Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Carbonite is a liquid made from carbon gas which can turn solid through a process of rapid freezing. This is the strange substance used to freeze Han Solo in one of Star War’s most iconic scenes. In Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back we glimpse what happens after the Death Star is destroyed. The Empire regroups and they set out to find the Rebel base’s new location with the help of Imperial probe droids.
Meantime, there’s a lot of action within the parallel subplots of this roller coaster ride! Han Solo journeys to Bespin with Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO so they can find an old friend of Han’s; Lando Calrissian. Han fails to notice that Boba Fett, one of Jabba the Hutt’s bounty hunters, is close behind him. When they finally find Lando, Princess Leia’s instincts are to be cautious, and not so easily trust him.
The freeze is surely one of the most popular sci-fi scenes in history.
Meanwhile, C-3PO wanders off only to be found shortly after, by Chewbacca, in pieces. While Chewbacca puts the droid back together, Han, Leia, and Lando go to a banquet, only to discover Leia’s instincts were right and that Lando has sold them out to Darth Vader who is waiting for them in the dining hall!
Han, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca are taken hostage, and both Han and Chewbacca are tortured. Vader hopes the bait will bring in Luke so he can capture him and take him into the custody of the Emperor.
It is at this moment that Darth Vader orders Han Solo to be frozen in carbonite, a nightmarish death-trap which will keep him in suspended animation. He also uses this method to sort of test it so it’s not fatal because it is the same carbon freeze he has in mind for Luke when he is captured. This scene is truly iconic, not just because of the carbonite freeze. Of course, this had its own relevance and impact from the science fiction angle and was surely an idea so many years ahead of its time. But it is also significant because we learn a lot more about Vader’s intentions.
The freeze is surely one of the most popular sci-fi scenes in history and, viewers are rightly concerned about the fate of Han Solo. This enigmatic and charismatic hero, who seems to find a way out of everything, is now trapped, unable to move, and at the mercy of the powerful Lord Vader.
We know that eventually Han is rescued further on in the trilogy, and that’s another great Star Wars moment. But in the meantime, we’re left wondering what will happen to Han Solo and how he’ll manage to get out of this one. From a purely artistic perspective as well as from its significance in the script, this is really one heck of a scene and belongs right up there in the great moments of science fiction films.