I know I called it A New Hope in the title above, but that’s just for noobs to distinguish, so if you’re a fanboy (or girl) out there getting all pissed off about people not just calling it Star Wars (as was the original title when the film had its first theatrical release) then I need to tell you to just calm down and take a seat. It’s okay.
This is where it all began, in a galaxy far, far away … in 1977. By that time George Lucas had quite a few films under his belt, but they were smaller projects and documentaries. This was his first real shot at a big budget Hollywood film, and he kinda nailed it. Here’s why…
Star Wars revolutionized cinema and pop culture. Nobody can deny this – there are toys still available in toy isles from a 1977 film, and the number of pop culture references in skits, TV shows, adverts and other movies are just astounding! Star Wars is special to so many people across so many generations. Here’s a cool video by TIME Magazine that discusses some of the influences behind Star Wars, and why it’s so special.
It would seem that Star Wars has re-emerged into the popular culture more so than ever before with The Force Awakens out this week, as well as a number of anthology films coming up over the next few years too. It’s a great feeling knowing that such a great saga is alive and well in 2015.
Greatest Villain Ever
I’ve mentioned this in my review for Phantom Menace, but I have to re-iterate it here: Darth Vader is one of the most badass and complex villains ever created. The great thing about him in the original Star Wars film is that we don’t know who he is, and his complexity is not revealed at this point. We just get this super evil guy who answers to very few people, and who’s willing to kill anyone who gets in his way; destroying planets, and even killing his own henchmen if they fail the tasks he gives them.
Vader is Force-sensitive, meaning he is attuned to the flow of The Force, and as we learn in his origin story, he is naturally more powerful than many other existing force-sensitive individuals, making him a very formidable foe indeed.
It’s pointless talking about Vader without mentioning the Death Star. Probably one of the greatest narrative inventions of its time (and still today), the sheer scale of the Death Star is enough for us to understand the grave danger in which the rebels and our heroes find themselves. Not only is Vader the most badass villain ever, he’s also got ridiculously powerful weapons too.
This film is 38 years old. Just let that sink in! Now if you have the film, go and put it on and just pay attention to how it looks. How those huge ships floating through space have weight and breadth and feel like there are actual people inhabiting them.
This is something that can’t necessarily be said for many films that come out today, in 2015. Directors and producers are so quick to go to CGI because the technology is available, often saving time (not budgets), but at the end of the day a film like Star Wars proves that the right mix of practical and computer-generated effects creates a timeless masterpiece that can be admired and revered for decades to come.
We get a great introduction to this world of Star Wars via two droids on the run, C3PO and R2-D2. Their conversation provides so much exposition, while creating tension as well as entertainment for audiences through well-time comedic relief.
When we meet our main protagonist Luke, he’s a bit of a whiny brat, but he ends up experiencing such an amazing character arc throughout the entire trilogy that it creates a sense of nostalgia for audiences looking back at that young kid who just wants to go to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters when we meet him.
Little did he know that he was about to be thrust into the adventure of a lifetime. I’m pretty sure Mark Hamill as an actor didn’t realise it at the time either.
Next we have Han Solo and Chewbacca who have an amazing team dynamic, and we get to see yet another great story arc as Han grows from mercenary into a true friend of Luke and Leia, as well as a core member of the rebel alliance.
Leia is an amazing character, especially for a female character in the 70’s, considering that so many of the characters in Star Wars are male. She is one of the few characters who is already fighting the good fight, takes action and has tons of grit and agency as she tackles the obstacles ahead of her.
Sure she gets captured, but she manages to send a vital message to Obi-Wan, and she’s the one who makes the escape when she, Luke, Chewy and Han are cornered by Stormtroopers.
Obi-Wan is the perfect leader for Luke to look up to, and his death is one of the most iconic moments in Star Wars history, as it’s a vital moment for Luke in terms of growing as a character. It also sets up Yoda really well in the next film, as the absence of Obi-Wan emphasizes that need for a new teacher who will take Luke to the next level.
Overall, the character design, dynamics between characters, as well as the back stories and motives of each character in the Star Wars universe is so well put together to tell this great science fiction, fantasy epic in a way that grounds it in a one-of-a-kind character study.
John Williams’ Score
If you haven’t paid attention to the score in the Star Wars films; if you haven’t gone out there and listened to it while driving or gymming, or cooking a great meal, I feel really sorry for you. But there’s not much I can say about this score that can’t be communicated better if you just gave it a listen. So here’s the main Star Wars theme conducted by John Williams himself…
As you can see, in contrast to my reviews for the prequel trilogy films, I have a hell of a lot of good things to say about the original trilogy. However, there are a few short points of criticism, as it goes with any film.
While the space ships and battles do hold up, as well as the interiors of various spacecraft, the actual lightsaber battles don’t look that great. I’m referring mainly to the one between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, or even when Luke is practicing with his lightsaber on the way yo Alderaan.
The cool thing that kind of makes this better is that lightsaber battles are more about the conversation than they are about the physical battle. That sounds boring, but it’s actually not. Obi-Wan sacrifices himself during his battle with Darth Vader as part of a greater good, while Luke learns about The Force and the way of the Jedi as he practices, conversing all the while with Obi-Wan, asking questions and taking mental notes. Every other lightsaber battle is accompanied by some form of conversation that takes the battle to a higher level, making it so much more than a physical action.
And guess what? Just like that I have no other criticisms for this film. Sure many people have criticized how everything just happens to fit together, and if you’re keen on reviewing a list of things wrong with A New Hope (from a satirical point of view) I suggest you watch the Cinema Sins video below…
These videos are always pretty fun and nit-picky as hell, and often don’t make sense for the most part, but are still a lot of fun to watch.
Don’t forget to check back for some more Star Wars reviews over the coming days as we bring you reviews for Empire Strikes Back as well as Return of the Jedi. In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and don’t forget to share this post if you enjoyed this review.
In case you didn’t know, here at BTG Lifestyle we’re reviewing all Star Wars movies as we build up to The Force Awakens. Click on the links below to read our reviews for the Prequel Trilogy:
Check out the trailer for Star Wars Episide IV: A New Hope below:
The IMDB Synopsis for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope reads as follows:
“Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the universe from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader.”