‘STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE’
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A New Day Dawns
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ was the very first film made in the ‘Star Wars’ movie saga, although chronologically it’s the fourth in the series. This is the first film in the original trilogy of ‘Star Wars’ and was released in 1977. This was written and directed by ‘Star Wars’ creator George Lucas.
I purchased the original ‘Star Wars Trilogy’ DVD box set one evening from Tesco in early 2006. This was after I enjoyed watching the prequels trilogy of ‘Star Wars’ with Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the rest. I looked forward to seeing the original ‘Star Wars’ films that were made before I was born.
It would be a lie to say I never saw the first ‘Star Wars’ movie before the prequels, but I actually did. Well to be accurate, I saw the first two thirds of ‘A New Hope’ when I was a kid at school and we saw it in class. I enjoyed what I saw of ‘A New Hope’, but it would take me years to watch the film in full.
The first ‘Star Wars’ movie was a ground-breaking success back in 1977. For its special effects; outer-space sequences and creature/monster effects, this movie became a landmark in cinematic history. It would precede many other sci-fi films in following the formula of action-packed space adventure.
But does that mean ‘A New Hope’ is one of the best rated films of all time? Well, it’s certainly better than the prequel movies. I found as I was watching ‘A New Hope’ that there was less CGI to contend with and that the story was pretty straight-forward compared to what was in the prequel movies.
Throughout this review, I will identify what’s good and what’s bad about this movie. Unlike the ‘Star Wars’ prequels however, I’ll hopefully be able to identify more good than bad. Will I consider ‘A New Hope’ to be the best ‘Star Wars’ movie ever to be made from the original trilogy? Well, let’s find out!
The film takes place 19 years after ‘Revenge of the Sith’. It begins with a ship of the Rebel Alliance being attacked by a ship of the Galactic Empire. There is civil war in this galaxy far, far away as the Rebel Alliance is trying to stop the Galactic Empire from using their terrible weapon, the Death Star.
On board the Rebel Alliance ship is Princess Leia, the Rebel leader. She has the stolen plans to the Galactic Empire’s Death Star, which is a heavily-armed space station that can destroy entire planets. Leia hides the Death Star plans in the memory of astromech droid R2-D2, adding a message with it.
R2-D2, along with protocol droid C-3PO, flees from the Rebel Alliance ship in an escape pod to get down to the desert planet surface of Tatooine. Meanwhile, Princess Leia gets captured by Imperial forces under the command of the evil Darth Vader. She gets taken away back to the Death Star itself.
On Tatooine itself, R2-D2 and C-3PO have safely arrived. And for those of you who saw the prequels first and didn’t think there was enough of these two droids, this is where they come into their own in the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. C-3PO and R2-D2 are the perfect comedic duo in the ‘Star Wars’ saga.
I enjoyed the bantering between C-3PO and R2-D2 in these original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy movies. Anthony Daniels as C-3PO is very amusing, especially when he gets annoyed and berates R2-D2 at times. But the two droids have been together for a long time and C-3PO is very fond of R2-D2 here.
Kenny Baker as R2-D2 is a funny little droid, who only speaks through beeps, squeaks and ‘blubbers’. R2 is pretty stubborn and determined, ignoring C-3PO’s protestations as he carries out his mission to deliver the message to Obi-Wan Kenobi on Leia’s behalf and deliver the Death Star’s plans to the Rebel Alliance.
Eventually, the droids get captured by Jawa traders on Tatooine and are sold to farmers Owen and Beru Lars with their nephew Luke Skywalker. Luke discovers the message that R2-D2 is carrying for Princess Leia. Soon, Luke with C-3PO and R2-D2 find Obi-Wan Kenobi and deliver him the message.
Mark Hamill stars as Luke Skywalker in the film. Luke is a young farmboy who has been raised by his aunt and uncle on Tatooine. He dreams of being something more than his current life. Very soon, he meets Obi-Wan Kenobi (or Ben Kenobi as he calls him) and wishes to be a Jedi Knight like his father.
