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Anyone else think Empire Strikes Back's Special Edition is actually better than the Theatrical Cut? — Page 3

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It’s all awful apart from the speeder effects, and I’ve never been entirely sure how they cleaned up so well.

Yub Nub for life

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A big No from me, they butchered Williams score to have Vader land on the Super Star Destroyer, ruined the tension of Luke being rescued as well.

Star Wars 1977-1983

Star Trek 1966-1991

LeoneNut's Edits

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 (Edited)

The thing that really tied together the Special Edition of Empire was the Emperor’s scream.

When Luke lets go and falls into the chasm, the first thing you naturally want to know is: “What does the Emperor think about this turn of events?” And with the scream, you know. The Emperor is distraught! His well-laid plans have gone awry! He just starts screaming as if he’s the one falling into the void, not Luke.

But that’s not the most brilliant part. It’s one of those things that’s difficult to notice until someone points it out and afterwards it’s obvious, like the stormtrooper bonking his head, but there’s something else about that scene where the Emperor screams. I’m going to use spoiler tags, because it will blow your mind.

The Emperor is not even there. Really! Go check. Not on Bespin. At. All.

This gives us a few possibilities:

  1. The Emperor IS there, in secret, hiding in the enclosed area at the other end of the bridge, certainly close enough to see what’s going on and be heard yelling about it. In fact, maybe he’s always been running the Empire from the dark, mechanical underbelly of Cloud City.
  2. The Emperor is not there, but his hologram is there to witness events.
  3. The Emperor is using his previously undisclosed “force yell” ability, where you can yell so loud that it can be heard several planets away. Note that this is not the same as the force telepathy Luke uses to contact Leia (the audience could not hear is voice on the Falcon, after all), but something much, much louder.

#1 is appealing, but flawed. Lando clearly knows all the arrivals, departures, and goings-on at Cloud City. If the Emperor was there, he’d have known it. And if he knew it, he’d have appealed to the Emperor directly when Vader unilaterally changed the terms of their deal. That’s not the sort of stunt you can pull when the boss is literally right down the hall.

#3 also has a certain poetry to it. But again, it’s flawed. A force yell of that magnitude would have deafened people between the Emperor and the chasm. And yet people on the Falcon, and on Vader’s Star Destroyer, are later shown talking to and understanding each other, even when their backs are turned. No, much as a force yell would round out the spiritual aspect of the force, it did not happen here. That’s not to say the force yell could not be a real thing, but for that, we must still wait, and hope.

This leaves us with #2. Vader was talking to the Emperor’s hologram at the other end of the bridge, before the last round of the fight started. There are two possible times Vader could have had a brief opportunity to talk to the Emperor’s hologram: before the scene where Vader blows Luke out the window, or after. To start up a call with the boss at such a critical time must have meant he had an important question that could not wait.

If it was before he blew Luke out the window, the question was clearly “Can I fight him two-handed now?” because right when Luke comes in, Vader makes the big show about fighting him two-handed. If it was after Luke went out the window, the question was clearly “Can I tell him I’m his father?”. But here’s the thing: Vader never ended the call – the hologram was still hanging out and watching, otherwise it wouldn’t have screamed when Luke fell. So it clearly could not have been before Luke got blown out the window, or else he (and we) would have seen the Emperor’s hologram when he was inside.

So after Luke’s out the window and struggling to climb back onto the catwalk, THAT’S when Vader makes the call to the Emperor. When Luke tries to re-enter the building, Vader reacts with the speed of a man with an embarrassing website on his browser (watch that scene again, you’ll see it), and Luke never sees the hologram.

So what does this tell us? Vader sought and got permission to tell Luke all of those things at the end of the bridge, and that the Emperor was watching the whole thing. So after Vader said they could join forces to overthrow the Emperor and rule the galaxy together, the scream allows the audience to know this critical fact (sit down for this one):

Vader was being dishonest. Ergo, Vader is actually… a bad guy! Think about this: how else would you have known this? Like Greedo shooting first, sometimes the audience needs these little cues to keep the heroes and villains straight.

And THAT’S why the Emperor’s scream was so brilliant, and why it was heartening to hear that, like all Special Edition changes, it was how Lucas planned the movie to be all along, but simply lacked the technology at the time to do it (in this case, the technological issue was that they hadn’t yet cast Ian McDiarmid, so his voice wouldn’t match the other holographic Emperor, and one thing I know Lucas would never stoop to is using two completely different voices or faces for the same character in the same film, so they obviously had to wait).

Although I am puzzled and disappointed that they removed it later.

Project Threepio (Star Wars OOT subtitles)