A Retrospective on Star Wars – Episode 4 A New Hope
Here it is, the film that kicked off the biggest science fiction franchise that has ever, and likely will ever, exist. So why is it such a big deal?…
When taken into context, this film is really quite remarkable. By pioneering ground-breaking computer generated and practical effects it was unlike anything that had been seen before, setting trends that would inspire filmmakers to this day.
So let’s see what all the fuss is about. Unlike the prequel trilogy, our protagonists for this trilogy slide comfortably into their roles. Leia is immediately established in the opening sequence as a rebel in both a figurative and literal sense without having to say a word, gunning down her pursuers attempting to evade capture rather than surrendering. Luke is shown to be adventurous, curious and more than a little cocky, staring at the two suns shining above his home eagerly awaiting his chance to explore the galaxy beyond his restrictive homeland. Han meanwhile oozes roguish charm, making it clear he is only looking out for himself but somehow we can’t help but support him anyway. These lovable characters are a very refreshing addition, having just revisited the prequel trilogy and been woefully underwhelmed by its main characters Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala.
The villain, Darth Vader, also strides onto our screens in an equally unforgettable way. Walking slowly and commanding respect and fear as he goes, Vader’s uncompromising and violent demeanour makes us very aware that he is not to be messed with.
For me, however, it’s Carrie Fisher’s performance as Leia that stands out as being just as boundary pushing as the cinematography. Even now, Hollywood woefully underestimates its female actors and often provides them with lacklustre and sometimes downright sexist roles. Leia on the other hand, has no time for being side-lined by the rest of the cast, holding her own easily amongst her fellow protagonists and standing up to even the likes of Darth Vader without flinching.
In addition to its compelling characters, Star Wars A New Hope boasts impressive sets and props, the space battles being an excellent example. Utilising meticulously detailed and small scale models rather than purely computer generated ships the sense of realism is undeniable even in this age of impressive computer generated effects.
A New Hope also maintains an innocent and fun tone alongside a concise and simplistic story, making it far more enjoyable than the brooding nature of its prequels.
Deeper political and social themes are there if you choose to explore them, but unlike Episodes 1 to 3 they are not shoved in our faces. In fact, the whole experience feels like a swashbuckling adventure which is just as accessible as it is captivating.
In conclusion, what we have is a short and sweet story of good vs evil, the underdog triumphing against an oppressive entity, and a story which wraps itself up with a neat bow. Furthermore, this first instalment of the franchise remains just as charming as when it was first released, and I don’t see it becoming any less beloved any time soon.
But our story does not end here, as we will see in our next instalment, Episode 5 The Empire Strikes Back…