Thread Tools
Old 12-29-2017, 12:42 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Fenario
Posts: 917
My Re-Evaluation of Original Star Wars (New Hope) from a film-craft standpoint, scene by scene

On page 12 of the Last Jedi thread, I maintained that Mark Hamill's acting contributed to some of the "low points" of the original Star Wars (A New Hope), though I acknowledged that I thought most of the other actors were good. This was met with some objection, so I decided it was time for a critical re-watch of A New Hope - both to re-evaluate my position on Hamill, and to just point out some of the things that made it a great movie (as opposed to the most recent trilogy, which I thought was only "good" so far, with The Last Jedi being the better of the two.

So, here are my notes. I should note that this is just Part 1. When I have more time I will pick it back up, but for now, here are my observations about the early parts of the movie. (Cut and pasted from the notepad.) Please add your own observations or responses to my comments, as you see fit.
  • instead of being boarded from a ship of smaller or equivalent size, the rebel ship is literally sucked into the gargantuan star destroyer, much more dramatic than the alternative.

  • right off the bat it starts off with a shootout between lightly armed and very heavily armed and intimidating soldiers and you immediately get the sense that the rebels are fucked. dehumanizing armor of stormtroopers makes them instantly menacing

  • right as vader makes his big entrance, one stormtrooper is standing still staring at him.

  • the stormtrooper who shoots Leia with the stun gun says “she’ll be alright.” He says it in a not-mean-sounding tone of voice. It almost sort of humanizes him. He could have just said “take her to Lord Vader!”

  • the jaws who capture r2 are more intriguing than any number of weird-looking aliens of the sort you’d undoubtedly be immediately shown in the prequels or newer movies, because you can’t see their faces? what are they, dwarves? are they aliens, or just tiny humans? you don’t know, and it makes them more compelling. You never do see their faces at any point in the trilogy, leaving them a perpetual mystery.

  • without saying a single word, the brief pan through the jawa crawler makes it understood that you’re looking at a traveling junkyard filled with kidnapped robots, both intact and scrapped for parts. Nowadays there would be doubtlessly a bunch of pointless expository dialog.

  • did this (very convincing) back and forth “dialog” between an english speaking character (c-3po) and one who ‘spoke’ only in non verbal noises, have any prior precedent in movies ? if not, it was a remarkably unique and believable element of the film. You really do believe that they understand each other and are talking, despite r2 only making bleeps and squeaks.

  • luke’s scenes are actually not too bad. overall he sounds like a convincing teenager or however old he is supposed to be…his interactions with the robots are pretty relatable and sound genuine.

  • ‘our old master was captain aintilles’ - is that Wedge? Did not know he was their last owner.

  • the glance between aunt and uncle when luke mentions obi-wan - nice touch. you know right away something’s up.

  • scene when you first see luke step out of house at night and see purple sky and twin suns, very beautiful and understated. the novelty of seeing two suns, juxtaposed with Luke’s ignoring them at first because it’s just the way it is on the planet that he’s used to - a nice touch of realism. then he looks at them wistfully, but it’s because he’s contemplating his small place in the universe and dissatisfaction with home planet.

  • dialog between luke and c3po over missing r2 is pretty genuine sounding. Hamill is not such a bad actor after all. Sounds realistically like a nervous teenager afraid of getting in trouble.

  • sand-person attack was one of the first good ‘jump scares’ i can remember from my childhood.

  • our first introduction to the imperial officers shows them arguing with each other over the plans regarding the death star. instead of one dimensional villains united in an evil plan, it’s a realistic portrayal of how high level officials might actually debate over a critical mission and how it should be executed. then right away Vader comes in and basically says that the force, and thus himself, are more important than any of this discussion. the imperial general flippantly dismisses him, and then [CHOKE] - gets schooled. Great scene.

  • “sand people always ride single file to hide their numbers”. never thought about that line before in much detail, but shit, it’s actually a really clever strategy.

  • jesus, those charred skeletons are pretty gruesome for a movie that’s supposed to be kid-friendly. It’s rare, even nowadays, for the actual physical consequences of violent destruction, explosions, and fire to be shown in a “blockbuster” type action movie that’s not rated R.

  • Next scene shows a spare but beautiful shot of three tie fighters flying towards death star. Restraint! Today there would be a million little ships zooming and zipping around with CGI for a cheap “look at all this stuff!” factor.

  • That floating ‘torture droid”, jesus, it’s scary. I also loved how they made it match the Imperial ‘’aesthetic” so accurately. Great prop design.

