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Classic Film Review: Star Wars A New Hope [1977]

‘Star Wars’! ‘The Original Star Wars Film.’ ‘Later Titled ‘Episode 4: A New Hope’ Because… Money’. Let’s just call it ‘A New Hope’ for clarity.

I’ll start this review by admitting that prior to watching A New Hope for the purpose OF this review I had never actually watched it… Because I didn’t care. I was still in primary school when The Phantom Menace came out so obviously I went to go and see it- because it was all anyone talked about for at least a month, plus I have a father and brother to whom ‘You are just the right side of Geeky’ applies both ways. Saw the two after that because I hate unfinished business but they never moved me towards sitting down to watch the earlier, original Star Wars films.

I had no plan to get involved in this Star Wars mess… but then!

I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens…! And I awoke! … that was a really bad joke, I’m sorry.

Unlike my hazy memories of the Star Wars prequel films: The Force Awakens was fun- it had great swooshing spaceships and funny one-liners. It was a perfect mix of action and adventure. Hold your horses, it’s not all good, but it did make me think that perhaps there might be something of note in the original series. After all, people do seem to love it so darn much!

So I sat down to watch A New Hope… which is largely exactly the same film but with a tiny percentile of the budget and less girl power.

The plot in brief: Princess Leia, she of the side donut hair, is held hostage by the evil Imperial forces in their effort to take over the Galactic Empire and recover some plans that have been hidden inside a droid. Intrepid Luke Skywalker and dashing Captain Han Solo team together with the loveable robotic duo, R2-D2 and C-3PO, to rescue the beautiful princess and restore justice to the universe.

The film has elements, such as knighthood, chivalry and royalty that are archetypes of the fantasy genre but… it’s pretty darn dirty. There are no sleek modern cities here. Whilst A New Hope has political science themes that favour democracy over dictatorship, looking at the Star Wars series as a whole shows how concepts like meritocracy have changed over time.

One of the most important elements of Star Wars is the ‘force’- an omnipresent energy that can be harnessed by those who are sensitive to it. They can then use it to do various supernatural things like mind control and telekinesis; abilities which can then be strengthened through training.

The Jedi use the Force for good and the Sith use the dark side of it for evil. In A New Hope, the distinction of a Jedi knight is not that he comes from a superior class, but that he is an abstract thinker. Strength is linked with higher feeling, sensitivity, empathy and humility. The Jedi ideology is meritocratic: anyone can be a higher being… but probably only higher beings are going to take the time to become one. Nonetheless, the Jedi are marked by a superior ability to feel, which prevents them from feeling superior, since they empathise with the inferior.

Which is lovely!

And now completely ruined! Since an ability to feel and use the force has become hereditary. If you weren’t born special, you can’t become special. And that’s a shame.

I wasn’t blown away by A New Hope but it has certainly piqued my interest to watch the other two films in the original trilogy…