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1977’s “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope” was a huge hit when it came out. In other news, the sky is blue. Part of its appeal was, despite featuring sentient droids, villains in very large and oddly-shaped helmets, space battles, and a battle station that could destroy a planet in moments, it was ultimately a simple tale. Whatever trappings were around the main characters, it was really the story of a young man who dreamed of adventure. He met a guide (Obi-Wan Kenobi), saved a Princess (Leia … though one could argue that she saved him), and found a roguish friend (Han Solo) who pushed him to do better. He battled evil (Darth Vader) using the power of his mind and belief in himself to win the day. It’s the classic hero’s journey that humans have been seeing and hearing versions of for millennia, in stories like Homer’s “The Odyssey” and the story of Gilgamesh from the Neo-Sumerian Empire. 

The simplicity and the innocence of the first “Star Wars” movie made you accept the technology, the aliens, and the lightsabers without thinking that much about how they work. You could simply lose yourself in the story and imagine yourself as one of the recognizable character archetypes. Even as a little kid who was used to fairytales, you could recognize the pattern of the narrative. 

Once the first film was out, however, the story had to mature and become more complex. In 1980, a couple of months after the release of the sequel, “Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back,” Harrison Ford told Rolling Stone that the sequel had to go deeper and become more sophisticated

‘I Wanted The Moment To Have Another Complexion’

Harrison Ford had an example; the emotional scene between Han (Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) before he’s frozen in carbonite near the film’s end. You’ve likely heard that the exchange between them when Leia says, “I love you,” and Han responds, “I know,” was improvised by Ford. He told Rolling Stone that a normal “I love you, too” was “too much on the nose.” He said: 

“If you didn’t have something else there at that point, you would not get your full payoff in that scene. You know, there’s a sense of dread and mystery there, and there’s no satisfying conclusion in ‘I love you too!’ I wanted the moment to have another complexion. [‘The Empire Strikes Back’ director Irvin Kershner] agreed, and that’s the way we shot it.”

I know some people find it a bit arrogant (I have been in arguments in bars over this), but I think it is an acknowledgment of the fact that he’s understood her feelings for him for some time, as well as why she’s reluctant to say so. It’s much deeper than the flirting he did in the first film. When we first meet Han, we are told he’s a rogue, and mindless flirting is one of the things you expect from a rogue. No deep feelings revealed — just surface thoughts. 

Of course, we see his heroism at the end of “A New Hope.” After his time with the Rebellion, where he was around people who care deeply about things … well, he’s still flirting and being sort of a jerk in the beginning, but the “I know” with that look on his face that says he clearly loves her as well gives the scene so much more depth than anything from the first film. 

‘The Audience That Saw The First Film Is More Sophisticated Now’

Harrison Ford also spoke about the changing audience three years after the first movie: 

“People who are expecting a repetition of the emotional experience of the first film are not going to find exactly that. The audience that saw the first film is more sophisticated now, three years later, in the same way the techniques are more sophisticated. And the demands upon them are slightly more than they were in the first film.

“This film is much more emotional, and some of the emotions are extremely difficult to deal with. The accomplishment of saying something true about those emotions is great.”

There certainly were more difficult emotional things to deal with in the second film: the betrayal of Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams); Han’s jealousy over Lando’s flirtation with Leia; Luke being the son of Darth Vader (David Prowse, voice of James Earl Jones); Luke leaving his training without completing it and being tempted by the Dark Side; the (temporary) loss of one of the main characters; Luke’s hand being cut off, and the fact that it ended on a cliffhanger. I may have been in footy pajamas when I saw it in the theater, but let’s just say it was clear that the adults around me were having an “extremely difficult” time dealing with that part. 

“Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back” and the rest of the Star Wars films and TV shows are currently streaming on Disney+.

Read this next: 12 Star Wars Moments That Haven’t Aged Well

The post Harrison Ford Knew Star Wars Had To Grow Up With The Empire Strikes Back appeared first on /Film.

/Film – Harrison Ford Knew Star Wars Had To Grow Up With The Empire Strikes Back
Author: Jenna Busch
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March 11, 2023

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