This is TO BE CONTINUED. In the meantime, I'd like people to add their own contributions, or comments on my points above.
__________________
A hazy shade of winter.
Old 12-29-2017, 01:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 951
Cool thread...just wanted to add, the scene you mention above with the Imperial officers arguing is also where they first mention The Emperor.
Old 12-29-2017, 01:39 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Arizona
Posts: 27,378
And those are Jawas, not Jaws. Although it would be amusing to find out that there were tiny land sharks under those hoods.
Old 12-29-2017, 02:03 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 25,458
When Luke and Obi-Wan find the dead Jawas, he says something like, "But why would Imperial troops want to slaughter Jawas? If they traced the robots here, they may have learned who they sold them to and that would lead them back ... home!" I always liked the anguish he put on that last word.
Old 12-29-2017, 02:04 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,181
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacquernagy View Post
[*]scene when you first see luke step out of house at night and see purple sky and twin suns, very beautiful and understated. the novelty of seeing two suns, juxtaposed with Luke’s ignoring them at first because it’s just the way it is on the planet that he’s used to - a nice touch of realism. then he looks at them wistfully, but it’s because he’s contemplating his small place in the universe and dissatisfaction with home planet.
This has always been one of my favorite moments in the Star Wars films and I wish the new ones had more of them.
Old 12-29-2017, 04:52 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Rockville, MD
Posts: 2,875
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacquernagy View Post
[*]‘our old master was captain aintilles’ - is that Wedge? Did not know he was their last owner.
I always figured it was Wedge's uncle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacquernagy View Post
[*]our first introduction to the imperial officers shows them arguing with each other over the plans regarding the death star. instead of one dimensional villains united in an evil plan, it’s a realistic portrayal of how high level officials might actually debate over a critical mission and how it should be executed. then right away Vader comes in and basically says that the force, and thus himself, are more important than any of this discussion. the imperial general flippantly dismisses him, and then [CHOKE] - gets schooled. Great scene.
What I find interesting here is that even though Darth Vader looks all evil in his black outfit and uses the Force to win arguments, he's not the Big Bad in charge of everything in this first movie. Peter Cushing's Tarkin is the one in charge; with some irritation, he tells Vader to knock it off, and Vader does. The only other person we'll see Vader defer to is the Emperor.
__________________
Miss Elizabeth Mapp might have been forty, and she had taken advantage of this opportunity by being just a year or two older.
- E.F. Benson, "Miss Mapp"
Old 12-29-2017, 04:52 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Moscow/Toronto
Posts: 15,119
I've always thought Captain Antilles was Wedge's father. Seems to me this was implied in the movie's novelization, albeit very briefly.

Was Captain Antilles not the man Darth Vader strangled on the blockade runner?
__________________
I may be a dirty old man, but I'm a GREAT dirty old man!
Old 12-29-2017, 04:57 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Moscow/Toronto
Posts: 15,119
Quote:
Originally Posted by magnusblitz View Post
This has always been one of my favorite moments in the Star Wars films and I wish the new ones had more of them.
Truth be told, I get goose bumps watching this scene. I'd love to be standing on a remote planet watching twin suns set while the London Symphony Orchestra plays that ethereal music in the background.
__________________
I may be a dirty old man, but I'm a GREAT dirty old man!
Old 12-29-2017, 05:13 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Where the wild roses grow
Posts: 23,842
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacquernagy View Post
luke’s scenes are actually not too bad. overall he sounds like a convincing teenager or however old he is supposed to be…his interactions with the robots are pretty relatable and sound genuine.
He's supposed to be 19, as is Leia. It's all about the environment, though. Luke was purposefully sheltered from the Galaxy to keep him safe, so his behaviour is that of a much younger and anxious teen, while Leia is a self-assured, confident, imperious type, as she was brought up to be a diplomat.
Old 12-29-2017, 05:19 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Southeast MN
Posts: 5,841
"Antilles" is the Star Wars "Smith" so we have Captain, Wedge, and Bail (Leia's stepfather) - none closely related

IMHO The twin sunset scene is not only one of the best in Star Wars, it is one of the best in SF overall.

Brian

Last edited by N9IWP; 12-29-2017 at 05:19 PM.
Old 12-29-2017, 05:39 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 698
Quote:
Originally Posted by N9IWP View Post
"Antilles" is the Star Wars "Smith" so we have Captain, Wedge, and Bail (Leia's stepfather) - none closely related

IMHO The twin sunset scene is not only one of the best in Star Wars, it is one of the best in SF overall.

