A New Hope
"Remember, The Force will be with you, always."
A New Hope, or more precisely, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (originally released as and still simply called Star Wars by many fans) was the 1977 film that marked the first chapter of the Star Wars saga. It's the film that started it all, giving birth to one of the most beloved and long-lived franchises in the history of cinema--and entertainment in general. Though most people wouldn't have guessed that at the time...
George Lucas had a lot of trouble getting a studio to back him up, and even Twentieth Century Fox would have dropped the film if not for the support of Alan Ladd Jr. The film also had a Troubled Production, both with the live action and the special effects, the latter because the newly formed Industrial Light and Magic had to spend the first several months just making the technology required to film the scenes Lucas wanted.
This left Lucas exhausted after the film was finished, and he didn't direct another film for over 20 years . It seemed the film would suffer an even worse fate.
Of course, we all know that didn't happen.
The Star Wars movies are perhaps the most well-known Science Fiction/Space Opera films ever, but A New Hope in particular is the most famous among the six. With its box office gross adjusted for inflation, it is the second highest grossing movie ever, surpassed only by Gone with the Wind. So famous is the film, in fact, that this page isn't even going to bother summarizing the plot. In fact, that plot itself is in some ways irrelevant. It's all about how it's presented.
- Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age: Kenobi gushing about the lightsaber.
- The Force Is Strong with This One
- Let the Bully Win (a play off of "let the Wookie win.")
- Not in This For Your Revolution
- The Obi-Wan
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil
- Thank the Maker
- That's No Moon:
- The Dog Shot First: After the infamous scene in the Special Edition.
- What a Piece of Junk!
- Wretched Hive: How Obi-Wan described Mos Eisley.
- Your Eyes Can Deceive You:
- Actor Allusion: "I knew your father ..." Early in Doctor Zhivago, Alec Guinness says those same exact words to Rita Tushingham.
- Actually, I Am Him: Ben Kenobi is also Obi-Wan Kenobi.
- Always Save the Girl
- Amusing Alien: Greedo, whose only purpose was to be a punchline for Han.
- Artistic License Physics: "It's the ship that did the Kessel run in twelve parsecs." A parsec is a measurement of distance (3.262 light years), not time. Lucas claims that a major factor in hyperspace travel times is navigation; with a good enough navicomputer and a shrewd enough navigation sense, you can shave huge amounts of distance (and thus time) off a trip, and that's part of the reason why the Millenium Falcon is so fast. The EU elaborates on this, as it does everything else.
- Ascetic Aesthetic: Averted with the Millennium Falcon, played straight with the Star Destroyers.
- Ascended Extra: Every kriffing character gets his/her/its own story in later works. Particularly the ones in the cantina.
- Attack of the Monster Appendage: The Dianoga is a type 1. We only get to see its eyestalk and tentacle.
- Bad Guy Bar: The Mos Eisley cantina.
- Big Bad: Grand Moff Tarkin, who is given this role as he is in charge of the Death Star and, notionally, Darth Vader. Palpatine doesn't show up in the Original Trilogy until Episode V.
- Big No: Luke watching Vader slice Obi-Wan in two.
- Big "What?": Leia, after finding out that despite her (feigned) cooperation, Tarkin intends to destroy Alderaan anyway.
- Big Damn Heroes: Han Solo arriving just in time to save Luke from Vader and buy Luke the vital seconds needed to send the photon torpedos into the Death Star's thermal exhaust port.
- Bottomless Pit: Which Luke and Leia swing over.
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Luke's home being burnt down by stormtroopers.
- The Cameo: The Outrider taking off from Mos Eisley in the Special Edition.
- Boba Fett in the restored Jabba scene; he wasn't in the original scene.
- Can't Believe I Said That: Han Solo over the intercom: "How are you?" Cringes.
- Plus since it was improvised, either Harrison couldn't believe that was the best he could ad lib, or he felt Han would realize he was talking like an idiot.
