Star Wars: A New Hope
By Mike Derderian
Three days of the ‘force’—yet, I feel sad. For I always get to write about films, while what I really want is to be part of them. One way or another I know that my path with films will soon form a complete circle, just as Obi Wan Kenobi’s and Darth Vader’s paths collided years after the apprentice rebelled against the master and his ways.
Call me crazy but I believe a person who buys a Star Wars Trilogy 4-DVD disc set, launched for the very first time this year, digitally restored and re-mastered, in a price more than he can afford is more than a film fan. He is probably a cinema columnist writing in one of them Jordanian English weeklies.
However, I have to admit, I’d prefer to be a Jedi Knight holding his own light-saber in the face of evil emperors, Sith Lords and Storm Troopers than to be a mere typing machine. I believe that the force is found within one’s imagination, which is in part the element I try to pour into this space of time, words and Cinerama.
Star Wars IV: New Hope, the first of the worldwide known trilogy was brought to the world in 1977 by George Lucas, who directed a cast of stars like Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels and David Prowse.
Being the least of the trilogies in terms of character development, New Hope’s fast pace and rushing action takes you from one planet to another and spaceship to spaceship, putting you in a spiral of anticipation. With no opening credits whatsoever—except for a written prelude showed in the manner of a teleprompter’s news piece that reads, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”—the viewer finds himself eager to get a piece of the action.
The musical score composed by John Williams, who helped in revolutionizing the musical terms of epic cinema sound that made Star Wars become the best selling score-only soundtrack of all time, enhanced the pitch black space scenery in which silence goes easy.
A silence that was broken by the sharp shrills of laser rays coming from an empire destroyer trying to capture a rebel spaceship carrying Princess Princess Leia Organa (Fisher), who has the secret blueprints of the emperor’s latest Death Star run by Grand Moff Tarkin (Cushing).
Tarkin assisted by the rouge Sith Warrior Darth Vader (David Prowse and voice of James Earl Jones), who helped the evil empire to hunt down and exterminate Jedi Knights, except for Obi Wan Kenobi (Guinness) and Yoda, whom you’ll have the pleasure of meeting in Episode V. The princess is caught. So, who will save the galaxy now?
Not being noticed by imperial forces, too funny druids R2-D2 and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) manage to land on board planet Tatooine where Luke Skywalker (Hamill) dwells between hopes of becoming a fighter-ship pilot and his current situation as a farmer living with his uncle and aunt.
For a far-into-the-future sci-fi epic, Lucas’ choice of costumes added a certain credibility to the film. The simple earth tone fabrics between white and gray, which Luke wore, gave the impression that this now is a farm boy. Contrary to the simplicity of those Tatooinian costumes, Vader’s attire, which was conceptualized in accordance to a Japanese samurai, supposed to inflect horror in the heart of his opponent. Vader’s costume provided the successful fear factor that was honed by his voice and heavy artificially supported breathing sound.
Now, we come to one of Star Wars best elements that formed a phenomenon on its own among Star Wars cult fans. Light-Sabers that were designed by Nelson Shin; I mean didn’t you want one of those green, red and blue glowing laser swords that not only looked good but sounded good, when you where a child—well, everybody else did.
Lucas’ explanation to why a Jedi should use a light saber instead of a ray gun was in order to solidify and stick to the religion of the ‘force’. “This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster, but an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. For over a thousand generations, Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire,” Kenobi explains to Luke as he hands him the Jedi sword that belonged to his father, one of the greatest Jedi’s ever, who was murdered by Darth Vader.
Lucas said that using a light saber, a Jedi is given the choice of only defending himself, hence he wouldn’t be led to the dark side of the ‘force’, which is governed by anger and malice, as Vader did.
Being a visual effect revolution, Star Wars had a full size sound department dedicated alone to create the smallest sounds heard in the film’s action scenes and background. Sounds that have become a Star Wars hallmark, starting from light sabers, tie fighters, spaceships and, believe it or not, Chewbacca’s growl language.
This brings us to Han Solo (Ford), who thanks to his Millennium Falcon which is equipped with a hyper space engine that makes 0.5 past light-speed, both Luke and Kenobi will be able to reach the imperial ship in which the princess is held captive. Will they be able to free her and save the galaxy? See you next week!