Star Wars (1977) a.k.a. Episode IV: A New Hope

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Star Wars (1977) a.k.a. Episode IV: A New Hope

Post  BoG on Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:36 am



A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...
After the opening scrawl which explains a few details of where the film will place us, the opening shot places the audience on notice - this was the new realm of cinema science fiction, a vast expanse filled which vast ships which filled the screen with spectacle never before seen in this genre of film.  Though now known as "Episode IV-A New Hope," this will always be for many fans, namely those who first saw this exhilarating entertainment in theaters back in '77, the first "Star Wars." Such viewers of the original version in 1977 will always think of it as just "Star Wars" - plain & simple, no pretensions, no aspirations to deep film-making or high art, no thought to the later sequels or prequels which changed the way we looked upon this first film in an enormous saga (only now gaining new films to the saga, yet again - chapter 7 is due in 2015). This is where we first met them all: Luke, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi (old 'Ben'), the tall hairy Chewbacca, the 2 robots C3PO & R2D2 and, of course, Darth Vader. They were instant pop culture icons; you got the sense you'd seen them before somewhere, but were sure this wasn't possible. But they'd been there before in our minds.
We'd read about them constantly in science fiction novels and short stories - tales of outer space civilizations, of spaceships zooming through asteroid belts, of exotic-looking aliens hanging around space ports. We'd dream about them at night and try to imagine ourselves in their midst; up until then, we could only imagine such things - there were no projected images to realize such dreams. Oh, there were the classic comic books, like Weird Science-Fantasy from EC, and in film, Forbidden Planet from 1956 came close, and then there were the Star Trek and Lost in Space shows on TV, both hampered by dime store budgets and cheesy sets (Star Trek was better, of course). We ate 'em up since there was nothing else. Then Lucas made it real.
I remember when I first got wind of the upcoming movie, to open in May of 1977, I think. I saw the first publicized poster and bought the novel adaptation. On the poster, a young man stood with some light sword raised, a princess at his feet, numerous spaceships flying all over the place. I was in my mid-teens and felt the first pulse of building excitement as I realized all those fantastic tales I'd been reading the past few years were going to come alive on the big screen for me. It didn't disappoint. Luke Skywalker, who stood in for all the boys pretending to be on a galactic adventure, gets swept away from his mundane desert home smack dab into the middle of an honest-to-gosh galaxy-wide civil war! The strength of the narrative was amazing. There are no slow spots and you can't wait for the next scene during the entire experience; and, experience is the better description for it, rather than just 'movie.' You can't wait, for example, for the moment when Luke actually meets the princess; what will happen then? It's a textbook case of an exciting narrative and what I believe makes this superior to all the sequels (knowing that many feel The Empire Strikes Back Episode V is superior - I must disagree).



The one character you really can't wait to see again is the ominous Vader, naturally. The instant he steps into view during the first few minutes of the story, you just know this is the ultimate villain. This is the baddest of the bad, the coolest of the cool, the supreme uber-evildoer of the entire galaxy. You just know it by his stance, by his attitude, and by the electric chill that runs through your frail form as he steps down the corridor, moving into the annals of film history with one fell swoop. You can't wait to see what he does next, what nefarious action will send someone or some planet to its doom. Sure, he seems under the control of Tarkin (Peter Cushing) here and in later films, the Emperor, but you just know he's simply biding his time until he takes over the whole damn universe. There is no precedent for Vader, and nothing close to him after. He's at his best here where there's still much mystery attached to his dark frightful form, a minion of Satan and Nazi stormtroopers all rolled into one.
This was also the movie-experience which catapulted Harrison Ford (Han Solo) into superstardom. He seems almost childish here, not really straining to create a character, and it's this flip charm that makes it work, against all odds. He really does appear to have stepped out of the pages of some juvenile space opera, laser guns blazing, all snide remarks and foolhardy bravado. But he also becomes the older brother figure to Luke, who cannot carry the story by himself.  They were all iconic characters, as mentioned, but Ford also brought an abundance of personality and flamboyance to his role - his is the most entertaining character as we wait to see what trouble or what more attitude he will bring to the table.  He also brings some humor to his scenes and this, along with a few other choice scenes - mostly with the amusing robots - sets this initial entry in the saga apart from the other Star Wars films; the remaining films were more grim and what humor they had did not work well. Ford had been trying to make a career of it for a decade already by this point so he was not a newbie at this.

Mark Hamill, whose movie career began & all but ended with Luke, epitomizes the center of destiny for a galaxy. Both humble and arrogant, he's perfect in the role - at once a cocky kid and someone wise beyond his years, who knows that he's involved in some very important stuff. Carrie Fisher's main surprise as Leia is that she's not all sugar and sweet as one would expect of a princess. As an actress, she was young and inexperienced here, trying a faux Brit accent in her early scenes, but her caustic remarks later in the story, now directed at the heroes, sprinkled some diverting seasoning on the ensemble. These three characters evolved in the next two films, but they were always at their best here, icons given life for a short period - but also forever in film. The same could be said for Alec Guinness as Ben Kenobi, a first class act all the way. You almost believe that this elderly warrior could topple an empire, given enough time. Unless he runs into Vader...


