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Click here to read my review on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Click here to read my review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
We all know of this fascinating rollercoaster of events that jumpstarted the summer blockbuster we know and love today, and I don’t even have to describe to you what this is. We all know the story by heart. So let me start by saying this: Star Wars, even nearly forty years later, delivers in the same form of classical storytelling to acute perfection, setting off a meaningful tale on how inner faith and spirituality triumph over the consistent change of industrialism.
The wonderfully epic opening menu crawl has become the most iconic way to start a movie, and for good reason: when pasted in front of the brilliant view of a galactic star field with a heroic musical anthem by John Williams, we feel more than just a part of this space serial, it appears as if this universe coexists with our own.
You don’t always hear of a folklore told over and over in our modern day and age, but now the settings and extraterrestrial inhabitants, particularly the old wise mentor portrayed by Alec Guinness (The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia), evoke the calm feel of an old fable under a new identity in the limitless bounds of outer space. It is both a tribute to tales as old as time as well as a social critique on the fault of machines. A significant level of focus in this story is placed onto the droids, C-3PO and R2-D2, and how the strife of nuclear war affects their productivity, much like what America saw of the Cold War.
…Which makes this picture all the more spectacular: it compares and contrasts cultural reliance on faith versus technology in an innocent yet playful approach for children to not only understand, but commit their whole selves to. Teenagers will enjoy the richness of the main cast of players, including the underdog farm boy Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the self-entitled smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Then finally, adults will enjoy Star Wars for its loving tribute to classic Hollywood genres of their time, including low-key westerns of the 1930s and big-scale epics of the 1950s.
In fact, it may appeal a little too much to the male gene. The damsel in distress, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), is held hostage by the ruthless empire Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones), as she is accused of sending out stolen plans to the rebel base concerning the mechanics of his new secret weapon. Her role is not enough to make her a relatable protagonist for any wives, sisters, or girlfriends sitting with their male viewing partners; the same goes to the aunt and uncle of young Luke Skywalker in his original home on the desert planet Tatooine.
The connection between Luke and the couple who raised him since birth is purely nonexistent. Not even when they come across an unfortunate fate is any sense of mourning attempted. While Luke does grow and mature in his spirituality from this point, the coincidences he comes across in timing proper to the plot hinder the development of the allies he meets along the way.
Yet the real adventure is not on the desolate landscape Luke came to know as home; rather, it is up in the dreaded Death Star, a spherical spaceship constructed with enough power to in seconds destroy an entire planet. The black-hooded empire who directs the reign of this weapon, along with his collection of white-suited Stormtroopers, generate terror by the mysterious appearances of their concealing masks.
It is evident both in this description as well as the film’s undeniable presence in modern-day culture that director George Lucas (American Graffiti) has created from imagination a world rich in politics, geography, and history, to the likes of the works by J.R.R. Tolkien. Within the fantastical feel of the brilliantly paced battle sequences, each location visited breathes culture: the droid scavenging Jawas who parallel hooded monks in appearance, and the Tusken Raiders who rob from homes through means of violence as Native Americans were accused of by settlers. These inspirations from real life add to the pleasure of the Star Wars galaxy, but I still am a bit perplexed; why are all humans here White, while all nonhuman species behave like Redskins or Buddhists? I’d say it was unintentional racism if anything.
But because of the so many greater elements of this classical piece of work, Star Wars Episode VI: A New Hope remains the standard on how all movies should be made; a standard it held yesterday, today, and in days to come.
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QUIZ: FINISH THE QUOTE FROM STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE. Digital image. Star Wars. Lucasfilm, 21 Apr 2016. Web. <http://www.starwars.com/news/quiz-finish-the-quote-from-star-wars-a-new-hope>.
Star Wars. Lucasfilm. Web. <http://www.starwars.com/films/star-wars-episode-iv-a-new-hope>.