I think it’s sort of ridiculous that I saw A New Hope for the first time this past Sunday. The youngest of a family of nerds and the only movie I’ve seen in its entirety is Revenge of the Sith. Truth be told the prospect of critiquing this movie makes me a bit uncomfortable. I’m effectively going to be pointing out the flaws of a classic twice my age, and while I’ve critiqued classics before, it’s hard to touch one as big as Star Wars. Still, I’m going to give it a shot.
Now, while I’ve never seen the movie proper, it’s hard to live the life I’m leading without knowing the plot. It was sort of a strange feeling to recognize nearly every scene in a movie without having seen them enacted in a cohesive order before.
As far as the actual movie goes, it could be internal bias, but I actually did find it very entertaining. It does have its problems, and I’ll get to that. This being, as I’m told, the first “space” movie, it handled so many things remarkably well. It is an incredibly bold move to start off with a rolling text for exposition, and iconic as it is, I would actually take points off for that. A “better” movie would be able to include that exposition in the movie. I would argue that much of it was in the movie, or at least implied, but perhaps that could be attributed to the fact that I’m already familiar with the Star Wars universe.
The thing I liked most about this movie is how the Force is viewed in this world. I’ve played Star Wars games and stuff, but never before have I truly experienced the part of the timeline where the Jedi Order is extinct. At first I thought it was stupid that everybody considered the Force as remnants of a dead religion rather than the very real and prevalent phenomenon it is, but then it was explained to me that to most of the denizens of these worlds, the Force is just a religion. Nobody has seen proof of its existence, and the few that are left that can use the Force are already of mythical status so anything they say or do can’t be readily perceived as “the way of the world”.
This movie has real charm. All of C3PO’s interactions, as annoying as he can sometimes be, are enjoyable. I like the dichotomy between him and R2-D2, and I’m impressed at how well it panned out with only one of the two being able to speak. Leia is a strong female lead, and though I’m not surprised on that front, I do want to point it out, because by my understanding that was extraordinarily uncommon, especially in this sort of genre. As a side note, the special effects were actually amazing for 1977. Of course, a lot of it was done with models, but it really shows how far the industry can go without the use of adding in almost real looking CGIs (cough cough).
I did have two larger issues with the movie, however. The more minor of the two was that in some parts, the audience is blatantly lied to. Obi-wan tells Luke that Vader killed his father. I get it. Obi-wan is hiding the truth and it’ll be a big reveal later on, but you can’t lie to your audience like that. This makes it impossible to anticipate the ‘truth’ because we don’t know Obi-wan well enough to see him as anything other than this almost divine master with magic powers. We can’t see the possibility of him lying. This scene should happen later so we can see there is more going on than what we’re being told (though of course I realize Obi-wan “dies” in this movie so my suggestion is moot. Besides all the other reasons it would be moot.)
Lastly, the final scene of “The Battle of the Death Star” is hard to follow and anticlimactic. I had no idea how well the battle was going, how many fighters the Rebels had left, or if anything had to happen before Luke was able to go in and snatch victory from the jaws of probability. It was just the same scene over and over: Three rebel ships swoop into the trench, they die. Sometimes at the hands of Vader. This happens three or four times before Luke himself actually goes down into the trench, and at no point was I able to readily discern how well this battle was going. The only basis I had was the fact that since more Rebel ships are blowing up than Empire ones, the Rebels must be losing. Hard to follow.
All of that being said, I know very little about the next two movies. I know they go to Hoth in the sequel and a bunch of stuff happens there, and of course Yoda happens at some point, but that’s pretty much all I know about them, so that should be fun. Stay tuned for next week!