Star Wars episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Nowadays, it seems impossible to talk about Science-Fiction movies without an iconic quote from Star Wars; and the incredible, seemingly unstoppable, Empire that the Saga has built over the last 40 years (and I’m not talking about the Galactic Empire!). A franchise lasting four decades, whilst becoming increasingly popular across almost every type of audience you could think of, takes a huge amount of work and success. It just so happens that ‘success’ is George Lucas’ middle name (it’s not – but it should be!). With a net worth of $70 Billion, 11 movies, 10 TV Series, more than 380 published novels and a regrettable Christmas Special (we all make mistakes); Star Wars is one of history’s most successful film franchises. Star Wars has become so successful, that it now holds the 2019 Guinness World Record for ‘Most Successful Film Merchandising Franchise’.
How ‘A New Hope’ Changed Cinema Forever
Now, 40 years later, ‘The Force’ still binds together the enormous Star Wars fanbase, more tightly than ever before. Star Wars has created unforgettable childhood memories for people of all generations. Grandparents reminisce on the first time Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones), stormed across their cinema screens with supreme power, in 1977’s ‘A New Hope’; and again for their own grandchildren, when he had his iconic rage-fuelled return in 2016 for ‘Rogue One’.
Anakin Skywalker’s treacherous road to ‘The Dark Side’, and ultimately his self-destruction, began long before we saw Podracers zoom across our screens and Ewoks hide deep within the forests of Endor. So let’s take a step back, to where one of cinema’s greatest stories began; a time where Luke was still a farm boy just “going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters”, and the name ‘Skywalker’ meant nothing to anyone.
Coming To Your Galaxy This Summer
The year is 1977; it’s summertime, and the sun is shining. People are driving downtown in their cars, Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop’ is playing on the radio, life is good. A crowd of people are lining-up outside a small cinema; boys of all ages – not a girl in sight! Above the crowd, a large poster hangs with the words ‘Star Wars! Coming To Your Galaxy This Summer’. Just another Sci-Fi movie, maybe? It’s possible. Having heard of George Lucas from the successful American Graffiti in 1973, tickets were bought, curious to know what the hype is all about. However what they didn’t realise: this movie of galactic warfare and rebellion, was about to blast them into hyperspace, like they had never experienced before!
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
STUNNED by loud theatrics, the audience are immediately met with the now-iconic opening credits of Star Wars! Reading the words as fast as possible, before they drift off deeper into space, the audience learns that during an outer-space battle, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) has stolen the plans to the Death Star from the evil Galactic Empire, to help the people of the galaxy claim back their freedom. This is the space opera storyline of dreams; a princess rebelling against an all-powerful evil Empire, outer-space battles and weapons of mass-destruction! The audience is quickly launched right into the middle of a galactic battle; laser-guns blast rapidly between evil stormtroopers and the rebellion cavalry. Good versus bad is strongly at play, but it seems as though the ‘good guys’ are almost no match for the evil that controls this galaxy (or so it seems!). Star Wars moves from strength to strength from the very first second of ‘A New Hope’, and the billion-dollar franchise is born right there and then, in a small cinema in 1977.
These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For
The development of the story depends largely on the presence of two nattering droids with clashing personalities; R2D2 (Kenny Baker) and C3PO (Anthony Daniels). R2D2’s notorious attitude makes the droid one of the most badass characters in the whole Saga (without ever saying a word). Without this droid’s courage and tenacity, the Death Star plans would have never reached Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), and the destiny of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) may never have been fulfilled! C3PO provides ‘A New Hope’ with a voice of reason and incredibly witty one-liners (and don’t forget his iconic “Oh my!”). Although this droid appears cowardly by comparison to R2D2, he still manages to enter the galaxy’s most dangerous places, to protect his friends and help the rebellion (albeit, under duress in most cases!).
You’ve Never Heard Of The Millenium Falcon?
The adventure wouldn’t be the same for the audience if it wasn’t thrown into the turbulent lives of professional smuggler, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his friend Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Together, they pilot the Millenium Falcon: the most famous spaceship in movie history, also known as “the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs!”.
Han Solo was an instant hit as the cocky, arrogant pilot who always seems to be running from a gangster who just put a bounty on his head! Han Solo’s personal adventure in ‘A New Hope’ is transitioning from being a loner on the run to dedicating his help to Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia for the greater good of the Galaxy. Han, Chewie and the Millenium Falcon became Star Wars’ most iconic trio, and 11 movies later have remained close to the epicentre of the Saga.
Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi
Through skilled X-Wing maneuvers and fearless stormtrooper crossfire, the audience watches as Luke Skywalker is thrown into hyperspeed from his simple farm life, to becoming the last surviving Jedi Knight. He quickly proves to be a crucial part in the battle against the dangerous Galactic Empire. Luke is passionate, dedicated and curious as he’s diligently taught how the Force “binds the galaxy together” by elderly Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi. After the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi at the hands of Darth Vader, Luke found himself struggling to keep with force within him. The audience are by his side, as Luke learns just how strong the Force really is, when taking the ultimate risk. The audience watches as Obi-Wan’s voice tells Luke to “trust his feelings” as he turns off his missile guidance system on his X-Wing, during the final attack on the Death Star, challenging Darth Vader.
A Tremor In The Force
Probably the most notorious villain of all time, Darth Vader, is the driving force of Star Wars and the dominant face of the ‘Dark Side’. With his own equally notorious theme music, the powerful Sith Lord commanded the screen, leaving the original 1977 audience in awe of what was to come. Darth Vader’s assertive personality was so outstanding in cinema that he was voted ‘Best Villain Of All Time’. Unlike other famous on-screen villains, the audience sees a compelling sense of wisdom and even a touch of humanity, in the iconic helmet-wearing Sith Lord. As we watch Darth Vader fearlessly endure lightsaber battles with Obi-Wan Kenobi and choke his comrades without even touching them, we learn that “the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant, next to the power of the Force”.
By the end of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Darth Vader has illustrated “the power of the Dark Side”; but with the presence of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewie and Princess Leia fighting for freedom, the audience are still left to feel “A New Hope” for the galaxy far far away.
Capturing imagination with an irresistible ‘Force’, Star Wars is without question, the most popular space adventure of all time. If you don’t believe that this is one of the best pieces of cinema history, then in the words of Darth Vader, “I find your lack of faith, disturbing”.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Darth Vader has illustrated “the power of the Dark Side”; but with the presence of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewie and Princess Leia fighting for freedom, the audience are still left to feel “A New Hope” for the galaxy far far away.
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