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Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Special Edition) [VHS] (1980)

Mark Hamill , Harrison Ford , Irvin Kershner  |  PG |  VHS Tape
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (514 customer reviews)

List Price: $19.98
Price: $9.46
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DVD Two-Disc Widescreen Edition (1980 & 2004 Versions) $75.49  
Other [VHS] Special Edition $9.46  
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Frequently Bought Together

Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Special Edition) [VHS] + Star Wars - Episode VI, Return of the Jedi [VHS] + Star Wars - Episode IV, A New Hope (Special Edition) [VHS]
Price for all three: $36.22

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Product Details

  • Actors: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels
  • Directors: Irvin Kershner
  • Writers: George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan, Leigh Brackett
  • Producers: Gary Kurtz, George Lucas, Jim Bloom, Rick McCallum
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, Special Edition, THX, NTSC
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • VHS Release Date: August 26, 1997
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (514 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304539266
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,761 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


The middle film in George Lucas's enormously popular Star Wars science fiction trilogy is a darker, more somber entry, considered by many fans as the best in the series. Gone is the jaunty swashbuckling of the first film; the rebellion led by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) suffers before the superior forces of the Empire, young hero Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) faces his first defeats as he attempts to harness the Force under the tutelage of Jedi master Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz), and cocky Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is betrayed by former ally Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). In the tradition of the great serials, this film is left with a hefty cliffhanger. The leap in special effects technology in the three years since Star Wars results in an amazing array of effects, including a breathtaking chase through an asteroid field and a dazzling, utopian Cloud City, where Luke faces the black-clad villain Darth Vader (David Prowse, voice of James Earl Jones) in a futuristic sword fight and learns the secret of his Jedi father. Veteran director Irvin Kershner (The Eyes of Laura Mars, Never Say Never Again) took the directorial reins from creator and producer Lucas and invested the light-speed adventure with deeper characters and a more emphatic sense of danger. The special edition expands Luke's encounter with the Abominable Snowman-esque wampa and establishes the creature as a tangibly more terrifying beast, in addition to refining many of the existing effects. The trilogy is concluded in The Return of the Jedi. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 112 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bait and Switch! May 27, 2006
Lucasfilm is marketing this trilogy release on the inclusion of the unaltered versions of the films when in fact this is a shoddy laserdisc transfer on a bonus disc and the buyer is forced to purchase, yet again, the 2004 versions also. This is essentially retail fraud given that Lucasfilm holds itself as a bastion of home video quality and film preservation - these transfers are 13 years old, non-anamorphic and substandard. YOU WILL BE PAYING $[...] FOR OLD LASERDISCS TRANSFERRED TO DVD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. You will not be able to watch them on a widescreen TV with adequate quality - this is shameful and shameless marketing taking advantage of buyers. DO NOT BUY!
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128 of 150 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars George Has Become The Emporer September 11, 2006
So after waiting 11 years or so, we finally get a re-release of the original The Empire Strikes Back in all it's unaltered glory. Just as fans have been dreaming about since the advent of DVD.

Well, um...I don't think any fan was dreaming about this particular release.

The original release version of The Empire Strikes Back (the only reason to buy this set as most all fans will already have one of the previous Special Edition releases) is relegated to bonus material on disc two. Ouch! But wait, it gets worse.

George Lucas, the champion of pristine presentation in the theatre and at home has released the film that made him a legend in the state of the art of technology circa 1993.

Yes, that's right. This transfer is from the laserdisc release of '93. Even worse, the film is not anamorphic like just about every other modern day DVD. What does that mean? Well a non-anamorphic DVD has a low visual clarity and the image won't fill a widescreen TV. To make a movie anamorphic takes very little time and money. That Star Wars is not anamorphic shows a disregard for the film that is troubling.

Star Wars fans expect these landmark films to be treated just like many other films (Vertigo, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Snow White, etc.) that have gotten detailed restorations that cleaned up dirt, grime and audio ticks and presented the films in today's state of the art. This is the release most fans were dreaming of. A release that showed the film some modicrum of respect.

George, the fan base you have worked so hard to woo over the years is fed up with your shoddy treatment of these films.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
First off I have no problem with George Lucas altering his films. They are HIS films after all but I do take issue with Lucas not making the original films that a generation (or two) grew up on available in a restored form.

Fans should be aware that while a marked improvement on the laserdisc edition (which appears to be from the same source elements)the image is improved by being transferred digitally vs. analog. The film looks decent although no where near as good as the digitally enhanced edition included here. Why Lucas could not have had these anamorphically enhanced is beyond me (it would probably have required another transfer however and that does cost $$).

