We look back on the legacy of one of cinema's most iconic franchises with the one that started it all...
Director: George Lucas
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford
Running time: 121 minutes
Star Wars: A New Hope came out 45 years ago in the UK, back in the time when films didn’t have the same release day across different countries. Those 45 years have seen huge change, with A New Hope being the film pioneering much of it. It shook the whole entertainment industry.
And this legacy is still going strong today. In the age of franchises, Star Wars is very much a core player. This year alone there have been three new Star Wars shows on Disney+: The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor. Star Wars won’t end anytime soon, with five shows eying a 2023 release date and more to come the following year.
Andor in particular pulls from this source material the most, expanding what Star Wars can be. But one of the things it does for A New Hope is making the Empire feared once again; after projects like Star Wars: Rebels making them seem incompetent and jokey. TIE fighters stalk the surface of occupied planets, and stormtroopers are no longer missing their shots. It also welcomes a fan favourite back to live action, 45 years after he last appeared. His appearance now takes on that bit more meaning, as his role is made a bit clearer.
Moments from A New Hope are also taken and recontextualised. Episode nine of Andor did this beautifully, giving a new and disturbing meaning to the shot of the door closing at Leia’s interrogation. But it’s not just adding in a more serious way, it’s keeping with the lighter tone. In A New Hope, blue milk is introduced and is loved by the fandom. 45 years later, there’s blue noodles and blue cereal. Nearly enough for a three course meal of blue food.
Disney has also shed more light about the innovative methods that enabled the film to be made. In July, a six-part documentary on Industrial Light and Magic, Lucas' visual effects company, was released; with the first episode in particular showing the difficulties that the film’s production endured.
A New Hope continues to be the one of the most influential films in entertainment, with moments in the film still being added to even to this day.
Obi-Wan Kenobi also adds to the original film, adding weight to Owen’s dislike of Obi-Wan. It also improves the emotional connection between Obi-Wan and Vader.
While the special effects in the original film don’t hold a candle to modern blockbusters the limitations faced by the team spurred their creativity. Had the Death been created virtually, it likely wouldn’t have had its equatorial trench, which was born out of the two halves of the sphere the team made.
The later editions of the film do make it arguably worse, as the CG creatures are poorly edited and at one point in the film block the entire screen. The Jabba scene Lucas stuffed in feels superfluous, only repeating points that Greedo makes to Han earlier in the film.
And this brings us to an addition that Disney made, Greedo crying out “McClunky”. Why this got added isn’t obvious, and just serves to strengthen the Han shot first meme. But thankfully the later half of the film is mercifully light on edits, from both Lucas and Disney.
A New Hope continues to be the one of the most influential films in entertainment, with moments in the film still being added to even to this day. The effects, while obviously not standing up to modern blockbusters, have a special place, and are more impressive with documentaries like Light and Magic showing the audience how they work.
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