By Jason A. Hill
Director Irvin Kershner, most famous for directing Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), has died at the age of 87.
Kershner, who also directed Sean Connery as James Bond in Never Say Never Again (1983) and Peter Weller in RoboCop 2 (1990), died at home in Los Angeles on Saturday after a long illness, according to the AFP.
“The world has lost a great director and one of the most genuine people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Irvin Kershner was a true gentleman in every sense of the word … When I think of Kersh, I think of his warmth, his thoughtfulness and his talent. I knew him from USC – I attended his lectures and he was actually on the festival panel that gave the prize to my ‘THX’ short [which eventually became the 1971 film THX 1138] … I considered him a mentor.”
— George Lucas
Kershner trained as a musician and photographer before starting to make short documentaries and then feature films. While his early films were never considered blockbusters, his talent and style were never in question. When Lucas selected him to direct the sequel to Star Wars in 1980, Kershner was surprised, but Lucas made the selection based on his desire for a director who could handle the strong character development necessary for the Star Wars saga to continue.
The result: arguably the very best Star Wars film and included in many lists of the top sci-fi films ever made, with some of the most memorable characters and scenes in film history, such as the introduction of Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) and the scene in which Darth Vader (David Prowse) reveals to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) that he is,in fact, Luke’s father.
“I needed someone I could trust, someone I really admired and whose work had maturity and humor. That was Kersh all over. I didn’t want Empire to turn into just another sequel, another episode in a series of space adventures … I was trying to build something, and I knew Kersh was the guy to help me do it. He brought so much to the table. I am truly grateful to him. He was a friend as well as a colleague. He will be missed.”
— George Lucas
Jason A. Hill is the Founder, Owner and Editor In Chief of Movies I Didn’t Get.com. He is a film critic and writer of articles and film reviews covering a variety of genres and film news that have been syndicated to many sites in the film blogosphere. He specializes in independent film in the US and Asia.
For more information please contact Jason at JasonAHill@MoviesIDidn’tGet.com.
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