So I watched A New Hope..
I came to the Star Wars party pretty late in life. I’d seen half a movie here, a few scenes from another movie there but the first time I made an earnest attempt at watching it was just as I entered my twenties. I’d love to say that I fell in love instantly but it took a bit longer than that. It was around the third viewing that I really connected with the films. I can actually remember the exact moment that I fell in love with each movie from the original trilogy.
Okay, basic plot: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is a starry-eyed dreamer who wishes to leave the constraints of his ordinary life where his uncle wants him to follow in his footsteps and become a farmer. Luke, however, looks ups to the stars and wishes to take his place amongst them as a fighter pilot in the rebellion against the evil Empire. After his uncle buys two seemingly normal droids that are actually on the run from The Empire, Luke finds himself thrown headfirst into the rebellion. With the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness) – an former ally of his father’s – and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) – an intergalactic smuggler – Luke must ensure that the droids and the data they hold is kept safe or risk losing the freedom of the entire Galaxy.
It’s difficult to pick a point to start describing this movie. The words ‘classic’ or ‘iconic’ aren’t quite enough to do it justice. It belongs in its own hallowed section of movie history. So seeing as I can’t decide what point to begin my dissection of this film. I’ll open with the moment I fell in love with it. It’s fairly early in the movie, Luke has just had a fight with his uncle about leaving the farm and he steps out of the house and looks out at the two setting suns of Tatooine. John Williams’ superb score slowly swells and eventually engulfs the entire scene in deep emotion. I remember I had to pause and just allow myself to enjoy the moment. That’s when the wonder that is Star Wars first hit me.
It’s so unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Just the notion of beginning the story half-way through dazzled me and when you think about it in the grander scheme of things it makes so much sense. The original trilogy is about a galaxy that has been rundown and oppressed by The Empire. Everything is dingy, dirty and functional instead of aesthetically pleasing. George Lucas did a great job using the limitations of the technology of the time as a great storytelling aid. Sure the prequels weren’t amazing – plot-wise – but they did look more technologically advanced which fitted with the more affluent, peaceful times they depicted. Say what you want about Lucas now; but he was a visionary.
The thing I like most about this film is how it keeps the stakes large but the scope small. If our heroes fail, The Empire keeps a weapon that can destroy whole planets. PLANETS! So the stakes are incredibly large but the story is always focused on a handful of characters. This way we don’t lose interest as two faceless armies battle but rather stay engaged as a small group of heroes we know and love face off against the big bad that is Darth Vader. It keeps the story personal but still very exciting.
On the subject of Darth Vader, I didn’t really enjoy the way he was handled in this film. The first time I watched this film it seemed like Vader was just another lieutenant or underling in The Empire; when, we later learn that he’s the second in command. People give him orders, he’s running around performing errands – it’s all a little beneath him. I much preferred the Vader in the latter two films. I also enjoyed that Luke and him never have a formal confrontation in this film. Knowing what I do about the importance of their relationship, I liked that they were first introduced as being on opposing sides before the full meaningfulness of their connection was made clear.
George Lucas did such a great job making this film that I don’t understand why he felt the need to go back and add needless CGI to it. It stands out like a sore thumb and really detracts from the quality of the film. Also going back and altering things so it looks like Han shot second does nothing but dilute the quality of the character. Han shot first! It doesn’t make him a cold-blooded killer just a badass renegade, why change that?
Overall, this film is very well-written and has a myriad of memorable moments and pieces of dialogue. It’s a testament of the genius of George Lucas, genius that we can argue disappeared as time went on but there’s no denying the timelessness of this classic. It starts out a bit slow but once it gets into its groove, it never loses momentum. One of those movies you have to have seen at least once in your life and even if you have seen it, go watch it again, it’s that good. 8/10