Brian
Leia's adopted dad was Organa, not Antilles
Old 12-29-2017, 06:04 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Southeast MN
Posts: 5,841
Oops, you are right of course but this explains my confusion
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Bail_Antilles

Brian
Old 12-29-2017, 08:56 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 12,994
Quote:
Originally Posted by N9IWP View Post
Oops, you are right of course but this explains my confusion
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Bail_Antilles

Brian
< Nerd hat on >
You have politely admitted an easy-to-make error and also showed why it was made. This is unacceptable by nerd standards. Your one error should generate a 300 post flame-fest. No double-secret probation points awarded...this time...but you watch your ass.
< /Nerd hat off >

Seriously: kudos for your post and for what it's worth, I kept looking at your post and saying "Wait...Bail Antilles? That sounds right, but it isn't....is it?"
Old 12-30-2017, 01:35 PM
Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Indian Land, S Carolina
Posts: 13,075
All I have to say is this: The movie being reviewed is NOT "Star Wars: A New Hope". It is simply "Star Wars". If you admit the "New Hope Heresy", you end up with Greedo shooting first, God forbid.
Old 12-30-2017, 01:56 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Fenario
Posts: 917
Sadly, the only version of the film that I have access to is, indeed, the "Special Edition". I try to mentally screen out the "special" parts.
Old 12-31-2017, 08:13 PM
TBG TBG is offline
Guest
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Michigan
Posts: 8,861
There's a early trailer for star wars on one of the home video versions, and it uses generic music instead of John Williams, and the editing is clearly not final either. I honestly believe the movie was made what it is in the editing room, and with the addition of the great soundtrack.
Old 12-31-2017, 08:14 PM
TBG TBG is offline
Guest
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Michigan
Posts: 8,861
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unpronounceable View Post
Leia's adopted dad was Organa, not Antilles
And he's just tha,t her adopted dad (or just plain dad) not "stepdad"
Old 01-01-2018, 10:53 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: South 'Burbs
Posts: 1,131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
When Luke and Obi-Wan find the dead Jawas, he says something like, "But why would Imperial troops want to slaughter Jawas? If they traced the robots here, they may have learned who they sold them to and that would lead them back ... home!" I always liked the anguish he put on that last word.
....and something I've always noticed about that scene : it is the only time in any Star Wars movie where they say "robots" instead of "droids."
__________________
When I was a boy, I laid in my twin sized bed and wondered where my brother was.
Old 01-03-2018, 03:03 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: NC
Posts: 1,683
If you are not aware of the "Despecialized Edition" you might want to check that out.
Old 01-03-2018, 03:09 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Fenario
Posts: 917
The enmity between Star Wars fans and Lucasfilm reminds me of a church schism!
Old 01-04-2018, 09:46 AM
Not a real doctor.
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Nolensville, TN
Posts: 7,112
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSYoungEsq View Post
All I have to say is this: The movie being reviewed is NOT "Star Wars: A New Hope". It is simply "Star Wars". If you admit the "New Hope Heresy", you end up with Greedo shooting first, God forbid.
And on that path lies only dancing baloney and disappointment.

I do have a copy of the Original Release on DVD. Unfortunately, it's a direct copy from the Laser Disc, so picture quality is... not terrible. But Han shoots first, and that's the important part.
Old 01-04-2018, 09:50 AM
Not a real doctor.
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Nolensville, TN
Posts: 7,112
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBG View Post
There's a early trailer for star wars on one of the home video versions, and it uses generic music instead of John Williams, and the editing is clearly not final either. I honestly believe the movie was made what it is in the editing room, and with the addition of the great soundtrack.
Very true. Star Wars was better paced and flowed better than A New Hope: Special Edition. I firmly believe that directors, like authors, should not edit their own work.
Old 01-04-2018, 10:48 AM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 342
Quote:
Originally Posted by terentii View Post
Truth be told, I get goose bumps watching this scene. I'd love to be standing on a remote planet watching twin suns set while the London Symphony Orchestra plays that ethereal music in the background.
There's a great riff on this scene in the Family Guy Star Wars thing. Luke looks behind him to see the whole orchestra who then play The People's Court theme.
Old 01-04-2018, 12:41 PM
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Oakville, Canada
Posts: 39,192
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maus Magill View Post
Very true. Star Wars was better paced and flowed better than A New Hope: Special Edition. I firmly believe that directors, like authors, should not edit their own work.
"Know when to stop painting."
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!
Old 01-04-2018, 12:56 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Denver
Posts: 1,267
Quote:
Originally Posted by N9IWP View Post

IMHO The twin sunset scene is not only one of the best in Star Wars, it is one of the best in SF overall.

Brian
(Spoiler for The Last Jedi)

SPOILER:
Luke gazing upon twin suns (or maybe moons) while he entered The Force at the end of The Last Jedi was a perfect nod to the widespread appreciation of the original scene from Star Wars.
Old 01-06-2018, 03:07 PM
Guest
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 1,020
The OP hasn't gotten to Han Solo yet, but I don't know when I'll be in the neighborhood again.

