As the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker nears, so does the end of the third trilogy in the Star Wars saga. Thus, it is an ideal time to look back on each film that came before it, in chronological order, starting with the prequels. This is Star Wars, the one which started it all.
Star Wars begins just moments after Rogue One, with an Imperial Star Destroyer chasing a small rebel ship above Tatooine. Rebels are quickly captured and decimated by a squad of stormtroopers, led by one of cinema’s most iconic villains, Darth Vader (played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones). His entrance is as chilling as it surely was more than 40 years ago. Even with a relatively limited screen time, his presence is felt thoroughly in the film. On multiple occasions, Star Wars demonstrates his powers both as a cunning leader and as a strong warrior.
His troops capture Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), but not before she sends her two droids, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), to the surface of Tatooine, in search of the Jedi knight Obi-Wan Kenobi. These droids are found by the young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who brings them to a local resident, believed to be just a crazy old man, going by the name of Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness). Turns out, he’s one of the last Jedi knights, who lived during the times of the Republic. He enlightens Luke into the ways of the Force and takes him under his wings as a new padawan.
They hire Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) a smuggler duo in order to get the plans for Empire’s new weapon, the Death Star, into the hands of the rebellion and free Leia from Vader’s grasp. New story elements, character developments and twists are introduced in almost every scene. The film never stops unveilings its fascinating adventure, from the space dogfight that starts the film to the credits, the pacing makes these two hours go by like a breeze.
Star Wars is anchored by three performances at its center, Luke, Leia and Han. Each of them is bringing something different and it’s a wonder to see them interact on the screen. Hamill’s performance is a bit wonky, but also charming in that way. Despite some imperfections, these character all feel real and alive, something that could be hardly said for the cast in the previous films reviewed. For how VFX-heavy it is, Star Wars aged gracefully. It’s surprising just how good is still is, with scenes like Luke turning on a lightsaber for the first time bringing a beautiful sense of nostalgia on the screen. All of it in harmony with the equally iconic John Williams score, Star Wars hasn’t lost any of that spark that it brought to the theatres a long time ago.
I could go on for hours, but you get it. It’s impossible to talk about modern (sci-fi) film and not mention this one. Effects-wise, it did everything first and did it in such a way that’s still affecting four decades later. Star Wars laid the groundwork which has been referenced, used and parodied countless times since, cementing it as an integral piece of cinema.