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Star Wars Episode V:
The Empire Strikes Back
Director(s)

Irvin Kershner

Producer(s)

Gary Kurtz
George Lucas

Writer(s)

George Lucas

Starring

Mark Hamill
Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher

Music by

John Williams

Preceded by

The Star Wars

Followed by

Star Wars
Return Of The Jedi

The opening crawl reveals that, despite the Rebel success in destroying the Death Star, the Galactic Empire has pursued the Rebel Alliance across the galaxy, forcing them to establish a secret base on the remote ice planet Hoth. The Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader sends robotic probes in search of Luke Skywalker, who has been promoted to the rank of Commander. While Luke is patrolling near the base, he is knocked unconscious by an indigenous predator, the Wampa. Back at the base, the smuggler-pilot Han Solo announces his intention to leave the Rebels and pay the debt he owes to the gangster Jabba the Hutt, much to the displeasure of Princess Leia Organa. After Han discovers that Luke has not returned from patrol, he delays his departure and leaves the base to search for him. After escaping the creature's lair, Luke is overcome by the cold and has a vision of his late mentor, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who instructs him to receive training from Jedi Master Yoda on the planet Dagobah. Han finds Luke, and provides him shelter until they are rescued the following morning. Meanwhile, an Imperial Probe Droid transmits the location of the base to the Imperial fleet. Darth Vader orders an attack while the Rebels, who have discovered the Imperial Probe Droid, prepare to evacuate. The Rebels set up infantry trenches and an energy shield to protect them from the Empire's orbital bombardment while they can get transports ready.

The Imperial forces land their ground assault walkers beyond the energy shield and Luke leads his squadron of flying speeders into battle. However, the Imperial forces eventually overpower the Rebels and destroy the generator powering the energy shield, capturing the Rebel base. Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and their droid C-3PO flee on board the Millennium Falcon. However, the Falcon's hyperdrive is damaged and it cannot escape the Imperial blockade in space. To evade pursuit, Han Solo enters an asteroid field and lands inside an asteroid crater. Furious at the loss of his prey, Darth Vader turns to several notorious bounty hunters to assist the Empire in finding the Millennium Falcon.

Meanwhile, Luke and his astro-droid R2-D2 escape Hoth in Luke's X-wing fighter. After a crash landing on Dagobah, Luke meets a wizened, green little creature who reveals himself to be Yoda. Meanwhile, inside the asteroid cave, Han Solo and Princess Leia argue while repairing the ship, eventually leading to a tender kiss. However, they are forced to escape what they thought was a "cave," which is actually the belly of a gigantic space slug. When they are revealed themselves to the imperial armada, Solo makes a mock attack-run and attaches the Millennium Falcon to the superstructure of a Star Destroyer, hiding from detection until they are able to mingle with its space-dumped garbage. Solo sets course for Cloud City, a mining colony in the Bespin system run by Han's former friend, Lando Calrissian, but the Falcon is followed stealthily by bounty-hunter Boba Fett, who has anticipated their escape strategy.

On Dagobah, Luke undergoes a crash course on Yoda's rigorous lessons about the metaphysical nature of the Force. Luke has a vision of Han and Leia in danger and agony, and wants to rescue them, but Yoda and the vision of Obi-Wan warn of the dangers of leaving rashly, because Luke is still susceptible to the powerful temptation of the Dark Side. Nevertheless, Luke departs from Dagobah and promises Yoda he will return to complete his training. Upon arrival at Cloud City, Han's party is welcomed by Lando Calrissian. After agreeing to help Han repair his ship, Lando invites him and the others to a meal. When they enter the dining room, they are captured by Darth Vader. Lando insists he was forced to conspire with the Empire to prevent them from invading and occupying the city.

In captivity, Luke's friends are used as bait to lure Luke to the city. Vader orders a carbon-freezing chamber prepared to freeze Luke, which will hold him in suspended animation for transport to the Emperor. The process is tested on Han Solo. As Han is lowered into the machine, Leia declares her love for him. He is frozen in carbonite and handed over to bounty hunter Boba Fett, who intends to return his quarry to Jabba the Hutt for a large reward. Meanwhile, Luke lands at Cloud City and is tricked into entering the carbon-freezing chamber. He meets Vader and engages him in combat. While escorting their prisoners, Vader's Imperial troopers are captured by Lando's private security force, who set Leia and the others free. Lando, despite nearly being killed by a furious Chewbacca, insists that there is still a chance to save Han, and along the way they find R2-D2. The group pursues Boba Fett and Han's frozen form through Cloud City, but arrive just as the bounty hunter's ship flies away. After a desperate chase, Leia, Chewbacca, Lando, and the two droids make their escape on the Millennium Falcon. Meanwhile, Vader and Luke's fierce lightsaber duel brings them to a narrow platform above the city's central air shaft. After gaining the advantage, Vader cuts off Luke's dueling hand along with his lightsaber. With Luke cornered and defenseless, Vader informs Luke that he does not yet know the truth about his father. Luke claims that Vader killed him. Vader answers:

“ No. I am your father. ”

A horrified Luke screams in denial. Vader tries to persuade Luke to join him, embrace the Dark Side of the Force, and overthrow the Emperor with him. Luke refuses, lets go, and falls off the platform into the abyss, signifying that he would rather die than join him. In freefall, Luke is sucked into an air vent, shoots out of the underbelly of the floating city, and lands on an antenna hanging beneath. In desperation, Luke calls out to Leia, who senses Luke's distress aboard the Millennium Falcon and orders Lando to pilot them back to Cloud City. After saving Luke and leaving the planet, they are pursued by Darth Vader's flagship. R2-D2, who discovered that the hyperdrive was merely de-activated while searching the city's central computer, reactivates it and the Falcon escapes into hyperspace. Aboard a Rebel medical frigate, Luke is fitted with an artificial hand as Lando and Chewbacca set out in the Falcon to locate Han Solo.

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