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CT Why did they have Empire Strikes Back take place three years after ANH?

Discussion in 'Classic Trilogy' started by StartCenterEnd, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. StartCenterEnd

    StartCenterEnd Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    May 2, 2006
    After The Last Jedi which picks up immediately after the last movie in it's trilogy, it got me thinking again about the transition from ANH to Empire. As a kid I was always kinda...if not confused but annoyed that Empire jumps ahead so far. I wondered what happened on Yavin and wanted to see the story of the Rebels evacuating the base and looking for a new one and how Darth Vader got back to the Empire etc. It felt a bit jarring and it definitely inspired me to get into the EU to fill in the pieces. Now as an adult who has watched and studied Star Wars for decades I understand it's the style of George Lucas's Star Wars to jump around as if it's a documentary and we are getting pieces of the story and not everything is minutely explained. Still though, I wonder...

    What was the reasoning when writing Empire back in the late 70's to have it start on Hoth? Why not start Empire immediately after ANH with the Battle of Hoth being the battle of Yavin instead? Did they want to explain why Mark, Harrison and Carrie look older? Was it because of budget? Did they just not want to have a familiar location and instead a new planet with a different environment? What does the movie gain artistically and story-wise from setting the story three years later and needing the crawl to explain the Rebels fled Yavin and went to Hoth?If I dare critique, it does make the story feel redundant. The rebels flee their secret base....find another base...only to eventually flee that too. You could make the argument that it would have been more succinct, movie-making wise, to just depict the Rebels leaving Yavin instead of establishing a new base only to flee that too. Don't get me wrong, I love Empire exactly as it is and it still is my very favorite Star Wars movie. I'm just playing devil's advocate here.

    I suppose the notion is the opening of The Last Jedi is what Empire Strikes Back could have been more like and it has me reflecting on why they chose to jump ahead..
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2018
  2. DarthZ07

    DarthZ07 Jedi Master star 2

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    May 11, 2005
    All the Rebel ship were fully fueled at the end of ANH. . No story there. ;)
     
  3. Your Pal Friendpatine

    Your Pal Friendpatine Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Dec 29, 2017
    If this were "Star Wars: The Next Day" I think the friendships/relationships and love story would have been less believable since they had just met. TESB immediately starts establishing how those relationships have developed, Luke calling Han "old buddy" and Han/Leia immediately starting to argue like an old married couple. And yes it does explain the aging as well as Hamill's accident. It also allows us to immediately head off to new locations and storylines without having to wrap up a bunch of old business. How Vader made it back isn't really important, he made it back and that's what matters. TLJ's approach works for TLJ (or at least I didn't have a problem with it) but that's not to say that it's better or would have been the right approach for the OT.
     
  4. Dagobahsystem

    Dagobahsystem Force Ghost star 6

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    Sep 25, 2015
    Also, the time jump is helpful to explain the advancement in Luke's Force using abilities and his maturity as a person.

    Retrieving his lightsaber in the Wampa cave is quite impressive as are his actions during the battle of Hoth. It also allows for the urgency of Kenobi's sudden FG appearance to make a lot of sense, i.e. Luke has gotten as far as he can on his own and now he must go train with Master Yoda.
     
  5. Martoto77

    Martoto77 Jedi Master star 5

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    Aug 6, 2016
    It's because the first movie made the destruction of that death star out to be the turning point or the beginning of the end for the Empire. But they wanted the next movie to a) reduce the significance of that victory by having a three year gap after Yavin but ultimately being in as bad or worse straits as in ANH b)move to a different looking planet.
     
  6. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Jedi Master star 4

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    Dec 8, 2015
    I'd like to point out that the three year time lapse between ANH and ESB was only suggested in Donald Glut's ESB novelization, i.e. the ANH novelization indicated Luke to be 20 years old while the ESB novelization suggested his age to be 23 years, hence the time difference of three years.

    The actual screenplay doesn't contain any hints, but once you look at the first parts of the first draft by Leigh Brackett - http://www.starwarz.com/starkiller/the-empire-strikes-back-first-draft-by-leigh-brackett-transcript/ - I think we are rather looking at a time difference of only several months.

