Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Empire's New Tom Cruise Cover
The Jameson Empire Awards 2014
Vote: The Greatest 301 Movies Of All Time!
Rebecca Hall:
My Movie Life

The actress picks the movies that shaped her
Mountain Dew Green Screen
Register Now to see X-MEN First Class!
Empire Blogs
Empire States

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Irvin Kershner: Sometimes You Only Need One Film

Posted on Monday November 29, 2010, 15:38 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Irvin Kershner: Sometimes You Only Need One Film

It's fair to say that the thousand of movie fans paying tribute to Irvin Kershner today are, for the most part, doing it because of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Generally accepted to be the best of the series, Empire Strikes Back is a near-perfect film, setting a high bar for sequels that most of them fail to reach, let alone jump. And while many of Kershner's other films as director look set for obscurity (or already well down that road) this one alone will ensure him some sort of enduring fame. Sometimes all you need is one film. The catch is that you need one bloody brilliant film.

It's a matter of public record that Kershner was originally reluctant to accept the directing job on Empire; after all, whoever took that chair would have the massive pressure of trying to live up to the biggest movie of all time (never mind surpassing it; that wasn't even an option he seems to have considered. Kershner later recalled asking Lucas why he'd invite a relatively obscure director to tackle such a job.  "I remember [George Lucas] said to me, 'Well, because you know everything a Hollywood director is supposed to know but you're not Hollywood.' I liked that." The fact that Kershner had taught at USC School of Cinema when Lucas attended it, and had championed THX-1138 to help get it a cinema release may have helped. Still, George Lucas is too smart an operator to put his baby franchise in hands that he didn't trust to do a good job, so it wasn't mere friendship that made his decision. After all, he was hoping that this sequel would turn Star Wars from one-off phenomenon into a franchise, which in turn would finance his planned headquarters outside San Francisco (Skywalker Ranch, you may have heard of it).

So Kershner came aboard, and spent nearly three years working on the resulting film. He, Lucas and writer Lawrence Kasdan went back and forth on the script, hammering it into shape (and delivering the franchise's best dialogue, incidentally). A few lines didn't quite come together until later on. Of Han Solo's famous "I know" response to Leia's declaration of love, Kershner explained, "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 three months of scripting and a full year just working on storyboards, filming finally began with the Hoth scenes, on location on a glacier in Norway ("It was very cold in Norway. You know what the biggest problem was in working there? Going to the bathroom! We had on seven layers of clothes. We were up on a glacier and nobody could go to the bathroom! We were dying! It was one of the most difficult things!") and then back in England, where the pressures of constructing 64 sets on 7 stages (it was due to be 8, but Stanley Kubrick apparently burned one down during filming of The Shining) meant that Kershner had up to 400 crew working at some times. And a puppet, whose smoky environment required Kershner to direct through a gas mask.

That said, he was pleased with the result - as well he might be, given that it's generally accepted as a classic. "RoboCop 2 was pretty difficult but nothing like Empire. It was just full of challenges every day. It was very rough. But I like it, I enjoy watching it. I really put my heart and soul into it. I did not withhold any energy whatsoever. I gave it everything and I like doing that. That's when life is full. I never had such anticipation. I couldn't wait to get in there the next day and do what I had been planning.

"When the film was released in 1997 and later put into DVD, I was very gratified that it was almost unchanged, except the sound was much improved, whereas Star Wars and Jedi had big changes."

He did a great job. Robocop 2 has its fans, Never Say Never Again is a lot of fun and heck, even SeaQuest DSV has its defenders, but it's Empire Strikes Back that everyone loves. RIP, Kersh.

By the way, for all you fans out there, there's more on the story behind Empire Strikes Back here and a great and lengthy interview with Kershner over at Star Wars.com.


Login or register to comment.

Comments

1 Darth Smiffy
Posted on Tuesday November 30, 2010, 17:39
A true work of genius & the film that made Lucas's empire(pun intended) possible

2 Sickbob
Posted on Sunday December 5, 2010, 09:22
Love the film definitely my favourite of the series Irvin Kershner did a fantastic job.

Just have to mention though that the "I know" response that Hann Solo uses to Princess Leia's proclamation of "I love you", was originally used by Richard Roundtree in Shaft.

3 Rickie.Littlewood
Posted on Friday December 10, 2010, 17:14
The only reason I like Star Wars is because of this film, maybe an unpopular opinion and I'm not trying to offend any fans but I hope that goes some way as to saying how good i think Empire strikes back is.

