star wars!

Revisiting Star Wars: A New Hope


I watched Star Wars for the first time in ages a few days ago, and it was actually breathtaking--because I was watching as close to the original release as is currently available to the general public. It's a gorgeous movie when you can see it without all the crappy CGI stuck on top, all desert landscapes and shiny brutalist architecture and the vast expanse of deep space, with the slightly sun-blasted coloring of the original film.

And without the distracting inserted scenes, I found myself noticing things like what a dutiful nephew Luke really is, whining aside. He doesn't sneak off for flight school, doesn't even really argue back once Owen has made his decree about "next harvest", just bows to the decision. And you can see how how bitter his aunt and uncle's deaths are to him, even though the pacing of the movie doesn't really allow him to mourn past the point where he tells Obi-Wan he wants to go to Alderaan after all. (That's probably the one change I'd make if possible--to give him and Leia slightly more space within the script to carry their griefs with them.)

A change back to the original theatrical cut that surprised me is that Han does not in fact shoot first: Han fires the only shot, not giving Greedo even a remote chance to defend himself. It gives him an added edge that makes it more believable that he could conceivably just abandon Luke and Leia after he got his cash.

Something else that I really appreciated for the first time is how little the script depends on convenient coincidences--aside from the starting one of the droids ending up with Luke's family instead of some random moisture farmer, pretty much everything falls out naturally from the motivations and decisions people make throughout the film. Even the Millennium Falcon running into the Death Star makes sense, with Leia as the reason behind both being at Alderaan. (This was the weakness of The Force Awakens; the characters were engaging enough, and the visuals were stunning, but things just kept ... happening. No clear throughline on anything, really. Watching it, I kept feeling like there were scenes missing.)

Anyhow, a standing round of applause for the editing team, who apparently saved the movie from being a complete mess and turned it into something some enjoyable and memorable. Well done, all. I'm glad to finally have a chance to see your work without impediment.
I loved the first Star Wars...saw it 7 times in the theater, only show I've ever done that for...