our list.
At this point, I don’t waste time with shit. Except when I do. You know.
This shot, I like because of the framing, more than anything. You know I love me some Disney framing.
Then there’s this shot — look at how fucking CRISP that is. I didn’t include it because we already covered the windshield shot.
Same for this shot — it’s windshield mixed with awesome explosion. We covered that last movie.
Then there’s this shot — which I like because it’s wide. I just really like the image. I like that we’re seeing it happen in wide shot, rather than in medium shot. You know I love me some long shots.
Aww… he’s such an adorable little mass murderer.
I love that they had to put the puppet on his foot.
This shot I love because of the camera placement. It’s always badass when someone walks off a ship like this.
And then this shot, which almost made the list. I love that it looks like when you play with toys. Colin also really admired the amount of detail that went into this part of the Star Destroyer, not to mention the awesomeness that is the Millenium Falcon.
Anyway, onto the list:
1. This Glorious Shot
I don’t even need to say a word. This shot is fucking glorious.
Oh shit, it’s just blacks on blacks on blacks!
2. This shot
There’s also this shot, which is the same shot but 100% symmetrical, but I like this one, because it looks more like a painting. It’s like a Norman Rockwell in space painting.
Trying to imagine a Norman Rockwell space painting. I guess it comes out something like this. I think what I love so much about this set are: the little work areas in the floor, so that foremen can walk around barking orders and looking down on people; and the ceiling, which is inexplicably intricate. There’s so much going on in the ceiling, like each one of those little bits has a different function. They could have just thrown up some plasterboard and a few fluorescent lights, but this looks a shit zillion times better.
3. Skype Choke
This moment is great. He fucking chokes a guy through Skype!
I’m also a fan of this moment, which directly led to this, where they fucked up in alerting the Rebels to their imminent attack, and Vader goes, “What the fuck, man?” and yells at the dude in charge, who then turns to the guy directly below him (the guy getting choked), who then turns to the guy directly below him (the guy with the look). It’s a great shot of showing how blame works in a military hierarchy.
I insisted on this one for the look. That look is amazing. This guy is actually one of my favorite minor characters, because he knows how to play the game, more or less. He knows he’s dealing with Vader, so you just tell him shit straight and never outwardly show how terrified you are of being choked at any moment. He just does his job and keeps all the conversations short and sweet. He’s like Anthony Hopkins in Remains of the Day. “Crush the Rebels? Very well, sir. Will that be all for now?” Very subdued. But this shot is the best because a dude is being choked through a video call right next to him and he’s left to watch. What face do you make? THAT face.
4. Ice Trenches
IT’S FUCKING SPACE TRENCHES!
You people know I love that shit.
And the second shot I love because it’s just war. Crisp, beautiful war. It also looks like No Man’s Land, which — more trench stuff.
I’ve never been as big a fan of trench warfare as Mike is, but I can’t deny that it’s cool. Though I have to say my favorite aspect of a shot like this is the juxtaposition of ground forces and air power. You see this in shots from WWI and WWII especially — GIs charging as planes fly overhead to drop bombs on targets and stuff. I love that relationship between the guys on the ground and the guys in the air, because you know that neither really gets the job done without the other. You know that when you’re a grunt down in the shit, you always feel a whole lot better once a squadron of friendly fighters buzzes your lines and heads on ahead to fuck up the enemy. Or maybe you’ve been shot and you’re firing your service revolver at an enemy tank, and a P-51 blows it up just in time for you. This is what I think about when I look at this stuff.
5. This Is Why You Have People
We both had this one on our lists. This is so funny to me. This is one of those great scenes in that — we know going into it, the motherfucker is gonna be dead. He goes off in the previous scene to accept his fate. Vader previously choked the other guy through Skype and now they fucked up again. So the guy is like, “I’ll go tell him,” and knowingly goes to die. And then we just cut to him falling to the floor and Vader going, “Apology accepted.” And then he just motions like this and people come over to move the body.
HE HAS BODY MOVERS!
This is why you have people.
I’m so glad we both had this. The shot of them actually hauling off the body is much less interesting and amusing than the shot of him summoning them. This is the pose that persons of high authority have used for millennia; it’s not a ‘come hither’ gesture with only the index finger, but a sort of lazy motion with the whole hand. The most captivating thing about this gesture and this shot is that it can mean any of thousands of things. Depending on the context, this can mean anything from, “Grapes,” to, “Release the hounds.” People talk about what they’d do if they were rich or famous, and it’s mostly stuff like partying and such. This is the first thing I would do after becoming this powerful. And my minions would rush up wondering if I want them to take a letter or to loose arrows.
