A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

May 8, 2010

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

I don’t think it’s really necessary to review Star Wars, do you? I mean you’ve seen it and you’ve loved it. So my review today will take the form of a sort of stream of consciousness list of thoughts as I watch the movie. First of all I’d like to share a customer interaction from my Blockbuster years. This happened about once a month mind you:

Adult customer: I’d like to rent Star Wars for my ten-year-old child.

Me: Okay. Which one?

Customer: The first one I guess.

Me: Do you want the first one that was made or do you want the first one in the chronology of the series?

Customer: I don’t know. I just want to show him Star Wars.

I usually encouraged them to get this movie – because it’s the one that those adults are probably thinking of when they think “Star Wars.” And because I really didn’t want to subject anybody to Phantom Menace and its ilk.

Amanda has apparently chosen to pretend the prequel films simply don’t exist. That seems like the only rational course of action since the prequels fit so poorly with the original works. Some quick examples off the top of my head: Owen Lars completely fails to recognize C3P0 despite the fact that he lived for ten years with Shmi and 3P0 back before his sister-in-law Shmi was kidnapped by sand people. Ben Kenobi appears not to recognize R2D2 at all either – and after R2 saved his life so many times… that’s just rude. And just how many years have passed since the prequels? Kenobi looks to be about seventy now, but that would mean he was about fifty in Episode III. (Hmm. Alec Guiness was 63 when this movie was made. Maybe Obi Wan was in his fourties in episode III? I guess his aging was retarded by use of the Force and it accelerated when he went into hiding?) It makes no sense! I pity anybody who is introduced to Star Wars through the prequels rather than through this movie.

I used to use this movie as one of my examples for why Pan & Scan is such a travesty. Take a look at the line : “There are two Banthas down there but I don’t see any… wait a second, there’s Sand People alright – I can see one of them now.” In the Pan & Scan version of the film there are no Sand People visible through Luke’s goggles. The lone Sand Person is cut off the right-hand side of the screen. Star Wars was filmed in cinemascope – which means that the “Full Screen” version of the movie is missing almost half of the movie off the sides of the frame. It really gets me steamed when people complain about those obtrusive black bars that are cutting off part of their movie. Ignorant movie-hating hicks!

In accordance with the rules of our project we’re watching the special edition version of Star Wars from back in 1997 or so when Lucas re-released the movies in theaters with a little digital tampering. It was kind of a dry run for the prequel movies. Lucas made a lot of noise about how he always felt that the budgetary and effects restraints present when he was making the first Star Wars movie made it impossible for him to truly realize his vision. Apparently his true vision involved a lot more comic relief (Jawas swinging from bridles and annoying chirpy robots for example) and lots and lots of digital creatures. Oh, and sanitization like making Han shoot Greedo in self defense rather than as a preemptive strike. Because it’s important that all your characters be bland and uninteresting rather than having any kind of character arc. Heaven forbid that Han be less than a perfect gentleman before he reluctantly joins the Rebellion!

Extrapolating from the added footage in this special edition it is blindingly obvious what kind of garbage Lucas would produce given an unlimited budget and access to the leading edge in turn-of-the-century special effects. (Well obvious in retrospect I suppose.)

I was five years old when the first Star Wars movie came out in theaters. A very shy and sensitive five years old. I used to hide behind the couch during scened in the Wizard of Oz that involved the Wicked Witch of the West. As such I never made it through the entire movie during its first run. It must have been quite annoying to my parents. They wanted to experience this cultural touchstone of a movie with their child, but I would start crying in terror during the trash compactor scene and had to be taken out to the lobby lest I irritate the other movie-goers. I think my parents took me to see the movie at least twice, maybe three times, and I didn’t see the end of it until it was re-released right before Empire Strikes Back came out three years later. Man, I had nightmares about Darth Vader. (Naturally I also had Star Wars bedsheets with Darth’s helmet prominently displayed right smack in the center.)

I also remember that the only thing I asked for that year as a Christmas present was a droid. I really honestly expected to wake up on Christmas morning and find a fully functional working R2D2 under the tree. Instead I had a remote controlled car from Radio Shack with a posable silver man riding on top. I don’t think I did a very good job masking my disappointment. I did have a number of Star Wars action figures, but I think that’s a story for tomorrow because they didn’t actually come out the year that the movie did – the iconic action figures didn’t start appearing until ’78 or ’79 I seem to recall.

Man. So many memories. This movie and its sequels really WAS my childhood.

ETA: I wish now that we owned a copy of Akira Kurosawa’s “Hidden Fortress.” I’ll have to add it to the list.

May 8, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: