I’m very sad to report that Irvin Kershner died today aged 87. Kersh (as he was dubbed by most), directed one of the greatest films ever made ‘Star Wars:The Empire Strikes Back’. Empire has long been considered the best of the original trilogy by fans (myself included). From Empire:
Having fought in World War II, Kershner began his career by teaching film at the University of Southern California, but quickly made the move behind the camera via a detour as a stills photographer and TV director, calling the shots on Stakeout On Dope Street in 1958.
A decent career followed, in which he directed the likes of Sean Connery inA Fine Madness, Richard Harris in The Return Of A Man Called Horse, and Faye Dunaway in 1978’s Eyes Of Laura Mars (based on John Carpenter’s screenplay).
It was this movie that persuaded George Lucas, looking for someone to take the reins on his Star Wars sequel, to approach Kershner to directThe Empire Strikes Back. The rest is movie history: Kershner’s no-frills storytelling style, coupled with a strong script and an imaginative visual pallet, gave Empire a gravitas that marked it out as an instant classic.
Kirsh went on to direct Robocop 2 – which we’ll forgive him for – and the final, unoffical, bow for Sean Connery as James Bond in ‘Never Say Never Again’.
I urge you all to get out your Star Wars DVDs, pour yourself a drink, and toast the man!