- Changed My Mind, Kid: Just when Vader is about to blast Luke down onto the Death Star surface, the Millennium Falcon makes a surprise intervention and blasts one of Vader's wingmen. Han returns after saying through the movie that he only cares about the prize at the end!
Vader: "I have you now..." --Explosion-- "What?!"
- Chekhov's Skill: The development of Luke's Force sensitivity functions as this, as he increasingly learns to fight by instinct rather than by conscious thought. The culmination is his destruction of the Death Star.
- Commander Contrarian: General Tagge for the Empire ("Until this battle station is fully operational, we are vulnerable.") Unusually he's entirely right and the Empire would have been a lot better off listening to him.
- Cover Identity Anomaly: When Han is impersonating a stormtrooper over the com, he can't come up with his operating number.
- Covers Always Lie: Darth Vader's lightsaber has a hilt on the original cover and film poster.
- There is also this poster as well as a similar one showing a much more muscular Mark Hamil, a sexier Carrie Fischer, the implication that they are lovers, and Luke raising a lightsaber as if he used it in battle. As it stands, Luke only uses a lightsaber during a training scene and doesn't pick it up again until the next movie.
- Deadpan Snarker: Han and Leia, to the point of engaging in Snark-to-Snark Combat.
Leia: "Would somebody get this walking carpet out of my way?
- Defiant to the End: Leia to Tarkin.
- Deleted Scene: Loads were cut due to Lucas feeling they dragged the pace of the film (and it did get the film the best editing Academy Award). These include:
- Luke fixing a moisture vaporator. He observed the space battle between the Star Destroyer and Leia's rebel ship.
- Luke meeting his friends to tell them about the space battle, but no one but Biggs believed him. This scene happened between the droids escaping in the escape pod and Leia confronting Vader.
- Biggs telling Luke he's defecting to the Rebellion. This happened between C-3PO catching sight of the Sandcrawler and R2 getting captured by Jawas.
- Two deleted scenes -- Han talking to Jabba the Hutt, and Luke meeting up with Biggs in the Rebel hangar -- were restored in the Special Edition.
- Demoted to Extra: Biggs Darklighter got this because his aforementioned scenes with Luke were deleted. In the first theatrical cut, he's just a nameless Red Shirt with no indication of a prior history with Luke.
- Den of Iniquity: Mos Eisley again.
- Department of Redundancy Department: In the special edition, some of the lines Han says to Jabba are the same as he said to Greedo. The reason for this is that when the Jabba scene was originally cut, a few of the lines (particularly "Even I get boarded sometimes! You think I had a choice?") were added to the Greedo one. However, by the time the special edition came around, Harrison Ford was too old to record different lines while he was reaching for the blaster.
- Damsel in Distress: Princess Leia, but the trope is massively subverted for the genre George Lucas was drawing from. True, Leia doesn't try to escape herself, but that's because she's completely outnumbered and then imprisoned in a moon-sized battlestation. When an opportunity does arise, she seizes it with both hands and takes charge of matters once it's obvious her so-called rescuers don't have a clue what they're doing.
"Somebody has to save our skins!"
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The ending scene for A New Hope. This is a bit more like Putting on the Reich. And don't even get us started on Triumph of the Will!
- Doomed Hometown: Alderaan, for Leia.
- Doomsday Device: The Death Star.
- Dressing as the Enemy
- The Dulcinea Effect: Luke, that is - he opts to rescue Leia on the strength of little more than her Hologram image.
- Earthshattering Kaboom: If anything can destroy a planet with a laser, it will likely be at least nicknamed a Death Star.
- Then the Death Star itself, even if it's an artificial planetoid-shattering kaboom.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Leia! She even blasts a few stormtroopers, thus making her an Action Girl.
- Exposition: "Traveling through hyperspace aint' like dusting crops, boy!"
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Err, uncle.
- Fighter Launching Sequence: The ships launching for the battle of Yavin.
- Finger-Poke of Doom: The first appearance of the Force choke used by Vader.
- Follow the Leader (Inspired so many)
- Together with Jaws, it popularized the Blockbuster movie.