I like Mark’s performance as Luke Skywalker in the movie. Luke comes across as brave and very heroic. He doesn’t shy away when he wants to save Princess Leia, although this is after his family and home got destroyed and he has nothing left. Luke has the adventure of a lifetime during this film.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (now played by Sir Alec Guinness) is an old man at this point in the ‘Star Wars’ film series. He rescues Luke with C-3PO and R2-D2 when they get attacked by sand people. Obi-Wan has been hiding all this time as a hermit in the hills on Tatoinne and gone under the name of Ben Kenobi
I like that scene where Obi-Wan shares with Luke about his days when he was a Jedi Knight for the Galactic Republic. He gives Luke his father’s lightsaber, which he did pick up in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ by the way. Obi-Wan also tells Luke how his father was ‘killed’ by Darth Vader and about the Force.
Now there’s something I need to address with regards to the prequels in the ‘Star Wars’ film series. The scene in ‘A New Hope’ where Obi-Wan explains to Luke what the Force is. It’s very intriguing since he describes it as an energy field. It’s also a pretty good scene. It helps the audience to establish what the Force is.
Why couldn’t they have had that same scene reused in the prequels? If Qui-Gon Jinn had explained to little Anakin Skywalker what the Force was in ‘The Phantom Menace’ like Obi-Wan did to Luke in ‘A New Hope’, that would have helped me to appreciate what the Force was and what went on in the films.
It’s like George Lucas expected the viewers to know what ‘Star Wars’ was about from watching the original trilogy by going into the prequels. That might be a factor as to why the prequels weren’t popular as much as the original trilogy was, since the original movies had straight-forward stories.
Eventually, Obi-Wan, Luke, R2-D2 and C-3PO find some help in order to get to Alderaan to deliver the Death Star plans to the Rebel Alliance. They meet up with and hire Han Solo, a smuggler who commands his own ship, the Millennium Falcon, and co-pilots it with his Wookiee friend Chewbacca.
Harrison Ford stars as Han Solo in the movie. This was before Harrison Ford got his fame in the ‘Indiana Jones’ movies. Han Solo is cynical and only thinks of himself when he takes Obi-Wan, Luke, C-3PO and R2-D2 to Alderaan. He’s also had some doggy dealings with some slimy characters.
Some of the cynical edginess in Han Solo’s character is pretty entertaining. This is especially when he banters with Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and Princess Leia in the movie. You think that Han Solo is selfish and only cares about his reward. But he does return and helps Luke to destroy the Death Star.
Peter Mayhew stars as Chewbacca, a Wookiee who is an alien bear-like creature; Han Solo’s sidekick and first mate aboard the Millennium Falcon. All I can say about Chewbacca is that he roars a lot. Yeah. He doesn’t speak English and it seems that Han Solo can understand what he’s saying here.
In fact, many of the alien characters in ‘Star Wars’ speak in alien languages and everyone human who speaks English can understand them. Like with Han Solo who can understand the alien Greedo when he speaks to him. Even people can understand R2-D2 in these ‘Star Wars’ films. This galaxy is weird!
What isn’t weird though is the impressive Millennium Falcon spaceship commanded by Han Solo and Chewbecca. It’s amazing to see the Millennium Falcon, especially in gun battles in space (similar to the ones in ‘The End of Time’ from ‘Doctor Who’ :D). It’s also a ship that can go into lightspeed in space.
Carrie Fisher stars as Princess Leia in the movie. Leia is a fiery-spirited young woman who refuses to give the information of where the Death Star’s plans are and where the Rebel Alliance base is to the enemy. She’s kept under lock and key by Darth Vader and the Imperial Forces aboard the Death Star.