4 llog22222
Posted on Wednesday December 15, 2010, 19:53
our websit:
=== www.clothesmall.org ====

=== www.clothesmall.org ====

=== www.clothesmall.org ====

www.clothesmall.org ====
Christmas is coming, our company thank you new old customer of support,
specially held an interactive program,Ordered all of our customers £¬
Purchase of more than $200 will get elegant gift, ordering $400 above
dozen customers, we will send the exquisite gift costs 30 dollars
welcome to my company shopping nets : www.clothesmall.org


5 Mr Gittes
Posted on Wednesday March 6, 2013, 20:57
Totally agree with you there, Helen. When it's this good, sometimes one movie is indeed all that's needed. It's just too genius to be a flash in the pan; it's more than just a classic. Hell, it's more than just a masterpiece. It's what movies were made for. Needless to say, it's one of my all-time favourites. Rest in peace, Irvin Kershner.

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (432)

Under The Radar (317)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (56)

Words From The Wise (33)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
By Helen O'Hara

Are iPads And Smartphones Changing The Face Of Filmmaking?
By Ben Kirby

Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In
By Helen O'Hara

My Encounter With Shia LaBeouf
By James White

Empire Meets Chris Hemsworth’s ‘Rush’ Alter Ego
By Ally Wybrew

The Case For The Wolf Of Wall Street, Surprisingly Feminist Film
By Helen O'Hara

The Movie Drinking Games Too Dangerous To Attempt
By Helen O'Hara

Screen To Stage: From Here To Eternity
By Helen O'Hara

There's No Pixar Film In 2014. Here Are 7 Steps To Help You Survive The Wait
By Helen O'Hara

‘Is Jackie Chan Dead?’ And Other Amazing Film Questions From Google’s Auto-Suggest Function
By Ali Plumb


RECENT COMMENTS

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"what..??!! THIS is news to me..all i've been hearing bout this movie's NOTHING but terrific...  Avengers12
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"Chris Evans and the entire fucking film is boring, and THAT's the problem, not the character."  Jonny24
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"Because people are idiots? ;) Earnestness, honesty and a hopeful attitude are jus"  spideed2
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"Captain America is not boring. Steve Rogers is boring. It's nearly impossible to "  doug64
Read comment

Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In
"Nice to see this review pop up - I was wondering if you'd been to see it, Helen... I agree with most"  gumphd
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"It's not that the film version of Captain America is uncool, it's the comic book character as resurr"  dansator
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"I meant to say "I don't have a problem with Cap being old fashioned, which some folks think is "  coyoteone
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"I don't have a problem with Cap being old fashioned and boring, and frankly, I'm sick of this trend "  coyoteone
Read comment

Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In
"Thanks for writing about this - I was thinking about going to see it but maybe not now. I remember t"  Mpyrereader
Read comment

Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?
"Just back from seeing The Winter Solider and for me it's the best of the Marvel films so far. The se"  LustForLeith
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Movies’ Most Quotable Lines
566 comments

'It's Just A Bit Of Fun': Why Defensive Fans Are Bad News For Movies
361 comments

Competitive Geek Baiting: Or, How To Start A Fanboy Fight
338 comments

The Avatar Backlash: Evaluatin' The Hater-atin'
303 comments

The Complete List Of Tired Movie Cliches
286 comments

Your Favourite Animated Film
217 comments

Note To Hollywood: How To Get People To Switch To Blu-Ray
192 comments

Food For Thought
132 comments

The Ten Moviegoing Commandments
127 comments

Just The Facts, Ma’am
127 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (295)
Helen O'Hara (166)
James Dyer (85)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (54)
James White (28)
Phil de Semlyen (19)
Owen Williams (15)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Making Of Locke: A Filmmaker's Journey
Steven Knight takes us through six pitstops (via Heston Services)

The 10 Most Exciting Movies At Cannes 2014
Empire's pick of the Croisette's finest

Tom Hardy: A Viewer's Guide
The essential, the recommended, the one for the fans... and the one to avoid

Ten Things To Know About The Spooks Movie
Under the hood of The Greater Good

Who’s In Spider-Man’s Sinister Six?
A bluffer’s guide to the planned spin-off from the Amazing Spider-films

14 YouTube Videos Every Game Of Thrones Fan Should Have Watched By Now
From goats singing the theme tune to every death in under three minutes

Hollywood's Biggest Names On Their Favourite Films
Stars and directors like Nolan, Whedon, Wright and Ford on the films that inspire them

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get Limited Edition Collectable X-Men Art Cards

Subscribe today and get 6 issues of Empire plus a set of collectable X-Men Art Cards for only £20!

Subscribe today

Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Just £25
Receive limited edition subscribers-only covers every month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)