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Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Discuss all Star Wars films here - the original trilogy, prequel trilogy and the new Disney films.
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Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby TheJabbaWookie » Sun Feb 18, 2018 2:18 pm

I’ve often wondered why so many Star Wars fans name The Empire Strikes Back as their favourite film of the original trilogy. Don’t get me wrong. I love ESB but it is my least favourite of the 3 movies. What I wanted to do with this post was to set out what makes the original Star Wars my favourite of the OT rather than address the issues I have with ESB. Then I really wanted to hear from you guys as to what made ESB (or indeed ROTJ) your favourite movie.

I wanted to start by saying that my perfect movie has a great beginning, a great middle and a great end. The thing that made The Matrix such a great film was that it had all 3 and worked most effectively when viewed as a complete movie. When it was placed in the context of the other 2 movies the overall effect IMO was diminished. Star Wars has a great beginning, middle and end. It actually works brilliantly as part of a trilogy but works amazingly well as a stand alone movie in its own right.

I first watched Star Wars in 1982 at the age of 6, though my biggest memories of the film were when it was re-shown at Christmas in 1984. From the moment I saw the exhilarating opening scenes in Star Wars as Tantive IV is captured by the Imperial Cruiser and was introduced to Princess Leia, R2D2 and C3PO, as well arch villain Darth Vader and a host of ultra cool Stormtroopers, I was immersed in this whole new world. The opening sequences are intense, dramatic and gripping as a ploy to capture the attention of audiences worldwide but after that it settles down to a compelling series of character and story building scenes.

And that in a crux is why I think Star Wars is the best movie of the three - from the point where Threepio and Artoo land on Tatooine to the point where the Millennium Falcon lands on the Death Star, I don’t think I can recall a point where the movie puts a foot wrong, and we are treated to engaging, hugely significant and phenomenally entertaining television, scene after scene, after scene. There really isn’t an unnecessary scene or indeed course of dialogue, which is amazing really given we are nearly two thirds of the way in.

I love the scenes on Tatooine from the lonely and haunting moments as R2 makes his way through the canyons watched by those ghostly Jawa eyes (Utinni), to the awe-inspiring sunset scenes at Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s homestead backed by John Williams’ stirring musical score. But my favourite scenes are probably in the Jundland Wastes when Luke goes to recover R2 and encounters the Sand People, and later when they go to Obi Wan’s home and Ben tells Luke about the Force. This course of dialogue between Ben and Luke, along with their later training ball scenes on the Falcon are my favourite scenes in the whole of the trilogy and are hugely emotional and compelling as well as packed full of important information that helps us build characters and backgrounds, and put the whole trilogy into context. In it we learn that Ben fought in the clone wars (just like Luke’s father), we get introduced to Luke’s Lightsaber, we learn about Darth Vader and how he betrayed and murdered Luke’s father, and are told of the Force. Oh and we get the full message contained within R2. A full tour de force if you pardon the pun.

The scenes in between Jundland Wastes and the training ball scenes aboard the Falcon are all incredibly important too. First Vader demonstrates the full power of the force on Motti, using the legendary line “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Then Ben and Luke discover the burnt wreckage of the Jawa Sandcrawler before Luke rushes off to the Lars Homestead to discover the burnt remains of his uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Literally classic scene after classic scene.

With nothing to keep him Luke then agrees to go with Ben to the Alderon system via another of the OT’s most awesome and entertaining scenes - Mos Eisley. “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Every discourse in Mos Eisley is carefully constructed and nothing is overly elaborate or meaningless. First Ben demonstrates the powers of the force on the weak minded “You don't need to see his identification.” Then there is an introduction to all the wonderfully wretched creatures in the Cantina before Luke is confronted by Cornelius Evezan and Ponda Baba in a classic scene (“He doesn't like you. I'm sorry. I don't like you either.”) and Obi Wan gives us a first real glimpse of the power of the Lightsaber. Then we are finally introduced to Chewbacca and Han and there’s some further wonderful interchanges “You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon? Should I have? It's the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs!” before Han’s showdown with Greedo and busting out of Mos Eisley.

But it doesn’t stop there. Next we get to see the full power of the Death Star as Moff Tarkin blows up Alderon and after that it cuts to the Millennium Falcon Jedi Training Ball Scenes. These are as carefully crafted and as important as The Jundland Wastes scenes IMO. It starts off light hearted as Han says to 3PO “That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their socket when they lose. I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, Artoo. Let the Wookiee win.” We get some great exchanges between Ben and Han and important insight into Han’s character as well as some classic lines. And if that’s not enough, a first chance to see Luke learning the ways of the force. And before we know it we’re lurching into the next major scenes of a superb movie as the Falcon is caught in the tractor beam of the Death Star. “That's no moon! It's a space station.”

