Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (George Lucas, 1977)
Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Alec Guinness (Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi). Written by George Lucas. Directed by George Lucas. Rating: U. Running time: 121 minutes.
What a world (or should I say galaxy?). Just how on earth does a film make ‘names’ like C3-PO and R2-D2 become common knowledge? How do terms like ‘the force’ and a weapon called a ‘lightsaber’ pierce the minds of a generation of moviegoers? From scratch, George Lucas has created the greatest science-fiction story, sets and characters of all time. It’s impossible to describe the feelings it evokes, but this is where it all started. Seeing Harrison Ford as Han Solo feels so natural that it’s almost comforting, a sign the world hasn’t changed and everything’s going to be fine. We watch him fly through space as gloriously as the film flows from one location to the next. From the sandy deserts through which some nifty super speed transporters glide, to the spaceship (which might as well be a planet) on which that evil Lord, Darth Vader, prowls, surrounded by his laser-gun firing military squad, we get all caught up in this adventure on the ground-level, and it is dominated not just by alien faces and robots (droids), but by plenty of humans, too. These droids somehow don’t feel as foreign as they should. C3-PO especially is incredibly easy to watch and find amusing. But Star Wars ultimately works so well not because of its outrageous sets and creations, but because it is sufficiently humanised. Sometimes too much so, to the extent that it feels like an exotic soap opera. Princess Leia is just a little bit too quick to be hugging Luke to the sound of emphatic classical music, having met him only five minutes previously for the first time. Her affection for Han is also pretty melodramatic given the only conversation they have is regarding which direction to attack towards next. But ultimately, this is infinitely superior to any potential zombie characters that participate in the film like Playstation people, there solely to walk you through the plot like it’s one big game. Han, Luke, and Leia make A New Hope a ride of joy through space. This was the start of something special: a simply stunning tale of a battle against evil, in a galaxy far far away. The only question remaining is this: should Best Picture of 1977 have gone to Annie Hall?
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