Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)


So I think it is pretty much assured that this movie is going to get an A+from me. It’s not my favourite film in the series (that is coming up next), but it is still one of the finest world building films of all time.

It would have been so easy for George Lucas and his space opera to end up being a box office killing joke, but something about this story connected with the public. Star Wars very easily sucks you into this world and does not let you leave– and who would want to? It’s got everything you could want – eager farmboys, roguish space pirates, a hot princess and a wise old wizard brandishing a laser sword that doesn’t take any crap from anyone.

Even now, after watching it hundreds of times, it can still have me glued to the screen. When the final attack on the Death Star is happening, there is enough drama and emotion to keep me on the edge of my seat, even though I know exactly what is going to happen. I think that is the magic of this storytelling. Lucas may have lost a bit of his prowess when he made the prequels, but when he made this film he was at the top of his game. The characters are engaging, you root for the heroes and you boo the villains. It sounds simple, and fair enough, today it probably is. Mostly because every film maker has attempted to copy Lucas and have their own Star Wars. But I am yet to see this series equaled, let alone surpassed, and it all started right here with the release of Star Wars. A movie that was expected to crash and burn at the box office ended up becoming a cultural phenomenon that I don’t think even its most ardent supporter could have envisioned.

Most of the complaints about this film don’t come from the actual film, but from all the tinkering that Lucas has done with it since its release. Now I’m not going to defend them all (Han shooting first still irks me, as does the poor CGI in the Jabba scene), but for the most part, I don’t have too many problems with the rest of those changes. I have seen the original release and the effects are not great. They have not aged well and I feel like updating some of the space battle scenes in particular was a smart thing to do. It made the film accessible to a whole new generation of fans. Kids that would ordinarily have been turned off by dodgey looking 70s effects were now able to enjoy this rip roaring fantasy for what it is: The best series ever made.

I love Star Wars and I make no apologies for that. The world it created is one that I am happy to jump into time and again. The brash heroes, the fearsome villains and the unusual assortment of aliens and robots make this fantasy epic great, but what elevates it to being more than a movie is the mythos it creates. The stories of Jedi and lightsabres from a galaxy far, far away are so enthralling, you can’t help but enjoy it. Look away at your peril, this is A grade quality entertainment.

Rating: A+

Look, I know what you’re thinking. Ben is going to give this movie an A+, and if I don’t also rate it highly this marriage is over. While that’s probably true, I can honestly say that my review is not being written under duress. I genuinely love A New Hope.

I don’t remember the first time I watched Episode IV, but it made a huge impression on me. My sister and I were probably around six and nine, respectively, and it quickly became one of our favorite movies. We owned the 1995 VHS re-release of original trilogy (some of the few non-Disney films we had), we staged light saber battles with pool noodles in the lake, Sister played those two cantina songs on the soundtrack CD a million times, my dad started calling me “Your Worship.” It truly was a family affair (which is weird, because my parents are much more Star Trek people, but we’ll eventually get to that).

Sometimes I watch movies I loved as a kid and struggle to remember what I loved about them. Star Wars I still get. Yes, the special effects were cool and I’ve always liked an adventure story. But the real attraction for me then (and now) were the characters and humor.

I could write pages and pages about the impact Princess Leia has had on my life. It wasn’t until Carrie Fisher reprised her iconic role in 2015 that I really started to unpack my feelings about the actress and character, something that’s only intensified since Fisher’s death. I strongly suspect that I’ve unknowingly tried to model much of my personality on Princess Leia. She’s sharp-tongued, outspoken and quick with a barb. She wants to make a difference in the galaxy, and is fiercely loyal to the causes she believes in. Even as I aspired to these traits, I also saw myself in Leia’s impetuous nature and smoldering fury.

Leia is me. And I am absolutely going to cry my eyes out during Episode VIII. Someone remind me to bring tissues to the theater.

I was also drawn to Han Solo, and not just for the fact that the role is played by my perpetual Hollywood crush, Harrison Ford. I liked the sarcastic way he seemed to brush off everything and everyone. On the days when I’m absolutely done with this world and hate the entire human population, my inner Han Solo starts rolling his eyes and building walls. But just like him, I can always be reached by my true friends.

The argument can be made that A New Hope is not exactly original. It’s a typical hero’s quest, set in outer space instead of firmly on planet Earth. But the magic is all in the characters. Every time Ben puts this movie on (which is very often), I find myself sucked in all over again. It’s one of the few films that I’ll keep watching even if he falls asleep or goes to bed before it’s finished. I’ve probably watched it a thousand times, and I still find joy in a galaxy far, far away. I hope that never changes.

Rating: A

2 thoughts on “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

  1. Pingback: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

  2. Pingback: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) | From The Abyss to Zoolander

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