Story

The rebels are stationed on the ice planet of Hoth, but it comes under attack from Imperial forces. Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) manage to escape in the Millennium Falcon. But Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness) tells Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) that he must travel to Dagobah to receive training from the Jedi master Yoda (voice of Frank Oz). Yoda is a small creature, not quite what Luke was expecting, but he has great powers that he patiently tries to teach to Luke.

Meanwhile Han and Princess Leia land on Bespin, where they’re taken in by an old friend Lando (Billy Dee Williams). Lando betrays them to the Empire, whose forces capture Han and Princess Leia. Luke realises his friends are in trouble and leaves Dagobah to rescue them. He finds himself in much greater difficulty than he expected when he comes face to face with Darth Vader (David Prowse).

Themes

Good versus evil

Violence

This movie has some violence. For example:

  • There are several space ship battle scenes and several laser gun battles.
  • A large ice monster attacks Luke and drags him away. Luke is left hanging upside down.
  • Luke cuts a monster’s arm off with a laser.
  • Han uses a laser to cut open a creature’s stomach.
  • Large mobile tanks that look like animals advance on targets shooting lasers.
  • Luke and Darth Vader battle in Luke’s mind. Luke chops off Darth Vader’s head with a light sabre but then sees his own face.
  • C-3P0 gets shot at and breaks up into pieces.
  • Han is tied up and tortured (nothing is actually shown).
  • Chewbacca strangles Lando.
  • Luke and Darth Vader fight with light sabres. Darth Vader cuts off Luke’s hand.

Content that might disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:

  • Dagobah is a scary, swampy, foggy land with strange sounds and creatures.
  • Many of the alien creatures look very scary, including Chewbacca and Yoda.
  • Darth Vader looks very scary. He is covered in a black armoured suit with a helmet that covers his face. He breathes very heavily.
  • A large ice monster eats raw meat and has blood dripping from its face.
  • Luke is caught in an ice blizzard and collapses with his camel. He appears near death.
  • Luke’s plane is shot down and he crash-lands.
  • The Emperor is a scary, threatening man.
  • Luke enters a dark, spooky cave where he imagines battling with Darth Vader.
  • Han is frozen in carbon and ends up looking like a statue.
  • Luke falls out of a window into an abyss. He nearly falls off the planet but hangs on to wires. 

From 8-13

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example, while Luke and Darth Vader fight, Darth Vader tries to convince Luke to come over to the Dark Side. He then reveals that he is actually Luke’s father. 

Over 13

Nothing of concern 

Sexual references

This movie has some sexual references, including some mild flirting between Han and Princess Leia. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern 

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern 

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

This movie has some mild name-calling such as ‘fuzz ball’ and ‘nerf herder’. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is more intense and dark than the original Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope movie. The unfolding plot also has quite sinister undertones. But it’s another science fiction classic that will greatly appeal to older children and teenagers.

The main message from this movie is that you shouldn’t allow yourself to be overcome by evil and should remain true to your beliefs.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include courage, loyalty, selflessness and self-sacrifice.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as their beliefs about good and evil and the use of force to defend beliefs.