For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!
George Lucas took a huge risk on “Star Wars” but it paid back – and hasn’t stopped. Lucas’ previous film was “American Graffiti,”- basically a tonal study of a small rural town in the early 1960’s, so making an epic science fiction film was a pretty big leap. It was only his third film and very well could have been his last.
We begin “Star Wars: A New Hope” with the two droids we see throughout the Star Wars films, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker). They bookend and punctuate the story, but for the most part are in the film as observers- metaphorically (and sometimes literally) telling the story. We find the droids on a space ship that has been invaded by storm troopers. Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is taken captive, but the droids evade capture by way of an escape pod, but are caught on the planet they land on and are sold to Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) family. Skywalker is helping out on his extended family’s farm, dreaming of a life off fighting with the rebellion. He stumbles across a message that R2-D2 holds, which leads him to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness).The warmth and depth of Guinness’ character brings a credibility to this fantastic story.
Luke’s family is tragically killed, and so our little team take off in response to Princess Leia’s message. We meet Han Solo, (Harrison Ford), a charming space cowboy- the opportunistic smuggler with a heart of gold who reluctantly steps up to the plate to help in the Rebellion. They take off after Princess Leia, and after successfully finding her, she leads the escape. For this film at least, she is strong and self-reliant. Throughout the film the obstacles that stand in front of Luke fall away. Luke’s limited view of the world expands, but for him to look beyond his reliance on his teacher, Obi-Wan must fall. Luke and the rest of the gang flee the Empire’s battle station in wake of Obi-Wan’s death.
The Rebellion mounts an attack on the Empire. Though the rebels face terrible odds, the spirit of Obi-Wan guides Luke and bolsters his confidence in the Force. That, and Han returns for an eleventh hour rescue. In this film, Lucas mixes cultures and references with wild abandon. It is as though he wanted to get in all the visuals and things built up in his head that he grew up with. This film deserves its spot because it is a showcase of the best of motion pictures- from adventure films, television serials and war movies. Lucas’ love and devotion to the art of film is inspiring to watch.
In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns: