A New Hope

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Continuing my re-watch of all nine of the primary Star Wars films. I don’t recall whether I saw the original Star Wars film in the cinema or not. I would have been about four at the time it came out, and we didn’t go to the cinema much, so there’s a good chance I didn’t.

I saw it on TV enough times though, and had the action figures and read the book, so this film was a defining part of my childhood. Forty years on, the film still stands up pretty well.

One change I’ve noticed in films over the last forty years is that they’ve become a lot more fast paced and information dense. The reverse seemed to happen with the prequels – they were slower and less energetic than the films that came before.

Having seen what happened in the editing of Star Wars, it makes sense. The prequels could have done with a similar level of editing.

Compared to the opening battle of Revenge of the Sith, the Battle of Yavin was fast and emotional. There was more acting and character development in the almost nameless pilots who died than there was between Anakin and Obi-wan. People were dying, and there was a reason for the fight that we cared about (again, thanks to the edit), which made it exciting.

One area it was worse than the prequels was that the lightsabre duel between Obi-wan and Vader was pretty static. That only feels worse though in comparison to what comes later. Fight choreography in general has improved an awful lot since the 70s (there are exceptions). Comparing Bond movies from the same time with the modern day has a similar problem – filmmakers are a lot better at staging fight scenes now.

It’s not perfect film, but it’s a fun film with good characters.

Samuel Penn