Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Greatest Scene in "The Empire Strikes Back" - And What Carrie Fisher Brought To It

Those of you who know me well know that I think "The Empire Strikes Back" is not only the best Star Wars movie, but one of the greatest movies of all time.  My brothers and I seemed to know this back in the summer of 1980 when we saw it (at least) seven times, but nothing that's transpired in the intervening decades has caused me to move "Empire" down on my all-time Top Ten list any lower than #5.

In the lead-up to "Rogue One" in December, several of the cable channels were playing the Star Wars films on what seemed like a continuous loop, and one evening - even though we own the film, and I've long since lost track of the number of times I've seen it - "Empire" was on, so of course that was what I watched.  And it struck me that night what a magnificent scene the "Han is frozen in Carbonite" scene is - the colors, the editing, the music (some of John Williams' finest moments), and yes, the performances.

All of the actors are great in that scene.  Watch how the expression on Han's face changes when Lando tells him what is about to happen; watch the pain on Lando's face when the depths to which he has betrayed his friend truly sink in.  But more than anyone else, watch Carrie Fisher as Leia.  Watch the horror on her face; watch how she looks at Han, both before and while he is being lowered into the carbonite.  And then try to tell me that it's not great acting.

R.I.P., Carrie Fisher.