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Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones Parallels

Posted by Donna Dolezal Zelzer on August 22nd, 2008

I don’t know if Lucas did it intentionally or if it’s just my strange brain, but I’ve noticed a number of parallels between the two middle episodes of both Star Trek Trilogies.

Over-all Structure
In the first section of Empire Strikes Back all of the main characters are on Hoth. They separate in the middle section, with Luke and R2D2 heading for Dagobah while Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO try to escape in the Falcon. In the final section, everyone is back together in the vicinity of Cloud City.
Attack of the Clones follows the same structure. The main characters are (mostly) together in the opening section in Coruscant. In the middle section, they split up. Obi-Wan and the droid R-4 go to Kamino while Anakin, Padme and R2D2 go to Naboo. In the final third of the movie, the main characters are reunited in the battle on Geonosis.

Both movies feature a romance, although the romantic element is stronger in Clones, since that’s a major and necessary part of the plot. (Indeed, without this romance, there would be no Luke and Leia for the second trilogy.) In both movies, the romance follows a three-act sequence:

  • In the first part of the movie, Anakin and Han are attracted to Padme and Leia, but the women are cool or actively discouraging.
  • In the middle sections, the couples spend some time alone (or nearly alone) and we see Padme and Leia start to show interest.
  • In the final sections, the women finally admit their feelings, but only when things are looking pretty bleak. Leia tells Han “I love you”, just before he’s put into carbon freezing. Padme tells Anakin the same thing as they’re both taken to face death in the area.

Saving the Senator/Princess
In Empire, Han takes Leia on the Falcon to help her escape from Imperial forces.
In Clones, Anakin goes with Padme to Naboo to keep her safe from assassins.

Going to the Rescue
In Empire, Luke leaves Dagobah to rescue Han and Leia, despite warnings from both Obi Wan and Yoda that he should remain with Yoda to complete his training.
In Clones, Anakin, despite instructions from Obi Wan that he should stay in Naboo, first goes to Tatooine to rescue his mother and then to Geonosis the rescue Obi-Wan (Granted, Padme was aiding and abetting him, especially when they went to rescue Obi-Wan.)

Loosing a Hand
In Empire, Luke looses his hand in the light saber duel with Darth Vader (the former Anakin).
In Clones, Anakin (the future Darth Vader) looses his hand in the light saber duel with Count Dooku.

In Empire, Han pilots through an asteroid field in an attempt to escape the Empire.
In Clones, Obi-Wan pilots through an asteroid field as he follows Jango and Boba Fett.

3PO Looses his Head
In Empire, he’s shot by the stormtrooper and disassembled
In Clones, he’s taken apart in the droid factory and his head is put on the wrong body.

Shooting at Fleeing Ship
In Empire, Leia shoots at Boba Fett’s ship as he leaves Cloud City with Han in carbonite.
In Clones, Padme shoots at Dooku’s ship as he escapes Geonosis.

Final Scene
In Empire, the movie ends with Luke and Leia standing together, looking out at the stars. R2D2 and C-3PO are behind them and to the right of the screen.
In Clones, the movie ends with Anakin and Padme standing together, kissing. R2D2 and C-3PO are behind them and to the right of the screen.

Can you think of any others?

Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980 & 2004 Versions, 2-Disc Widescreen Edition)


This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

One Response to “Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones Parallels”

  1. Starfox Says:

    I never would have guessed all of these parallels. Great analysis! I enjoyed reading about it. Thanks!

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