Now, into the second half of my Star Wars marathon leading up to the release of Rise of Skywalker. I have reached the original trilogy that started the entire saga and the film that launched the franchise. A New Hope was originally called Star Wars and it came out in May of 1977. Adjusted for inflation, it is the second highest-grossing movie of all-time behind Gone with the Wind. While this movie is more than four decades old, it still holds up as a great movie and is still entertaining to watch.
Before I discuss the film, something must be addressed. The film has many different versions as its creator, writer and director, George Lucas, has changed and added scenes to his liking throughout the years. For example, there is a scene in the later versions that show Han Solo confronting Jabba the Hutt. It’s an unnecessary scene that was added on to the original theatrical release, along with other scenes where CGI elements were added in. The review will not focus on these changes, but rather the film as a whole as the essence and story of the film stay the same.
A New Hope takes place right after Rogue One in the Star Wars timeline, although A New Hope came out 39 years before Rogue One. The Rebel Alliance has the plans for the Death Star after the Battle of Scarif and the Galactic Empire is pursuing the Alliance to retrieve the plans. Princess Leia hides the plans in R2-D2, an astromech droid and the droid and his companion, C-3PO, go on a mission to deliver a message and the plans to her father’s old ally, Obi-Wan Kenobi. While doing this, the two are inadvertently sold to a farm boy named Luke Skywalker and the journey to get the plans to the Alliance begins.
The film stars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and Harrison Ford as Han Solo. One thing to remember is before this film came out, the three of them were unknowns and did not become household names until this film blew up into what it is today. Ford, who starred in Raiders of the Lost Ark four years later, was excellent as the roguish, sarcastic smuggler and stole every scene he was in. Fisher was great as the sassy, feisty princess and was also very entertaining in the movie.
Hamill, on the other hand, struggled in his first big performance, and had a very cringe-worthy and underwhelming performance. While he would go on to make Luke Skywalker an exceptional character in the saga and would have iconic voicing roles such as the Joker and Fire Lord Ozai in the Avatar: The Last Airbender TV show, his performance in A New Hope was the weakest aspect of the movie. The line delivery was awkward and whenever he showed emotion, it was cringy to watch.
One great apsect of the movie is its immersion into its world. It is a grand set up with a war between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, but also does a great job of showing simple everyday life in this universe. While there is this battle and urgent mission to deliver plans to the Alliance, we see a scene where Luke’s aunt, Beru, making vegatables, and it helps to immerse the audience into this world. This makes this universe feel alive and makes the story that much better.
The biggest reason why this movie is such a classic is due to the look of the film and the scenes and settings the movie displays. The opening scene shows a ship flying over a planet and a massive star-destroyer chasing it. This still holds up today, and with one sequence, it establishes the might of the Empire without any dialogue. Also, the Mos Eisley Cantina scene is iconic due to the bizarre creature designs, great music and great atmosphere. It makes you feel like you are there with these characters and, rarely, have I seen a film that does this so well.
The action scenes are fantastic as well. The Death Star trench run at the end is beautifully shot and combined with a fantastic score and the movie setting it up well, the tension is very high throughout the scene. Every time there is an action scene, the score helps keep the tension flowing and adding to the grandeur of the scene.
Lastly, I have to discuss the score and music of the film. The music was composed by John Williams, and to this day, it is one of the most iconic soundtracks of any movie ever released. “Binary Sunset,” “Imperial Attack,” and “Cantina Band,” are some of the most iconic pieces of music ever in film. The score is fantastic as it does a perfect job capturing the emotion of each scene and escalating the tension of the situation. For example, with C-3PO tells Luke on Tatooine,”there are several creatures approaching from the southeast,” the music suddenly gets dramatic and it perfectly displays the terrifying situation the characters suddenly find themselves in. I would say it is my favorite score in any movie I have ever seen.
A New Hope is one of my all-time favorite movies. With a great story, incredible immersion and a legendary score, it is a timeless classic that anyone can enjoy.