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A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back? 

Which Film is Better: Episode IV or Episode V?
A New Hope 36%  36%  [ 5 ]
The Empire Strikes Back 64%  64%  [ 9 ]
Total votes : 14

A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back? 
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Post A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
I used to be a huge Empire Strikes Back fan, being always a sucker for downbeat endings, but the more I got into film the more I find the original Star Wars to be a better film.

Empire definitely has a better first hour. The Hoth setting and battle is terrific and it deserves credit there. But to me the movie sags a bit with Luke in Dagobah. It recovers once we get to Cloud City, but it doesn't really end (curse of the middle film) as much as it just pauses. Don't get me wrong--I think it's a terrific film--but on a filmmaking level I prefer Star Wars. It's structured so perfectly, and the final battle scene is a masterpiece of editing, special effects, and music. I still find it exciting. So for me, Star Wars by a nose.

What say you?

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:13 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
The Empire Strikes Back. It isn't about the downbeat ending, but about how it takes the elegant simplicity of Star Wars and explodes it into the realm of myth and melodrama. The reason the Star Wars universe attained the scope that it currently enjoys is because Empire tore open those underlying layers that were somewhere beneath the surface of the first film. It gets heavier and more powerful than the (legitimately entertaining) fantasy of a boy who gets thrust ass-backwards into the very adventure he's craved all his life.

Star Wars is indeed an immaculately constructed fantasy story, but Empire has hotter blood pumping in its veins.

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:57 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
Joss Whedon apparently agrees with Kunz's take, as he recently said the following:

Joss Whedon wrote:
I still believe that even though The Empire Strikes Back is better in innumerable ways than Star Wars, Star Wars wins because you can’t end a movie with Han frozen in Carbonite. That’s not a movie, it’s an episode.


As for me, I've always enjoyed The Empire Strikes Back more, but if we're judging it by typical film standards, Star Wars is the more complete experience. I think a lot of that has to do with the nature of the second part of a trilogy.


Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:51 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
I see no need for that sort of hairsplitting myself. Whether it leaves unresolved threads or not, it's still a movie. It wouldn't be the first to do so and hasn't been the last. And if there is to be a conversation about which film is better, declaring one of them to have an immutable built-in advantage is hardly illuminating for the purposes of the conversation.

For my money, even though the plot ends with a question mark, Empire is more complete in terms of its ideas and themes and emotional content, and that matters so much more.

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:05 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
Ken wrote:
I see no need for that sort of hairsplitting myself. Whether it leaves unresolved threads or not, it's still a movie. It wouldn't be the first to do so and hasn't been the last. And if there is to be a conversation about which film is better, declaring one of them to have an immutable built-in advantage is hardly illuminating for the purposes of the conversation.


Now now, sassypants, be nice to Pete! I think the contrast between the exhilarating, blowing up the Death Star climax/the wonderfully satisfying "falling action" of the medal presentation and the Luke's hand being repaired/staring out the window into space is a fair reason to find A New Hope to be a better film.

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:09 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
What we're seeing at the end is Luke Skywalker and Han Solo receiving a decoration for their military services. I can understand the satisfaction there in an intellectual sense, but the justification for its existence is that it ends the movie and that's pretty much it. They could be any characters in any movie with a similar plot. Two out of the six Star Wars movies have closing scenes that I could take or leave, and this is one of them.

I don't think such a standardized scene as the medal presentation is as satisfying as seeing the characters achieve something more personal and specific to them. Some kind of self-knowledge, or closure to an internal dilemma, or the introduction of a new internal dilemma--and not just on the level of "Can Character A defeat Villainous Scheme X or can't he?"

Star Wars is such a rousing film, but it feels as though it was cerebrally constructed to be so. Lay out the formula, plug in the variables, and do it up as professionally and on the cutting edge of storytelling technology as possible. In Empire, the characters feel less like types. Their situations become less prescribed by the fantasy genre and the wish fulfillment superstructure, and more driven by their personal dramas, obligations, and shortcomings. They think, feel, and do things because of who they are, not just because the story requires that they maneuver from mark to mark.

If Empire had dispensed with the cliffhanger and tried for a more sewn-up ending--which it very well could have done--then something as basic and nondescript as the medal scene would not have sufficed. Given how much more heartfelt and precise the characterization has become in Empire as opposed to Star Wars, an ending any less heartfelt and precise would have felt terribly inadequate.