You know the script in all 3 movies like the back of your hands so I won’t bore you with retelling the remaining scenes, but I did want to share with you my favourite ones of Star Wars and why they make it my favourite movie of the OT.

So why do you love ESB, ROTJ or even SW and what makes it better than the other two in your opinion? You don’t have to waffle as much as me but I’d be really interested to know.

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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby The89thchris » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:04 pm

There is no shortage of literature on the reasons why ESB is considered to be the best of the three by many fans and critics.

Once the universe was established in the first film, ESB was able to have a more complex narrative. Also, some say that Kurshner was a superior actor/character director, allowing for some fantastic exchanges between Harrison Ford & Carrie Fisher.

That, and the biggest twist in cinema history amount to a pretty rock solid case for ESB being the best of the three.

There is also a notion that Lucas was more invested in the Star Wars "Project" during ESB than he was on Jedi.

I'm sure there are dozens of members here who could offer alternate and more compelling reasons. At any rate, its hard to compare them in such simple terms because without the context that the first film set up, ESB might not be as palatable to a general audience.

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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby theforceuk » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:01 pm

It's just epic and has everything, great battle scenes, huge plot twist, romance oh and AT-AT's! I actually prefer A New Hope but think ESB is a better film, if that makes any sence? :?

The last hour of ESB is probably the best 60 minutes of Star Wars their will ever be IMO.
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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby ChallengerFox » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:01 pm

Star Wars is my favourite, i've always thought it's more of an enjoyable film to watch than Empire, I almost prefer the end lightsaber duel in Jedi over Empire too, if only the duel in Jedi was on for a bit longer though.

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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby theforceuk » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:15 pm

A good way of looking at this for me is if you had to show only one Star Wars film to someone who had never seen a Star Wars film before for the purpose of impressing them to keep them in your life, which film would it be? Could be a boss who say’s I’m sacking you unless you impress me with a Star Wars film, a girlfriend who says she’s leaving you unless.....

I would choose ESB and get them really drunk.
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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby subzero » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:51 am

ROTJ all the way for me, it's the grand conclusion to an epic trilogy, and what a way to finish it.

But I agree with the comment above about Star Wars somehow being my favourite too? :lol: it's a weird thing, ROTJ is my my most enjoyable film to watch, but SW goes back a long way for me as it has my most earliest memories of first seeing and loving Star Wars when I was about 4/5 years old, at that age I didn't have a fucking clue what any of the story was even about but just the way the film looked and felt with the design of everything and the scenery was what first got me hooked, my very earliest memory being of the scene on the Blockade Runner which really got my attention at the age of 4.

So for me it's Star Wars simply for it's style, and ROTJ for it's story, action and grand ending. So they're both my no.1 favourite but in very different ways.
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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby theforceuk » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:33 am

Yeah their is something pure for me about A New Hope, the scene where R2 and 3PO have landed in the desert and everything is natural apart from the escape pod and the droids is one of the best visual scenes for me. So simple and effective, genius that it’s filmed in Africa but because of the droids you believe it’s and Alien planet. :)
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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby TheJabbaWookie » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:41 am

theforceuk wrote:It's just epic and has everything, great battle scenes, huge plot twist, romance oh and AT-AT's! I actually prefer A New Hope but think ESB is a better film, if that makes any sence? :?

The last hour of ESB is probably the best 60 minutes of Star Wars their will ever be IMO.

I totally agree that the last 60 mins of ESB are great. Everything from when they arrive on Bespin. So the Han Carbonite scene, the saber battle and the shock “I’m your father” reveal. As an adult I really like the look and feel of Bespin and the costumes too, though until fairly recently I had been largely disappointed in their translation into the Kenner figure range (Han Bespin remains one of my least favourite figures but I’m liking Luke Bespin more and more).

Lots of SW fans today site the Hoth battle as a firm favourite. I’ve never been a big fan. I much prefer the simplicity of the Falcon Gunner battles as they blast their way out of the Death Star, and I don’t think you can beat the Trench run.

