This is the movie where is all started not only for George Lucas, but for most of us. Rogue One stopped only few moments before Episode IV started, so when I came out of the theatre I wanted to see this movie more than anything. As I watched the whole series again, I decided to do a Top 5 of my favourite moment in each of the films. This is a timeless movie, because it reinvented a genre that was becoming tired, and Lucas made it the biggest blockbuster of all time.
1. The Opening Shot
To this day, special effects cannot uphold to that sequence. You can feel the imposing stance and form of the Destroyer hovering over the camera. Immediately we are intrigued by the story and the owner of such an imposing ship. It takes most of the screen, moving towards a small planet far away, following and then swallowing a smaller ship. As soon as we see it, we know they are the “bad” guys, because the Destroyer means power over the other small ship. That’s what filmmaking is all about, images tell the story better than words.
2. The Rescue of Princess Leia
We have met our three main heroes before in the film, but this is the first real test they will face together. So we get an idea of their dynamic and chemistry together, and since they are faced with a dangerous situation, we explore quickly their real personality. We learn that Luke is still the optimist, naive farm boy who is craving adventure, and that Han is this cool smuggler who has seen it all, so he thinks he knows it all. And we have Princess Leia who we know that on one side is royalty and distinguish, but on the other side, does not mind a good fight and kicking ass to get what is necessary for the Rebellion. This all come together in one sequence.
3. Darth Vader
The most recognized, if not the greatest villain of all time. He has become part of our pop culture and he is known across the world. There are many reasons for that: the music, his voice played by James Earl Jones and his costume together, they create the perfect monster. He is only in this movie for 12 minutes, yet in our mind he is the main antagonist. The first scene explains why this character became this iconic in our mind. When he arrives, the music intensifies and the background noises stop, except for his breathing. We focus only on him. With his helmet and his cape, he seems imposing and intimidating. Then the first thing he does is interrogate someone and then kill him. We know that he is in charge, he has also powers that we do not understand. He is mysterious. We are attracted to those qualities in him. This is why I love Vader in the Original Trilogy, we only learn what is necessary, the rest is a mystery.
4. The Death Star Battle
It is the best space battle of all time. The only flaw the first time I saw it was the exhaust port where they shot the torpedoes to blow up the Death Star, but it was explained in Rogue One, so now I have no more complaints. The sequence feels futuristic, because of the spaceships and the battle station and the lasers. Yet, there is something familiar with the battle itself, because Lucas used World War II plane technics that was recorded to create his own battle. He recreated complete sequences from documentaries in his own movie, only in Lucas’ film, it happened in space. Also, I have to say, that I like the clean up and the special effects Lucas added in the Special Edition of the movies. It makes them look a little bit less dated without changing anything to the action itself, only the colour and some effects. And using trenches around the Death Star is brilliant since it can be use to build the tension, never knowing if the character will make it to the end. This is how you build a finale in a movie.
5. Destruction of Alderaan
This is a key scene in the movie, because we now understand how powerful and dangerous the Empire is. We understand how impossible it is for our heroes to defeat them. Also, later in the movie, when the Empire is about to use the Death Star again, against Yavin 4 and the Rebellion, we understand that there is no chance of survival if they are hit. So, when we see how little time they have to destroy it, we are sitting at the edge of our seat, hoping Luke will hit his target. When Alderaan is destroyed, it also gives a higher purpose to Princess Leia. Of course, she is part of the Rebellion, so she wanted to bring the plan to the Rebellion and she would give her life for them. But with Alderaan destroyed by Tarkin and Vader, it becomes personal for her. She has lost her friends, her family, her home. So she will take the pain and turn it against the Empire. The Death Star becomes the greatest obstacle the Rebellion and Leia herself has ever seen.
What did you think of Episode IV: A New Hope? With this movie, Lucas didn’t just create a blockbuster that will make millions, but a huge Universe that everyone has a chance to explore through books, movies, music, comics, games or TV shows. It was a new creative world with characters with whom we connected and a great villain that will stay in the mind of generations for the next 40 years.