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Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope DVD

The first film made in the "Star Wars" saga and was released in May of 1977.

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30 Years Later and Still a Remarkable Film

  • Jul 6, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+5
In 1976 a young director named George Lucas had a vision for a movie.  A movie no one thought would get off the ground at all.  When FOX gave Lucas the greenlight the studio thought it could very well be their swansong.  And how could they not?  The budget, for the time, was pretty big (the number itself might seem laughable now as even some independent films are made for more).  Not only that, but there were many problems.  There was a big desert storm the first day of filming some of the scenes on Tattooine, the actors didn't seem to be taking the job seriously enough, the film fell behind production numerous times and had to be pushed back numerous times, and while they had a good guy to play Darth Vader, his voice was laughable for someone who was supposed to be the baddest dude in the galaxy.  The problems were so bad, George Lucas was said to have suffered from a heart condition while filming.  The film finally opened on Memorial Day Weekend in 1977  Apparently very few had faith in the film... it only opened in 42 theaters.  But from 42 theaters (and think about it, 42 theaters in the 70's is miniscule).  That 42 theaters turned into a mega huge phenomenon.  Star Wars is so big that George Lucas gets reprimanded by fans just for tampering with the smallest of things!  From who shot first between Han Solo and Greedo to fixing even obvious movie mistakes.  The slightest tweak draws rage of long-time, hardcore fans.

The movie opens with the crawling text, explaining to the audience that a group of rebels has stolen plans from the Empire's secret weapon the DEATH STAR.  On board is a woman named Princess Leia.  The vessel is being boarded by the Empire.  It takes no time jumping into the action.  As Vader boards the music plays and we are immediately introduced to one of the baddest dudes in the galaxy.  Vader is heartless.  Played by David Prowse (who no one can remember), but voiced by James Earl Jones, Vader is a terrifying man to stand face to face with.  Heartless and cold, he has no problem crushing anyone who stands in his way.  

Leia, finding herself and her allies in danger, puts the plans for the DEATH STAR into the R2-D2 unit, with a message.  Along with C3P-O (hereby referred to as Threepio) R2-D2 blasts off to the world of Tattooine below, while Leia is taken hostage.

Meanwhile, a young farmboy named Luke, who lives with his uncle and aunt, comes into posession of the droids.  While cleaning them, Luke stumbles upon the message.  "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi... you're my only hope..." but who is Obi-Wan, and why does R2-D2 need to find him?  The next day, R2 is gone and so Luke and Threepio set out to find him.  As they do, they come across Obi-Wan.  Obi-Wan, it turns out, is a jedi... who are powered by the force... a mysterious energy that binds us and penetrates us.  You've got to feel it and believe in it.  Obi-Wan then gives Luke what is known as a Lightsaber... the weapon of a jedi knight... that belonged to his father.  They soon find a bunch of slaughtered jawas.  Then they realize that the Empire is tracking the droids.  And if they're tracking the droids they might find out who the jawas sold them to and that would lead them back... home.  It is when Luke finds his Aunt and Uncle slaughtered that he decides there's nothing left for him.  He decides he will help Obi-Wan rescue the princess.

Most of you, I'm sure, know the story of Star Wars.  But I can't help but relive some of it.  George Lucas was no accidental genius (but one who, unfortunately, lost it).  He was simply making his own heroes journey.  There are few better examples than Star Wars of just what The Hero's Journey is.  There is always a young boy who is called to adventure... but needs a little push.  There is always a mentor and a group of friends to accompany him.  In the case of Luke he has Obi-Wan for a mentor, and he has Threepio, R2, Han Solo, Chewbacca and eventually Princess Leia as his allies.  Those who will help him grow and conquer evil.  The hero's journey in and of itself is iconic.  You've seen the hero's journey played out in other movies and pieces of literature such as The Matrix, the Lord of the Rings, Eragon (which might as well be Star Wars) and even the Prequel trilogy (with the opposite outcome).  It's a simple formula that's easy to do.

Admittedly, Star Wars is a grand film, but does have a few setbacks.  The acting, while it certainly isn't bad, is definitely not great.  George Lucas didn't exactly have a good history of working with his actors, and it shows from this.  You're having too much fun to care, though.  Lucas didn't just have a history of not working well with his actors, but also witholding information.  He doesn't do much for the first film, but sometimes you do get the feeling that Lucas was making up some of it as he went along rather than actually having it all planned out.  There's so much romantic tension between Luke and Leia... and we're saying to ourselves, "Awe... they might make a cute couple..." and then you see the third movie and wonder just why Lucas so much of that tension (albeit, sure, they don't actually KNOW, but you kind of feel weird watching afterwards).  We could have plenty of debates regarding Lucas's continuity and whether or not he had it all planned.  But we'll put that all aside and just enjoy the movie.  It's still crafted rather well.

