Director: Irvin Kershner
Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Plot: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca face attack by the Imperial forces and its AT-AT walkers on the ice planet Hoth. While Han and Leia escape in the Millennium Falcon, Luke travels to Dagobah in search of Yoda. Only with the Jedi master's help will Luke survive when the dark side of the Force beckons him into the ultimate duel with Darth Vader.
The shots where Luke uses his Jedi powers to retrieve his lightsaber from a distance were achieved by having Mark Hamill throw the lightsaber away and then running the film in reverse.
Carrie Fisher stood on a box for many of her scenes with Harrison Ford in order to make up for the height difference and have her appear in the frame with him. Carrie Fisher (5'1) is a foot shorter than Harrison Ford (6'1).
George Lucas was so impressed by Frank Oz's performance as Yoda that he spent thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign to try and get him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Lucas's campaign ultimately failed because it was felt that a puppeteer wasn't an actor. Lucas felt this wasn't fair to Oz, who honestly didn't care.
George Lucas initially called this the worst Star Wars film, and apologized for its existence. He changed his mind after he found out some people believed it was the best Star Wars film.
Han Solo's use of his mount's entrails to keep Luke warm is actually an American Indian trick. According to legend, a hunter named Hugh Glass had killed a bear despite being mauled severely, in the American frontier. He was abandoned by his fellow frontiermen, and had to crawl hundreds of miles to safety. On the way he became trapped by a sudden blizzard. He cut open a bisons stomach and climbed inside and stayed warm and safe until the storm had subsided. This event is dramatized in The Revenant (2015), starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
For the 2004 DVD release, the scene with Darth Vader and the Emperor was altered with Ian McDiarmid now playing the Emperor, as he does in the rest of the series (the original version of the scene had the Emperor played by a hooded old woman with superimposed chimpanzee eyes and was voiced by Clive Revill). The dialogue for the new version was expanded and completely re-recorded by Ian McDiarmid and James Earl Jones.
The reason why Han and Leia act so happy when arriving on Bespin is because Carrie Fisher (Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) went out partying the night before, and they were still drunk while shooting.
The AT-ATs were inspired by the walking machines in H.G. Wells's "War of the Worlds" and their appearance was based on gantry cranes which are used in most shipping ports in the USA. Walking patterns of elephants were studied to make the movements seem as realistic as possible.
When Han Solo is about to be frozen, Princess Leia says, "I love you." In the original script, Han Solo was supposed to say, "Just remember that, Leia, because I'll be back," but at the time of filming, Harrison Ford wasn't entirely certain he did want to come back for a third film. There is a recurring legend that his line, "I know", was ad-libbed; however Alan Arnold's book "Once Upon A Galaxy: A Journal of the Making of The Empire Strikes Back" includes a transcription of the discussion between Ford and Irvin Kershner in which Ford suggested the line.
Billy Dee Williams had previously auditioned for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). He finally landed the role of his old pal Lando three years later. Part of the reason for creating Lando as a black character was that George Lucas had considered making Han Solo a black man early in his development of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Gary Kurtz was initially reluctant for George Lucas to hand over the reins to another director. It was only because Lucas trusted Irvin Kershner, his former teacher at USC, that Kurtz agreed to the move.
George Lucas envisioned the scene where the Millennium Falcon escapes from the giant space slug as a comedic scene, and was disappointed when audiences didn't react to it that way.
According to Carrie Fisher, the carbon freezing chamber set was extremely hot - consequently, Peter Mayhew's Chewbacca costume began to stink.
Security surrounding this movie was so intense that George Lucas had regular reports about "leaks" from actors. George Lucas was so determined that the ending be kept secret that he had David Prowse (Darth Vader) say "Obi-Wan killed your father", and dubbed it later to be "I am your father". In fact, only five people eventually knew about the ending before the film's release: George Lucas (came up with the idea in his second draft, after the death of Leigh Brackett), director Irvin Kershner (informed of such during story conferences), writer Lawrence Kasdan (also informed during story and script conferences), Mark Hamill (informed shortly before the shooting of the infamous scene), and James Earl Jones (told during the recording sessions for the final dub, and who himself believed that Vader was lying).
David Prowse was unaware that Darth Vader was Luke's father until he saw the film and was quite upset with George Lucas afterwards, saying his physical acting would have been completely different if he'd known the real line. To keep it a secret on set, David Prowse read script that instead of "I am your father", he said "Obi-Wan killed your father."
Having Han Solo frozen in carbonite was (at least in part) due to the fact that they were not sure that Harrison Ford would return for a third film. When the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) was made, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill were signed for a three picture deal, but Harrison Ford refused. Ford even requested George Lucas to kill off Solo, since the character had played his part already, but Lucas refused, saying that he still had a heroic part for Han Solo to play in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
In Leigh Brackett's original draft of the script, Darth Vader was not Luke's father. The character of Anakin Skywalker actually appeared in the film as a Force spirit to train Luke. Anakin's characterization was later split into the characters of Yoda, and the Force spirit technique was used to allow Obi-Wan Kenobi to appear in the film.
Darth Vader's name comes from the following: "Darth" is a variation of the word "Dark" and "Vader" is the Dutch word for "Father".
As Yoda and Obi-Wan urge Luke to stay on Dagobah to finish his training, Luke pulls a snake from his spaceship. Irvin Kershner assured Mark Hamill that the snake was harmless, though it did bite him during one take.
After the various increases in budget, the film became one of the most expensive of its day and after the bank threatened to pull his loan, George Lucas was forced to approach 20th Century Fox. Lucas made a deal with the studio to secure the loan in exchange for paying the studio more money, but without the loss of his sequel and merchandising rights. After the film's box office success, unhappiness at the studio over the deal's generosity to Lucas caused studio president Alan Ladd Jr. to quit. The departure of his longtime ally caused Lucas to take Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) to Paramount Pictures.