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Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

A New Hope

What can anyone write about Star Wars that hasn't already been said? I don't know, but I am willing to try because I couldn't be more excited about The Force Awakens coming out in a little over a month. As part of that I really want to write a bit about my relationship with the original trilogy and what makes it special in my mind. I started by sitting down and watching A New Hope for what feels like the 100th time this afternoon. My mind automatically goes to wondering what did Lucas do so right in this film that he got so wrong in the prequels. The first thing that is fantastic is the world building. The shear amount of imagination that goes into the ships, weapons, characters, and planets in this world boggles the mind. Nearly forty years later all these things have just become a part of the tapestry of our lives. As I was watching today I tried to pay special attention to the aesthetics of the film and that alone is enough to make A New Hope a cinema changing film. When I was a kid the scenes that always stuck out to me were the ones with the most imaginative characters. I loved Mos Eisley cantina, and I still do. The Walrus, Greedo, and the elephant looking guy that gives up Luke and Obi-Wan. These were the things that stuck in my mind. They were very small parts of the film but they were the action figures I wanted the most and the characters me and my friends talked about. After seeing this movie so many times it is still the scene that makes me sit up a little but straighter in my seat and pay closer attention. Lucas put such care into the details of this world and that is a big reason it resonates so strongly with so many.

I also think that Lucas has a great eye for creating memorable set pieces. One of my favorite scenes in A New Hope, and probably the whole trilogy, is the scene in the trash compactor. This comes when Luke and Han have just rescued Leia. They are heavily outnumbered so they make a quick escape into a trash chute. I don't think this scene lasts more than ten minutes and it is definitely not integral to the plot, but it is just so damn cool. When Han shoots off his blaster and Luke chastises him. The creature they have to kill. There are just so many small things in these set pieces that make each one memorable and stick out for different reasons.

I really like how tight of a story A New Hope is. The film just flies by. We really just spend time in three main spots in the first film and I think that is a fantastic way to introduce this world. We aren't given too much of anything. Just enough to become immersed and be intrigued by the characters. I really believe Lucas is someone who works better when he has restrictions. I don't know how much time constraint he had making A New Hope but we do know he was under budget constraints. The movie is the better for it. When he is allowed to tinker he definitely over thinks things.A New Hope works because everything is propelled forward quickly. Proof of this is that Lucas added absolutely nothing to the narrative of Star Wars with his new cuts. I don't despise everything like some, besides that Jabba scene, but I don't find anything extra in his new cuts either. You can't mention Star Wars without mentioning the score. Getting John Williams to do what he did with these films is amazing. There is probably not a more iconic score in film. I get goose bumps every time I start up one of these movies.

A New Hope is not a perfect movie. When watching it I can see why people could be turned off by it. I find the shootouts to be pretty poor action sequences overall. The script really isn't very good. Hamill and Fisher came into their own as their characters moved forward and they became more comfortable with them. However, in A New Hope they really are not very good. The very simple story and straight forward storytelling that I consider a strength could also be considered a weakness if you are not on board with this world. I just happen to have loved it from day one so all these things don't bother me in the least. I wish everyone could get the joy out of A New Hope that I do, but I certainly understand why some don't.

My five favorite things about A New Hope:

5) The Falcon swooping in and helping Luke blast that wamp rat. I don't remember if I saw it coming when I saw the film at such a young age but it doesn't matter because it still gives me chills and puts a smile on my face every time.

4) Luke and Han in StormTrooper suits. They are in them for a while and a lot of fun stuff happens while they are. I like it because it is an iconic image and starts the Luke-Han friendship off with a bang. Lots of butting heads but ultimately coming together for a common goal.

3) Mos Eisley Cantina. I love this sequence. It has so many great creatures, really cool music, and of course our introduction to the man who always shoots first.

2) Trash Compactor. I mentioned this above and I simply love the sequence. I think it has the best interactions between the three in the film.

1) Obi-Wan going down like a bad ass. This has always been one of my favorite Star Wars moments. Obi-Wan doesn't get killed. He goes down like a god. The greatest end Lucas could have given to one of my favorite characters.