February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the legends of Black history. Here we honor actor Billy Dee Williams’ portrayal of ‘Star Wars’ sophisticated rouge Lando Calrissian!
Created by iconic writer/producer/director George Lucas, Lando Calrissian was introduced in 1980’s ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’ (Episode V). He enters the film during its second act, serving as a baron-type administrator of Cloud City. It’s revealed Lando is an old acquaintance of on-the-run smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) who is hiding rebel general, Princess Leia (Carrie Fischer), from the pursuing forces of evil Empire.
Solo famously pilots a speedy space ship called Millennium Falcon, which he won from Lando in a suspicious game of cards.
Lando would be forced by the Empire’s Darth Vader to give up Leia and Solo, but team with the pair in 1983’s Return of the Jedi (Episode 6), and piloting the Falcon as an armada general, to help their rebellion defeat the Empire.
During the late 70’s and 80’s, black actors weren’t known to have key roles in big budget studio films, especially anything remotely science fiction or fantasy, aside from The Wiz. When Star Wars came along in 1977, it set the bar for character roles in fantastic, good-overcomes-evil storytelling.
The Empire Strikes Back is considered by many to be the best film in the franchise, and audiences got to witness Lando Calrissian, this black character in a leadership role, evolve from manipulated deviant in Episode V to reliable, save-the-day hero in Episode VI.|
[Art (noun): 1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. 2. the various branches of creative activity.]
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