STAR WARS: EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE
Following on from celebrating May the 4th (May the Force – get it?) with about a billion other Star Wars fans across the globes, I thought about doing some posts and having my say on each film.
I’m no film critic. But I can tell you what I thought worked and didn’t work in each film. And I thought I’d start in the order that I saw them, so the original trilogy and then the prequels. The argument over whether to watch the prequels first or not, will be a moot point in years to come when future generations only know to watch Episode I first.
Sigh… So it goes.
Anyway, thoughts on A New Hope. I first saw this in 1997 when it was re-released as a Special Edition. This film has been so over-analysed over the years, not to mention the dumb ‘Han Shoots First’ argument that doesn’t quite make sense to me. Having seen the Special Edition’s first, I have no opinion on whether the Original Version is better than the version George tinkered with. How can I? It is as it is.
You all know the story. In a nutshell: Droids land on Tatooine with plans to the Death Star. They fall in with Luke Skywalker, who in turn falls in with Ben Kenobi – Jedi Knight. They go to Mos Eisley space-port, where they employ Han Solo and Chewbacca to fly them to Alderran. Trouble is when they get to Alderran it’s already been destroyed by the Death Star. They then get pulled in by the Death Star (That’s no moon… that’s a space station!) and two things happen. First, Luke, Han and Chewie go and save Princess Leia. Secondly, Kenobi takes on Darth Vader and sacrifices himself to allow Luke et al to escape the Death Star. Our little band of heroes flee to the secret headquarters of the rebellion and deliver the plans to the Death Star. A strike-force of rebellion fighters takes off to intercept the incoming Death Star. Lots of the guys die (including a fat pilot call – appropriatley enough – ‘Porkins’) apart from Luke and Wedge. Luke fires the lucky shot, the remaining fighters pull away from the massive Death Star moments before it explodes. Darth Vader is seen spinning away into space. Then we end with a weird wedding scene (haha).
Obviously don’t take my account of the story for granted. And for the record, there’s no way you are reading this without having seen A New Hope. Surely everyone has?
I always like the opening of the film, the droids going their seperate ways yet finding themselves thrown back together again. When you watch Hidden Fortress, you see how much Lucas took from Kurosawa. Anyway, the introduction of Kenobi is great, and Guinness in my eyes is the real star of the film. Who doesn’t love Luke, Han, Leia and Chewie? But Kenobi is the powerful, sabre-wielding granddad you always wanted, isn’t he? And bless Alec Guinness for putting so much into his performance, in a film where he gets killed off 2/3’s of the way through.
I was never really fond of the prison escape stuff, and the trash compactor (it was much better executed in Temple of Doom when the room with the spikes is coming down on Indy and Short Round) but the back-and-forth between Vader and Tarkin is great, as is the moment when Kenobi willingly allows Vader to ‘Strike Me Down’ and disappears, seemingly, into thin air.
And who couldn’t love the final sequence against the Death Star itself with the clock ticking down before it can fire at the rebel hide-away, destroying with it any chance the Galaxy has at survival?
I love all of the Star Wars films, I really do. But I have to admit that A New Hope isn’t my favourite. To me, it suffers a little bit from the same emotional detachment and stilted dialogue that was present in the prequels. Perhaps that is how Lucas really sees the films, as wooden serial flicks. I don’t know. I think if A New Hope had had a bit of the gut and heart that Empire would have, several years later, it would be a much better instalment.
A New Hope is the best entry-point for the series, since it was the first film to come out and lays out so much of the mythology… but in my opinion it’s not the best entry – despite some great moments.