I can’t imagine that George Lucas ever thought that his 1977 science fiction epic would give birth to five sequels/prequels and become one of the most beloved and prosperous franchises in film history. Yet that’s exactly what happened with “Star Wars”. The unmatched fandom that followed spurred tons of merchandise, an expanded universe, an animated series, global conventions, and eventually a multi-billion dollar sale of the property to Disney. To say the Star Wars franchise has been successful is an understatement of epic proportions.
And it all started with “Star Wars” in 1977. Also known as “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”, the film is said to have found its genesis in the mind of George Lucas around 1971. It would undergo multiple story drafts and an arduous production before making it to the big screen. Many people, including several working on the film, saw it as a sure failure but Lucas pressed on finally gaining studio support which helped quell the complaints aimed at its rising budget and numerous delays. In the end it cost $11 million to make – a drop in the bucket considering this one film alone has brought in $775 million.
But what about the film itself? Is it worthy of the accolades it has received from critics and fanboys alike? Has it aged well and weathered the days of special-effects advancements? Better yet, has it weathered the numerous tinkerings of its creator George Lucas? My answer is a clear and unequivocal “Yes”. Despite the years that have gone by and the shifts in the direction of modern movies, “Star Wars” remains a brilliant bit of filmmaking and a true testament to the magic of cinematic storytelling.
Everyone knows the story of “Star Wars” right? A young guy named Luke Skywalker (Mark Hammill) lives a dull life with his aunt and uncle but dreams of life in the stars. But things aren’t as rosy up above as he thinks. An evil and oppressive Galactic Empire is waging a war against a small but potent rebellion. The rebels, led by Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), are finding their victories to be fewer and fewer. Things only get worse for the Rebel Alliance after the Princess is captured by Darth Vader (David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones) who is in search of secret plans and schematics taken by the rebels. Luke is drawn into the conflict and along the way encounters an assortment of characters, many who will impact his life forever.
Luke comes to possess the best buddy robots C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). He encounters Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness), an old hermit believed to be crazy but who actually introduces Luke to a mystical power known as The Force. He hooks up with an arrogant smuggler named Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his tall hairy sidekick Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). There are so many other smaller but equally memorable characters that fill this world that Lucas has created. In many ways it’s the characters that give the film such life.
But “Star Wars” should also be recognized for its phenomenal achievements in the area of special effects. Lucas created Industrial Light and Magic to make sure the visuals in Star Wars were top notch. At the time they certainly were and even without Lucas’ enhancements in later years, the Star Wars special effects marked exciting strides forward in terms of what filmmakers could create visually. ILM would go on to be one of the single greatest special effects studios as evident by their work in a wide assortment of other films.
“Star Wars” was a rare phenomenon that blossomed into a beloved franchise whose popularity and influence can be seen across the globe regardless of age. It’s a composite of great science fiction, fantastic storytelling, groundbreaking visual effects, and a compelling mythology. It has formed an undeniable legacy that will still be around long after I’m dead and buried. Most people have seen a Star Wars movie. Everyone has heard of it. And it all started with this big gamble that culminated into a box office sensation. Yet for me it’s more than that.
“Star Wars” is indelibly latched to my childhood and has remained with me throughout my adult years. Now I have the joy of sharing it with another generation. My kids love it just as I did and that is a treasure in itself. So whether you love George Lucas or hate him, you can’t deny that he’s given cinema a great gift. In fact he’s given me one of my best motion picture experiences and I never grow tired of revisiting the wonderful world he created.
VERDICT – 5 STARS
I think it’s chances are sky high. 😉
Was thinking the same thing! Gotta be a Valhalla inductee 😀
I grew up w/ two brothers who LOVE Star Wars but I personally have never been too much of a fan. It’s astounding though how this franchise still has legs!
I think a Valhalla induction is a sure thing. The question is when? 😉
I understand the love for the film and how much it means to people, but I personally cannot stand it… I’m sorry.
That’s fair. I don’t see how, but its fair. 😉
The film of my childhood. I know a lot of people hate on this and hate on Lucas but I still love it. Without a doubt one of the most important films of all time.
Very true. And it’s truly timeless. My kids absolutely love this film and the entire franchise.
Great write-up, bro. Instant classic that always takes me back to my childhood. This film and its sequels (along with Indiana Jones) were my earliest memories of becoming a fully fledged movie buff.
Same here. Star Wars really opened me up to the magic of cinema. Thanks bro.
Never heard of it.
It’s this small little indie flick that’s hitting the festivals.
Damn straight! I LOVE Star Wars, and think it is one of the best film sets ever!
Nice review. It’s a bit easy to bash George Lucas these days, but it’s hard to deny what a great film Star Wars is. I still love today. When I was younger, I used to watch it every week.
Oh I was the same way. Funny how we could do that as kids. I swear I would watch the original trilogy over and over and over again. Without hesitation!
It’s hard not to love this film if you’re one of the millions who grew up with it (I even used to play the trading card game!). My partner has never seen the films and refuses to – as much as I love her, it’s a baffling point of view! Who wouldn’t want to be swept off to a galaxy far, far away…
Well said! I’m with you. I have a hard time seeing how people can’t love it for both its influence and its sheer entertainment. I just love it.
Truthfully, my least favorite of the original trilogy. But oh what a beginning to a great franchise. Basically, “Star Wars” is the year zero for special effects in films. “Logan’s Run”, though a good film does not have great special effects. And yet it was the film that won the Oscar for special effects the year before “Star Wars”
Damn that “power converter” line. If not for that and the general character of Luke Skywalker the first twenty minutes of the film I would have placed this above “Return”.
I think in terms of story this is probably below the two original sequels in my opinion. But that isn’t a knock on A New Hope. It’s more of a testament to my love for the other films.
Changed the way I thought about movies and toys forever when my brother and I first watched it back in 1977.
Yep! It’s the movie (and series) that brought the art of movies to life for me. And I played the crap out of those toys!
Really glad you liked it. I’m a BIG Star Wars fan, especially the first one. It’s my favourite out of the bunch.
I’m excited to see what JJ brings to the films.
I grew up a HUGE Star Wars fan. Saw the original trilogy during their first run at the theaters and was hooked. Still an today.
I also grew up watching this movie. I never got to see the Original Trilogy in theaters though. I had to ask my folks to watch Star Wars and they always said yes. It’s one of the reasons why I like to write about movies. For me, A New Hope will never get old. I’m excited about the new Star Wars movie, though. It looks interesting.
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I saw half of it on YouTube (the other half unfortunately wasn’t up at the time), and loved what I saw.