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.