Young farmer Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) leaves his life behind when he goes on a mission to save the lovely Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from the hands of the evil Darth Vader with the help of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in the genre-defining film directed by George Lucas.
I don’t believe any film had such an impact on cinema and collective imagination as Star Wars did. The recent films made more money that the amount Lucasfilm Ltd was sold for. George Lucas changed the way we look at films, what we expect from them and what is possible. As we are approaching the release of the latest “episodic” Star Wars ever (until they decide otherwise anyway), now seems the perfect time to talk about every Star Wars, starting with A New Hope. And although everything that could have been written or said about it was written or said, I’d like to tell sort of my personal story with Star Wars. A fair warning, though: I will not go into details concerning the different versions that were released on DVD and Blu-ray.
I’ve been a fan of Star Wars ever since 1997, when my father first introduced me to A New Hope on VHS. Not an official release, a tape he recorded on TV. That is how I discovered Star Wars: on a 4/3 55 cm CRT old Sony. Needless to say that when it ended, I ran to my father to ask for the sequel (more on that later). Was it the space battles? The characters? Or the impeccable application of the hero’s journey? I think it was all of that. Star Wars unveiled a world beyond my imagination. A world where everything was possible. A world with so many worlds to explore. I remember dreaming about the planets that could exist, nourished by the many concept arts I’ve seen since then. Ralph McQuarrie had no limit when creating the world visually. A film has limits. A film costs money. And when you think about it, Star Wars doesn’t deliver that much when it comes to planets. Only Tatooine, a desert planet, and Yavin IV, a forest planet, were shown. But the characters had the luxury to travel from planet to planet in a spaceship. How cool is that?
Star Wars made us feel as kids again. Still does. I still feel like the 7-year-old me watching Star Wars for the first time.
George Lucas also made us dream. By using the hero’s journey, he woke the hero that was sleeping in each and everyone of us. Luke Skywalker is a farmer that can’t leave his planet unless his uncle agrees to. He is a nobody. He is everyone of us. When the adventure knocks at his door, in the form of Jedi Knight Ben Kenobi, it reaches our sense of adventure too. Or willingness to discover the world. Our willingness to do something better and greater than us. After which he gets to save the princess and defeat the evil lad that is Darth Vader. I can’t tell of many times as a kid I dreamt of being Luke Skywalker and going on adventures around the galaxy and fighting the bad guys. I’m sure everyone did. That is the most important thing Star Wars gave us: dreams. Now, I can’t help but to parallel my dreams with those of George Lucas back in the 70s when he was working on Star Wars and nobody believed in him nor his film for kids. The production of Star Wars is worth alone a film. I still laugh when I remember reading that Brian De Palma to Lucas his film was worth nothing when the latter screened the unfinished cut of Star Wars (with WWII archives).
All of what I just said, the dreams, the imagination, etc… makes us forget how kind of blend Star Wars his. The performances are off (the actors didn’t really know what they were talking about), the effects were weak (now enhanced for the Special Edition) and the story is quite straightforward. I never feel scared for the characters in this one. Star Wars is not perfect. But we pardon its flaws for something much greater: it made us feel as kids again. Still does. I still feel like the 7-year-old me watching Star Wars for the first time. I care for what happens to the characters of Star Wars. I have goosebump every time the Rebellion’s X-Wings go against the Death Star with the incredible music of John Williams, every goddamn time.