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Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

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Main Article
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Directed By George Lucas
Written By George Lucas
Cast Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness
Produced By Gary Kurtz
Film Editing By Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas, Richard Chew
Cinematography By Gilbert Taylor
Music By John Williams
Studio

Lucasfilm

Country

United States

Language

English

Release Date

May 25, 1977

Runtime

121 Minutes

Rating PG
Distributed By

20th Century Fox

Budget $11,000,000
Gross $775,398,007



Plot

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away; the Galactic Empire has overthrown the Old Republic and has completed the construction of their ultimate terror weapon, a mighty space station known as "The Death Star" which contains a super-laser capable of annihilating an entire planet. But the Rebellion has secretly smuggled plans of the Death Star to Princess Leia of Alderaan who hopes that the detailed schematics contain an exploitable flaw.

Her ship is intercepted by Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith and the right hand of the Emperor himself and Princess Leia has barely enough time to transfer the data into a R2-D2 Astromech Droid Unit with orders to find a legendary General Obi-Wan Kenobi who is an old family friend and entrust the plans to him. The R2-D2 Droid accompanied by a C-3PO Protocol Droid use a life pod to escape and land on the nearby desert planet of Tatooine where they ultimately fall into the hands of Owen Lars, a moisture farmer and the uncle of an adventurous headstrong teenager, Luke Skywalker who dreams of becoming a starfighter pilot and fighting the Empire alongside the noble Rebellion.

R2-D2 flees to find Kenobi and Skywalker and C-3PO track down the lost droid and encounter Kenobi who reveals that he was once a member of the Order of the Jedi Knights who were great warriors and peacekeepers during the days of the Old Republic and were hunted down and destroyed by the Empire, particularly through the villainous Darth Vader who also betrayed and murdered Luke's father.

Returning home, Luke discovers that Imperial Stormtroopers have tracked down the droids to his uncle and aunt and slaughtered them. Distraught, he agrees to accompany Kenobi and become a Jedi Knight. Kenobi agrees to train the young man in the Force which is the source of the Jedi's powers.

The quartet hire a mercenary smuggler, Han Solo and his co-pilot Chewbacca as passengers to Alderaan only to discover that the entire planet was destroyed by the merciless Grand Moff Tarkin to intimidate Princess Leia into revealing the location of the Rebel Base. Their ship, the Millennium Falcon is captured and brought aboard the Death Star so that the crew can be questioned. Skywalker, Kenobi, Solo, Chewbacca, and the two droids manage to escape imprisonment thanks to special smuggling compartments built into the Falcon and the group plot to disable the tractor beams to allow the ship to leave.

While Kenobi is attempting to disable the tractor beam, Skywalker discovers that Princess Leia is being held in the detention center and impulsively seeks to liberate her as well. Although successful, Kenobi is intercepted by Darth Vader and the pair engage in a fierce duel that results in Kenobi's death but after a series of misadventures and harrowing escapes, the others are able to flee to Yavin IV, the current Rebel Base.

There, Rebel technicians are able to locate a critical flaw in the Death Star; an unshielded exhaust port that feeds directly to the main reactor. If a proton torpedo were to hit it directly, it could cause a cataclysmic chain reaction. Meanwhile, the Death Star has been tracking the Falcon and has located the Rebel Base. Skywalker decides to join the Rebel starfighter assault team while Solo is eager to collect his reward and flee.

As the Rebel starfighters are forced to desperately penetrate the Death Star's layered defenses resulting in heavy causalities, Darth Vader himself leads a group of Imperial TIE Fighters to wipe out scores of pilots. Even as Luke Skywalker attempts a final attack run on the exhaust port, he is being stalked by Vader himself when Solo returns to assist, crippling Vader's craft and enabling Skywalker to use the Force to help guide his proton torpedo to strike the exhaust port and resulting in the destruction of the Death Star.

Afterwards, the entire Rebellion celebrates their victory over the Empire and honors Skywalker and Solo for their heroism and that they have restored hope to the galaxy.

Cast

Production

Due to George Lucas' success in his first film of American Graffiti, he was able to secure funding and support by Alan Ladd, Jr. at 20th Century Fox for his idea of an epic space opera film. Reputedly, Ladd was not convinced due to the fact that the genre was often unpopular at the box office but was sold because he believed that Lucas was a talented director and that he "invested in Lucas instead of the film" in 1973.

Lucas' first drafts contained many elements of the future Star Wars movies but was told it was simply too difficult to understand, he scrapped it and rewrote the script with a heavy influence of Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress in 1974. Originally the script was titled "The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller". However shooting the film was delayed until March 22, 1976 due to unforeseen delays as Lucas was forced to actually create his own special effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) after 20th Century Fox's special effects department was disbanded leaving him with no way to create special effects for the movie.

Early shooting in Tunisia for the Tatooine desert scenes was complicated by a freak rainstorm, the first major rainstorm in over 50 years. Then, they were plagued with equipment failure, the extreme heat, and Lucas was also asked to move his "sandcrawler" when the neighboring country of Libya became concerned of the possibility of a major military mobilization due to a massive 'war machine' being spotted near the border and had to find a new location to shoot at. Then, there was a massive sandstorm which wiped out most of the sets forcing them to rebuild and resulting in significant delays to the shooting schedule.

Star Wars was plagued with significant problems for the rest of it's shooting, casting difficulties, and personality clashes between George Lucas and the cinematographer, Gilbert Taylor and rushing the special effects sequences through to fit the schedule.

Reception

Debuting on May 25, 1977 in less than 40 theaters, Star Wars was not expected to be a major success.  In fact, 20th Century Fox believed that other summer movies such as Smokey and the Bandit would overwhelm it and deliberately moved the film's release date to avoid the competition and bargained with theaters that if they ordered the film that they would receive the first run of The Other Side of Midnight which was a film adaptation of a critically acclaimed novel and was anticipated to be a huge success.

Instead, Star Wars broke all box office records, quite literally exploded in popularity as the second highest grossing film of all time.  It quickly became a cultural phenomena and one of the first gigantic blockbuster films, surpassing even Jaws.  Star Wars made all of the cast members of the film into instant celebrities and George Lucas' career as a filmmaker.  It remains one of the most financially successful films of all time and media franchise with only James Bond and Harry Potter surpassing it. When the Library of Congress created the National Film Registry in 1989 to preserve "culturally, historically, and ascetically significant films", Star Wars was among the first nominated and was also the youngest film to be chosen with the rest being nearly 30 to 70 years older.

It was also nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won 6; including Best Art Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound and Visual Effects and a Special Achievement for Sound Effects Editing.

George Lucas has re-released Star Wars on several occasions; in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1997 with minor edits including retitling it as "Episode IV: A New Hope", additional sound effects and dialogue, remixed soundtracks, additional footage, and re-edited shots as Lucas felt that the original version was lacking in certain parts or was left undone due to the original rushed production schedule. Star Wars IV: A New Hope was subsequently released in Betamax, Video 2000, Laserdisc, VHS, DVD, and Blu-Ray.

It also resulted in two sequels, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi as well as a prequel trilogy including Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace; Star Wars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones; and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith; several other feature films; a number of animated television series; books; video games; comic strips and comic books. At present, a sequel trilogy Star Wars VII, VII, and IX has being planned as well as several additional stand alone films focusing on specific characters such as Boba Fett and Han Solo.

Trailer

Star Wars - Episode IV - Trailer (original 1977)01:51

Star Wars - Episode IV - Trailer (original 1977)

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