The other thing, I hate to say... is dialog.  There's some that's really funny and witty.  Yet, for all the people who complained about stilted dialog in Star Wars Episode I and II... Star Wars Episode IV shows that George Lucas was NEVER much for writing strong dialog.  While there are memorable lines such as "Use the Force, Luke," and "May the force be with you," you're still getting dialog that sounds a little hokey from time to time.  I'm just guessing that most people settled in and got so used to it that there's nothing about it that sounds a little cheesy at all.  But as with Titanic, it may because Lucas hasn't realized the talent of the cast he has.  Although that may be true enough because from what we can see presently, there wasn't much talent within the Star Wars cast as it was.  Only Harrison Ford really seemed to go on to have a lucrative career of all the main cast members (though Mark Hamill does provide some nice voice talent in that animated Batman series as well as a couple of video games).  So was it really that Lucas didn't work with them well enough, or was it that he happened to have a couple of actors who really just couldn't give it their all?  Well, that really depends on how you view The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

One thing that must get mention however, are those awesome special effects.  Even today there's hardly anything better than just looking at the lightsaber.  Yet the space battles, blasters and different races are still a wonder to behold.  Sometimes when watching it's amazing the movie was made in 1977.  Star Wars pioneered the way to more fantastic special effects from several other movies in the future such as Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and several movies you see today!  Yet it is nice to know that Star Wars doesn't survive based soley on special effects alone.  We actually come to love the characters.  Not only do we come to love the characters but we come to enjoy the story in and of itself.  And Star Wars is by no means a complex story.  You've got a princess, an evil empire, a dark lord, a poor farm boy and a egotistical rebel and his sidekick along with two comic releif characters and a mystical force that can't be explained.  Is Star Wars supposed to be a Sci-Fi Epic or a Fantasy film?  Aside from taking place in space there's really nothing sci-fi about it at all, yet there's plenty of fantasy.  The debate, even 30 years later is still ongoing, but you can probably guess where I stand (the only sci-fi part it's got, really, is being in space so I lean on the fantasy side).

Even more epic is the film's musical score which is epic, powerful and yet emotional at the same time.  My particular favorite tune is the music we are treated to as Luke makes his trench run and turns off his viewing screen as well as the ceremony at the end.  And, of course, there are the closing credits.  It sounds odd, but I'll always listen to the closing credits of Star Wars, just for the music.  I get mad when it comes on TNT or USA or SPIKE TV or any network television channel and I can't listen to the music as the credits scroll.  Does that sound a little too lost in Star Wars lore?  Perhaps it does, but there are few movies I love as much as the Star Wars trilogy.

In 1997 George Lucas released a special edition in theaters.  This was the first time we were subjected to "changes" made within the Star Wars films.  Although the film in particular (according to internet movie database) has been subjected to changes at least eight times.  If you saw Star Wars so early as 1978 you've long since been viewing an altered version of the original.  The completely original has been lost for over 30 years.  And you can tell whether or not you're viewing complete original based on whether or not it says "EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE."  Yet it would be the DVD release in 2004 that would really turn heads.  

For me, the new scenes really never added anything to Star Wars.  You're only getting four minutes in the special edition and 2004 edition.  It's nothing big, but it's sad that you can hardly find the originals at all anymore.  For those born after 1993 in particular, it's quite possible you've never seen the original edition of the film at all.  If that's the case the 1997 edition is probably the earliest you've known.

Regardless, the movie is still one of the most iconic movies in movie history.  And one of the most influential.  The only real shame is that George Lucas was never satisfied with the film in and of itself...

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January 05, 2010
I revisited your review and wrote one of my own. Great commentary!
 
July 06, 2009
Great review, one of my favs. Actually I liked "Empire" better. I saw Mark Hamill live here in San Fran last spring, but he was charging $100 an autograph, so I was content to just look. I found out after the fact that I could have still walked up and said hi, but now I know.
 
July 06, 2009
Great review of an Awesome movie. I agree that the lightsaber remains a really cool effect. I didn't know about the limited release when it first opened, but that is really interesting. The studio must have been blown away by the success since they were expecting so little.
 
