Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Release Year: 1977
Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness, James Earl Jones, Peter Cushing, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse
Rating: Won 6 Oscar: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Score. Won 1 Special Achievement Oscar for Sound Effects. Nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor: Alec Guinness, Best Original Screenplay. Won 1 Golden Globe: Best Original Score. Nominated for 3 Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Alec Guinness).
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #76, week 48 2015
Young farm worker Luke Skywalker joins forces with an old Jedi knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee, and two droids in order to save the universe from the Empire’s new and powerful battle-station and rescue the princess Leia.
It is hard to imagine a time in which George Lucas’s original Star Wars was a standalone film without any of the lore, backstory, and fandom, which has accumulated in the many years since, surrounding it. Being a part of that original cinema audience must be a treasured memory for those who loved it, but even now, almost 40 years later, Episode IV, as it is known now, is, in its own right, what it was back then: a pretty darn good space adventure with lots of heart. The story open in medias res with one of the most iconic villains in film history, Darth Vader, boarding the spacecraft on which Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is smugling sensitive information to the resistance. From the get go, Vader’s powerful presence and Leia’s unquenchable feistiness is established and thanks to the short introduction, none are confused as to what’s at stake. Speaking of the famous explanatory text floating into space, the creed is usually ”show, don’t tell”, but in the case of Star Wars it is excusable. We really don’t need to see the background story of the rise of the Empire and the resistance, because the film isn’t really about that. More than anything it is the story of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and how circumstances forces him to abandon his home and join in the fight against the Empire, which puts him on the path of becoming a Jedi knight. The Jedi element and the mystic quality surrounding “the force” adds a medieval quality to the film, one of the many things that makes this fantasy rather than sci-fi. To help him learn the ways of the Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) takes him under his wings. Despite reputedly regretting ever agreeing to do Star Wars and loathing his own performance, Guinness (The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957) delivers a great performance and is one of the best thing about A New Hope. Apart from Skywalker and Obi-Wan, the film is riddled with great characters, but Harrison Ford’s Han Solo takes the prize. Ford (Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981) is great as the sarcastic pilot who gets involved solely because of the salary. Together with his wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca they add another dimension to the film which shifts the action of the second half into a higher gear. With great production design and John Williams’s iconic and beautiful score this space-set western/epic is great fun and engaging action with characters that will endure for many years to come. Highly recommended.
Writer/Director George Lucas was so sure the film would flop that instead of attending the premiere he went on holiday in Hawaii with his friend Steven Spielberg where they came up with the idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
One the reasons Lucas was certain Star Wars would flop had to do with a private screening he held for some of his director friend. Most of them felt it wouldn’t do well, including Brian de Palma who called it “the worst movie ever”. The only one to disagree was Spielberg who rightly predicted the film would make millions.
Stunt doubles were not used in the scene in which Luke (Mark Hamill) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) swing to safety. The two actors performed the stunt themselves and did it in one take.
Picture Copyright: Disney