I'm not attempting to badmouth Star Wars. It's an excellent movie. But between these two, it's clearly inferior. If Joss truly believes that Empire is "better in innumerable ways", perhaps he ought to start enumerating them instead of hitting the EJECT button before his argument has a chance to take shape. Contending that the movie with the more sewn-up, hermetically-sealed story structure necessarily must be the better one strikes me as academic. It is both uninteresting and uninterested. Sorry, friends, but I think he bungled this one.

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 7:43 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
Ken wrote:
What we're seeing at the end is Luke Skywalker and Han Solo receiving a decoration for their military services. I can understand the satisfaction there in an intellectual sense, but the justification for its existence is that it ends the movie and that's pretty much it. They could be any characters in any movie with a similar plot. Two out of the six Star Wars movies have closing scenes that I could take or leave, and this is one of them.

I don't think such a standardized scene as the medal presentation is as satisfying as seeing the characters achieve something more personal and specific to them. Some kind of self-knowledge, or closure to an internal dilemma, or the introduction of a new internal dilemma--and not just on the level of "Can Character A defeat Villainous Scheme X or can't he?"

Star Wars is such a rousing film, but it feels as though it was cerebrally constructed to be so. Lay out the formula, plug in the variables, and do it up as professionally and on the cutting edge of storytelling technology as possible. In Empire, the characters feel less like types. Their situations become less prescribed by the fantasy genre and the wish fulfillment superstructure, and more driven by their personal dramas, obligations, and shortcomings. They think, feel, and do things because of who they are, not just because the story requires that they maneuver from mark to mark.

If Empire had dispensed with the cliffhanger and tried for a more sewn-up ending--which it very well could have done--then something as basic and nondescript as the medal scene would not have sufficed. Given how much more heartfelt and precise the characterization has become in Empire as opposed to Star Wars, an ending any less heartfelt and precise would have felt terribly inadequate.

I'm not attempting to badmouth Star Wars. It's an excellent movie. But between these two, it's clearly inferior. If Joss truly believes that Empire is "better in innumerable ways", perhaps he ought to start enumerating them instead of hitting the EJECT button before his argument has a chance to take shape. Contending that the movie with the more sewn-up, hermetically-sealed story structure necessarily must be the better one strikes me as academic. It is both uninteresting and uninterested. Sorry, friends, but I think he bungled this one.


Look I don't care if you disagree with Joss Whedon. He didn't pose this question -- I did. You don't find that the middle of Empire sags a wee bit?

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:04 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
I don't think any movie that I watched with rapt attention as an eight year old can rightly be said to "sag" in any significant sense. In fact, the only time I ever remember being bored by any portion of this film at any point in my life was with the material before the Hoth battle, and that was after I'd already seen it a possibly unhealthy number of times.

Perhaps the middle portion isn't as action-packed as the first and last portion of the movie, but that's descriptive of nearly every adventure story in the known universe, good or bad. It is a necessary function of the conventional structure of action/adventure stories which dictates that the story open and close with the most potent, adrenaline-driven stuff.

So no, I would not say that Empire sags in the middle. Were I to look for a basis of comparison, I'd point to The Phantom Menace, which spends quite a bit of time on plot chores without cutting to anything exciting, at least until it gets to the pod race. Look back to Empire and the relatively tranquil Dagobah material is frequently interrupted by some significant moment of triumph or setback with Luke (usually setback) or a change in the game of cat-and-mouse between the Millennium Falcon or the Imperial Fleet. It doesn't settle down long enough to drag its feet.

The original Star Wars movie may have had comparatively fewer moments of such tranquility in its midsection, but that does not mean it's the better movie. It has the right structure for the movie that it is, just as Empire does.

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 8:51 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
It sounds like Ken legitimately took offense to Whedon's comments. Damn dude, lighten up. It's just, like, his opinion, man. It isn't anywhere near as invalid as you're making it out to be.


Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:17 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
PeachyPete wrote:
It sounds like Ken legitimately took offense to Whedon's comments. Damn dude, lighten up. It's just, like, his opinion, man. It isn't anywhere near as invalid as you're making it out to be.


I know, right? That's why I called Ken a sassypants!

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:19 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
Star Wars is serious business. If you do not side with me in my jihad against the devil Whedon, then you are all doomed.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
DOOMED.

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Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:25 pm
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
IMO, the reveal of Vader as Luke's father was the point at which the timeline of the saga started to make no sense, so I've got to go with A New Hope as the better film.


Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:40 am
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Post Re: A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back?
hello everyone,
I have no doubt that New Hope had far bigger impact on the cinema world than nearly other film in history.
How and ever Empire strikes back is a better film overall.


Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:57 pm
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