Overview: In George Lucas’ introduction to the Star Wars universe, an unaware farm boy (Luke Skywalker) reluctantly begins a destined journey to learn the ways of the Force in order to defeat the evil Galactic Empire. 1977; 20th Century Fox; rated PG; 121 minutes.
The Beginning Of It All: The Star Wars franchise has transcended generations of movie making, which is evident in the recent revival of the series as nearly the entire original cast is reuniting for Episode VII. Although prequels have since been released, this movie is really where it all began. A New Hope (originally just Star Wars) led the way along with the likes of Jaws, in defining the term blockbuster as we know it today. This movie remains one of the highest grossing films of all time, and with good reason. It was with an overwhelming nostalgia that I rewatched this movie. Although I have the VHS (for you youngsters, magical vessels of yore wherein movies resided in the dark days before DVD) versions of the original trilogy and catch different chunks of the movies on Spike TV practically weekly, it’s been years since I viewed this entire film in one sitting. I was immediately transported to my dad’s living room, where he prided himself in educating me on old movies everyone should see at least once (Jaws, Psycho, Indiana Jones, The Sound of Music). But Star Wars – this was something special. The universe George Lucas created was absolutely fascinating, and it awakened my inherent love of fantasy and adventure. As a young girl I wanted to be Princess Leia (my dad was at a total loss when it came to my hair styling requests to that end), and I yearned to be in this world with these amazing creatures. Also, Darth Vader gave me nightmares.
The Dark Side: Seriously. Vader (David Prowse/voiced by James Earl Jones) scared me shitless. The introduction of one of the most iconic villains of all time paints him as a ruthless killing machine with serious anger issues. In A New Hope, we have yet to be enlightened on Vader’s past. He hasn’t been humanized in the eyes of the audience, and our only knowledge of this man/machine with the booming, powerful voice is that he killed our hero’s father and he’s pure evil. Vader also provides us with the first glimpse of how truly powerful the Force is, with the ability to choke someone to death without even touching them (seriously, nightmares).
Creature Cantina: The magic of Lucas’ Star Wars largely lies in its ability to completely draw us into its universe. And the most special thing about this universe is the characters that inhabit it. From droids bursting with personality to everyone’s favorite Wookie, humans find themselves in the minority throughout most of this movie. We’re fully introduced to the vastness of this universe in the famous “creature cantina”. This scene encapsulates the fantasy joyride viewers are about to embark on as well as a warning to not judge a book by its cover when determining the good guys from the bad guys.
A Final “Note”: A discussion on the beauty of this introductory film can’t be complete without a mention of the movie’s score. Star Wars music is iconic. Even those who have never seen any of the movies are familiar with the Imperial March. John Williams nails every aspect of the music for A New Hope and the rest of the films. From conveying the intimidation in the first glimpse at Darth Vader to reckless excitement in the creature cantina, this soundtrack guides and reflects the emotions of the viewer at every turn.