We are remiss in not mentioning that Irvin Kershner, (above left) director of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, died over the weekend. Kersh, as he was known, was the last person ever known to argue with George Lucas, as when the director decreed that Harrison Ford’s ad libbed “I know,” was a better line than “I love you, too.” Although Kershner was hailed for years as the man who made Star Wars the epic legend it was to become, he only only directed a bare handful of films afterwards–the Frank Miller-penned ROBOCOP 2, and NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. Fifty-seven when he made EMPIRE, he settled into a long, comfortable old age after directing the movie that helped make nerd-dom the force it was to become.

While perusing obits, we came across this quote:

“When I finally accepted the assignment, I knew that it was going to be a dark film, with more depth to the characters than in the first film,” he said. “It took a few years for the critics to catch up with the film and to see it as a fairy tale rather than a comic book.”

which shows a bit how times have changed. Would any director now dare use the “comic book” term as one of castigation? If anything, “fairy tale” would be more negative.

Bonus interview link — it’s nice that Kershner lived to enjoy the 30th anniversary celebrations for his masterwork.


  1. Those interested in the opposite end of Kershner’s career will want to check out Abram’s “The Horror! The Horror!” about the great ’50s comic book scare.

    The book compiles some of the horror stories that came under fire from lawmakers of the time. The book also comes with a DVD of a ’55 TV program that was an unapologetic lambasting of comic books… directed by Irvin Kershner.

  2. Empire was a great, great movie. So balanced and concise and satisfying. It’s too bad he didn’t do more. It’s a favorite movie episode of a great franchise,and crystalized those characters perfectly in one story, similar to the way City on the Edge of Forever did with Star Trek.

  3. Kirshner now is just cited for Empire and the Bond, but he is an interesting director whose best movie may be Loving. Flim Flam Man with George C. Scott made a big impression on me as a teenager–one of the better American films of the 60s, when they were making better American films.