A long time ago, before narration, there was a block of scrolling text which paradoxically moved both too fast and too slow for comfortable reading. And we ate it up. I doubt when George Lucas first pitched Star Wars: A New Hope he foresaw the tidal wave of nerds that would descend upon his personal space for decades to come. From organized stormtrooper parades to a bona fide religion called Jediism, Star Wars has had an unbelievably long-lasting influence on our culture.
For those who haven’t seen A New Hope in a decade, it doesn’t begin where you remember it beginning. Lucas includes a 20-some minute prelude before we actually meet Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and take off on his epic journey. Those 20-some minutes are devoted to two high-maintenance droids: C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker – the man inside the beeping, metal thimble). C-3PO and R2-D2 escape the clutches of theGalactic Nazis- I mean Empire, and land on Tatooine where Luke purchases them purely by coincidence from travelling Jawa traders. Upon cleaning the droids Luke discovers a message in R2-D2 meant for the local “wizard”, Old Ben/Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness). Luke tracks down Obi-Wan and, in listening to the full message, realizes that the courageous rebels fighting against the Empire are in serious trouble. It is up to the elderly Obi-Wan and whoever feels like tagging along to save the rebels’ hides. And so, in a galaxy far, far away, the adventure begins.
If you have never seen Star Wars: A New Hope (what is wrong with you?) because you think it’s only for dorks in bathrobes with glow sticks, I have to let you know, I find your lack of faith disturbing. These may not be the droids you’re looking for, but if you stretch out with your feelings, you will discover that that’s no moon.
A New Hope animates a creative brain on acid. There are more rubber alien masks than you can shake an Ewok at, plus an entire galaxy filled with space cowboys, “nearby” planets, space-turbulence, and a million languages that everyone understands. From hover-crafts to bison-mammoths, A New Hope introduces something 1977 was desperate for and embraced with ecstatic abandon when it finally appeared. Star Wars fans are the original Beliebers. While not all of the creative touches make sense (how can one be a successful farmer in the desert?) I admire the attention to detail in the numerous alien species, variety of settings, and strong plot foundation for many chapters, prequels, sequels, re-edits, spin-offs, and holiday specials to come.
A New Hope is just the beginning (or somewhere in the middle, depending on your perspective), but already we learn to love Luke for his adventurous spirit, Leia (Carrie Fisher) for her bossiness, and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) for his rough-and-tumble attitude. All three of them hop-scotch from one action scene to the next, giving us a comprehensive guide to all the reasons why firing your weapon may be a dumb idea.
I may not be the biggest Star Wars fangirl out there, but I can appreciate good storytelling when I see it. A New Hope does exactly what it’s meant to do – build excitement. As soon as the credits roll to John Williams’ impressive score you want to dig up your dusty copy of the sequel and continue the adventure. A few among us have fallen victim to the Star Wars phenomenon (“May the force be with you…” “…And also with you.”) but I say soak up the over-the-top sci-fi when it presents itself. Explosions in space? Done. A wide collection of wacky helmets? On it. A New Hope is a solid 7/10 and the spark to a movement we never saw coming.
Star Wars: A New Hope trailer.