Tuesday, November 30, 2010


"Film is a window to the real world but a lie that makes you believe the unbelievable."

Empire backstage
Most folks (including myself) view The Empire Strikes Back as the best of the Star Wars movies. George Lucas didn't care for its dark tone and determined that from then on he'd direct all the movies as well as write them. Empire has better character development, better acting, better story flow, and a powerful, memorable tale that puts it far above the other films. Most of the really memorable stuff from the Star Wars movies come from this one film.

And Ervin Kershner directed it. Hollywoodland at Big Hollywood has an excerpt from the Vanity Fair interview with Kershner showing why it was a better movie than Lucas' other work:
There was really only one disagreement. It was the Carbon Freeze scene when Princess Leia says, “I love you.” Han Solo’s response in the script was, “I love you, too.” I shot the line and it just didn’t seem right for the character of Han Solo. So we worked on the scene on the set. We kept trying different things and couldn’t get the right line. We were into the lunch break and I said to Harrison try it again and just do whatever comes to mind. That is when Harrison said the line, “I know.” After the take, I said to my assistant director, David Tomblin, “It’s a wrap.” David looked at me in disbelief and said something like, “Hold on, we just went to overtime. You’re not happy with that, are you?” And I said, yes, it’s the perfect Han Solo remark, and so we went to lunch. George saw the first cut and said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. That’s not the line in the script.” I said ““I love you, too’ was not Han Solo.” Han Solo was a rebel. George felt that the audience would laugh. And I said, that’s wonderful, he is probably going to his death for all they know. We sat in the room and he thought about it. He then asked me, “Did you shoot the line in the script?” I said yes. So we agreed that we would do two preview screenings once the film was cut and set to music with the line in and then with the line out. At the first preview in San Francisco, the house broke up after Han Solo said I know. When the film was over, people came up and said that is the most wonderful line and it worked. So George decided not to have the second screening.
Lucas is kind of a control freak, he wants everything to fit his vision, and in some ways that's great: you get a consistent, fascinating world. In some ways its awful: he's no good with characterization and the actors usually have a better idea about their character than he does.

Empire filmingIrvin Kershner was better than that, like all good directors he was willing to let the actors work within the basic script to create a better final product. And a better product he created. Here are some other Kershner films you might have seen:

The Flim-Flam Man
Never Say Never Again
Robocop 2

What movie lately did Kershner think was brilliant? The animated film Ratatouille, which I really liked too. Come to think of it I usually like Pixar's stuff.

Irvin Kershner, dead at 87.

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