Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is the follow up to the extremely successful and world-changing space opera that was A New Hope. Lucas aimed to make a very different film from it's predecessor, leaving the end with a cliffhanger that left the audience divided. Nowadays it is widely regarded as the best Star Wars film, but more on that later.
According to the EU, Darth Vader goes off in the 3 year gap between Empire and Hope, to find out who was the Rebel pilot that destroyed the Death Star. After all, he had sensed that the pilot was Force-sensitive and that he had been possibly trained by Obi-Wan. Eventually he found out the pilot's name.
Vader was more than obsessed with finding out who was Luke Skywalker. He began at that point to ask himself if whether or not the Emperor had told him the truth regarding Padme's death at his hands. He realized that his last name could not be a mere coincidence and he was determined to find out at all costs, whether or not Luke was his son. Empire is essentially, Darth Vader's hunt down for Luke Skywalker, although several don't actually see it that way. It's also important to note that the events that take place in Episode V are spread out in a matter of a few months, while the events in all the other Star Wars films take place in a matter of days.
Palpatine on the other hand, finds out after a disturbance in the Force, that Luke Skywalker is becoming stronger in the Force, and comes somehow to the conclusion that he is both the son of Anakin and the Rebel pilot who destroyed the Death Star. He then contacts Vader while he is in hot pursuit of the Millenium Falcon, and tells him his discovery. It is in that moment, when Sidious tells Vader that Luke is his son, that he finds out. The 2004 Edition changed the narrative of the story, and in several ways, I believe it improved it. Palpatine obviously knows that Luke is an enemy that has to be destroyed. Vader offers the possibility of turning him to the dark side, something the Emperor had apparently not thought about until Vader mentions it. Darth Vader from that point on, has only one goal in the remainder of the Star Wars saga: To make Luke his Sith apprentice and overthrow the Emperor. Palpatine on the other hand, wants to replace Vader with Luke.
Light years away, Luke Skywalker is training on Dagobah at the hands of revered Jedi Master Yoda. Yoda struggles to teach an impatient Luke in the ways of the Force, but still manages to accomplish a significant change in only a few months on young Luke. However, a disturbing vision that Luke has makes him realize that his friends are in danger, and must leave to the Bespin system. Obi-Wan and Yoda fear that he might fall in the same trap his father fell, and loose hope of saving the galaxy.
Luke goes off to the lion's den in order to save his friends. Meanwhile, after Han Solo, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO have been running around the galaxy to escape from the Empire, they decide to go into Cloud City, a small post in the gas giant Bespin, that is not only run by Han Solo's best friend Lando Calrissian, but is also small enough to not be noticed by the Empire. The only problem is, basically, that the now elite bounty hunter Boba Fett, a mere kid in Attack of the Clones, is after Solo due to the fact that he owes money to Jabba the Hutt, and Jabba has already got very impatient with him. Boba Fett gets assistance from the Empire in order to capture Han Solo, due to the fact that Darth Vader knows it will lure Luke Skywalker.
Han Solo gets frozen in carbonite and flies off in Boba's Slave I. Leia meanwhile, is torn for his love with the smuggler and her duty in the Rebellion. Luke then goes off to confront Darth Vader. Despite the fact that he has trained hard in order to confront him, he is still no match for him. Later, after Luke looses his arm and lightsaber, he is confronted with the horrible truth of his parentage.
That my friends, was the phrase that changed the story dramatically. Luke then falls to his death before being rescued by the Millenium Falcon. Vader is later, conflicted about what to do with regards to his son.
Empire is widely regarded today as the best Star Wars film. While several of the hateboys use it as ''proof'' to say that Lucas was a bad director, I tend to think that while a great Star Wars film, it's not neccesarily the best.
Best Moments of the Film:
1. Obi-Wan's call to Luke to go to Dagobah. It's the first time we see Obi-Wan as a force ghost.
2. Yoda's training of Luke, in particular the scene in which they lift the X-Wing.
3. Palpatine's and Darth Vader's conversation in the Executor.
4. Lando's greeting of Han Solo. One of the funniest moments in the films.
5. Han and Leia's love departure before Han Solo is frozen in carbonite.
6. ''I Am Your Father''