    Going by George Lucas Canon it's therefore three years, but I would never chastize any fan saying it feels like less than that. ;)
     
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  7. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 18, 2009
    All the arguments you give support the decission to jump ahead in the storyline. In fact, I'd say that the need for an opening crawl DEMANDS a jump from the end of the previous episode. In every SW movie, the opening crawls tells us what has happened BETWEEN the movies. The exception was actually The Last Jedi, in which the crawl, I felt, was totally unnecessary, because it only reminded us about the situation of the ST/TFA. In fact, most of it felt identical to the opening crawl of TFA to me (The First Order rules, The Resistant fights back, Luke is missing...). If you watch both movies consecutively, the crawls feels like an unneeded break (sort of a "previously on SW..." which recaps the events you have just watched) from the continuing storyline. That was not the case with all the other movies.

    Also, there is another reason against opening Empire with the rebels evacuating Yavin. Empire does NOT begin with the Rebels evacuation Hoth. In fact, Lucas created from the very beginning a clear three-act structure (Hoth-Dagobah-Cloud City) in which each act was meant to work as a mini-movie. The opening act was about the adventures on Hoth (including all the subplot with the ice-creatures), while re-establishing the characters and their current dinamics, and the CLIMAX of that first act was the big battle. But the battle was NOT the beginning of the movie (and in fact, it happens after 30 minutes of screentime)
     
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  8. StartCenterEnd

    StartCenterEnd Jedi Master star 3

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    May 2, 2006
    Remember though, this was the very first SW sequel ever. It wasn't yet a custom to even have an opening crawl every time let alone one that explains what happened in-between the movies. Lucas could even have gotten rid of the STAR WARS title and opening crawl all together. In-fact I wonder how many people back in 1980 thought they were watching the old SW when A Long Time Ago and SW blasted onto the screen, thinking this was exactly the same way the first movie started.We know it as an almost sacred tradition for a SW movie now but back in the day, when making Empire, it wasn't stylistically beholden to any structure.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  9. ZodaEX

    ZodaEX Jedi Padawan star 1

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    Sep 27, 2015
    WRONG. It says right there in the crawl that the Holiday Special is episode 4.5. TESB came later and takes place after episode 4.5.
     
  10. Your Pal Friendpatine

    Your Pal Friendpatine Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Dec 29, 2017
    It wasn't a custom yet but it was immediately iconic and well-received so I'm sure people weren't too surprised or confused by its use in the following film. I would imagine it was somewhat expected. The opening crawl (as well as a lot of what George was trying to do) was based on the Flash Gordon serials, so it wasn't a completely new idea that George was introducing here, he was referencing a custom of the old serials so it would have been kind of odd if he broke off after one movie.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Palp_Faction

    Palp_Faction Jedi Master star 3

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    Feb 3, 2002
    I'm not sure if GL had a specific timescale between the movies in mind. I think in the 90s the writers of the EU came up with the "3 years" since ANH simply because of the period between 1977 and 1980. Until then the timescale between the movies was unspecific.
     
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  12. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 9

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    Sep 2, 2012
    80s, not 90s - the TESB novelization writer.
     
  13. Sith Lord 2015

    Sith Lord 2015 Jedi Knight star 3

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    Oct 30, 2015
    Because ESB was released 3 years after ANH. So the actors, especially the younger ones Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, who was only 19 during ANH, have all aged 3 years. It would have looked odd if the story took place immediately after ANH with obviously older-looking actors. This is less noticeable in RotJ because they were already in their mid-20s, so the difference isn't that obvious.
    Also, Lucas wanted the story to have moved on some before the beginning of ESB. Had only a few days passed they would have had to show the Rebels building the Hoth base. And also Vader's "obsession with finding young Skywalker" becomes clearer when some years have passed. It took him some time to build up that obsession. This way we know Vader had been looking for Luke for years, and the Rebels remained hidden for 3 years. Then we have Vader's super star destroyer. That wasn't built in a few days either! The Rebels had new fighters plus new allies by RotJ, meaning a considerable period of time must have passed between ESB and RotJ as well. All that couldn't have happened in just a few days. Had we seen all that exposition it would have wasted time Lucas wanted to spend on getting to the part of the story where something actually happens: the Rebels are finally found. They could have included a time jump within the movie, but that seems to violate SW tradition. Flashbacks and jumping forward in time just don't happen in SW, unless they are in RO or TLJ. Same with voice-overs, SW movies simply don't do those. Every episode takes place within a relatively short time period. ANH takes place over 3 or 4 days, ESB possibly weeks or at the most months, RotJ again just a few days, same with the first 2 prequels, while ROTS probably takes place over a few months. So it's months at the most, never years.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2018
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  14. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 18, 2009
    Personally, I do find all three leads noticeably older in Return of the Jedi.
     