I wonder if all this stems from my childhood? I didn’t get or fully appreciate a movie without a traditional beginning and ending (cliffhangers must of been beyond me :lol:), and it seemed to translate into the toys I enjoyed playing with too. I never owned many of the ESB Hoth scene Vehicles and playsets. I didn’t get the At-At bought new and only picked it up second hand at a later date and remember being underwhelmed by it, finding it being cumbersome and lacking in playability (I know I’m in the minority). As a result I don’t know if I’ll ever own an At-At or a Snowspeeder as an adult collector. I like the Wampa scene so have a Wampa and Taun-Taun, and like the Han Carbonite and Fett scenes, so have owned a Slave-1 in the past, and would like to get one again. Perhaps these nostalgic childhood memories derived from the toys I played with prevent me from fully appreciating ESB today?

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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby TheJabbaWookie » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:51 am

subzero wrote:ROTJ all the way for me, it's the grand conclusion to an epic trilogy, and what a way to finish it.

But I agree with the comment above about Star Wars somehow being my favourite too? :lol: it's a weird thing, ROTJ is my my most enjoyable film to watch, but SW goes back a long way for me as it has my most earliest memories of first seeing and loving Star Wars when I was about 4/5 years old, at that age I didn't have a fucking clue what any of the story was even about but just the way the film looked and felt with the design of everything and the scenery was what first got me hooked, my very earliest memory being of the scene on the Blockade Runner which really got my attention at the age of 4.

So for me it's Star Wars simply for it's style, and ROTJ for it's story, action and grand ending. So they're both my no.1 favourite but in very different ways.

Agree that ROTJ was probably equal to SW for enjoyability to watch as a kid (Ewoks weren’t so much of a problem back then :lol:). Some of my favourite scenes come from ROTJ, like the Jabba’s Palace scenes, Jabba’s Skiff and Sarlaac Pit scenes and the Speeder Bike Chase.

As an adult I find the first half of ROTJ infinitely more engaging and much more visually stunning than the second half. I also really love all of Jabba’s goons as a collector, some of the sculpts on figures like Squid Head, Bib Fortuna and Klaatu are awesome.

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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby TheJabbaWookie » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:01 pm

The89thchris wrote:Once the universe was established in the first film, ESB was able to have a more complex narrative. Also, some say that Kurshner was a superior actor/character director, allowing for some fantastic exchanges between Harrison Ford & Carrie Fisher.

You’re right. Some of the most humorous and quotable lines come from the exchanges between these two in ESB, though SW has its moments too: “Into the garbage chute flyboy”; “will somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way”; “aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper”; “Wonderful girl. Either I’m going to kill her or I’m beginning to like her“.

But I still find the universe establishing narrative exchanges between Luke and Ben more compelling than the later more flirtatious tongue-in-cheek scenes in ESB. But that’s just me.

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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby Crumm » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:41 pm

Empire is also my least favourite of the OT.

My order is ANH, RotJ, ESB.

I think people like Empire so much because basically everything goes wrong for the rebels, and by the end of the film they are the ones who are worse off. I think this creates a more emotional anchor-point for the audience "OMG, what will happen to Han?", "OMG, Vader is Lukes father?".

Echo base is overcome and the rebels are on the run, Luke begins serious Jedi training (with mixed success at first), Han is caught and carbonited (with an emotional scene involving Leia), and then the BIG reveal at the end.

The big reveal at the end counts for a lot, even though it is my least favourite of the OT, "I am your father" is my favourite overall moment of the OT, it's just such an iconic scene, heck, the whole Luke vs Vader fight is awesome. Once the fight gets going you really and genuinely begin to feel the fact that Luke is realising he just can't win. You can see him falling apart right there on the screen but he carries on fighting anyway, Kudos to Mark Hamill for pulling off such a great scene here.

ANH will always be my favourite, it is big, fun, and just a great rollicking action movie to watch, it has everything. They literally struck gold with it, everything came together in one of those lightning-in-a-bottle moments in time. They don't happen very often, but when they do something like ANH is the result, it can change the world (and it did).

ESB digs a bit deeper, and I think people responded to that because they had already invested so much in these characters that became a pop-culture phenomenon. Whilst ESB is my least favourite of the OT, I simply can't fault it, the only reason it is my least favourite is because I like the other two more :D. If there is one thing I could fault it is the environments, they don't really do anything for me, but that is personal taste, not the film itself.

RotJ is my second favourite because as Subzero said, what a way to end it all. The Jabbas palace and battle scenes are amazing, Luke as a full fledged Jedi Knight is just great, The Emperor was awesome and the final lightsaber fight and space battles are just jaw-dropping considering most of the work was done in 1982! In fact, the Death Star II space battle looks better than anything in the prequels with all the CGI. RotJ just looks awesome, it is very well polished and a fantastic film visually. Just stuff like the Death Star hangar where the Imperial shuttle lands in the first scene, the Emperor's Royal Guards, Jabba's throne room, it all just looks so great (even Vader has had his helmet buffed in this one! :lol: ).

