George Lucas’ Star Wars (later re-titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope), the first installment in an ever-expanding saga, is just as fresh and lively as ever. It has become ingrained in our minds as not just a film, but a friend. For many of us, A New Hope was our first experience in a “galaxy far, far away”, and with any luck, will continue to be for many generations.
Mark Hamill stars as wannabe rebel Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is propelled into a life-changing journey when he crosses C-3PO and R2-D2 (the droids carrying the plans). Luke then must return the droids to Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). With the aid of Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness), Luke then hires space pirate Han Solo (played by the brilliantly cynical Harrison Ford) and the mighty Wookiee, Chewbacca ( Peter Mayhew). Together, the unlikely crew must travel to the Death Star to rescue Leia from the evil Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) and the menacing Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones).
George Lucas and Industrial Light and Magic are top-notch in their practical and special effects. These effects were absolutely phenomenal, and some of the practical effects are still great by today’s standards. The spaceships look real and believable, the costumes are iconic, and so many of the creatures look better than many of the CGI heavy types that pollute contemporary film. Of course, not every single background character looks 100% convincing, but so many others do that it is extremely forgivable. The space battles are a great deal of fun, as are the lightsaber fights, and both look very convincing for the time.
The music and the locations for this iconic tale are iconic themselves. John Williams gives cinema one of its most easily recognizable scores in history with this film (You’d be hard pressed to find someone who has never heard the theme song). The locations that were used throughout this film are gorgeous. The desert planet of Tatooine is so vast and bare that it is easy to find yourself lost in introspective thoughts, much like the young Luke Skywalker staring deeply at the two suns. Other great locations are the Mos Eisley Space Port, the Death Star, and Yavin IV.
Arguably the driving force of the film, its characters. Luke Skywalker is a young moisture farmer who wants nothing more than to leave his dull life and join the war against the Empire. He is our main character who we relate to, mainly due to the fact that we’ve all wondered what our place in the world is. Although Luke is young and slightly irritating, he has enough heart for the whole cast. Ben Kenobi was once a Jedi Knight, who trained both Vader and Luke’s father, and plans on teaching Luke the ways of the force. Princess Leia is the strong, independent princess of Alderaan, and is a member of the Rebel Alliance. When it comes down to it, she is the glue that holds the band of misfits together. Han Solo is the cocky comic relief, who has a heart of gold that’s easy to see, no matter how stark he’d like to be. In many ways, Han is the breakout character. He’s rough and unpolished, but he’s the one the audience will be rooting for, along with his Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca. C-3PO serves as the know-it-all of the gang, and is humorously foiled by the beeping R2-D2, who happens to carry the MacGuffin known as the Death Star plans.
However, there is one character that will most likely stick with the audiences for a lifetime, Darth Vader. Vader is a large, menacing, cyborg, who is strong with the force. Vader is not only a mere villain, but an extremely powerful villain who is willing to harm Imperial officers when angered. It is explained that Vader is the former apprentice of Ben Kenobi, until he betrayed Ben and murdered Luke’s father some time ago. Between his soulless mask and his powerful voice, it’s easy to see why Darth Vader is remembered as one of cinema’s greatest villains.
Groundbreaking and unforgettable, Star Wars is a timeless film that is perhaps as influential as Citizen Kane. There is plenty of heart, action, and lovable characters to not only satisfy, but hopefully wow moviegoers. Star Wars is a great technological advancement that introduced the world to massive franchises and will always be remembered dearly in the world of film.