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Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope



MV5BMTU4NTczODkwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzEyMTIyMw@@__V1__SX1217_SY602_Star Wars is just a total classic. I think most people can remember the first time they saw it. For me I was seven-years-old and my dad took me to the local cinema, which was a little crappy and I’m fairly certain was burnt down a short time later. This was of course the 1997 re-release and while I have seen the unaltered version it’s the Special Editions which are etched into my memory.

The story sees our hero Luke Skywalker discover two droids, one of whom is carrying an important message for retired hermit Obi Wan Kenobi. Obi Wan tells Luke that is father was a Jedi Knight, a sort of mystical swordsman, and takes Luke under his wing. The message is from a beautiful Princess who has been captured by the Empire and Luke is determined to save her. Along the way they pick up scoundrel Han Solo and his co-pilot Chewbacca, who join their mission for the potential reward. However to save Princess Leia the gang will have to face off against the evil Darth Vader.

The opening of New Hope quickly throws the viewer into the action, as a Rebel cruiser is overrun by a Star Destroyer. The troops are quickly taken out before we get to meet the fearsome Darth Vader. From his first appearance Vader is an imposing figure, with his iconic breathing signalling his arrival. Within a few minutes Vader has a Rebel soldier in the air with one hand and you know this isn’t someone you want to mess with.

The one problem I do have with this film is that Vader isn’t exactly the main villain, this role would seem to be held by Grand Moff Tarkin. Tarkin directly gives orders to Vader and it’s clear he in no way fears the Dark Lord suggesting that he actually outranks him. You have to wonder why Lucas chose to go down this route, particularly as his story is a key part of the saga. Peter Cushing does bring a fantastic edge to Tarkin, clearly gleamed from his years of Hammer Horror films. There is a air of Dracula to his character, especially during the scenes when he coldly and calmly orders the destruction of Alderaan, because it will provide a good demonstration of the Death Star’s power.

The film has it’s most fun the Death Star, when Luke and Han disguise themselves as Stormtroopers to save Leia. Their poor attempts at espionage are hilarious and the scene within the garbage compactor is thrilling to watch even when you know the outcome. This fun and energy carries on into the battle against the Death Star which is a joy to watch, while also an impressive technical feat for the time.

I am amazed even now how effortlessly George Lucas was able to create an entire universe, with every aspect so well realised. I love the ‘used’ feel Lucas gives to this original trilogy, particularly in the Millennium Falcon which is more than once described as ‘junk’. This is most notable when compared to the prequels where the ships appear shiny and new, but lacking the character. The look of these films is very much a universe that is embroiled in war, struggling to overthrow the tyrannous Empire.

New Hope is the only film in the original trilogy exclusively written by George Lucas and this is most evident in the dialogue. While many of the lines are fantastic, there is a fair share of poor lines in the script. In the aforementioned garbage compactor scene, C3PO’s overwritten dialogue almost threaten to derail the scene.

Then of course there are examples that just make no sense such as the notion that stormtroopers have excellent marksmanship, something the films really don’t back up. It’s quite obvious that Lucas doesn’t place much importance on dialogue, even saying in recent interviews that he believes the specific words spoken don’t matter comparing them to background noise. This approach does come across in the films he writes, thankfully he left the scripts for the next two films to other people.

Like many others before me I see no need for the changes George Lucas made to this film with the special editions, the worse offence for me being the scene with Jabba the Hutt which has been added in. The special effects on Jabba are a bit naff, and his dialogue with Han does little but reinforce what we already know from his earlier scene with Greedo.

Then of course there is all the unnecessary adding in of extra stormtroopers and background details which are distracting at the best of times.

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