Empire: A Soundtrack

Made by Dominic Liu

To recontextualize scenes from The Empire Strikes Back and songs for humorous effect.

Created: November 8th, 2015


I created a video in which I cut various clips from The Empire Strikes Back and matched them with clips from (hopefully) recognizable songs for a (hopefully) humorous effect. I used iMovie to edit clips and music, which I pulled from my iTunes library. 

Empire: A Soundtrack
stipuledorange4 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3XmTfLaGo0


My original intention was to convey the general storyline of the entire movie through clips of various songs. During the process, however, I realized that there were several key scenes that I could not think of songs for. Though I eventually managed to include some of them, I still did not have enough segments to cover the entire story. As a result, the finished product ended up being more of a mishmash of somewhat disjointed clips. 

For the purposes of this assignment, this still seemed satisfactory, since each scene can be thought of as its own narrative, albeit very short and incomplete. In each segment, while the film and song are in the process of telling completely different stories, their contents still overlap for a short time. The humor comes from these similarities, despite the two components having drastically different contexts. This is how my video tells different stories: viewers are led to consider events from the film in the context of a particular song, and vice versa.

The underlying goal of humor was thus achieved, through contrasting serious and impactful scenes with often frivolous or otherwise ridiculous songs. At the end of the day, those mildly familiar with the movie’s events will still be able to interpret the story as a whole, while those who are not will still glean some enjoyment from each scene’s isolated events.



If I had to work with a story in some way, I wanted to use one I was familiar with. Having been one of those kids who loved Star Wars, I had seen The Empire Strikes Back enough times to know where all the scenes were. I immediately thought of the numerous Star Wars parody videos on YouTube, such as: 

Vader Sessions
Matt Goldman - https://youtu.be/6A0rwG39Jzk
Darth Vader with Child Anakin's voice
m. deicke - https://youtu.be/g_H3_g9PhnM

All of these consist of audio from other sources dubbed over the original scene to achieve humor. Along similar lines, I found inspiration from CinemaSins’s “Everything Wrong With…” series of videos, in which the narrator examines flaws in various films. At the end of each video, he cuts clips from the movie and dubs over them with songs or audio from other movies and TV shows. As transitions, he uses bits of static, a transition commonly used in these types of videos.

Everything Wrong With Interstellar, Featuring Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
CinemaSins - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnArCFSrkg8&feature=youtu.be&t=19m56s

Once I had an idea of what I was going to do, I began slowly brainstorming and pairing songs in my library with scenes from the movie. I did this over the course of a day while working on other things, jotting down my ideas in a txt file I kept open.


After I felt I had enough pairings to constitute a video, I obtained a copy of The Empire Strikes Back and imported it into iMovie. I cut out the scenes I wanted one by one, importing each song from iTunes as well. Sure enough, my knowledge of the movie and my iTunes library allowed me to do this efficiently. Along the way, I trimmed the scenes and music to match what I wanted, also taking time to adjust the volume levels of both the songs and the movie audio. 


Finally, I found a generic clip of TV static to use as transitions. This seemed a bit lacking, however, so to emphasize the shuffling between songs, I added a generic record scratch sound effect to each transition.

TV static noise HD 1080p
yube07 - https://youtu.be/DH0BQtwEAsM
Record Scratch
SoundEffectsFactory - https://youtu.be/CPGcpIXeA-4

Finally, I went back through the entire video several times, making some final adjustments to the clip lengths and volumes to create a more seamless viewing experience. When I had a product I was happy with, I exported it and uploaded it to YouTube.


I am pretty satisfied with the end result. I was able to use a variety of songs from different times and genres, ranging from 80s gangsta rap to a song from My Little Pony. The video is also fairly entertaining, as I found myself laughing even when watching the final product. Still, there are some improvements that could be made. Many other iconic scenes from the movie were left out, mainly because I could not think of songs that would fit them. Of the song-scene pairings I did include, several of them still seemed like a bit of a stretch, especially when only a couple of words would match what was happening. With a little more time to research, I could have improved these scenes and added more, creating a more thorough representation of the movie.

I had never used iMovie before because I have never needed to edit video, but by working on this project I realized how clumsy it is, especially on a MacBook Air. This may have been because I had imported the entire 2 hour long movie, but constant beachballing caused the process to take twice as long as it probably should have. I also realized how much work went into editing even a simple 2 minute long video, and found a new appreciation for the seemingly trivial YouTube videos I used as inspiration.




Kershner, Irvin, dir. The Empire Strikes Back. Twentieth Century Fox, 1980. Film.



Record Scratch:



It Came Out of the Sky – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Jizz in My Pants – The Lonely Island
Guren no Yumiya – Linked Horizon
Back in Black – AC/DC
Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti
The Mirror – Andrew Lloyd Webber
A True, True Friend – Daniel Ingram
Check Yo Self – Ice Cube
Sell Out – Reel Big Fish
Gangsta Gangsta – N.W.A
You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift
Father Figure – George Michael
Let It Go – Idina Menzel

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To recontextualize scenes from The Empire Strikes Back and songs for humorous effect.