It seems like a good time to rewatch the original 1977 Star Wars and post my review. 'I don't like the black one,' said my young daughter as she passed through the room. Thankfully this was not early onset racism (the original Star Wars trilogy not being overly blessed with black characters, at least not to look at) but Uncle Darth doing his evil work.
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
The thing that struck me about the film on this watch was that not a lot happens – it's quite a tightly constructed plot focused on the emergence of the Death Star and its destruction – but it's clear that the wider world of the films is already known. It's a neat writing trick to pull off: leaving a lot unsaid but having it there in the background without the need for endless exposition. And when you've got a trilogy to play with, there's plenty of time for all that to come out.
It's a well put together film, with a good set, strong characters, and well-imagined features (e.g. the light sabres, Princess Leia's hair, Vader's mask). Darth Vader (David Prowse / James Earl Jones) with his striking look and walk and his breathing and his mysterious history with the Jedi is another nicely unexplained aspect of the film.
Review continues below...
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Han Solo (Harrison Ford)'s character is summed up by his line 'No reward is worth this!'
And most of the characters are defined by economical and memorable lines:
Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness): 'These aren't the droids you're looking for.'
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill): 'You know, between his howling and your blasting everything in sight, it's a wonder the whole station doesn't know we're here.'
Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher): 'Don't just stand there! Try and brace it with something!'
Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi's fight with Darth Vader anticipates similar standoffs in the later films and lures the guards away from the Millennium Falcon. It also conveniently gets rid of the old guy before the final action, and allows a more personal manifestation of the Force as he whispers in Luke's ear (disturbingly like a mental illness).
The garbage compressor scene is a classic and gives a touch of humour when C3PO thinks their relieved whooping is their death cries.
Of course, the Robots have as much personality as anyone else. C3PO is fussy but loyal, a kind of metal Luke. R2D2 only beeps but is resilient and bloody minded and carries the cool hologram message. He also seems to hold back information (the full message) in order to get his way. R2D2 is robot Han.
There are so many unforgettable scenes. The trench attack at the end, the sight of the rebel fighters taking off from the base to attack. Luke observes a classic double subset and the tall lookout posts and jungle landscape are great. The seedy spaceport with its hostile and bizarre aliens is another iconic scene. It's where we first meet Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), (surprisingly lean when I re-watched it).
Personal Score: 8/10
This is part of a series of film reviews where I give my comments on IMDB Top 250 films as a writer. The idea is that over time these posts will build into a wide-ranging writing resource.
For more details about the approach I've taken, including some important points about its strengths and weaknesses (I make no claims about my abilities as a film critic or even the accuracy of my comments... but I do stand by the value of a writer's notes on interesting films), see my introductory post here.