The Empire Strikes Back Ending Was Originally Darker
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The Empire Strikes Back Ending Was Originally Darker

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BY October 14, 2022
Many fans claim that The Empire Strikes Back is their favourite of all the Star Wars movies. And for a good reason! The film managed to be even better than the original film. It took what worked in A New Hope and improved it. Also, the film expanded the lore of the franchise and gave us plenty of memorable moments. Even the line “Luke, I am your father” has become part of pop culture generally! So, it’s no surprise that so many fans have declared it the best of the 11 entries so far. But did you know that the original The Empire Strikes Back ending was much darker?In the released movie, we see the Rebel Alliance escaping the clutches of the evil Empire. Luke learns about his parentage and that Darth Vader is really Anakin Skywalker, his father. If that wasn’t bad enough, Boba Fett freezes Han Solo in carbonite and takes him to Jabba the Hutt. The closing moments of the film show Lando starting to look for Han Solo. We see Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO standing together in a medical bay. They look to each other for comfort while a beautiful song, courtesy of John Williams, plays in the background. Now that’s what we call a sad ending! But, in reality, the ending was going to be more downbeat than this.

The Empire Strikes Back Original Ending

The Empire Strikes Back Ending Image: Lucasfilm/Disney

Speaking on Twitter, Mark Hamill, who plays Luke, spoke about the filming process. He revealed that the studio decided to change The Empire Strikes Back ending after test audiences disliked it. Here’s what he said:

“Filmed 4 months after we wrapped principle photography on ESB, it wasn’t a ‘re-shoot,’ it was an added scene. Concerned about the downbeat ending & thorough defeat of the protagonists, they wanted to add an uplifting moment of hope and rejuvenation to reassure the audience.”
From these comments, it appears that the film was going to end after the crew saved Luke on the Millennium Falcon. Instead of getting that medical bay scene, where there’s a sense of hope, the film ends with Luke narrowly escaping. Thankfully, it seems the studio decided to add an extra scene for The Empire Strikes Back ending. They were worried that audiences would be displeased with such a melancholy end. We definitely think they made the right decision, as the medical bay scene is one of the most iconic moments of the film.Additionally, the entire film is pretty dark, so ending on a more hopeful note was a good idea. After all, the movie features the Rebel Alliance losing their base on Hoth, as well as Jabba the Hutt capturing Han Solo. The Empire also took over Cloud City from Lando. So, choosing The Empire Strikes Back ending as one of hope instead of sadness was a wise move.

Luke Skywalker’s Story

The Empire Strikes Back Ending Image: Lucasfilm/Disney

It also connects well to Luke’s story. At the start of The Empire Strikes Back, we see a Wampa attacking him, and Han has to save him. When Yoda is training Luke, he struggles to follow the lessons, and he later loses his arm during the fight with Vader. Although the hopeful nature of The Empire Strikes Back ending might seem a bit uncharacteristic in a dark movie, it helps to soften some of the blows. There is still a chance for the characters, and not everything is lost. This is something they continued with the third film, Return of the Jedi.

Of course, while it would’ve been nice to see such a dark ending to the movie, the studio made the right decision in the end. The franchise is about having hope, even in the darkest of times, so we cannot imagine the film without this vital scene.

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Hi! I'm Arvyn, and I'm an English teacher from the UK. I've been teaching English online for over 4 years to students from all across the world and all ages. Outside of work, I'm a huge fan of reading, video games, and playing with my adorable kitties. See ya!

          

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