Views from the Sofa’s 100 Greatest Scenes is a list of the 100 greatest moments in the movies. This could be long introductions, moments of action or great dialogue between characters. The scenes are in no particular order and come from many different types of movies.
The Empire Strikes Back would influence movie trilogies forever. It was made at a time when movies weren’t setting out to create franchises and certainly weren’t made with trilogies in mind so to have a movie with such a thrilling and shocking cliffhanger was unheard of. George Lucas knew what would shock the fans and how to make the heroes feel huge losses and delivered in one spectacular scene.
Greatest Scene Number 20: Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back -“I Love You – I Know.”
It is strange to think that there are audiences that watched The Empire Strikes Back and didn’t know the conclusion. The story as a whole has become so famous now that many people know where the tale leads and this movie’s conclusion but for any audience member unsure of how it would pan out, they certainly couldn’t have seen Han Solo’s fate coming.
Even as Han Solo is led into the freezing chamber, a cool (excuse the pun) set that was creepy, dark and imposing, you had to believe he would escape somehow. There is even a brief glimpse of heroics when Chewbacca begins to struggle and fight back, only to be told to cease by his smuggler best friend.
That is the moment you realise Solo is resigned to his fate. It is easy to forget that this scene doesn’t just separate Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia from Harrison Ford’s Han Solo but also Solo from Chewbacca as well. His well-mimicked cries of despair add to the sadness of the scene.
The most memorable moment is of course the exchange between Solo and Leia. They share a kiss, not their first but their most significant so far and then Leia utters that line for the first time.
It is credit to both Lucas’ writing and Harrison Ford’s delivery that his response to “I Love You” is “I Know” and it doesn’t come across as arrogant or snide. It still feels in-line with the character. He is showing emotion but not too much and considering he is the coolest of the characters in the movie, it doesn’t under-cut the hardened exterior he has shown so far.
The process of the freezing is a daunting one and even today, considering the movie was released in 1980, it is impressively staged. The smoke and then the final reveal of the now iconic pose in which Harrison Ford is frozen, also adds to the effectiveness of the scene. The design of that pose, with Han Solo’s expression of pain etched into the carbonite is classic.
Imposing himself over the whole scene is Darth Vader. If anyone was to question why he is one of the most iconic villains in cinema then they have to look no further than this scene. He double-crosses, bargains and makes demands without flinching. Vader has won here and the Imperial March theme that accompanies the scene demonstrates this perfectly.
It is also a foreboding scene. Not just for the Return of the Jedi, raising questions for how Han Solo will be rescued from his predicament, but also the finale of the film. Luke Skywalker is next and Han Solo being placed in carbonite was only a test. Of course, we know things don’t quite turn out that way…
Overall, Han Solo being frozen in carbonite is one of the key reasons The Empire Strikes Back is regarded so highly. It is a demonstration of the movie’s darker tone and teases the third film perfectly. It is also the beginning of a trilogy template that will be used for many years to come.