Skywalker Countdown | ‘Episode IV: A New Hope’

Skywalker Countdown | ‘Episode IV: A New Hope’

Each week leading up to The Rise of Skywalker, we will be asking certain team members for their takes on every Star Wars film in chronological order. Last week, we discussed–of course–Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

(Catch up if you need. We’ll wait…) 

This week, we will unfold our thoughts on Episode IV: A New Hope, the film that started it all. Apart from kicking off a worldwide phenomenon, this production changed the film-making landscape forever. It started out as a project with little support or budget, yet still created timeless special effects and a story that will be remembered for years to come.

The film follows the young farm boy Luke Skywalker on his quest to save the galaxy from the tyrannical Galactic Empire. The love for this film is pretty much unanimous, but let’s see what our members at MoviesMatrix have to say about it specifically.

Q1. General Thoughts?

Marsellus Durden: What a monumental film in terms of film history. Truly delivering never before seen action and world building–especially in 1977. What’s not to love? I, for one, can never grow tired of the X-Wing assault on the Death Star because not only does it still hold up in 2019, it is one of the most visually exciting action sequences I’ve ever seen.

Logan Slavin: This is my favorite Star Wars movie. The story is so complete that it could have been a stand alone film, which I think was intentional. I don’t think there’s a single thing I don’t like about this film, except for the changes George Lucas made to it. The score is amazing, the characters are fun, and the action scenes are thrilling.

Owen: This isn’t my favorite in the series by any means, but wow, is it amazing. With all of the roadblocks stopping this from getting made, it’s a miracle that it even got inside theaters–let alone be this great. The story and effects are timeless, and the characters were instantly iconic. This film is more than groundbreaking; it’s historic.

Michael Colan: A New Hope still stands as one of the best Star Wars films. The classical approach to filmmaking mixes well with Lucas’s visuals. The whole movie is a wonderful mix of fantasy, western, samurai, and B-movie-type “Buck Rogers” series. With all those elements together A New Hope tells something familiar and yet something unique as well. It’s exciting, fun, heartfelt, and wonderful. I don’t know what else you could want?

WriteOnGeek: No one knew at the time what kind of marvelous story this would unfold, yet somehow, everyone had a feeling. This was the first film to ever take advantage of marketing and who didn’t buy all those action figures. (And if only my mother knew how expensive ‘The Emperor’ would be still inside its original packaging.)

The characters, their worlds, and appealing connective tissue established a world to which we all wanted to belong. The visual effects, the methods of film making, and the fantastic imagination it took to build them confirmed we all wanted to be there. That is the foundation of an amazing universe in film. 

Q2. Favorite Aspect?

Marsellus Durden: One overlooked aspect that I enjoy the most is its incredible world building and the manner in which it was done. From the opening apprehension of Princess Leia to the droids landing on Tattooine, the story unfolds at just the right pace to keep the audience engaged while also teaching us piece by piece what we need to know.

Logan Slavin: I think my favorite aspect of the film is how timeless it is. If you take out the changes. The effects, while they aren’t amazing compared to today’s standards, still hold up well. I love how everything is done practically! I wish newer movies would create effects like this.

Owen: I love the story and character arcs. It isn’t trying to do anything fancy or different, it all feels familiar and that was the point. It was all done so well. The character arcs and structure of the story is so great that it is currently, and will continue to be studied by writers and filmmakers alike.

Michael Colan: The editing and John Williams’ music are my favorite aspect of the film. The edits are driven by Williams’ music and the fast cuts between the action and melding together something that resembled World War II with then-modern effects give the movie energy like none other at the time.

WriteOnGeek: Before I saw A New Hope, I wasn’t aware superb storytelling took place outside of dramatic films, and certainly not a science-fiction movie. From the very first drumroll on the 20th Century Fox opening to the last group image of the award ceremony, I discovered all a great story needs is a blank canvass. This was George Lucas’ and it was majestic. You knew more chapters were to come, and that the wait was so worth each second. I was hooked from minute one and remain the fish on the reel ever since. 

Q3. Earliest Memory?

Marsellus Durden: My earliest memory of A New Hope interestingly enough is the Star Tours ride at Disneyland. I’ll never forget jumping into hyperspace and the exhilarating Death Star trench run riders got to experience first-hand. I have seen bits and pieces of the original cut on TV but unfortunately, it wasn’t until the 1997 re-release did I see the movie in its entirety.

