Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

George Lucas remade one of the finest works of film master Akira Kurosawa, the Western-themed “Hidden Fortress,” with one scene (the fight in the bar) stolen from Yojimbo. Therefore, Star Wars  has a bit of the jittery discomfort of characters trying to fit into a story that wasn’t quite made for them, like people with past life experiences that intrude into the present. Kurosawa’s hero is split not into two but three heroes in Star Wars (four if you include the princess, who has a more prominent role in Star Wars. It is frankly too bad that Star Wars later fell into the hands of Disney and JJ Abrams, becoming a tool solely for cashing in, and a line item on someone’s accounting ledger, but I guess that is probably the way the wafer crumbles in Hollywood. I simply choose to ignore the boring new films…

It’s not a brilliant piece of filmmaking – lets be honest, Lucas isn’t the Shakespeare of our generation. However what it is, is a good story of good v’s evil, a western of goodies v baddies set in space. The story is simple but contains clear characters. The thing that sets it apart is the fun – the sense of wonder for kids but also the enjoyment it brings to adult. The story is good for a sci-fi with a lot of history and back-story clearly set out up front. The action scenes are mostly great – not dry effects but with a real sense of action and excitement too.

This may be the 4th part but it’s also our first chapter, it is light and enjoyable but hints that this is only part of an ongoing battle. The way it relates to kids and adults is obvious as it broke records and everyone of a certain age knows about Star Wars! The effects still look good today – in many ways the model work looks better than all digital effects simply because they are `real’ and don’t just exist within a computer. Sound effects, comedy, music – it’s all pitch perfect and sets up the rest of the series really well. It rejuvenated sci-fi in a way Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey couldn’t: because its demographic only aimed at adults.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was once such a thing as really good films, and Star Wars may be just about the greatest of them all. Without going into too much detail on the other films of the original trilogy, Star Wars may actually be the best of the three just because of its simplicity. Sure Empire takes it to a deeper level, but Star Wars is just the simple and relatable fable of Dorothy on her farm, wishing for a greater existence in life, however in Star Wars our Dorothy is Luke Skywalker, searching for his own purpose in life. We’ve all been there surely? That’s what great films are made of. Another plus is that Star Wars seems to lack the sense of importance that all of the sequels and prequels have.

This one just seeks to entertain, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Star Wars is one of those miracle motion pictures where everything went wrong but it all came together in the end, like Jaws. The film was plagued by budget problems, and Lucas was so behind schedule he suffered a few panic attacks, which is probably why he did not direct the sequels. Star Wars takes the audience on a series of adventures, from encountering sand people in the desert to rescuing a princess on a space station. The special effects and production design is amazing. It takes you into a whole new galaxy and makes you believe it’s real.

I like how everything looked old and dirty; prior to Star Wars everything in Sci-fi films looked brand new. John Williams’ score adds a whole new element of fun and is arguably the best work of his career. I can’t imagine what Star Wars would be like without his music. Some of the dialogue is embarrassing but the cast, which I can’t be bothered trying to dissect here, are able to bring the characters alive. That is the most important difference between the originals and the prequels. These characters are not complex in any way, but they have good chemistry with each other. And, in 1977, the originally titled Star Wars really felt like A New Hope. 🙂


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