- The film itself drew from many sources. The Hidden Fortress connection is well known. The Dune-Tatooine inspiration is pretty obvious. You can tell George Lucas must have seen at least Space Battleship Yamato episodes 26, 1, and 8, in that order, so we can probably pin his famous trip to Japan down to early 1975, when the series went into reruns. Isaac Asimov noticed some similarity to his Foundation series but didn't take it personally. As Wilson Mizner observed, stealing from everybody is just called "research."
- Forced to Watch: Leia is forced to watch Alderaan's destruction.
- Friendly Target: Biggs.
- From a Certain Point of View: Tarkin orders Leia to divulge the location of the Rebel Alliance's base. She does, saying that it's on Dantooine. When Imperial ships arrive at the planet they find out that there was a Rebel base there...it had just been abandoned. So Leia did divulge the location...just not the right one.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Obi-Wan, coupled with Go Out with a Smile.
- Heroism Incentive: Luke telling Han he could get a handsome reward for saving Princess Leia.
Han: No reward is worth this.
- Hollywood Atheist / Flat Earth Atheist: Admiral Motti is the Recycled in Space equivalent of this, as far as expressed contempt for religion goes. He even openly ridicules Vader's belief in the force, and gets (albeit temporarily) force-choked for it.
- Han Solo also evidently doesn't believe in the Force either, but his tone seems to be relatively less contemptuous than Motti's, despite that the consequences to Solo for such contempt would clearly be milder. This may be typical of the times he lives in, as the Empire has done its best to suppress knowledge of the Force.
Luke: You don't believe in the Force, do you?
- Homage: To Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, with the droids being the focus for much of the film, and also to Yojimbo, with the scene of the two braggarts at the cantina. Lucas' heavy use of frame wipes is also indebted to Kurosawa. The heart-wrenching scene where Luke rushes to the farm, only to find it already raided and his relatives dead harkens to an equally distressing scene in The Searchers.
- Han shooting first? An homage to the scene where Angel Eyes is introduced in The Good the Bad And The Ugly.
- I Just Want to Be Special: A New Hope begins with Luke saying that he wants to leave home to join the Rebellion. It's bittersweet when he gets his wish.
- I Lied: Tarkin threatens to destroy Alderaan unless Leia gives up the location of the Rebel base. When Leia tells him, he has Alderaan destroyed anyway. For her part, Leia lied about it being on Dantooine, at least currently.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Justified during the Death Star escape, since the Empire needed Leia to lead them to the Rebel base.
- Instant Sedation: The Imperials' stun weapons knock out Leia instantly.
- It Will Never Catch On: George Lucas, what were you thinking with this "space movie"?
- Although it did mean Lucas got full sequel and merchandising rights easily. He waived the money he would be paid as the director, and the studio believed they would just be losing less money thanks to that.
- I Was Just Passing Through: Obi-Wan rescuing Luke from the Sand People.
- Jerkass: Han Solo, although he has a Hidden Heart of Gold.
- Just in Time: Han showing up at the Death Star fight and saving Luke from Vader.
- Kick the Dog / Moral Event Horizon: The destruction of Alderaan.
- Knight, Knave, and Squire: Luke Skywalker is the Squire, with Obi-Wan and Han Solo as the Knight and Knave respectively. A key point in Luke's character development is when he rejects Han's pragmatism, leading to Han second-guessing his own beliefs.
- Leitmotif: All over the place. John Williams held nothing back.
- Let's Get Dangerous: At first, Obi Wan seems to be little more than a wizened old man, who may have once been a warrior of the Clone Wars, but is now, well, an old man who lives in a hovel. Then we get to the cantina scene, where said old man whips out a lightsaber, deflects blaster shots and lops a man's arm off. You can tell from the look on Luke's face, that's the moment when he starts to take the whole 'Jedi' thing seriously.
- A Light in the Distance: C-3PO, lost on Tatooine, sees light glinting off a Jawa sandcrawler and concludes that he's saved.
- Magic Versus Science: "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of The Force."
