In a galaxy far, far away when George Lucas didn’t fiddle with his own creation, things were pretty good. So good in fact that the original trilogy still stands the test of time, as Episode IV: A New Hope illustrates.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
(USA 1977, director: George Lucas)
Young farmer Luke Skywalker is drawn into the war between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire when two droids make him meet Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi who wants to rescue the only hope of the rebellion in the form of Princess Leia.
It’s amazing how some movies can still impress despite advances in technology. Especially sci-fi movies can look and feel quite outdated, with the 70ies a particularly prominent example. Fortunately, the first movie (and fourth instalment in the series) is just as much fun as it was when it was released. This is mainly due to great characters like the gung-ho smuggler Han Solo, the ever-fearful droid C-3PO or soon-to-be Jedi Luke Skywalker. Even Princess Leia who first seems to be the damsel in distress and then shows her fighting skills in weapons and words is very likable, while droid R2-D2 and wookiee Chewbacca are perfect examples of how a few beeps and growls bring enough personality to the surface than other sci-fi protagonists do with all their endless talk.
The reason why the original first movie is still so entertaining to watch is that it offers the perfect balance between drama, comedy, and action. Despite a rich background story that is only partly revealed, the movie succeeds in being both epic and accessible with a plot that is easy to follow but has enough twists and surprises in store. The laser sword duels might be less exciting from today’s perspective, but the iconic sounds are just as memorable as the space fight scenes which still look great. The pacing is also perfect, with calm moments to introduce characters, frenetic blaster shootouts, and some of the weirdest aliens with their own language and customs.
Something classic sci-fi and more serious movies/series have always tried is to adhere to reality in their presentation of people and planets. A New Hope might not tell the most original story with the fight for honor and freedom under the oppression of a tyrannical force. But it has enough escapism and emotional scenes to be relevant for years to come, even if the ending feels a bit rushed and the final ceremony just too cheesy. But then again, it’s this cheesiness (of some costumes and delivery of lines as well) that makes this first entry a great movie to revisit again and again. It’s just too bad that the unaltered version fetches high prices on DVD (with a problematic aspect ratio and picture quality) and is disregarded by George Lucas himself.
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