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

You’ve heard of Star Wars, yes? Good. Now, while Star Wars today is this gigantic franchise with its own convention, a library-size canon, and a toy line-up unlike any other, it all started with George Lucas writing and pitching Star Wars to United Artist and Universal Pictures with them both declining to produce and make the film with Lucas.

Now, I’ve stated multiple times that I believe Star Wars, or A New Hope as it is now called, was the very first feature-length live-action film I saw. I absolutely love the franchise, the world – and that is mainly due to the original trilogy, which I am reviewing in the months leading up to Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

But Star Wars has hurt me, and a lot of fans, over time. Now, while I don’t hate the special edition version of the original trilogy, I absolutely despised the prequels for quite a while. I do think that I liked them in the beginning, but, over time, I found weaknesses in the prequels – and, to be perfectly honest, I have a tough time watching Attack of the Clones, especially.

However, I don’t think that all of the prequels are bad films. I’ve actually grown to like Revenge of the Sith quite a bit. And you should have seen me when I read that Disney and Lucasfilm were doing a new trilogy. So, with that out of the way, let’s get to the review of the film that started it all – Star WarsA New Hope.

The very first film in the franchise is so interesting to look back at, knowing that studios passed on the project, and that great directors initially did not like the film. The cultural impact of Star Wars simply cannot be overestimated – this was one of the films that changed filmmaking and Hollywood for better or worse. And it is absolutely amazing.

Simply put, the original Star Wars is a coming-of-age story set in a galaxy far, far away. We follow Luke Skywalker of Tatooine (played by Mark Hamill), who is looking for the mysterious Obi-Wan Kenobi due to Luke’s two new droids. Suddenly his world is turned upside down, as his aunt and uncle are killed, and he goes on an adventure with a smuggler, an old Jedi, and a Wookie. They hit a few bumps in the road, though, and are thrown into a battle between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance.

Now this quick description doesn’t really include one of the very best characters in the universe – Princess Leia (played by Carrie Fisher). Leia sent R2-D2, an astromech droid, to Tatooine, and thus she is the catalyst for the story to unfold. For a while, Leia acts as a damsel in distress, but she is so much more than just that. Leia is actually a strong female character, and that is one of the things I love this film for. Of the three main characters, Leia is, without a doubt, the smartest – and the antithesis to the irresponsible smuggler, Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford).

Star Wars was a hit, and actually received quite a lot of nominations for the Academy Awards, including one that I’m actually not sure I agree with. Obi Wan Kenobi is a very important character in the Star Wars universe, and Sir Alec Guinness delivers a solid performance, but I don’t think that the acting performances are significant strengths of this film. While the actors did a good job, the characters are simply brilliant – which was the key to success.

Star Wars: A New Hope ended up winning 7 Academy Awards, and was actually nominated for Best Picture. I speculate that if Annie Hall were not from the same year as Star Wars, then George Lucas’s franchise would have gone away with maybe 9 awards that year – but I digress.

This film was absolutely revolutionary, and provided a look at how you could make these gigantic space epics. Even today, while you notice that the effects aren’t up to date, you never feel that the effects fail to hold up.

Star Wars has a great story, brilliant characters – and George Lucas crafted a spectacular world – but the greatest strength of this film is something rather different. The score is absolutely breathtaking. While the main theme is spectacular, I always return to the binary sunset scene with the most awe – beautiful scene, spectacular music. Without John Williams, Star Wars would not be the same.

Final Score: 9.5 out of 10 – The original Star Wars was the beginning of a new theatre experience, and one of the most culturally important films of all-time.

I’m Jeffrey Rex