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When Star Wars was completed, Lucas, who had been drained by the experience, said that he would let others direct the rest of the series. Kershner was chosen for The Empire because Lucas admired his ability to deal with human relationships. Lucas himself seems a little uncomfortable with real actors, and when he was making American Graffiti, his wordless style became a friendly gag among the actors. Richard Dreyfuss later joked that he was on the set three weeks before he knew that the director could speak English. While The Empire was being made, Lucas showed up at the London studios, where the interiors were shot, only three tunes. "I'd invite him to stand by the camera," says Kershner, "and he wouldn't. He'd say, 'It's your picture.' Then he'd stand way, way back somewhere, craning his neck." Kershner added his own touches, such as softer, more reflected lighting than the direct light Lucas employed in Star Wars. But he was always operating with Lucas' story, and he knew that Lucas, diffident as he was, was looking over his shoulder. If Lucas was in California, a videotape of the rushes was flown from London after each day's shooting.
Almost everyone who creates a fictional world as rich as Lucas' identifies with one or more of his characters. In Star Wars there was a lot of Lucas in Luke, the wide-eyed farmboy who was always yearning for bigger things. In The Empire Yoda is his alter ego. Yoda's speeches might almost be called The Wit and Wisdom of George Lucas. Like Yoda, Lucas is a devout believer in the Force. Says Lucas: "When you are born, you have an energy field around you. You could call it an aura. An archaic description would be a halo. It is an idea that has gone all the way through history. When you die, your energy field joins all other energy fields in the universe, and while you're still living that larger energy field is sympathetic to your own energy field."
The Force is neutral, and it can be used for good or evil, by Yoda and Ben Kenobi or by Darth Vader. As Luke leaves Yoda to do combat with Vader, both of those old Jedi masters fear that he may be seduced by the dark side of the Force, just as Vader was. The issue is not resolved when the film ends. "The Force has two sides," explains Lucas. "It is not a malevolent or a benevolent thing. It has a bad side to it, involving hate and fear, and it has a good side, involving love, charity, fairness and hope. If you use it well, you can see the future and the past. You can sort of read minds and you can levitate and use that whole netherworld of psychic energy." So far, however, Lucas can do none of those marvelous things.