6. He Thinks He’s People!
As I said with Voldemort, it’s hilarious to me when evil people are shown in a domestic setting. This is fucking hilarious. Vader’s having an elegant dinner party, and he’s bringing all the people he’s trying to kill to it. He brings them in, feeds them, then sends them off to be tortured. That’s amazing.
This is actually such a cold-blooded moment. Think about that. He knows he has these motherfuckers where he wants them, and then is like, “Come on in, have some food.” That’s incredible.
Plus… seriously, look at him. He’s at a people table.
Is he looking at a menu? Please let him be looking at a menu. “If they don’t show up in the next five minutes, I’m pulling the trigger on these hot wings. Why doesn’t it say anything about celery? Could they come without celery?”
I hope you just read that in James Earl Jones’ voice.
7. These Glorious Shots
Just look at them.
I’m really all about the Vader shot, although I think I went for the second shot simply because it’s about their conflict. Reds and blues, goods and bads, it kinda works out like that. But LOOK AT THESE SHOTS. I don’t care what the plot is or how awful the acting is. Holy shit, it looks amazing. This level of visual output is one of the reasons you can’t overlook this franchise.
8. Boba Fett, Motherfucker
The framing, the colors, the character — this is a perfect image.
Boba Fett is awesome.
BAMF. Purple sky. Well, that’s checked both boxes on the list of requirements for a successful screenshot.
9. This Set
We have the first one just for scale. Honestly I’d have just stuck with the second one. This is amazing. I don’t know why this exists or why it is like this, but it’s fucking awesome. One of my single favorite shots in the franchise.
This is like…hypnotic. It’s so cool having a big, blue set that just continues seemingly indefinitely. If you could see the bottom, this shot would be less amazing, but it wouldn’t be Star Wars without endless chasms with few or no guardrails.
10. Cloud City
Cloud City just looks amazing. Nothing like a Magic Hour shot (or an aircraft taking off at sunset).
And then the second one — we had that last article — we love us some ships flying away from shit with lots of lights.
I was all about this last image. Clouds look so much more baller at dusk than they do at any other time. For that matter, I think just about anything looks more baller at dusk than any other time. And that certainly goes for the Millennium Falcon and Cloud City. Compare this to the setting that clearly drew from it in the prequels — Kamino — and you can see in a second why this comes off so much better. This shot looks like a painting, and Cloud City doesn’t look super crisp. The only reason the Kaminoan city’s exterior doesn’t look overly CGI is that it’s raining heavily. That was probably a smart move. But this shit looks magnificent.
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- This Scene
I’m more a fan of the first image than anything. I love the ice walls, I love all the random wires and shit going along it (somehow not melting it), I love that they have random grates to walk on, and how thought out this base was. I love the scale. I love a long shot when two characters are talking in a hallway (e.g. “Let’s hang back, it ain’t quite time yet”). This is a great shot on every conceivable level.
That finger. YES. That finger. This thing comes out of nowhere and gets accompanied by an, “Ahhhhh?” which is the stand-in line for, “Can you honestly tell me you don’t want this dick?!” She knows what he can do with his index finger.
- Empire Ships
We have a bunch of shots here. I basically just said “fuck it” and put them all on. We’ll explain why they’re here.
All right, this one was essential. Different ships approaching a planet in a sort of staggered formation. The reason I love this is because you get to stare right into the exhaust nozzles of the Super Star Destroyer, which must be like 500 feet wide. But also — everyone likes a flagship. This brings us back to the days when Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia would have displays of air power that would inevitably include a huge plane flying overhead, flanked by several smaller ones. For airplane geeks, I always think of the Maxim Gorky flying over Red Square with Polikarpov I-15s in tight formation off each wingtip. As an image, it’s like Vader himself being followed by stormtroopers; even the color scheme sort of works.
This shot never stuck out at me until you mentioned that, and now I totally get it.
I do really love how those exhausts look.
I love this shot. I love what Hoth looks like, and I love this image. This looks like a painting. You don’t get too much of that in the later movies, so I really like that aspect of it as well.
This looks like a knife about to stick a pasty fat guy. I approve.
