What hindered Star Wars is that it was bogged down by an immense amount of backstory. But from the first scene of The Empire Strikes Back, we are rocketed from the ice world of Hoth to the swamps of Dagobah to the seemingly peaceful Cloud City. Simply more beautiful than its predecessor, it’s also propulsive and funny and complex in a way that the first one is not. In Empire, director Irvin Kershner and screenwriters Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan (director of The Big Chill) tell an epic story at a perfect pace until it reaches a beautiful crescendo in perhaps the most memorable cliffhanger of all time. In the hands of another group of people, the movie’s big reveals and plot twists could have been too much for just one film. Yet, with more emotion and a darker tone than any of the other Star Wars films, Empire finds its power in its lack of resolution and the idea that defeat can be just as compelling as victory.