Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope introduces audiences to the vast and expansive world of Star Wars, the characters within it, and the historic story that began it all – bringing about a cultural shift in cinema so massive that it fundamentally changed how we tell stories to this day.
Following the story of Luke Skywalker and his companions, A New Hope follows this rag-tag group of ruffians as they fight against the forces of evil and discover a hidden power behind it all.
Taking into account the fact that this is indeed one of the most beloved trilogies of all time, looking at this film from a perspective of non-bias is no easy task considering the impact it has had on most movie-lovers. This film did something that few movies have ever done, it transported you to a new world, a new universe, a new outlook on how we make movies. As for this film in itself, it truly is a beautiful piece of cinema with every element that feels Star Wars and only a few minor flaws. Even critics back in the 1970’s could recognize it wasn’t perfect, but it was coming damn close to it.
In terms of story, the film spends considerable amounts of time setting up characters and exposition for many of the mysteries behind its fantastical lore. For many of those who know nothing about Star Wars, these were rich and interesting details to learn, this is simply something I cannot gripe, however what I did notice was that Luke as a character in this film felt unestablished and emotionless at times. Whenever a monumentally life changing event transpired, Luke had very little of a reaction to it, moving on immediately from it without second thoughts. This character flaw was likely due to Lucas not knowing quite how he wanted to establish his hero, though Luke gets far better as the series continues, it remains as a small scratch on a perfect vinyl. Another aspect was the film’s slow pacing in the first act, almost exclusively focussing on the journey of CP30 and R2D2 becomes tiresome as you aren’t learning new things in that time.
Performance wise, it is clear that Mark Hamil has the skills to do intense emotion, but in this character, he simply isn’t given many opportunities to show remorse or real intensity until the second film came along. Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford both offer great roles in this, with Carrie showing some nice range and Ford adding a comedic layer – they feel far more in character than Luke does, only when Hamil is allowed to fully emotionalize Luke as a character do you get some of the best acting of the franchise.
This film was visually stunning in almost every aspect, from its deeply authentic cinematography on real locations, to the jaw-dropping practical effects throughout, I struggle to find a single film that compares in organically mixing practical effects with a world. Stunning costumes, props, sets, and miniatures are what make this film a source of inspiration for artists all over the world.
George Lucas created something wondrous, though the film isn’t perfect as a story, in the end this is one part of the trilogy that is monumental as a whole. A New Hope does have some small issues with fully defining its lead hero, it is otherwise the perfect entrance into the fantasy world that changed our real world, forever.