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April 25, 2012

7

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

by Franz Patrick


Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
★★★★ / ★★★★

A young farmer named Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) found out that one of the two robots, R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), his uncle purchased contained a message from Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), one of the rebels who wanted to bring down the evil Empire, seeking help from a former Jedi knight named Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness). She was captured by Darth Vader (David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones) and was ordered to reveal the location of other rebels. Failure to do so on her part meant termination. Luke, Obi-Wan, and the two robots hired a mercenary named Han Solo (Harrison Ford), along with his friend Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), to infiltrate the Death Star, capable of destroying an entire planet, and save the princess. Written by directed by George Lucas, “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” was an ambitious and exciting picture, worthy of the reputation of being one of the most influential films ever made. I was impressed with the risks it took right from the beginning. For the first ten to fifteen minutes, we were asked to pay attention to the two robots. One of them could speak but other could only utter beeps and whistles. Somehow, the material was able to get away with it because, despite the two being non-living objects, they had chemistry. I’m doubtful if such a risk could be taken today and be as successful. I enjoyed that we were immediately taken in the middle of the warring members of the Empire and rebel groups. Background information were mostly revealed through conversations. Not only did it feel organic, it was efficient with its time. Although there was weakness in the dialogue at times like when Han Solo and Princess Leia would get into cheesy and sometimes cringe-inducing arguments, the tirades happened in the middle of action-packed sequences so it almost felt negligible. I especially liked the scene when the protagonists plunged into a garbage chute. We were led to believe that the threat was the creature that lived in there. It turned out that it was the least of their worries because the walls eventually started closing in. Lucas’ signature direction was always present. Every room revealed new surprises that ranged from soldiers of the Empire just waiting for a target to interesting- and tired-looking aliens just having a drink in the middle of the day in a hot desert town. The energy was palpable as if The Force, the spiritual energy in which the Jedi believed to bind everything in universe, compelled us to fixate our eyes on the screen. The first entry of the “Star Wars” saga was a prime example of the level of success a film could have when there was synergy among special and visual effects, an absorbing story, and adrenaline-fueled adventure of epic proportions.

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 25 2012

    Before reading this article, it had never occured to me that something like star wars episode 4 could even be reviewed. I suppose i always thought of it as something like the Illiad, or the Tempest; it’s been around forever and everyone knows it’s greatness. I was therefore shocked and delighted to see someone write a review a plot synopsis for it.

    Reply
    • Apr 25 2012

      I review pretty much all movies I watch except short films, so no movie goes unscathed. Haha. You can bet Episodes V and VI will be posted eventually.

      Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  2. Apr 28 2012

    Franz,

    I’ll be brief on this: The Star Wars films (conveniently ignoring the later ones, I’m referring to 4-6 as a collective entity) have never really excited me. I like their well-conceived universe and the way they have influenced film history, but to me all of them feel somewhat dated today. The humor is often clunky (although the R2-D2/3-CPO dynamic is charming) , the acting uneven (Hammill etc), and the special effects, while groundbreaking for its time, look their age by now. But it’s not like I turn them off if they come on the TV.

    Reply
    • Apr 28 2012

      Yep, I understand that the series may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But having seen the series about five to ten times, restricted to IV, V, and VI, I just feel the sheer LOVE of everyone involved in it. Everything is so energetic and episodic, I don’t even think about the dated special and visual effects. (I even love the laser beams that make sounds when released in space!) In fact, I dare movies of today to replicate the “dated-ness” of the effects in these films. I don’t think they can do it without looking silly.

      If I could go back in time to watch movies upon their releases, one of them would be “A New Hope” for sure.

      Reply
      • Apr 29 2012

        Franz,

        I think we agree general on this, I just sense that these films were much more formative to your love of movies than they were to me (that is certainly not meant as a slight, 1) since you share that millions of others, and 2) because we all have our highly personal and subjective ways into movie obsession).

        If I could choose one movie to watch at its intitial release, I think I would have chosen “Apocalypse Now!”, not least because Coppola’s own suppsed misgivings about the ending – which was misinterpreted into him dismissing the entire final third of the movie – led to a mixed critical reaction. I hope I would have been able to recognize it as the masterpiece it is (and has become, seeing as I actually think the “Redux” version is the better one.)

        Reply
    • May 3 2012

      That’s an interesting choice. I’ve only seen the “Redux” version and I remember there was something about it that went beyond telling a war picture. It was more psychological than what I anticipated. When I get some extra free time, at some point I’d like to watch the original version and the 2001 version back-to-back.

      Reply
  3. Feb 8 2017

    If I could choose one movie to watch at its intitial release, I think I would have chosen “Apocalypse Now!”, not least because Coppola’s own suppsed misgivings about the ending – which was misinterpreted into him dismissing the entire final third of the movie – led to a mixed critical reaction. I hope I would have been able to recognize it as the masterpiece it is (and has become, seeing as I actually think the “Redux” version is the better one.)

    Reply

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