Irvin Kershner (1923 – 2010)
The AP is now reporting the death of Irvin Kershner, one of the great genre directors of the 1970s and 1980s:
Kershner is indeed well-known for directing the film that many Star Wars fans argue is the strongest of the six-strong cycle: 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. But Kershner also directed the still-impressive Never Say Never Again in 1983, Sean Connery’s long-awaited and commercially-triumphant return to the screen as James Bond, 007.
In additions to those titles, Kershner directed the wickedly satirical and nihilistic Robocop 2 (1990), which met with negative reviews during its release, as well as the stylish American giallo, Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), written by a young John Carpenter and starring Faye Dunaway.
Over the years, Kershner also helmed genre TV episodes for sci-fi series such as Spielberg’s Amazing Stories (1985-1987) and SeaQuest DSV (1993-1996). He retired from filmmaking in the mid-1990s.
Looking over just a few of Kershner’s movie titles today, one can detect how superbly this director was able to marshal huge action scenes in his films and — at the same time — humanize familiar, iconic characters and their relationships.
Never Say Never Again presented a more human, “aging” version of James Bond, and certainly The Empire Strikes Back deepened the famous Star Wars characters tremendously, so much so that Return of the Jedi (1983) felt somewhat juvenile and light-weight by comparison.
Irvin Kershner will be remembered for his superlative contributions to modern film franchises for years and decades to come, and I hope that fact brings his family some measure of comfort on this difficult day. This man will be missed.
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