years '92 and '93 were my earliest memories of "Star Wars." And that was
strange, being only five or six years old at that time, I had never seen any of
the films. But I knew who Darth Vader is, and what's he to Luke Skywalker. I
knew about lightsabers, of course, X-Wings, and one giant explosion. Stranger
yet, at that time, I bore distinct memories of Darth Vader having a curved-hilt
lightsaber. (This led to a silly assumption in Episode 2 that Anakin might
obtain Count Dooku's lightsaber. I still haven't seen "A New Hope" then. I suck
I knew other things that I shouldn't. I knew there was a space scoundrel partnered with the Sasquatch, two droids, a retired Muppet, and the cave that turned out to be a worm. But I never knew there was a sister. Without a DVD at that time, early in 2000, I asked my uncle to tell me about "Star Wars" and he was more than happy to indulge me, sparing me none of the crucial details about the story, laying waste to every plot twist there was. My uncle is "Star Wars" fan. He's not hardcore. He wouldn't know what a Kel Dorian is. But he's enthusiastic enough as far as the films concern. And I'd like to see this enthusiasm of his, was what affected me to really get into "Star Wars."
After getting a PlayStation 2, I begged my mother that we go out to rent the original "Star Wars" trilogy at our nearest Blockbuster outlet. Instead, she got me a collection that included a bonus disc, where I allowed myself to get lost into.
"A New Hope" has really changed the way how I viewed cinemas and storytelling in general, combining genres, and just having fun with it. It was a film that made me think of family, sitting together in a couch or in the floor, eating overcooked popcorn, and having a good time in front of television set with a worn out VCR. It was a film that made me think of friends, children playing in the field, separated into two teams: The Rebels and the Galactic Empire. It made me think of monsters, and Jawas. (I like to believe "Final Fantasy IX's black mages were based on Jawas).
Stripping "A New Hope" of its space travels, futuristic weapons and technology, "Star Wars" becomes an epic fantasy, which always has a young boy who will one day tip the universe's balance. The young boy will either want to do great things, or satisfied with their way of life, greater ambitions are simply dreamt. There will always be something to hinder the hero from taking the journey, and something will happen to change that. These reasons are usually parents, guardians, or some other obstacle.
With this, the actual, physical journey is only but a thin layer. A hero's journey is every bit emotional, mentally, and spiritual obstacle the hero must overcome. In Luke's case, it was his uncle preventing him from leaving home. The life changing moment was when we find Luke's uncle and aunt, raw and burnt in their home. At that moment, home is a distant memory, the obstacle has been lifted, and the hero now has nothing else to lose.
On the advent of their journey, Luke visits the tavern Mos Eisley Cantina. Taverns, pubs, bars, those places make appearances in many fantasy stories. It would be a rare thing not to have one. "The Chronicles of Narnia" didn't have a bar scene. It did, however, have a tea party scene, which we can interpret as the same thing, considering the participant was a female, compared to taverns where male are more likely to frequent. A tea party being a formalized gathering, where adults basically talked about adult things. A bar is where adults gather, get intoxicated, get into brawls, and find sex. It is a rite of adulthood, where innocence has been shed to give room for the real world.
In bars you
will meet people, those friendly enough to show you the ropes. In some real
world cases, people who have never gone into bars are most likely accompanied
by people who have already been to these places. It is guiding force that helps
them through their journey. In "Star Wars," those were Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Even as viewers, we know little about the universe. We know what Luke knows and nothing more, besides seeing the latest trends in the Empire. Han and Chewbacca, however, knows the universe. They've seen the dark side of things, made dealings with the wrong sort of people, and did things to survive. They're the practical ones here and serves as a counterbalance to Luke's youthful enthusiasm.
One of the greatest experiences in "Star Wars" was it beautifully prosed quotes. Particularly, in "A New Hope," Darth Vader being bothered by the lack of faith. In this scene, we see Imperial Officer Conan Antonio Motti, insulting Vader and his belief on the ancient religion known as the Force. Vader, responds in kind, using the Force to choke Motti. This scene, perhaps is among the most significant display of power. Firstly, we witness a portion of what Darth Vader can do, increasing his threat-level tenfold. Secondly, the display of the Force in action, begins to cater a foundation for a rich mythology. George Lucas, may not exactly know what he's doing when he introduced the Force, and that is a wonderful thing.
It shows us the mysticism of the Force and builds a greater depth about the legends of the Jedi Knights. It's something that's a little bit more appreciating than Ben Kenobi's description of the Force, being an "energy field created by all living things." Honestly, as mystical that sounds, it gave the impression Jedi Knights were basically Space Buddhists.
One of my favorite scenes was when Ben Kenobi made his farewell. Luke in a fitting rage aims the blaster with both hands as the blast doors closes in. What was interesting, was how Luke held the blaster. With two hands, it looks ridiculous and clumsy, and first impressions might point out that it's bad directing and bad acting. Putting a lens on it, we see it's not that. Up to this point, Luke has retained most of his youthful innocence. It is also the first time we see him showing anguish, witnessing the final piece of his old life is now truly forever gone. (Well, physically, at least). This is the point where he steps forward in discovering himself, to find his own direction in life.
Looking at another layer of the "Star Wars" genre, it's a Western film. In the basic sense, Western films feature a harsh environment, often the frontier, such as deserts that typically have small and unfriendly towns. The Mos Eisley Cantina scene for instance, depicts the Western austerity of taverns and a cesspool of trouble. George Lucas and his team who developed "A New Hope" grew up in times of the "Lone Ranger" and other cowboy radio programs and film, so it's no surprise how "Star Wars" seems to have the same DNA. And like cowboy stories, "A New Hope" is all about a fun action-adventure story.
The science-fiction elements seemed to have stemmed in July 1969. During the first moon mission, and that brought out a new spectrum of entertainment possibilities. Everyone in the late '60s had tuned in on television to witness one of the rarest happenings in the world, at that time. It spiked the interest of space frontiers. And with its visual achievements in 1977, "A New Hope" is a work of art in every way.
In the bottom of it all, above everything else, "A New Hope" does not dwell into politics or the complexities of the human nature. It is what it is. A fun, adventure film that never wanted to have a massive cultural impact around the world - and yet it did. It was, an experiment at most, fusing both past and future. It's essentially, Buddhist cowboys in space, their kind, scattered and mythical, struggling to get by on a universe that has moved on without them.Â
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This article is part of GameGulp's Star Wars Special, a countdown commemoration for the upcoming "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."