She’s eventually rescued by Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Chewbacca. It was entertaining when she berated Han and the two don’t seem to like each other. She seems clearly fond of Luke and comforts him when they lose Obi-Wan Kenobi and when Luke is disappointed that Han Solo won’t help out.
Darth Vader is the villain of the movie. He’s played by David Prowse and is voiced by James Earl Jones. Vader is a masked man and once a former Jedi (I’m sure you know who he is from the prequels). He’s now a Sith lord, second-in-command of the Galactic Empire and hopes to destroy the Rebel Alliance.
Vader is renowned for his heavy breathing underneath that mask. I like the deep voice that James Earl Jones provides for Darth Vader, which must distort his ordinary human voice underneath. He’s considered one of the best villains in movie history and it’s hardly surprising as he’s very good in this.
And yes, you did read correctly. Obi-Wan Kenobi gets killed in the movie. This occurs when Obi-Wan and Darth Vader reunite and have a lightsaber duel with each other. The lightsaber duel is very different compared to the prequel movies. It isn’t as energetic and athletic as shown in the prequels.
But to be fair, Obi-Wan is an old man now and Darth Vader must be older underneath that mask and dark suit. It’s a contrast compared to the lightsaber battle they had in ‘Revenge of the Sith’, but somehow the duel in ‘A New Hope’ is fairly good. Sadly Obi-Wan gets killed by Darth Vader in the film.
Peter Cushing stars as Grand Moff Tarkin, the governor of the Imperial Outland Regions and commander of the Death Star. Peter Cushing is well-known for starring in Hammer Horror movies as well as playing Dr. Who in the 1960s Dalek movies. It was a joy to see Peter Cushing as a villain in the film.
In the movie, Tarkin coordinates all the plans with the Death Star’s attacks on various planets. I liked his scenes with Darth Vader as the two seem to share a certain respect for one another. His scene with Princess Leia was also mesmerising, since he threatens her to tell him where the Rebel base is.
The shock troops of the Galactic Empire are the Stormtroopers. These are like an evolution of the Clone Troopers in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels. There are quite a lot of them when Luke and company rescue Princess Leia on the Death Star. Han Solo even gets to gun at them with a loud scream in this! 😀
The film’s cast also includes Phil Brown as Uncle Owen Lars and Shelagh Fraser (who I’ve seen in ITV’s ‘A Family at War’) as Aunt Beru Lars, who raised Luke Skywalker at a young age on Tatooine. If you’ve followed the prequels, this is where the Lars’ involvement in ‘Star Wars’ becomes significant. There’s also Don Henderson (who would later do the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘Delta and the Bannermen’) as General Cassio Tagge.
The climax of ‘A New Hope’ has Rebel X-wing starfighters fighting against the Imperial ships to destroy the Death Star weapon. It’s an impressive sequence of spaceship battles. Even Luke Skywalker gets to pilot an X-wing starfighter and destroys the Death Star weapon into smithereens.
The film’s music is composed by John Williams. ‘Star Wars’ will be remembered for its tremendous opening theme music to every ‘Star Wars’ film. It also features pieces of music like ‘The Throne Room’ music at the end where the Rebel Alliance have won and Leia awards medals to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.
The DVD special features are as follows. On the DVD disc for ‘A New Hope’, there’s an audio commentary with director/writer George Lucas, Carrie Fisher; sound designer Ben Burtt and visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren.
‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ is a landmark film in cinema history. Is it as good as people say it is? And the answer is: Of course, yes! Definitely! The first ‘Star Wars’ movie is what started off an amazing saga that captured millions of people’s hearts and I enjoyed seeing it when I had it on DVD.
If you were to ask me, which film of the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy is my favourite, then I would have to say: this one! ‘A New Hope’ is one of the best films ever made in the ‘Star Wars’ saga. It was the first to be made and it spawned more films in the rest of the originals, the prequels and the sequels.
The Death Star has been destroyed and the Rebel Alliance has won! But it’s not over yet!
‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ rating – 9/10
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