For Memorial Day, I decided to pay tribute to the Imperial officers who died apologizing to Darth Vader. My memory always suggests that The Empire Strikes Back was littered with the corpses of Imperial officers Force strangled by Vader all through the movie as they fail to meet his strict standards. In fact, Vader only kills two men in this movie, an incredibly small body count for a movie villain.
The first offender:
His offense? Bringing the Imperial fleet out out of hyperspace too soon and alerting the hidden rebels to their presence allowing them to raise their planetary shields and begin to evacuate their base.
His excuse? He thought it was best to surprise them. I'm not so sure how suddenly appearing too far away from the planet is a better surprise than suddenly appearing right on top of them, and obviously, neither was Vader.
End result? Vader Force chokes him from afar and promotes Captain Piett to Admiral.
Born Donald Marriott Perkins, actor, Michael Sheard (1938-2005) who played Admiral Ozzel had a long, full acting carrer which began in the early 1960s. He was considered for the role of Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a role which went to his friend Ronald Lacey. He would make it into the Indiana Jones series though. Over his career, Sheard played Adolph Hitler five times, including in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He played Heinrich Himmler three times.
The second offender:
His offense? Letting the Millenium Falcon escape after it reemerged from the asteroid field in the Hoth system.
His excuse? None. He took it like a man and went to apologize to Darth Vader personally.
End result? Vader Force chokes him to death personally and accepts his apology.
Born in 1938, Michael Culver contiunes his long, busy career in mostly British film and television.
The one who got away:
His offense? Letting the Millenium Falcon escape when it took off from Bespin after having assured Darth Vader that the Falcon's hyperdrive was deactivated.
His excuse? None given. Given that his promotion to Admiral came after witnessing Darth Vader Force strangle the previous Admiral, he knows what's coming.
End result? Vader turns and walks away, leaving Piett to serve another day. In fact he serves quite a few, only meeting his demise during the battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi when a battle damaged A-Wing fighter crashes into the bridge of Darth Vader's super star destroyer the Executor, killing the command crew and causing the enormous command ship to collide with the second death star.
Born in 1937, Kenneth Colley has also had a lucrative acting career going back to the early 1960s. He is the only actor to play an Imperial officer in more than one Star Wars movie, and also portrayed Jesus in The Life of Brian.
I certainly hope you've enjoyed this month long celebration of thirty years of The Empire Strikes Back. While there may be less to celebrate, no doubt I'll have something in three years for Return of the Jedi.