I have just finished watching A New Hope. This also feels like a strange movie to talk about, seeing as how everyone in the industrialized world has seen this film. Everyone has an opinion on this movie. As such, I really don’t have much to talk about on this one. As for what I think of it?
I do not remember seeing this film for the first time. I really do not. It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The same goes for Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I cannot say what my first reactions were to anything.
I like the blending of different genres and tropes in a way that has not really been replicated since. Does any other movies combine fantasy stories, westerns, mysticism, and WWII air combat scenes into a single film? It combines a lot of tropes that have been done before but in a fresh way. Disguising as enemy soldiers to infiltrate the enemy instillation? Check. Rescuing a princess? Check. Wise old wily mentor? Check. Seedy tavern in which to gather more members for the party? All of that is there.
There are so many ways in which this could have been too hokey or cheesy. There’s an earnestness to the whole thing that could have gone overboard but it is balanced by a few sardonic moments in just the right places.
The effects have aged well. They are certainly not up to the standards of today but they have a charmingly antiquated look to them. The puppetry is a little janky at times but it is not as bad as some of the CGI today.
The visuals are recognizable. The rocky and barren landscape of Tatooine is recognizable along with the militarized industrial look of the Death Star.
One of A New Hope’s strengths is that it works as a standalone film. It tells a complete story from start to finish. Anyone can watch this film and understand what is happening without any supplementary material.
Is it a perfect film? Well, no film is perfect. A New Hope has its flaws.
The dialogue is cheesy at times. Carrie Fish sounds like she cannot settle on an accent. She tries for British when she mentions Tarkin’s ‘foul stench’ and sound American for most of the rest of the film. Luke sounds a little too whiny. (I guess he gets it from his father.) Why do Chewie and the other surviving pilots not get medals at the end? The swordplay between Vader and Obi-Wan is wooden and does not hold up with the swordplay in the later films. Why was the Death Star built with huge gaping holes in which to fall into?
It seems that a lot of the flim’s notoriety simply comes from the fact that it is famous and popular. I do not know if this film would be as popular if it were released today as opposed to 1979. Maybe then, this would be the film that hipsters would say is the one that everyone should see.
Despite those minor nitpicks, the film really holds up. Yes, it is cheesy in parts. Yes, the effects are dated. But damn, if it isn’t a pile of fun.