The Film: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The Pairing: Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)
The Moment: Princess Leia Admits Her Love
THE BUILD UP: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
The Empire Strikes Back, also known as Star Wars Episode V, follows after the events of the previous film, A New Hope. The Rebel Alliance has set up base on the ice planet of Hoth, with the evil Empire pursues them. Our heroes, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker, have been working with the other rebels to defeat the Empire. There are many adventures that happened between Episodes IV and V, and during those adventures, they all grow closer together.
Han and Leia have formed a sort of antagonistic relationship. He is always making comments about how much she likes him, and she’s always putting him down for his arrogance. They both clearly admire and worry about the other, but they are too stubborn to admit it.
The relation is complicated for a couple of reasons. Han is a charming smuggler and Leia is a senator who just lost her entire home planet. So not only does she not trust him, but Leia is going through a rough time. It’s not a perfect place for romance to blossom! Or perhaps it is…
When the film starts, Han tries to leave the Rebel Alliance because there is a bounty on his head. He needs to go and pay Jabba the Hut. Han was working as a smuggler for Jabba and had lost his cargo. Jabba was angry and put a very high price on Han’s head. So, Han wants to go pay Jabba back so he can continue smuggling or fighting, whichever he feels like doing, without being chased by bounty hunters.
Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned. When the Empire discovers the Rebel Base on Hoth, the rebels begin to evacuate. Because she waited until everyone else was safe, Leia is unable to get to her transport. Rather than just leave, Han chooses to stay and make sure Leia gets off of the planet.
While Luke goes to Dagobah and his Jedi training under Yoda, Han and Leia (with Chewbacca/Chewie, C-3PO, and R2-D2) travel through space in the Millennium Falcon, trying to avoid the Empire. They are also being pursued by Boba Fett, the coolest bounty hunter ever.
Throughout the whole film, the Falcon has been damaged. The hyperdrive is offline. Despite some very clever tricks, like pretending to be garbage and flying through an asteroid field, Han and Chewie need to find a safe place to fix the ship.
Their plan is to make the repairs, drop Leia off at the Rebel’s rendezvous point, and then go pay Jabba. While they are together, Han and Leia continue to get closer, and it becomes obvious that there is chemistry between the two.
While working to make some repairs to the hyperdrive, Han and Leia share a kiss.
Deciding that they need a safe place to finish up some repairs and some extra parts, our heroes head to Cloud City, located on the planet Bespin. Lando Calrissian, an old friend of Han’s, runs the city. He welcomes them to his city, although neither Leia nor Han trusts him. Their instincts are correct, as Darth Vader, his stormtroopers, and the bounty hunter Boba Fett had arrived on Bespin before they did.
In order to keep his city and people safe from the Empire’s interference, Lando had agreed to give Han, Leia, and their friends to the Empire. Vader plans to use them as a way to trap Luke.
Lando soon discovers he was tricked by the Empire. He had known about the trap for Luke, but he didn’t know that Vader was going to give Han to Boba Fett. He hoped to save all his friends. Lando becomes increasingly uncomfortable with his dealings with the Empire. With the deal changed, he plans to keep Leia and Chewie safe.
THE ROMANTIC MOMENT: Han Solo and Princess Leia
Since Vader wants to use the carbon-freezing technology on Luke when he arrives on Bespin, they decide to test it on Han to make sure he can survive. Despite Lando’s protests that carbon freezing might kill Han, and Boba Fett pointing out that Han is “no use to him dead,” Darth Vader decides to freeze Han anyway. Han and Leia share a look, as the stormtroopers come to take him away.
Chewie tries to save him, injuring multiple stormtroopers, but Han tells him to stop. “Save your strength,” he tells him, “There will be another time.”
Leia comes up to Chewie, trying to comfort him. Han continues. “The princess,” he tells Chewie, “You have to take care of her. Promise me.”
Chewie agrees to protect the woman his best friend loves, though it is clear he’d rather fight. Han and Leia lock eyes. Han moves in for a kiss, which Leia returns.
Having had enough of the romance and needing to test their trap, the stormtroopers separate the pair. Han is lead backward to the machine that will freeze him. Leia, heart in her eyes, tells him what she has been fighting for the entire film.
“I love you,” she calls out to Han.
Han replies, “I know,” with the ghost of a smile on his face.
Han is lowered. He breaks eye contact with Leia at the last possible moment.
Chewie cries, and Leia hugs him tightly. Han reappears, fully frozen. A grief-stricken Leia looks at him. Han is alive but in hibernation.
I always have to remind myself at this point that Princess Leia is not about to take this lying down, being the brave princess that she is. Not only does she need to save Han, she also has to protect her friend, Luke, who is walking into a trap.
Will Lando finally get fed up with Vader changing their deal? Will Luke be frozen too? Can Leia and Chewie escape from the Empire? Will they be able to save Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hut and Boba Fett? Watch the rest of this movie, and the third installment of the trilogy, Return of the Jedi, to find out!
If you’re looking for an exciting action/adventure film with a bit of romance and you enjoyed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, check The Empire Strikes Back out! Many people think it’s the best film in the trilogy. It’s available to purchase on Amazon (both on demand and in DVD form!). There are so many wonderful scenes between Han Solo and Princess Leia in the Original Star Wars Trilogy; which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!
Photos: Lucas Films, 20th Century Fox, Disney
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