Watching the movies with my daughter, a decade or more after the last time I'd seen them, I was amazed at how bad Harrison Ford's acting was. Hamill wasn't great, but he was OK. Ditto Fisher. But Ford's lack of chops was embarrassing.

A short time later, I saw a long-form interview (60 Minutes or Sunday Morning or something) with Harrison Ford. He talked about improving as an actor. Paraphrasing follows:

Interviewer: Are you a better actor now than you were before?
Ford: I hope so.
Interviewer: Were you a bad actor earlier?
Ford. Hell yeah.
Interviewer: Name a movie in which you turned in a bad performance.
Ford: Have you seen Star Wars?
Old 01-06-2018, 05:01 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Fenario
Posts: 917
I do plan on picking this back up soon, just FYI. But I don't agree with your assessment of Harrison Ford (or his.) I think his performance was pretty good. He would not have become such a wildly popular character and cultural icon if it wasn't.

It's unthinkable for me to imagine anyone else playing that role. According to Wikipedia, a whole menagerie of other actors were considered: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Robert Englund, Nick Nolte, and Burt Reynolds. While it's obviously impossible to speculate what Han Solo would have been like if he were portrayed by some of those actors - and some of them are truly ridiculous choices (Christopher Walken? Bill Murray?) - I just can't conceive of any of them giving the role the same kind of swaggering charisma that Ford did.
Old 01-06-2018, 05:50 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Where the wild roses grow
Posts: 23,842
Anyone who can perform cheesy stilted dialogue and craft a compelling character is a good actor. Harrison Ford is too hard on himself, his performance helps ground Star Wars as a believable lived-in universe.
Old 01-06-2018, 09:05 PM
Charter Jays Fan
Moderator
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Oakville, Canada
Posts: 39,192
Ford has always had a weird hate for Star Wars, which I really don't get. He was perfectly good in the film.

ETA: Actually, Ford developed his disdain for "Star Wars" at some point after "Empire Strikes Back." It's been theorized that after he became a star in his own right due to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Blade Runner" he saw "Star Wars" as being boring, or perhaps beneath him.
__________________
Providing useless posts since 1999!

Last edited by RickJay; 01-06-2018 at 09:10 PM.
Old 01-06-2018, 10:29 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 12,862
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacquernagy View Post

It's unthinkable for me to imagine anyone else playing that role. According to Wikipedia, a whole menagerie of other actors were considered: Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Robert Englund, Nick Nolte, and Burt Reynolds. While it's obviously impossible to speculate what Han Solo would have been like if he were portrayed by some of those actors - and some of them are truly ridiculous choices (Christopher Walken? Bill Murray?) - I just can't conceive of any of them giving the role the same kind of swaggering charisma that Ford did.
Of all of them I could see Kurt Russel pulling it off without much trouble. He's played those kind of roles all his life.
Old 01-06-2018, 11:09 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 25,458
There was an SNL skit that parodied other actors' screen tests for Star Wars, including Christopher Walken (played by Kevin Spacey) testing for the role of Han Solo.
Old 01-07-2018, 02:54 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 3,401
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBG View Post
There's a early trailer for star wars on one of the home video versions, and it uses generic music instead of John Williams, and the editing is clearly not final either. I honestly believe the movie was made what it is in the editing room, and with the addition of the great soundtrack.
Very true. Williams' score is exceptional and gave the movie a gravitas which I'm not sure it really deserved to be honest.
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:02 AM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: [email protected].

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: looney tunes casablanca song computers ecm furnace karl pilkington fake bushmans hole pretend your xyxx polyester quality ground to neutral lilly f 40 bullfight music submarines depth touchy person nomad mc charter cherry dip cone comfortmaker air conditioners land rider lysol mold killer plastic pipe repair electro stim prostate allstate rental cars marksmanship badge sulfer candles pirates and parrots memento mori pronunciation questionable content brun inline hook eastern european porn trivia etymology viper v12 krypton exploding malcolm x christianity jumbo shrimp word post nasal mucus plug dinosaur books for adults twa flight 800 bodies pictures robert hanssen wife photos cell phone time is wrong word that rhymes with things get your hands off me you damn dirty ape what temperature can the human body withstand hayden christensen terrible actor does the us always win the olympics do bars take credit cards do you have to be 21 to buy bitters why does my cat run around like crazy lifesaver mints bad for you what do you use a ball peen hammer for that's mighty white of you bacon number charlize theron green beans spark in microwave can cats sprain their legs why does diarrhea hurt your stomach pain in chest after swallowing pill jap girls in synthesis get down with the sickness dawn of the dead u haul trailers for sale cargo trailer i'm going to need 30 pieces of silver losing hair on my legs k-pax ending what do lentils taste like how much does it's just lunch dating service cost fable 2 the archaeologist quest squeaky belt or pulley why do chefs wear big hats