The Force is Still Strong in this One

Use the Force, Luke - Obi-Wan

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill in Star Wars (1977)

Writing a movie review of "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" some 35 years after it came out actually sounds pretty pointless especially when it must be one of the most often watched and well known movies in the history of cinema. But the thing is my youth was dominated by "Star Wars", I was five when it was released in the UK and whilst I never got to see it on the big screen as a child, something rectified when it was re-released many years later, but through out the 80s "Star Wars" was one of the most often shown movies on TV and I never missed it. Now what is quite remarkable is that I have never been into sci-fi, not even as a kid as I quickly grew fond of westerns, but "Star Wars" with it sense of adventure and excitement had me gripped and now all these years later it still has me hooked with the actual storyline and those little details now coming in to play more than they once did. And I am sure I am not alone in having that same early introduction to "Star Wars" and I am sure I am not alone in saying that it got me from an early age and still has me.

Now I shouldn't need to do this but as this is a movie review so a brief "Star Wars" synopsis is called for. As Darth Vader and the Empire's storm troopers board a rebel ship Princess Leia manages to place detailed plans of a Death Star into the memory of droid R2-D2 and along with C-3PO are jettisoned where eventually they end up in the hands of Luke and his Uncle Owen. But R2-D2 has a message for someone called Obi-Wan Kenobi and before Luke knows it his life is turned upside down as he joins forces with Obi-Wan to try and deliver the plans to the rebels and save the Princess with the help of cynical pilot Han Solo and his right hand Wookie Chewbacca.

Mark Hamill and Alec Guinness in Star Wars (1977)

As I've already mentioned I have never been heavily into sci-fi, I watch it but don't go wild about it and there are many space adventure movies which have bored me senseless as they focus on the technical aspect. That is why "Star Wars" is so good because whilst it is sci-fi it is not a movie about the detail but a movie about the adventure and it is why as a young boy it had me hooked. But it is not some simple adventure movie because this is a movie of elements, of little stories, places, characters which all interlink, all have a bit of excitement and all are part of a much bigger picture. It's because of that there is this element of fascination as we become immersed in this other world with an epic soap opera of a story.

Of course being an adventure movie there is also excitement and that ranges from a whole host of things from the first time we see a light sabre, Luke's speeder hovering over ground to the big final battle as the rebels try to blow up the Death Star. In the space of 2 hours we have this wonderful mixture of story building, character building and excitement and you know you are never going to be far away from some fantasy action element which will make you smile whilst also hooking you with a flash of excitement.

Now it has to be said that over the years writer and director George Lucas has tampered with "Star Wars" and its immediate sequels, updating special effects and adding new CGI elements whilst also cleaning up the print. Now the quality of image is certainly an improvement but unfortunately the incorporation of modern CGI spoils things because it so obviously stands out as being wrong for a movie from the 1970s. And in truth the ingenuity of some of the old effects, the Vaseline on the lens when it came to Luke's hovering speeder made it the imaginative movie it was.

Of course on top of all this we have the characters which really should put together with dialogue because so many phrases from the movie have become common place, even now so many years later, not so much because they were great phrases but because of the memorable delivery. But the casting is spot on right from Phil Brown as Uncle Owen through to the trio of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher as Han, Luke and Leia. Every single actor from those such as Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca who are unrecognizable in their costumes to the thespian skills of Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi deliver memorable characters and it is because all the characters, even the funny aliens at the bar Luke and Obi-Wan go to are memorable that you never forget a single part of the movie.

What this all boils down to is that "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" is a great movie and whilst there may be technically better movies this is a movie which hooked me as a child and now probably 30 years after I first watched it am still hooked just as much.

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