Logan Slavin: I don’t really have an earliest memory of this film. I really don’t remember the first time I watched it.

Owen: I was too young to remember the first time I watched it. It just always felt like it existed to me.

Michael Colan: I remember when I’ve seen most of the formative movies in my life, such as Jurassic Park, King Kong, The Dark Knight and The Godfather. I know when I saw it and where I saw it. Star Wars was always there. I remember switching between my dad’s two VHS sets of the original trilogy, one was the special editions and one was the theatrical cuts (I still have those tapes too). It’s always been there and it probably always will.

WriteOnGeek:  Back to ‘The Emperor’, I remember saving proofs of purchase of those marvelous action figures to mail them in for the prized character not in stores. It was like the Force opened up in my parents’ mailbox. I loved it and from that moment on, I’ve owned the movies — VHS, DVD, digital. Yet again, I was hooked and the hook didn’t even hurt lodged in my cheek. 

Q4. Favorite Character?

Marsellus Durden: I was already incredibly biased because I was a huge Indiana Jones fan before seeing A New Hope, but hands down Han Solo steals the show for me. Han’s carefree attitude and foolish bravery really brought a lot of fun and charm to the group.

Logan Slavin: My favorite character of this film is either Luke Skywalker or R2-D2. Luke is a likable protagonist and his X-Wing is one of the best ships in the Star Wars universe in my opinion. R2-D2 is the first of a long list of sassy droids and he’s the best of them. He doesn’t say a single word, but you still know exactly how he’s feeling.

Owen: In this film, probably Luke. His character arc is so good and inspiring that it’s easy to see yourself as him. He’s the perfect example of the hero’s journey.

Michael Colan: When I was a kid, Luke was always my favorite. I never understood why kids my age liked Han Solo more (Han doesn’t get to be a Jedi!). But as I get older (and this could also be a by-product of having the prequels), I find myself gravitating more and more to Obi-Wan. Maybe I’m a sucker for a mentor character but Obi-Wan is wise, calm, and can still take action when needed.

WriteOnGeek: It was Luke all the way. A guy who had one life, and thought he knew where he was in that life, until he hears about this guy Ben who told him he had another life, and one he knew nothing about–only that it was his destiny. He’s a skilled pilot but yet, he need to trust this enigmatic Force to aim, shoot, and deliver. That was the beginning of his destiny and everyone knew it, even Luke. Fantastic storytelling. 

Q5. Favorite Piece of Music

Marsellus Durden: Probably going to be the unanimous favorite of the group, but without a doubt it’s “Binary Sunset“. From the moment I first heard the lone trumpet begin that iconic melody we all know and love, it was love at first listen. Incredibly moving and emotional, by the time the entire orchestra comes in my heart swells and soars in unison.

Logan Slavin: My favorite piece of music in this film is Binary Sunset. It is part of one of the most iconic scenes in film history and it is amazing. The way the music swells builds emotion in the scene it plays in. It’s an amazing piece of music and it’s one of my favorites in any film!

Owen: Hate to bandwagon, but I have to go with “Binary Sunset”. By just watching the scene or listening to the music I get chills. It’s incredibly moving, and I love every second of it.

Michael Colan: It almost feels too easy to pick the “Binary Sunset” but aside from the opening theme, the “Binary Sunset” is Star Wars. It is everything the series is placed into music form and is played again one of Lucas’ best visual scenes. If I had to pick a less cliche choice than the “Battle Yavin,” but especially when Han takes out the Tie Fighters and yells, “You’re all clear kid, now let’s blow this thing and go home.” The editing, the pounding music, and action all crescendo before the Death Star blows. Great stuff.

WriteOnGeek: The opening crawl was greatness. The duel scenes where almost as good. But, the first time I heard “The Imperial March,” I knew how sinister Darth Vader was and the power he commanded was unlike any other villain in movies prior to this moment. That’s the power of John Williams’ score and George Lucas’ story. It was unlike any other film I ever saw before and countless others have duplicated since.  

Make sure to read last week’s article on  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  and check back to MoviesMatrix next week for a similar breakdown of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

All images courtesy of Disney/Lucasfilm

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