American film director Irvin Kershner passed away this Saturday. Many of you already know this by now, but I just learned the sad news today.
Kershner is probably best known as the director of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. That film holds a special place in my heart, and is my favorite film of all time.
The Empire Strikes Back was the first “non-cartoon” movie that I saw as a child. I was 5 at the time, and I remember my mom taking me to the old Devon Theater in Chicago to see it. The line wrapped all the way around the block! I’m not sure how long we waited, but after that film I would always and forever be a fan of the Star Wars movies.
Coincidentally, the first trading cards I ever had as a kid were movie cards based on Empire. My mom used to buy them for me, and I recall having stacks of these in a shoebox. Now, I only have a few dozen.
Below are some of my cards from the various sets based on The Empire Strikes Back.
The scene with the Imperial AT-AT Walkers was my favorite part of The Empire Strikes Back. If you have 7 minutes to spare, watch this clip and remember how awesome a film Empire is…and how awesome a job Irvin Kershner did when directing it.
2 thoughts on “Irvin Kershner 1923-2010”
The man stood up to George Lucas, and we were all better for it. It's my favorite movie of all time too.
I saw this on Ain't It Cool News:
From Alexandra DuPont’s 2003 appraisal of “Empire”:
As I get older, the other “Star Wars” movies – even “A New Hope,” particularly in the wake of “The Phantom Menace” – just seem sillier and sillier. But “Empire” is pure music. Buoyed by John Williams’ sinister, romantic score [I ask you: Was any film composer trafficking in glorious bombast ever better than John Williams was between 1975 and 1984? “ESB” is my favorite Williams score by an order of magnitude.], the movie itself ebbs and flows like a symphony. Unlike the later “SW” films, which more or less marinate in noise, “Empire” embraces the quiet moments before the storm: a soldier stands above a trench scanning a snowy plain before a brutal ground war; Princess Leia sits in a cockpit pondering a love affair before her ship is attacked by wire-chewing space bats [I know, I know: “Mynocks.”]; Luke silently stalks a catwalk before Darth Vader, exploding out of nowhere, chops off his hand and blows his mind.
Even the acting is better: Remember how many times you forgot Mark Hamill (Mark Hamill!) was talking to a puppet?
I watched ESB as a 7 year-old fan. As a native of Upstate New York, the snow scenes struck me because we dressed up heavy jackets every winter (and I even had a blue parka similar to the one Han Solo wore!).
I've been a fan of Start Wars since watching it in the theater at 5 and my first-ever cards were Star Wars card, before I ever looked at baseball cards. I definitely remember Irvin Kershner from his card in the '80 ESB Series 2 set, and am sad to see he's left us.
And BTW…I've come to love ESB as my favorite film of the series because of its premise. The bad guys won, the acting is so much more realistic (as opposed to wooden or overly heroic)…and the bad guys won.
Oh, and we were introduced to a character who's a true badass in the form of Boba Fett.