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More Star Wars: Episode IV - A New ... reviews
review by . May 02, 2011
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have gotten past the prequels and started into the original trilogy, which whoops the ass of every single prequel (no matter how much I loved Revenge of the Sith). Anyway, moving on. A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a man named George Lucas (amongst a team of many other people) created a world full of unique creatures and memorable characters that will never be forgot by the science fiction community and the film community in general. That world was the world …
review by . November 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Normally when I review a film or book, I try to include a short summary about what the film is about. However, for STAR WARS I'm not going to do that. STAR WARS (and even though it is often marketed as A NEW HOPE, the film is called STAR WARS) is my favorite movie of all time. I saw the movie for the first time during one of the times it was initially re-released in the late 1970s. We were going to see one of the LOVE BUG pictures that were out at the time, but that was sold out so my family …
review by . October 14, 2010
Normally when I review a film or book, I try to include a short summary about what the film is about. However, for STAR WARS I'm not going to do that. STAR WARS (and even though it is often marketed as A NEW HOPE, the film is called STAR WARS) is my favorite movie of all time. I saw the movie for the first time during one of the times it was initially re-released in the late 1970s. We were going to see one of the LOVE BUG pictures that were out at the time, but that was sold out so my family …
review by . March 09, 2010
You have to put yourself in my shoes.  It is the summer of 1977.  I am just about to turn 14.  The best science fiction I  have seen is Star Trek.  The Disney abomination "The Black Hole" is about to go into theaters and will be described as "revolutionary".  So just imagine how startling this movie was back then.      Here is the setting. I am on an exchange trip to Idaho working on a Sunflower farm for two weeks.  Every …
Quick Tip by . October 19, 2010
Memories of college days... I couldn't wait to share these movies with my kids, though they thought the special effects were dated. Hey, there's a story too, and that never gets old.
Quick Tip by . August 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The remastered scene additions can sometimes be a bit much...
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
posted in MovieSucktastic
It's hard to believe the merchandising juggernaut that is the Star Wars franchise started with this masterpiece. Continue to harang George Lucas to put out genuine 1977 versions of the film and not the kid friendly and obnoxious with it's additions Special Editions.
review by . September 26, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Darth Vader
I love Star Wars.  Yeah, hardly an orginal statement but really I do.  The original movie, after seeing endless merchandising, satirizations and parodies, in jokes, Seth McFarlane and Kevin Smith-I can still turn on this movie and from it's opening scene have all that pollution go away and remember that this movie was and still is something special.      The classic battle of good and evil, a young man having his place in the galaxy, colorful rouges, beautiful princesses, …
review by . January 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I've never been quite sure why so many people are complaining about the revisions to the original version of A New Hope. It's a great movie, but it came out in an era when people didn't have home video players (much less DVDs). Lucas cleaned up the movies, made the ships more realistic, and generally most of the improvements make the film look better. I agree that I wish Lucas didn't mess with the Greedo scene - I still believe Han shot first. However, that's relatively minor. Don't let that ruin …
review by . January 18, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I've never been quite sure why so many people are complaining about the revisions to the original version of A New Hope. It's a great movie, but it came out in an era when people didn't have home video players (much less DVDs). Lucas cleaned up the movies, made the ships more realistic, and generally most of the improvements make the film look better. I agree that I wish Lucas didn't mess with the Greedo scene - I still believe Han shot first. However, that's relatively minor. Don't let that ruin …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #5
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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The Star Wars logo, as seen in all films

Star Wars is an epic space opera franchise conceived by George Lucas. The first film in the franchise was originally released on May 25, 1977, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, spawning two immediate sequels, released at three-year intervals. Sixteen years after the release of the trilogy's final film, the first in a new prequel trilogy of films was released, again released at three-year intervals, with the final film released on May 19, 2005.

As of 2008, the overall box office revenue generated by the six Star Wars films has totalled approximately $4.3 billion, making it the third-highest-grossing film series,[1] behind only the James Bond and Harry Potter films.

The Star Wars film series has spawned other media including books, television series, video games, and comic books. These supplements to the film trilogies comprise the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and have resulted in significant development of the series' fictional universe. These media kept the franchise going in the interim between the film trilogies. In 2008, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released to theaters as the first ever worldwide theatrical Star Wars film outside of the main trilogies. It was the franchise's first animated film, and was intended as an introduction to the Expanded Universe series of the same name, a 3D CGI animated series based on a previous 2D animated series of a similar name.

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