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Irvin Kershner Has Died
Empire Strikes Back director was 87

29 November 2010  |  Written by Chris Hewitt  

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Irvin Kershner - the man who gave us some of the most indelible moments in cinema history with The Empire Strikes Back - has died. He was 87.

Kersh, as he was fondly known, died at his home following a long illness.

He was, of course, best known for directing The Empire Strikes Back, arguably the greatest chapter in the Star Wars saga (and which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year). But Kershner also made contributions to other franchises, directing RoboCop 2 and Sean Connery's last appearance as James Bond in the 'unofficial' 007 flick, Never Say Never Again.

Having fought in World War II, Kershner began his career by teaching film at the University of Southern California, but quickly made the move behind the camera via a detour as a stills photographer and TV director, calling the shots on Stakeout On Dope Street in 1958.

A decent career followed, in which he directed the likes of Sean Connery in A Fine Madness, Richard Harris in The Return Of A Man Called Horse, and Faye Dunaway in 1978's Eyes Of Laura Mars (based on John Carpenter's screenplay). 

It was this movie that persuaded George Lucas, looking for someone to take the reins on his Star Wars sequel, to approach Kershner to direct The Empire Strikes Back. The rest is movie history: Kershner's no-frills storytelling style, coupled with a strong script and an imaginative visual pallet, gave Empire a gravitas that marked it out as an instant classic.

Kershner only directed twice more on film, with Never Say Never Again and Robocop 2, but he also made a habit of appearing in films, showing up in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation Of Christ and, of all places, Steven Seagal's On Deadly Ground.

His last contribution to film was a cameo as Statistics Professor in the 2005 film, Berkeley - but Kershner's unmistakeable contribution to film history had already been made. For Yoda, for Vader telling Luke, "I am your father", for Cloud City, for Lando, for the battle of Hoth, for the asteroid field chase, for Boba Fett, for Lobot, for Wampas, for Tauntauns, for "I thought they smelt bad... on the outside!", for "I love you"/"I know", for Chewie screaming in pain as Han is frozen in carbonite, and for the Empire striking back, we'll never forget the legendary Irvin Kershner. Rest in peace, Kersh.

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Posted by Wild about Wilder at 10:08 on 03 December 2010 | Report This Post

He also made Return Of A Man Called Horse which I am very fond of.  Seemed like a really nice guy.  A very sad loss  .RIP More

Posted by Dr Lenera at 08:28 on 30 November 2010 | Report This Post

Really sad news. Met him at a convention a couple of years ago, and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. And like some of the other posts here, he is also the director of my favourite movie of time. Perfect film. R.I.P. Kersh. More

Posted by film man aidy at 00:45 on 30 November 2010 | Report This Post

He was much more than just the director of The Empire Strikes Back, but that on its own is something amazing to be remembered for. R.I.P. More

Posted by Artoo02 at 23:40 on 29 November 2010 | Report This Post

An accident rarely comes alone, as they say. And it must be true, first Nielsen and now Kershner... oh my. I can't say that I'm familiar with him or his work, but ire Strikes Backply one of the best Star Wars films and a true masterpiece. It's sad to see the man behind it passing away... he will be missed. But I'm sure he will be remembered as well, especially by Star Wars fans around the world. R.I.P. More

Posted by Sugarman Treacle at 23:29 on 29 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: At one with the force now.
First Nielsen now this? I mean they were pretty old but still, RIP Mr. Kershner. More

Posted by Mr Underhill at 21:46 on 29 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: At one with the force now.
R.I.P The Empire Strikes Back is unagrguably an all time classic, and although Robocop II wasn't a patch on Paul Verhoevens original it still has a lot of charm. I also quite like Never Say Never Again. Left his mark. R.I.P. More

Posted by MarcE at 21:07 on 29 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Commands My Respect
He directed what will perhaps remain my favourite film of all time, R.I.P. More

Posted by TheEmpireStrikesJack at 16:23 on 29 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Heartbroken
L: janlomona I tried to steer the discussion (out of respect to his wider career) to other films, but I think he knew I was a GFFA fan and kept bringing us back to Empire.ear Kersh. We loved you. You knew. More

Posted by Ulmaceae at 15:58 on 29 November 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Heartbroken
I think all Star Wars fans will be gutted to hear this sad news.  Not only is The Empire Strikes Back the best Star Wars film but for me it is my favourite film too.  RIP Mr Kershner. More

Posted by simonmckergan1 at 15:05 on 29 November 2010 | Report This Post

Very sad day Empire was always the greatest. Thank you Mr. Kershner More

Posted by Drew_231 at 14:19 on 29 November 2010 | Report This Post

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