'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back' Anniversary: Looking back on the greatest plot twist in cinematic history
"No, I am your father." Those five words shattered the expectations of millions of fans and ended up becoming one of the most popular lines of dialogue in Hollywood history. Today, as 'Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back' celebrates its 40th anniversary, let's take a look back at the earth-shattering moment when it was revealed that Darth Vader (David Prowse) and Luke Skywalker's (Mark Hamill) father Anakin Skywalker are the same person.
When George Lucas created the first movie 'Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope', he had a drastically different vision for the world's backstory. Remember how Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) tells Luke that Vader was a former student of his who turned to the dark side and killed Luke's father? At that point, that was the actual story that Lucas had envisioned but things changed around the second draft of 'Empire Strikes Back'.
After handling all aspects of production personally in the first movie, Lucas wanted to take a more backseat position with 'Empire Strikes Back' so he hired his old professor Irvin Kershner to direct and roped in science fiction author Leigh Brackett to write the screenplay. In Brackett's first draft for the movie, Anakin's Force ghost would appear to Luke and instruct him and Vader would have been a separate character altogether.
Lucas was reportedly unhappy with the first draft but before he could discuss changes with her, Brackett tragically passed away from cancer. Without Brackett to collaborate with, Lucas focused himself on the script and introduced a number of changes, most notably the plot twist that made Anakin and Darth Vader one and the same.
At this point, Lucas had a new vision for the franchise, the one that we now know as the canonical history of 'Star Wars'. It was after this that he added "Episode V" to the title and retroactively made the first movie Episode IV, deciding that the original trilogy would be the second half of an epic six-film saga.
And that's how we got the quote that has often been paraphrased and misquoted as "Luke, I am your father". It's probably one of the most recognizable sentences in pop culture, referenced in a massive number of works and the reason why a lot of kids born after 1980 were named Luke, purely so their fathers could use the line on them.
The movie itself is now considered the greatest of the franchise, perhaps one of the greatest films in Hollywood history. Every 'Star Wars' fan remembers the moment they saw that shocking scene and the sense sheer bewilderment they felt when the truth sunk in. And once this truth was revealed? The franchise would never be the same again.
Few films ever manage to influence the way their contemporary generation thinks and sees the world. 'Empire Strikes Back' is one of the elite few who managed to go beyond that and influence the minds of every generation to come.
'Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back' released in theaters on May 21, 1980.