Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) Directed by George Lucas. With Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness.
With anything in life, there’s a catalyst for why something happens. My passion as a film fan and moreover, the reason why I write this blog can be traced back to one film experience that changed my life. That film, George Lucas’ Star Wars.
Firstly, I’ve never been happy calling it ‘A New Hope‘. To me, that is the name it took on when it began to expand into something else entirely. Of course, the release of the ‘Special Edition’ in 1997 was to see far more controversial changes to the actual film, changes that continue to annoy some fans to this day. Even with Lucas’ brand of CGI graffiti this is so more than just a silly space film. Oh, and Han most definitely shot first!
Star Wars is Luke Skywalker’s adventure. A young farmboy on a remote planet is plunged into a galactic war. In a nutshell, that’s the plot.
Those resistant to its undoubted charms, complain that there’s no story, or that Mark Hamill’s acting is a bit weak. The truth is, there’s a beautiful fairytale simplicity to the story that cuts through with the most stunningly imagined realisation of a universe ever put on screen. It’s easy to take for granted the lasting impact of Star Wars – to attribute its appeal to the tastes of fan-boys locked in their bedrooms with life-size cardboard standees of Princess Leia and co. As we well know, it’s infinitely more far-reaching than that. With its potent mix of mysticism, the struggle of good vs evil and cool spaceships, Star Wars is the cultural phenomenon that changed the landscape of cinema history.
Along the way, the naive but plucky Skywalker (Hamill) meets a host of characters so familiar in pop culture, that we’ve almost forgotten where they originated. With such a broad mix of personality, the film is filled with eruptions of organic chemistry as they clash and banter their way through one adventure to the next. As Han Solo, Harrison Ford’s wry, mocking delivery sparks perfectly against Carrie Fisher’s sarcastic comebacks while as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Alec Guinness brings a gravitas that arms the narrative with an overarching weight of mystery.
Then there’s Darth Vader. There has arguably never been a better villain in the history of cinema. His imposing, wordless entrance still sends chills not just for the character’s sinister grace, but for what he has come to represent. With that, Star Wars doesn’t waste a single second of screen time. Who can forget the ‘Cantina’, the emotional hit of the ‘binary sunset’, the Obi-Wan Vs Vader lightsaber duel, the first jump to hyperspace, the calculating cruelty of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, the bickering droids and that finale!? All of that and so, so much more.
There are many reasons why I still love Star Wars, but they don’t just have their foundations in childhood. When I watch it today, it still resonates with a vital energy, supported by an absolute masterpiece of a musical score. Just like Luke Skywalker feels the power of the force, you can feel the power of joy leaping off the screen. It’s not hard to fall in love with something that makes you feel this good.