The plot moves the characters all over the place within the confines of this mythical galaxy and it never lags - new viewers are gifted with new astounding sights and scenarios in every reel. It begins in an out-of-the-way place, a desert planet (Tatooine, but not named until the next film) where the news of a brewing rebellion barely registers; it's a place of simple farmers and, in what passes for towns, the dregs of society. The audience is aware, though, that an Empire rules the galaxy - its rulers just never bother with such a useless planet - until now. Luke soon has reason to despise the Empire and its enforcers, the armored imperial stormtroopers and their leader, Vader. Old Ben Kenobi imparts some bits of history to Luke, including how the deposed Republic had been enforced by an order of Jedi Knights - all now gone - and that they used a lightsaber as their primary weapon. Luke & Kenobi find a pilot, smuggler Han Solo, to take them off planet and they eventually make their way to the Death Star, a moon-sized space station which is the Empire's latest weapon and which can destroy entire planets; it's there that the Princess is held. For the final act, the rebels make an all-out attack on this Death Star; they are outmatched and success seems to hinge on an ephemeral source of power called "The Force" - a power that Luke might be able to wield.  
In the chronology of the eventual 6-part movie saga, this 4th episode takes place about 20 years after Episode III, Revenge of the Sith (2005), in which the Emperor took over the running of the galaxy. As already mentioned, the next chapter, 5, was in 1980 - The Empire Strikes Back.  However, this one - chapter IV - was filmed first and remains the most successful entry in the franchise, arguably the biggest box office success in film history. Before this film, the biggest summer blockbuster was Jaws (1975); Star Wars surpassed it to take the box office crown. The only film which is said to match this one in ticket sales is Gone With the Wind (1939). Others which come close are E.T. (1982) and Titanic (1997). What is also impressive is that the special re-release of Star Wars with updated special FX in 1997 was also a big hit, far more than what is usual for re-releases. It remains a popular classic.
BoG's Score: 9 out of 10<<<<<<


Star Trivia of Hope: this film had an enormous influence on sci-fi cinema and forever changed the landscape of science fiction in film - big budget sci-fi was suddenly the norm after this film, not the anomaly. Close Encounters, released near the end of 1977, was already planned by Spielberg before Star Wars came out, but immediate big films that probably wouldn't have been made if not for Star Wars include Star Trek the Motion Picture, Alien and Disney's The Black Hole (all 1979). This effect of big budget sf films continued through the eighties and into the 21st century. Dave Prowse, a tall muscular Brit actor usually in small roles (A Clockwork Orange), put on the Darth Vader costume to enact the role, but the voice was provided by James Earl Jones. Another famous Brit actor here is Peter Cushing, famous as a Hammer Films star; many years later, the 'other' famous Hammer Films star, Christopher Lee, would appear in the prequels. This was only the 3rd pro feature film that George Lucas directed, following American Graffiti (73) - which was a big success - and THX-1138 (71), which was not. He did not direct the two Star Wars sequels in 1980 & 1983, content to just produce. He would not return to the director's chair until The Phantom Menace prequel in 1999.


The above scenes give a good idea of how the film progresses - great stuff, but the Best Scene is with Vader on the Death Star: one of the Empire's generals brags about the power of the Death Star and Vader counters with his opinion of the power of The Force; the general derides Vader and his view, but Vader responds that he finds the general's lack of faith disturbing and proceeds to demonstrate a small expression of such power. Owned! - Vader-style. cheers Mention should also be made of Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin, a high-ranking bureaucrat in the Empire, also commander of the Death Star and someone ruthless enough to even control Vader; Cushing was best known for his heroes in Hammer films and his cold demeanor here was very well played.
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Behind-the-Scenes of Star Wars

Post  BoG on Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:40 pm








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Star Wars Art

Post  BoG on Tue Nov 25, 2014 12:39 pm


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Russian Poster:
pre-production artwork by Ralph McQuarrie:

NOTE that a stormtrooper soldier wields a lightsaber in the next one; this was not the case in the actual film:
_____

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Deleted Scenes of Star Wars

Post  BoG on Fri Mar 13, 2015 8:49 pm

As detailed at a MoviePlot article - http://moviepilot.com/posts/2014/11/28/star-wars-was-almost-very-different-as-these-deleted-scenes-prove-2463645?lt_source=external,manual,manual,manual - the deleted scenes, if kept in, would  have made  the first Stars Wars film significantly different.



There was a subplot with Luke Skywalker and his buddies on Tatooine, including a guy named Biggs, who did show up very briefly in the final film, just before the battle against the Death Star. He also played a larger role in the comics and book adaptation, which retained some of this subplot.

http://moviepilot.com/posts/2014/11/28/star-wars-was-almost-very-different-as-these-deleted-scenes-prove-2463645?lt_source=external,manual,manual,share_video

There was also a scene of Darth Vader walking with an officer, speaking of a few things:

Also, the original version of Jabba the Hut was very different:
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