  15. Sith Lord 2015

    Sith Lord 2015 Jedi Knight star 3

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    Oct 30, 2015
    I admit you have a point. But of course no one knew that when they made ESB. Nor did anyone know at that time how long after ESB RotJ would take place. How certain actors age is something no one can predict. So end results often differ a lot from the original plan.
     
  16. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

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    Mar 18, 2009
    I don't think Lucas was concerned about the exact amount of months/years between movies. He does talk about the benefits of the actors growing during the trilogy, as they characters grow and mature. So, acording to Lucas, there had to be a gap between the movies as the characters grow (and of course, the actor grow as well), but the number of years is indifferent.

    The only time gap established within the movies in the GLSaga is between TPM and AOTC. The rest is up to interpretation.
     
  17. Sith Lord 2015

    Sith Lord 2015 Jedi Knight star 3

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    Oct 30, 2015
    Agreed. I think the reason for those 3 years ANH-ESB was mainly because that's the length of time that passed between the movies in the real world. It was never mentioned in the movies but may be in the ESB novelization. Time generally is pretty "flexible" and vague in the SW saga, we aren't really told how much time passes either within or between episodes. You mentioned TPM and AOTC. Yes, there the time gap seems to be pretty much "fixed" or at least generally accepted to be 10 years. I'd like to add ROTS to ANH, where we can pretty accurately say it's about 19 or 20 years, based on Luke and Leia's age in ANH. As for the rest of the saga, no clear times are given, so it's more or less open to interpretation, like you wrote.
     
  18. Sarge

    Sarge Chosen One star 6

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    Oct 4, 1998
    Considering all the things that the characters endured in ESB, I think it's fitting that they looked older for RotJ. They really got put through the wringer, and it should show in their faces.
     
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  19. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Jedi Master star 4

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    Dec 8, 2015
    That's exactly what Kahn suggested in the ROJ novelization to quite some extent, i.e. that the burden on Luke started to show physically. I just skimmed a couple of pages, according to Kahn Lando had infiltrated Jabba's palace "months earlier", so that could indicate the minimal amount of time that passed between ESB and ROJ.
     
  20. Your Pal Friendpatine

    Your Pal Friendpatine Jedi Youngling star 1

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    Dec 29, 2017
    Starting OT movies so soon would have basically resulted in an entirely different storyline and trilogy. You can't really take the story as it exists and cram it down into a period of days. There is the aforementioned human element but also RotJ couldn't exist since it would take more than a matter of days or weeks to build a second Death Star. Rather than showing us a war that lasted years we would have just gotten the final days/weeks of the Empire. As it stands we got several key battles over the course of a drawn-out war with victories and defeats for the Rebellion. The ST is fun but to me it doesn't really have the scope of the OT or even the PT. There are several reasons for that but part of it is the scaled down timeframe. It feels less like a war that has long-reaching effects on the galaxy and more like a short-term crisis that mainly only effects the characters on screen. The First Order's attack on the Republic doesn't feel like a historically significant moment and more like a contrived way to return to the Rebel/Imperial dynamic by turning the good guys into the underdogs again. Something that may have felt more natural given a little more time. I would have found "The First Order Reigns" a little more believable if they had set it a year or two later and informed us that the First Order had been on a successful campaign in the time since. Instead we've had things go from a Republic to being reigned by the First Order in basically one stroke and over a matter of days. In the PT Palpatine had to play a long game over many years to change the political situation, in the OT it took years of war to bring it down. In the PT we're in a huge rush and with the push of a button the First Order does a quick reset.
     