- Mentor Occupational Hazard
- The Merch: Famously, toy makers were caught with their pants down.
- Mood Whiplash: Only applicable if you watch the films in chronological order: Revenge of the Sith is a dark tragedy in which an already-tainted hero turns evil, kills children and is mutilated by his former best friend while this film is a straight-up action adventure with wisecracking heroes. Going from the former to the latter is a bit jarring.
- Motivational Kiss: Leia gives Luke a peck on the cheek "for luck" before he tries to swing over a precarious gap.
- Neck Lift: Darth Vader to the captain of Princess Leia's ship while interrogating him, which leads to a Neck Snap when he refuses to cooperate.
- Never My Fault: C-3PO while lost in the desert after refusing to take R2's route:
"That malfunctioning twerp! This is all his fault! He tricked me into going this way!"
Leia: "Quick! Find the controls that extend the bridge."
- Nice Job Guiding Us Hero: "They let us go."
- No OSHA Compliance: The Death Star, and how.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The dianoga in the trash compactor. We only see a couple tentacles and an eyestalk.
- Obstacle Exposition: We have the briefing before the attack against the Death Star that clearly outlines their mission of hitting the exhaust port and everything that can possible stop them. This includes the need for tactical computers to make such a shot, and for good measure there was an unsuccessful attempt mid-way through the battle just so we know just how necessary a precise shot with the targeting computer is. Cue Luke turning off the targeting computer.
- Off-Model: The CGI Jabba from the Special Edition.
- Oh Crap:
Vader: "I have you now." *wingman goes boom* "What?"
- Open the Door and See All the People: han Solo running towards a room full of stormtroopers in the Special Edition.
- Palette-Swapped Alien Food: The blue milk.
- The Power of Legacy: Obi-Wan refrains from telling Luke about his father's true nature. Luke thinks of whoever his father is as a hero throughout this movie.
- Uncle Owen led Luke to believe Anakin was a navigator on a spice freighter, neither painting him as hero or villain.
- Precision F-Strike: During the following conversation between Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi:
Han: Even if I could take off, I'd never get past the tractor beam.
- Pursued Protagonist: Leia in the opening
- Redemption Equals Death: In the EU, we learn that the head gunner for the superlaser was filled with remorse and desperately stalled for time at Yavin.
- Reliably Unreliable Guns: Luke's gun jams when the dianoga attacks him.
- Rescue Introduction: Luke meeting Leia. Subverted in that she ends up leading her own escape.
Leia: This is some rescue!
- Retronym: When he made Star Wars, Lucas imagined that it would be Episode I in a series of films with the overall title The Adventures of Luke Skywalker. But while making The Empire Strikes Back (which was at first going to be Episode II of the series), he decided that he also wanted to do three prequel films. Since Luke obviously wouldn't be the hero of the prequels, Lucas needed a new name for the overall series. His solution? Star Wars, once just the chapter title of the first film, became the title of the entire saga. As a result, the subtitle A New Hope was retroactively tacked on to the first film, and it was now numbered Episode IV.
- Rewind, Replay, Repeat: "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi! You're my only hope!"
- Ribcage Ridge: The Krayt dragon bones when C-3P0 and R2-D2 are walking through the desert.
- Seven-Man Band
- Seventies Hair: Luke and Han have long seventies-style hair and most of the Imperial officers have long sideburns.
- Thankfully averted with Leia; George Lucas looked specifically for an obscure style and landed on the Hopi "cinnamon buns."
- Smart People Play Chess: R2-D2 and Chewbacca's dejarik game during the flight to Alderaan.
- Smug Snake: While not as obvious an example as Jabba, (who in this installment is actually more along the lines of Affably Evil) Admiral Motti's "any attack made by the Rebels would be a useless gesture" remark comes across as fairly presumptuous in any context, but especially in light of what happened near the end of the movie. Also, his attitude towards Vader's belief in the Force is a DTRYOA of Hollywood atheism, of the Recycled in Space variety.
Motti: This station is now the ultimate power in the universe! I suggest we use it.
