A small band of rebels attempt to destroy a battle station with the power to destroy entire planets. Constructed by the galactic empire, this “Death Star” heralds the end of the rebellion and the triumph of evil over good. Luke Skywalker, a Jedi apprentice and wielder of the mysterious Force, stands as the galaxy’s last hope…

Directed By: George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness

Every child and adult knows that a fairy tale must begin with the phrase, “Once upon a time in a faraway land…” Though when that line is spoken, it should be with a glimmer in the eye and awareness in the heart; because the events that take place in that faraway land are a lot closer than the words acknowledge.

A fairy tale is often dismissed as a story only for children. They are not meant for adults. How mistaken that belief is! For a fairy tale captures the essence of the human heart, what we admire, what we fear, and what we dream. Fairy tales are formulaic, that’s true, but the formula is there to remind us of the cycle of life. What has come before must come again, just in a different guise.   

Star Wars is a fairy tale. It is an old story set in a mythical future; hence the opening line, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” This introduction, fashioned after the classic fairy tale line, tells the audience what to expect. Through Star Wars the audience will experience the fundamental human story of heroism and growing up.

A New Hope is set in a fantastical yet familiar world. The planets, aliens, and starships seem strange at first glance, yet we come to recognize them: the boring but safe home, the menacing enemy fortress, a world without limits. Yes, we know these places and the characters too: the Hero, the Princess, the Mentor, the Scoundrel, the Sidekicks, and the Villain. Perhaps that is why the first in the Star Wars series produces such a warm emotion upon viewing. It is like greeting an old friend.

The characters though are not boring cardboard cutouts. The actors lend their own unique personality to the archetypes they play. Mark Hamill for example conveys Luke Skywalker’s personality very well. His naivety, his frustration, his vulnerability, and his desire to be and do something with his life are immediately clear. Alec Guinness excellently lends his experience to the production as Obi-Wan Kenobi. And the relationship between Princess Leia played by Carrie Fischer and Han Solo by Harrison Ford is unforgettable. Then of course there is Darth Vader…

However, the characters are not the only entertaining aspect of Star Wars. The action and special effects even compared to modern productions are stellar. The tension felt during the firefights set to the rousing score is visceral. When Han Solo charges headlong to take on the enemy stormtroopers we almost feel like jumping out of our seats to help him. On this front Star Wars owes much to prior WWII films like The Dambusters. (In fact, some scenes are replicated frame for frame.) These WWII films are the heroic tales of the previous generation and a legacy that Star Wars proudly carries on.

Over all, the original Star Wars is pure cinematic fun. 

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