  21. Iron_lord

    Iron_lord Force Ghost star 9

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    The novelization scene gives 6 (Tatooine) months (The Legends-verse expanded this slightly, to 8 "standard" months):


    The casing began to emit in a high-pitched sound. Anxiously Boushh peered all around again, making certain no one heard. Slowly, the hard shell that was covering the contours of Solo's face started to melt away. Soon, the coating was gone from the entire front of Solo's body, freeing his upraised hands—so long frozen in protest—to fall slackly to his sides. His face relaxed into what looked like nothing so much as a death-mask. Boushh extracted the lifeless body from its casing and lowered it gently to the floor.

    He leaned his gruesome helmet close to Solo's face, listening closely for signs of life. No breath. No pulse. With a start, Han's eyes suddenly snapped open, and he began to cough. Boushh steadied him, tried to quiet him—there were still guards who might hear.

    "Quiet!" he whispered. "Just relax."

    Han squinted up at the dim form above him. "I can't see…What's happening?"
    He was, understandably, disoriented, after having been in suspended animation for six of this desert planet's months—a period that was, to him, timeless. It had been a grim sensation—as if for an eternity he'd been trying to draw breath, to move, to scream, every moment in conscious, painful asphyxiation—and now suddenly he was dumped into a loud, black, cold pit.

    His senses assaulted him all at once. The air bit at his skin with a thousand icy teeth; the opacity of his sight was impenetrable; wind seemed to rush around his ears at hurricane volumes; he couldn't feel which way was up; the myriad smells filling his nose made him nauseous, he couldn't stop salivating, all his bones hurt—and then came the visions.

    Visions from his childhood, from his last breakfast, from twenty-seven piracies … as if all the images and memories of his life had been crammed into a balloon, and the balloon popped and they all came bursting out now, randomly, in a single moment. It was nearly overwhelming, it was sensory overload; or more precisely, memory overload. Men had gone mad, in these first minutes following decarbonization, hopelessly, utterly mad—unable ever again to reorganize the ten-billion individual images that comprised a lifetime into kind of coherent, selective order.

    Solo wasn't that susceptible.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
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  22. sith_rising

    sith_rising Jedi Master star 4

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    Jan 7, 2004
    I never liked the 3 year gap. It should have been 6 months between each film, even 1 year between TESB and Jedi seems too long. It makes Kenobi look bad, waiting 3 years, when Luke is at death's door, to tell him about Yoda and Dagobah. Luke could have been on Dagobah a few days after Yavin, and started training immediately (and then they turn around and say he's too old lol).

    As for the Jedi gap, I understand that Luke was training on his own and coming up with the Han's rescue plan, but really, they knew where Jabba was, and the first thing Luke would have wanted to do, would be return to Yoda and get clarification about Vader.
     
  23. Jester J Binks

    Jester J Binks Jedi Master star 4

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    Dec 19, 2016
    Lucas jumped in between movies because he didn't want to have massive time jumps in the movies themselves. It is a way of showing that the war is a long one, but each movie is an actual milestone of the larger war.

    So we can safely assume that there have been events between, but they weren't major turning points in the story or character.

    The format worked well for the OT, but, I feel, created a small set of problems for the PT's events where milestones were more about subtle moves as opposed to big battles.
     
  24. cxcfffxx

    cxcfffxx Jedi Padawan star 1

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    Jan 17, 2017
    Because the characters already know each other much better. They must have gone through a lot of things together (Ex: Star Wars HQ 2015). It was a pleasant passage of time.
     
  25. Lt. Hija

    Lt. Hija Jedi Master star 4

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    Dec 8, 2015
    That may have been the first thing Luke wanted to do, but instead he first did what he felt was important to his friends (another thing about Luke's character that went missing in TLJ...).

    Add to this that Luke, unlike Lando and Chewie, had no prior knowledge to the world of Jabba the Hutt, so he better left it to Lando to infiltrate Jabba's Palace and wait for his call.

    I'm also confident that he used the waiting time to train new pilots for the Alliance and helped wherever he could compensate for their loss of the Hoth base.
     
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