- Spontaneous Crowd Formation: When Darth Vader and Obi-Wan face off, the Stormtroopers leave their posts guarding the Millennium Falcon to watch the duel. Luke's shouting at Obi-Wan's death snaps them out of it.
- Stab the Sky: The poster.
- Standard Establishing Spaceship Shot: The Star Destroyer flyby at the beginning.
- Stock Parodies: It's unlikely that there's a single scene in the movie that hasn't been parodied somewhere.
- Storming the Castle: The escape from the Death Star.
- Strolling Through the Chaos: Artoo and Threepio walk across a corridor, with Imperial Stormtroopers and Rebel Guards shooting at each other from opposite ends, and somehow aren't hit once.
- Supernatural Aid: Luke receiving the lightsaber from Obi-Wan is a textbook example.
- Supporting Protagonist: The first third of the movie was through the eyes of the droids.
- Technology Marches On: As was Lampshaded by Irregular Webcomic here, "We have the ability to destroy a planet and tape is the best backup medium we have?"
- Truth in Television: High-density tape cartridge systems are still a cost-effective and reliable method of data storage, especially in archive systems where quick retrieval time is not too important.
- The schematics for the Death Star, although that could be justified in that they're only a blueprint.
- Tell Me About My Father: Just peppered with From a Certain Point of View.
- Tempting Fate: Tarkin, when offered the opportunity to evacuate the Death Star:
Tarkin: "Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances."
- Luke: "Oh, yeah, well, I guess you're too small to run away on me if I take this off."
- Terrifying Rescuer: Inverted, when Luke enters Leia's cell in a Stormtrooper uniform, she calmly starts some banter.
- Throw It In: The Funny Moments scene of Han trying to talk the Stormtroopers out of investigating the shootout they've just had. Depending on who you talk to, Harrison Ford forgot his lines, never read them at all, or just learned them shortly before shooting.
- The Stormtrooper who hits his head on a door.
- Torture Technician: In robot form!
- Tracking Device: The Imperials plant one on board the Millennium Falcon, which allows them to track the heroes to the Rebel base on Yavin IV.
- Trolling Creator: "Greedo always shot first."
- Troubled Production
- Turn Out Like His Father: Which provides some unintentional foreshadowing.
Beru: Luke's just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.
- Upbringing Makes the Hero: Luke.
- The Walls Are Closing In: The trash compactor scene is a Shout-Out to the Death Traps from cliffhanger serials that George Lucas grew up with.
- Watching the Sunset: Or suns, in this case.
- Watching Troy Burn: Alderaan.
- Wave Motion Gun / Kill Sat: The Death Star
- Weld the Lock: Luke shoots the control panel lock in order to keep the Stormtroopers from getting in. It turns out that the panel also controls the bridge. His makeshift lock doesn't hold for too long, either.
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Han to Leia
- Why Didn't You Just Say So?: Luke says this to Han Solo when they are trying to rescue Princess Leia.
Han: This is not going to work.
- Widescreen Shot: Plenty, from the opening crawl, to the first Star Destroyer, to the final celebration scene.
- Woman in White: Princess Leia.
- What Could Have Been: During initial drafts, Darth Vader's iconic suit would have been a spacesuit as he needed to board the Tantive IV through space. It ended up since rewritten to being a permanent life-support system.
- The role of Obi-Wan Kenobi was originally written with Toshiro Mifune in mind. Depending on who you talk to, either 20th Century Fox wasn't keen on giving Mifune another whirl (although Mifune could speak English, all productions where he was speaking English ended up dubbing over his voice due to his thick Japanese accent) or Mifune wasn't available. Either way, the role went instead to Alec Guinness.
- You Said You Would Let Them Go: Tarkin attempts to force Princess Leia into revealing the main Rebel Base by threatening to use the Death Star's superlaser on Alderaan as a demonstration of its power. She gives them the location (or so it seems). Unfortunately for her, Tarkin is not a man of his word.
- though he supplied the overall concept for the original trilogy and served as Executive Producer, this is the only one of the three that he actually directed