No matter what happens going forward, we will always have ANH, ESB and RotJ, and for that I am eternally grateful :lol:
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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby TheJabbaWookie » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:51 pm

Crumm wrote:Whilst ESB is my least favourite of the OT, I simply can't fault it, the only reason it is my least favourite is because I like the other two more :D.

Yes agree with the above statement (even if it doesn’t seem like it) - what I’ve tried to do in this thread is highlight the sections in Empire that others sight as epic, that perhaps I never had the same connections to or affiliation for. This is a spot of soul searching or discovery if you like, in order to try to uncover why others love ESB more, or find out for myself, why I love it less. And perhaps controversially make others think about why they love it more, rather than just saying they do, because everyone does (which seems to happen a lot on FB). We’ve heard from a few ANH lovers and one ROTJ lover. It would be nice to hear from a few ESB lovers and there must be plenty out there.

Crumm wrote:No matter what happens going forward, we will always have ANH, ESB and RotJ, and for that I am eternally grateful :lol:

Here, here. I myself, really loved Rogue One. It felt like it was a grown up version of the Star Wars universe specifically made for Star Wars fans and collectors like me that grew up with the original trilogy, but who are no longer kids (well maybe at heart). I hope Solo delivers in the same way...

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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby Crumm » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:40 pm

TheJabbaWookie wrote:
Crumm wrote:Whilst ESB is my least favourite of the OT, I simply can't fault it, the only reason it is my least favourite is because I like the other two more :D.

Yes agree with the above statement (even if it doesn’t seem like it) - what I’ve tried to do in this thread is highlight the sections in Empire that others sight as epic, that perhaps I never had the same connections to or affiliation for. This is a spot of soul searching or discovery if you like, in order to try to uncover why others love ESB more, or find out for myself, why I love it less. And perhaps controversially make others think about why they love it more, rather than just saying they do, because everyone does (which seems to happen a lot on FB). We’ve heard from a few ANH lovers and one ROTJ lover. It would be nice to hear from a few ESB lovers and there must be plenty out there.

Crumm wrote:No matter what happens going forward, we will always have ANH, ESB and RotJ, and for that I am eternally grateful :lol:

Here, here. I myself, really loved Rogue One. It felt like it was a grown up version of the Star Wars universe specifically made for Star Wars fans and collectors like me that grew up with the original trilogy, but who are no longer kids (well maybe at heart). I hope Solo delivers in the same way...



Haha, yeah. To say most people seem to like ESB best, you are not getting much from them :lol:
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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby peekaygee73 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:35 pm

ESB's always been my favourite for as long as I can remember. Even as I kid I remember being so frustrated about the gap between it being at the cinema and on TV. I remember being completely entranced as an 8 year old when it was released; I loved Star Wars but even then this felt like another level.

So, before I start, I still love 'Star Wars' and 'Jedi', all I'm doing is explaining why ESB has the edge for me. :)

ESB is beautifully shot and, particularly with the carbon freeze scenes, beautifully lit. The Hoth scenes are stunning and the model work integrates so well into the live action. I can completely believe in Dagobah - to say it's studio-bound it looks phenomenal; I remember the first time I rewatched Jedi as an adult and being a bit underwhelmed at the Jabba's Palace scenes - it didn't seem as big or grand as I'd remembered. I don't get that at any point with ESB. For me the VFX in ESB are almost flawless, and it's easy to see why it won a 'Special Achievement Award' for VFX.

Throughout the script is great and has a natural flow, whereas 'Star Wars' and 'Jedi' feel more like a series of set pieces to me. The cast are invested in it and give their best performances; in 'Star Wars' they're finding their feet and 'Jedi' feels like some are just a little jaded. Han and Leia get lots of time together, and you can actually believe in their relationship which brings about the lump in your throat in the 'I love you'/'I know' scene.

All of which reminds me that I haven't watched it for a few months. I really need to dig it out again! :D

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Re: Why do most SW fans say ESB is the best film in the OT?

Postby Paullaura » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:49 pm

ESB is my favourite. I was 8 when i saw it at the cinema , and i think that was the perfect age for me.
I was a little young for ANH ,and even as a kid, i hated the ewoks in ROTJ.


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