I’m not sure one really appreciates how abstract this shot is during the film. These ships are in no real formation and aren’t even pointing in the same direction. There’s no order to their placement whatsoever. When you consider that there’s no tasks that would require them to just float around randomly like that, this shot makes no sense and exists purely for looking awesome. I though this is what the pattern would look like if Andy Warhol had painted a Star Wars painting.
Space Battleship must be awesome.
This is also the first moment we hear “The Imperial March,” which is pretty great.
I love lights in space. I really do.
Plus, here — blue and orange — nothing like complementary colors perfectly punctuating a mostly monochrome frame.
Mike already discussed the colors, but…does this thing not look like it’s on its way to go pop a really fucking huge balloon?
- This shot
I said it in the articles — this shot was one I always remembered and for some reason reminds me of the entire Hoth sequence of this movie. I can’t explain why. I just love this shot.
I think it’s the shape of the cave entrance that makes me think of the early days of aviation. By WWII, hangars and other storage buildings had to be much smaller and spread out to protect from bombing, and by the time we got to Vietnam, we were either on aircraft carriers or parking our planes in bunkers. But during the really early days of air warfare, airfields (or aerodromes, I guess I should call them) were a lot more straightforward. My image is of a huge hangar with a broad, sloping roofline, under which all the aircraft were parked. This may be the side of a mountain, but the shape of that cave opening makes me think there’s a bunch of Sopwith Camels inside.
This set is glorious. That is all.
This is just another one of those where, just the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer that we had way up top, this is a set that’s intricately detailed in a way that you know if it’d been in the prequels, it wouldn’t be. This set in the prequels would be some shiny ice and a lot of spotless, smooth surfaces. Look at how much better this looks that whatever that would have been. I love that I have full license to make comparisons between this and the shittiness of what I imagine the prequels would have done.
Yoda remembers the heady days of Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin.
- This shot
It’s totally Toyko Drifter. I might not have chosen it if I didn’t notice that, but I did. And honestly, I’m glad I did. Because I like how fucking giant the hallway is for no reason.
Plus — Tokyo Drifter.
Plus — Tokyo Drifter.
Plus — Tokyo Drifter.
- Tally ho!
This is a full-bodied tally ho. It’s really incredible
I’ve never seen this much force (or… Force) put into a tally ho.
This is the father of all tally hos.
(And considering what the mother is… imagine that pair.)
He really glides down. The way he hangs in the air — is it the cape? Gotta be the cape — is what makes this so baller. That and like, you know…the…lightsaber.
Let’s also point out — this is the only place you’re gonna get a screenshot like this.
This is why we’re better than everyone else.
- This set
Love this set. No idea why it exists, but it’s fucking great.
I think this is what movies are missing. Just put shit like this in them, and they’re exponentially more interesting. Who cares why it’s a tube, it just looks great.
I never once asked myself what this was for as a kid. There’s nothing going on inside other than the lights, and when you get to the other side, you see that it’d be a hassle to get into. It’s not particularly effective as a pathway between the two sets, and it seems unnecessarily severe in its lighting and the speed of its automatic doors. This mini-set, then, meets the criteria for my interpretation of “art” — something that serves no true purpose other than to exist and to be seen existing. And movies these days are too often lacking in art.
Because it looks like he’s about to hit a Whitney Houston high note.
Well, I guess this one looks more like that.
What’s great is that this shot can be used for so many different things. It looks like he’s going, “YES!”
In fact… let’s make this a meme (if it’s not already one). Just like, “Professor forgot to bring rest of lesson plan… out 15 minutes early,” and him just going “YES!” like that underneath it.
Or it could be him doing a jerkoff motion.
Seriously… this shot has so many applications.
And here’s the shot a little wider, just to show off that set again.
It’s the reveal (Yes.)! Just a pretty epic pose in an awesome set.
- Holy fuck
I love this shot as a reveal. And as a shot. I just love that we see Luke fall and go pretty close on him, and then cut to this and it’s like, “Whoa, fuck!” Because this is a long goddamn way down, and he almost fell down it.
Plus, it’s almost the outside version of that other shot up there, which continues to beg the question — what the fuck are all those lights for inside?
The best part is remembering that his hand and his lightsaber are down there in the little ball at the bottom. Bet that’s gonna start smelling before too long. Ew.
And of course, remember —
No Droids Allowed.
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Tomorrow is Final Thoughts, and Monday is Jedi.
(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)