The Empire Strikes Back!

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(Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford), some shiny medals to hang on their key chains. Darth Vader (David Prowse) had sneaked out through the back hatch, however, and as The Empire opens, he is sending the forces of the evil Empire to rout the rebels from their hideout on the ice planet Hoth. Giant walking tanks blast the rebel fortress, and Solo, Leia, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and See Threepio (Anthony Daniels) barely manage to escape in the Millennium Falcon. That uncertain vessel refuses, however, to leap into hyperspace, and in order to evade pursuing Empire fighters, Solo runs through a perilous asteroid field. "They'd be crazy to follow us in here," he says. Eventually, they find what they think is refuge in a city in the clouds ruled by Solo's old friend in mild skulduggery, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams).

Luke, meantime, has been visited by the holographic presence of Obi-Won Kenobi, or Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness), who was translated to incorporeal planes by Vader in Star Wars. With the power of the Force behind them, old Jedi Knights never die, it seems; they just fade in and out. Ben Kenobi tells Luke to seek out someone named Yoda on the Planet Dagobah. Ben did not say that the place is all jungles and swamps, and Luke soon finds himself knee deep in muck.

Suddenly a strange little creature pops out. He looks like one of the gargoyles with whom the Hunchback used to play at Notre Dame. He even spouts a kind of Chaucerian Middle English, with many of his verbs and adjectives piling up at the end of sentences.

Luke tries to shoo him away but discovers that this is his Jedi master.

Yoda, a 26-in.-tall Muppet operated by Frank Oz, the man in charge of Miss Piggy, is one of Lucas' great fantastics. Part elf and part wizard, he is Dagobah's answer to the High Lama of Shangrila. He has been training Jedi Knights for 800 years. At first he hardly wants to talk to Luke. "No good," he says to Ben Kenobi, who has hovered into view once again. "I cannot instruct him. The boy has no patience. Much anger in him, like his father. All his life has he looked away—to the horizon, to the sky, to the future. Never his mind on where he was, on what he was doing. Adventure, excitement. A Jedi craves not these things!"

Eventually, of course, Yoda relents and instructs Luke in the ways of the Jedi and the uses of the Force, that strange, mystical power that all Jedis possess. "Life creates it and makes it grow," the little gnome explains. "Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we . . . Feel the flow. Feel the Force around you." Luke does, to a degree. By an exertion of will he can move rocks and other small objects—like a wildly beeping and protesting Artoo Detoo. Yet when he tries to raise his ship, which is mired in the swamp, Luke fails. He then watches in amazement as Yoda levitates it to dry land. "I don't believe it," he says. "That," retorts Yoda, "is why you fail."

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