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Friday, 15 August 2008

Star Wars: A New Hope, Episode IV (1977) - Movie Review

Director: George Lucas
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Sir Alec Guinness, David Prowse and James Earl Jones
Running Time: 121 Minutes

Score: 8/10

Here's the next installment of Alan S's Star Wars review

Welcome once again, dear friends, to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. This is part four (or should that be part IV?) on my journey through the Star Wars galaxy, and surrounding star systems.

Episode IV A new Hope, or Star Wars (as it should be called), was the first made instalment of the Star Wars saga back in 1977 and was the brainchild of the bearded one, George Lucas.

The fact that on the opening crawl, Lucas adds that it is “Episode IV” at the very top of the crawl would have got brains working overtime back in ’77. What? Have I missed the first three episodes? Is there more to this story than meets the eyes…that is certainly the impression that Lucas wants to give. The fact that you dive straight into the story, with only a brief description of what’s going on, before the feast for the eyes that is the Imperial Battle Cruiser going on and on and on. Apparently, people in the audience were cheering that opening sequence, back in the day, and were overawed by the, well, awesomeness of what they were seeing.

But I digress. The thing that really pained me, and I mean, REALLY pained me, was that Lucas had thought of this as the first part of one story – I believe it was nine episodes that he originally wanted to do – and yet there are HUGE flaws right throughout this film. Now, if this was a stand-alone film, or was added by the compliment that was Empire Strikes Back and the burp that was Return of the Jedi, then it would have worked, just.

However, this part of the story is just meant to be the next step in the Skywalker clan’s story. Why, then, was Vader referred to as just “Darth” by Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Death Star? Why was Vader merely a bit of a gopher for Grand Moff Tarkin (excellently played by Peter Cushing)? Why did Luke have the hots for his sister? Why did Obi-Wan not recognise R2-D2 and C-3P0? Why, why, why!!

I’ll tell you the reason why. The reason why, is that the prequels of this double trilogy should NEVER have been made. It’s like writing a new section of the bible that track’s Mary and Joseph’s life from childhood to giving birth to Jesus. It just should NOT be done!

If we are to truly take this saga, from Ep. I to Ep. VI, to be one long story, then Lucas must have us all painted as fools. It doesn’t fit. It’s like trying to get a square block into a round hole. There are still discrepancies from A New Hope to the other films in the Original Trilogy. The whole film just seems to stick out like a sore thumb.

However, I am talking about, what some people still refer to as their favourite film of all time. This film is one of the standout masterpieces of film in the last 40 years. To audiences in the late 70’s, this was the pinnacle of film-making and special effects. Granted, they look a bit naff now, but back then, they were the dog’s back-wheels and this has been it’s ever-lasting legacy.
The reason that this film is still loved and revered by all is that it simply blew anything and everything out of the water. Nothing at that time, or for years after, could come close to this film and it was simply concreted in that number one position when it’s two sequels came out in 1980 and in 1983. It was the start of a journey that many kids wondered at and wished that they were able to fly X-wings, or meet Greedo in a cantina.

It’s now seems to come as no surprise that the executive’s at 20th Century Fox allowed Lucas to retain all the rights to marketing and certain percentages from any sequels that were made. Lucas must also have thought that it would be a one off, his singular triumph, but hedged his bets, and he came up trumps.

It is now unfortunate that he used his nous to try and cash in by making the prequel films and ruin this film. A New Hope must feel the sticky and clawing palm prints of the prequel trilogy all over it. I, for one, would not like to be in its shoes.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope – 8/10

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