Before we begin let's just get one thing straight... Han shot first.
Who would have thought exactly 40 years ago, a film would be released, that would take the world by storm, amass one of the most fanatical followings in pop culture and spawn one of the largest franchise in history that is still going today? Yup, I’m finally talking about Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
For those very few of you who’ve never seen this cinematic masterpiece (for shame), the plot is pretty simple, The Galactic Empire has built a mobile battle station called the ‘Death Star’, but the Rebellion has stolen the plans (Rogue One) and are trying to get them to their hidden base to find a weakness. En route the rebel spaceship is chased down and boarded by firstly, I don’t care what anyone says, the elite Imperial Stormtroopers who cut down any poor bastards caught in their sights, before Hollywood’s greatest bad guy ever strolls in, Darth Vader.
Before her capture, Princess Leia hides said schematics inside R2-D2 before sending it into an escape pod aimed for the planet below. Together with C-3PO, R2 finds his way to Luke Skywalker, who joins up with Obi-Wan Kenobi, an old Jedi Knight in exile.
They meet up with smuggler Han Solo (who shot FIRST) and his co-pilot Chewbacca who agree to take the 2 humans and their droids to Princess Leia’s home world for a price. This of course leads to the group having an adventure across the galaxy, including taking a bit of a tour through the ‘Death Star’, watching a lightsaber duel and the raid against the battle station as it aims upon the Rebel base.
What really set A New Hope apart from any other films during the same period was the special effects. From miniature models, puppets and early blue screens all mixed together seamlessly, people would exit the cinema in the late 70’s in awe, even I was impressed as a child in the late 80’s... Though that's not hard to do. Also, the sound effects were years ahead, the blasters? Hitting piano wire and slowed down in post-production, Darth Vader’s iconic breathing? Record a scuba set in an echo room and tone it down.
But it still left an impression on me that grew into the love of this franchise I still have today. Let’s be honest the acting isn't the best we've ever seen but it was still good enough to convince us, A New Hope did skyrocketed the careers of its 3 main members of cast, Mark Hamill who had only done one voice role was the perfect choice for Luke Skywalker. Carrie Fisher, yet another relatively unknown before this movie became one of Tinsel Town’s largest starlets at the time. But it was Harrison Ford’s stock that really profited here, he went from background roles to top billing and never left. I think what helped Lucas sell A New Hope was the inclusion of 2 great actors, Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan and Peter Cushing, the Horror Hammer legend as Grand Moff Tarkin, the man who actually ordered the destruction of Alderaan.
All this lead to a franchise that has stood the test of time and is still going strong today, we all know of course, Disney bought Star Wars from original director, producer and creator George Lucas for somewhere around the $4 billion mark and since then they have released the first of the sequel trilogy and a standalone film, with more on the way, while also relaunching the book series.
Star Wars will never end now, you can be sure it will continue in some way, shape or form for the next 80 years easy, I just hope they never reboot it. To think all this came from Lucas, a young independent filmmaker who loved samurai, westerns and Sci-fi Opera movies and wanted to meld them all together, the same man who had to fight just to get A New Hope released. So, happy 40th to Episode IV and Star Wars as a whole. You’ve always been a part of my life and you’re not going anywhere.