It’s been a while since I watched the original Star Wars trilogy. I’m working on that now. Here are some random thoughts generated while watching Episode IV. (Watching movies with a critical eye is really only a recent thing for me – a few years ago I started watching movies as a hobby rather than just a fun way to spend an evening.) So seeing my old, favorite sci-fi under this new lens was a fun experience.
1. The Force isn’t that big of a deal. We all know, now, that The Force is this great power that a jedi/sith can wield for equally amazing demonstrations of that power. Telekinesis, seeing into the future, conjuring lightning, great acts of physical strength (running fast, jumping high), choking, mind tricks, and probably more that I’m not thinking about. But in Ep. IV the force is utilized for mind tricks and choking and for better concentration. That’s it. There’s no lightning, acrobatics, moving objects through space, etc.
What’s even more notable is that in Ep. IV the dialog surrounding the subject of The Force is religious/spiritual in nature. The Force is mostly thought of as mysticism or some old religion that has been cast aside and mainly forgotten if not for a few old men who keep ties to it’s once dignified past.
It’s pretty cool for a few reasons. The scope of The Force was probably not fully realized by the writers of the film, but in the Star Wars Universe, the belief and use of the Force had died out among all races and is making a curious comeback through a young man who is the secret son of an aging, yet powerful fallen Jedi. Whether George Lucas intended it or not (I suspect not) the Force is weak with this movie and it that makes it all the more exciting when you get the Episode V and suddenly Luke as worked out how to move objects with his thoughts!
2. In the newer versions of the trilogy, George Lucas edited the original content of the film to show that Han Solo wasn’t the first to fire a deadly laser blast in the famous Mos Eisley bar scene. After a relatively large public (internet) outcry over the change, Lucas spoke to the edit saying that fans simply wanted Han to be some kind of cold-blooded killer but he isn’t. THEN he said that the problem is that in the original edit it’s simply a confusing film shot and so it only seems like Han shot first. I think we can all agree (and I’m including Greedo in “all”) that…
Han totally shot first. Here’s why. Just watch it. The new edit is obviously forced. The scene looks so awkward now…like some kid wants for his toy to not be broken that he fixes it with scotch tape and gum and then shouts, “see, told you it wasn’t broken!”
Let’s talk about Han for a hot second. He’s a scoundrel. He’s a low-life smuggler and regularly deals with an underground gang network headed by Jobba The Hut, some kind of mob boss. He’s gotten himself into money trouble and has a bounty on his head. So when he gets backed into a corner with a blaster pointed at him followed up by verbal threats against his life from a bounty hunter who claims he’ll enjoy killing him, YES he’s gonna shoot first. This doesn’t make him some kind of cold-blooded killer (even if you forget about the dozens he’ll mow down over the next few movies), it completely fits with who he is. And if you remember, who he is, is the guy who wants nothing to do with the Rebellion and only saves the princess out of a desire for the reward. He even splits when they could use his help the most. NOW, he does return and redeems himself which only makes his character arc more interesting!
From a visual standpoint, Han shoots so quickly after Greedo that there’s no way he was simply reacting. Even if he didn’t shoot first, he was planning on shooting all along.
3. The added material. All the CGI dinosaurs and wildlife added to Tatooine really don’t add anything to the movie. In fact, because the CGI doesn’t seamlessly integrate with the rest of the life-action film, it really only pulls you out of the immersion of the film. It draws attention to itself rather than making the world seem more real. I’m okay with an artist tinkering with his work, but this was all a mistake in my opinion.
4. C3PO has the best lines. In fact, more credit ought to be given to the guys under the suits of C3PO and Chewbacca. When they can play those parts without constantly reminding you that it’s just a guy in a suit, then it’s a success. But back to C3PO – I’m ever so appreciative of his comedic timing, his constant pessimism, and his inability to properly communicate despite that being his primary function. Most of the dialog in the movie feels rushed and shouted aloud. But C3PO (and Obi Wan) really bring some presence and depth with what they are saying.
5. Luke doesn’t seem too disturbed by the death of his aunt and uncle. I mean he comes across their burned corpses and then just heads back to Obi Wan like, “ok what’s next?” Of course, if he’d raised his hands in the air and shouted, “NOOOOOOOO” I wouldn’t like that. Fortunately, George Lucas hadn’t thought of that yet.
6. Obi Wan says he’s never owned any droids and acts completely indifferent towards C3PO and R2D2. Surely he would’ve remembered them from his past (see prequels)…that or he’s lying to Luke.
7. There are tons of references to cities, planets, systems, and characters that are never shown or at least aren’t revealed until later movies are made. This makes the whole movie fun to re-watch after you’ve seen everything to pick up on the little details.
8. Princess Leiah lies about the rebel base even when withholding the correct info means destroying an entire planet. That’s cold.
9. When Obi Wan cuts off the guy’s arm in Mos Eisley there’s a significant amount of blood on the ground. In all other circumstances, light sabers cauterize whatever they cut.
10. The Death Star must be able to go into Hyperdrive. After they “lose” the millenium falcon, it doesn’t take long for them to catch up to the rebel base. But then it takes like 20 min to orbit around a planet. It’s odd.