“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” Those words are the opening salvo bringing the greatest trilogy in cinematic history to the silver screen. The film that was being described as ridiculous by its stars turned little known filmmaker George Lucas into a bona fide star director.
It’s impossible for me to quantify how much I love this movie and the original trilogy. I would spend entire Saturdays as a kid binge-watching the original 3 films on VHS. The opening notes to the score, the scrolling words describing the backstory, the first shots fired from the star destroyer on Princess Leia’s ship, they all cause the nostalgia to come rushing back. Every time I watch the original trilogy I want to be Luke, running away to learn the ways of the Force and combating the evil Empire.
Mark Hamill has said many times that he thought the script was ridiculous and had no clue it would become as big as it did, but a big reason it became that big was because of the cast. Hamill perfectly captured the essence of what fans wanted from Luke Skywalker. Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Sir Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, and James Earl Jones all brought the characters to life with such earnestness that you could believe you were on a starship in the middle of a battle between an empire and a rebel alliance. Without this casting, “Star Wars” wouldn’t have been as big as it was in 1977 and wouldn’t be the juggernaut it still is today. It was a perfect storm that changed science fiction movies forever.
I have one issue with the version of “Star Wars: A New Hope” currently available on Disney+. It’s the special edition. Some of the added scenes, while unnecessary, are innocuous. It doesn’t bother me if they are there or not. But, there are two parts to this version I truly don’t need. The scene where Jabba confronts Han before he departs is useless and that version of Jabba looks worse than the version we see in “Return of the Jedi,” despite the fact it was added well after the original release of Jedi. The other is probably the most famous complaint among Star Wars fans.
The change to the scene between Han and Greedo is not just unnecessary, it kills the moment. George Lucas has said he didn’t want Han to be shooting first because he didn’t want to be a cold-blooded killer. The problem is that’s not what’s conveyed in the original scene. For years, I took Han shooting first to be the mark of a grizzled veteran smuggler who knew he was in danger at the moment and was taking action before it was too late. He didn’t seem cold-blooded. To me, he seemed like he was acting in self-defense. Han shooting first benefited the character. Changing that scene just doesn’t work the way Lucas intended.
But, despite the special edition changes, it’s still the original “Star Wars” movie. It still launched my favorite movie trilogy of all time. It’s still fun to watch more than 40 years later. It still brings, dare I say, a new hope.
Ranking: 5 stars out of 5
What do you think of “Star Wars: A New Hope?” What have you liked and disliked about the saga as it has evolved since 1977?