However, there's some issues with the print being unstable at times with the resulting image shakey on screen. Colors are bolder here than on "Star Wars" more than likely because the film elements survived the passage of time better (and the fact that they are a bit younger as well). The bigger your widescreen monitor is the more noticeable the flaws are in the prints, the transfer (it's nonanamorphic which basically means there's less clarity, less detail and inferior image quality). Anamorphic is the standard for DVD and improves the image quality signficantly so I'm a bit surprised that Lucas didn't at least try and upgrade these to an anamorphic transfer in some way shape or form.

The digitally altered version looks terrific. It's interesting because the fact that Lucas presents the original with minimal digital clean up and no restoration is kind of like an unhappy child being forced to hand over something they don't want to--they make sure it's in as bad of shape as possible so that no one will want it. It's almost as if Lucas is saying, "see I was right about how bad these things looked".
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80 of 97 people found the following review helpful
to paraphrase darth vader " I find Mr. Lucas lack of faith in the oot disturbing"

out of all the three at least empire deserved the gold standard when It came on dvd in it's orginal version. But non anamorphic for one of the greatest sequels in movie history please!

again thanks for nothing mr. lucas.

Please somebody stop him before film history is erased forever by a so called film preservationist activist, who often likes to re-write history and cgi the crap out of it.

Please AFI and the DGA stop this madness! Lobby him to perserve these films as they deserve to be treated not as bastard children he once disowned.
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185 of 233 people found the following review helpful
If you love the original Star Wars trilogy as much as me, it is time to send a loud and clear message to Lucas that you will not endorse a subpar, inferior product. Do not get too excited when you pop this DVD into your player to watch on a widescreen TV. The 1980 version will appear as a tiny, low-resolution image. It is a non-anamorphic transfer (which in 2006 is NOT an industry standard), so it is NOT enhanced for 16x9 viewing. Get ready to enjoy Star Wars like you never have before - as if you were watching it through a mail slot!!!

Boycott this DVD until Lucasfilm acknowledges and corrects this. This trilogy's most loyal fans deserve better.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get any better than this
A classic. It doesn't get any better than this.
Published 12 days ago by Paine Whitney
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Great collection verison of Star Wars Original episodes and worth purchasing through amazon if you are a fan of Star Wars.
Published 24 days ago by Edward Kirven
5.0 out of 5 stars The ORIGINAL is BACK!!
I have found my memories. Relive and rewatch something great you've seen many years ago. Only the sound can be better. It's 2.0 so you can definitely tell on a 5.0 system. Read more
Published 1 month ago by M. Stein
5.0 out of 5 stars No Better Title Exists
How can you NOT love a movie whose title is "The Empire Strikes Back"? Just think... that means somewhere along the lines someone or some place OTHER than the Empire was,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Happy Camper
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 of my fave films ever
I just love this film ever since I first saw it probably 20 years ago and have never bored of watching it ever since , It just has everything in a movie I like & even the special... Read more
Published 1 month ago by chris bond
5.0 out of 5 stars Star Wars - second movie in the series
Star Wars - Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Rated PG. Running Time: 2 hours, 07 mins. Full Screen.
Directed by Irvin Kershner. Read more
Published 2 months ago by James McDonald
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movies
I have watched all the movies that I got from Amazon.com, and I am very pleased with all of them. So thank you so much.

Wanda Myers
Published 2 months ago by Wanda Myers
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Star Wars movie ever, and with original and special edition,...
Sure people complain that George should have done this in the first place, but hey! he finally did it!!! And you still complain! What is wrong here... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mark Quilter Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars great!
I am always skeptical when ordering used DVDs but this was great. I will recommend and I will use again.
Published 3 months ago by Christin Poore
4.0 out of 5 stars the story continues
Originally shown in theaters in 1980, it continues the story of the Rebellion against
the Empire as Luke Skywalker seeks out the last living Jedi Master - Master Yoda -... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kat
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Topic From this Discussion
high-def preservation of the 1997 Theatrical SE Empire Strikes Back.
If it's the 1997 version, it shouldn't need much if any color correction as the horrible blue tint happened in 2004.

Having this version in HD would be very impressive as it has much proper coloring and contrast levels, features a true film restoration and has a lot of the compositing shots... Read More
Sep 14, 2011 by Knightmessenger |  See all 2 posts
Best Sequels Ever
Toy Story 2 should be on that list...
Jun 6, 2010 by ttarkA113 |  See all 2 posts
Why the complaining?
Fans are upset primarily because the films haven't been restored and they are being released from inferior masters. The original negatives were in bad shape (at least for the first film episode IV)but that doesn't prevent Lucas from doing a restoration. The fans that want to see them in their... Read More
Sep 12, 2006 by Wayne Klein |  See all 7 posts
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