George Lucas had a vision. He envisioned the space operas and serials of the 30's up to the 50's on a grander scale, with villains everyone hated, heroes everyone loved, a heroine everyone fell in love with, huge battles and a grandious story of good vs. evil, light vs.dark. He crafted his vision in 1974, under the name of The Star Wars, with the main character called Luke Starkiller, the 'Force' was in the shape of a crystal called the 'Khyber Crystal' and Yoda was taller!! Initially, it was to be a 9 part saga, with him filming 4, 5 and 6 first, as they would be the least technically demanding, and 1, 2 and 3 coming later. 7, 8 and 9 seem to have vanished. About two yeas later, he had a rough copy, and took the story around the different studios, like Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros., hoping they would be as enthusiatic about his story as he was. Unfortunately, they weren't, and he was about to give up, until he took it to Alan Ladd, Jr at 20th Century Fox. He read it, loved it an green lit it straight away. Alan Ladd, Jr must have seen it's potential, as it's become one of the biggest Science Fiction franchises of all time (alongside Star Trek), and was the first movie to bring about the little item called merchendising, like games, soundtrack cd's, figures, the list is endless. It shows how much influence the movie series has. Anyway, enough of the backstory behind the story, lets press on, shall we?
Episode IV A New Hope
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Princess Leia is rushing home on her blockade runner ship, Tantive IV, with plans on the Galactic Empire's secret weapon, an armoured space station with enough firepower to destroy entire worlds, The Death Star. Hiding the plans inside the trusty droid R2-D2, she gets captured by the Empire. Both droids stow away inside an escape pod and they make their escape and crashland on the planet Tattooine. Eventually, and through a series of events, they find themselves the property of Owen and Beru Lars, and their nephew, Luke Skywalker. Whilst cleaning the little droind, Luke hears part of a message meant for a person named Ben Kenobi: 'Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope'. After finding the old hermit, and agreeing to help Old Ben, little does Luke know that the upcoming adventure will forever change his destiny.
The first time I saw this movie, it blew me away. To me, it was perfect escapism. Space battles, lightsaber duels, blaster fights and an asthmatic bad guy, they all add up to the perfect combination. Being 4 years old, and watching it on an old Beta Max video recorder, I practically wore the tape out.
The story is superbly crafted, with a great scipt. Lucas had a bit flair and creativity in his his writing back then, and it shows, right through to the finished product, with the words flowing through the actos as they go through every scene. The special Effects still hold up well, even after 34 years. The model work is excellent, and the way they filmed the various shots of ships blowing up around the Death Star at the the final battle is something else, and is complemented perfectly by John William's epic score throughout. There is so much talent put into this, it's a real labour of love.
If you're discovering Episode IV for the first time, or the 101st time, pop it in your Blu Ray player, turn down the lights, turn up the volume and immerse yourself in one of the best Sci-Fi experiences ever created.
Coming soon: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back