With me in the process of talking about my history of a world changing franchise, it would seem appropriate to look at an earlier example of that. Of course this is not intentional and merely a coincidence. I was planning on reviewing this ages ago but couldn’t find the right version but with some house cleaning we finally stumbled upon it… I gave out a big HUZZAH! When I found it at last.
So perhaps you’re wondering why that specific version?
Star Wars A New Hope is easy to find. Well I’m not reviewing A New Hope I’m reviewing Star Wars, The Theatrical Version before Lucas did a whole lot of meddling. Yep it’s time to see Han shooting first. A while back they sold a version of each of the original trilogy that as a bonus came with the Theatrical cut and instantly I bought the Original and Empire.
Star Wars was inspired by the old movie serials we used to get such as Flash Gordon (in fact one of the reasons we got Star Wars is because Lucas couldn’t get the license to Flash Gordon, or so the legend goes). This is shown in how we leap straight into the action – right away a large space ship flies forward directly from the view of the camera only to be eclipsed by an even larger battleship that fills the whole screen firing upon it. You must imagine people seeing that for the first time on screen, sci fi films had never been a big budget success before so they tended to shy away from it.
Drawing from old Samurai films we then follow two droids as they land on a desert world ,one carrying an important message, before both separately are picked up by some small desert dwellers who sell droids and then we meet Luke Skywalker. But of course before all of that, back on the ship we get introduced to one of the best villains of all time (until Lucas ruined him with some terrible prequels… but this is before all that so let’s just enjoy this) a black cloaked figure standing out not only to the white walls of the ship but also the white armour of his own soldiers, a terrifying presence accompanied by that sinister breathing.
There’s A LOT I could go over but there are reasons I hunted down the original theatrical cut… well ok stumbled upon it when they were selling the version with it bundled and impulse purchased. But one main reason is, I can now see what was in the film before any additions were made to tie in the prequels and just see how much it works as a standalone film. And you see some quite interesting details.
For one, the Clone Wars are mentioned and that Obi Wan was in them. The Emperor is mentioned but at no point is he implied to be a user of the Force, reading auxilary information he was meant to have just been a puppet of the Moffs. You can see I could go on about the changes Lucas made but it’s more about seeing what was originally there than what was altered that’s more interesting. Of course due to the way I saw it the size of the screen was smaller than even that of the TV that was being used but like I ever cared about that. In fact outside of the changes made to the Han Solo Greedo interaction I have little against watching the special editions. But anyway it’s an experience seeing something in its first days, how it was originally, with all the knowledge of what came later not just in prequel or sequel trilogies but in the original as well… and the many MANY spin offs (still waiting for droids to come back).
From the enjoyable story that never makes you feel bored or has some annoying detour you don’t want to see. The memorable characters that became genera and trope defining (such as the princess being more ass kicking in many ways than the heroes) and of course the amazing musical score by John Williams. Enjoy the Film that started it all, Darth Vader wasn’t Luke’s dad yet.. no I’m not apologizing for that spoiler it’s what nearing 50 years at this point.