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Irvin Kershner (centre) watches a rehearsal scene on the Rebel Hangar set, during filming of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. 

J.J Abrams may have found bringing the latest STAR WARS sequel to life, and its potential box office busting heights for DISNEY, a huge challenge and responsibility, but this is nonetheless the sixth sequel to the original STAR WARS first created, written and directed by George Lucas back in 1977. Instead of Abrams' worries and his likely soon fan and critic entourage gushing at how he "saved" the franchise (cough!), let's remember how much more challenging and scary it must have been back in 1978 for Irvin Kershner, Lucas's friend and teacher from his film school days, in taking the visualist reins of the all-important first sequel in the intelligent, thought-provoking, exciting and emotionally dark The Empire Strikes Back- the one that truly had to stand on its own merits as both a film and commercial success whilst also becoming the springboard for a whole new enterprise for film-making via LUCASFILM and to firmly cement STAR WARS as a cultural phenomenon and a beloved saga in its own right- an equal to, and surpassing of, anything being done by Walt Disney and co. Plus the fact that this film was being made with Lucas's own resources and early on profits from STAR WARS, with no studio system acting as back-up life support. Now that's pressure.

After that long three-year wait, 1980 was to be a jubilant year for STAR WARS fans, of which Kershner's work paid off handsomely worldwide. His directing dedication, strong creative intuition, his quiet but firm determination to get the most out of his actors (be they in large or small parts), his love of fantasy and storytelling, and his seemingly unceasing, boundless enthusiasm for the project, alongside Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz (a support through tough and long periods of shooting and post production), proving such an important, nay pivotal, part of the continuing sequel success that would lay ahead. And all because The Empire Strikes Back was so good.

Thank you, Irvin Kershner!

Irvin Kershner on the cross-cultural extralogical 'Star Wars' experience - YouTube
Irvin Kershner vs George Lucas ...Empire Strikes Back Shot as Written - YouTube
Irvin Kershner Interview Part 1 - YouTube

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