“May the Force be with you” – Jedi expression
This is the one that started the phenomenon…the very first Star Wars film. Back when it was first released it was just titled Star Wars. Those pesky Episode subtitles didn’t come along until The Empire Strikes Back and now this entry is known as Episode IV: A New Hope. It may sound confusing to someone completely in the dark about Star Wars films, but it makes some kind of convoluted sense to the rest of us.
Director and creator George Lucas often stated in past interviews that his saga as originally written was quite sprawling, too much to put into one film, let alone a trilogy. Hence, why he skipped to Episode IV to do first because he felt the storyline truly became interesting and action packed with this episode. And he was right.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope throws viewers into the complex galaxy where the story is based with an opening crawl informing us that this faraway galaxy, a long time ago, is in the midst of a galactic civil war. The Rebel Alliance, which rose from the ashes of the fallen Galactic Republic, has won its first major victory against the despotic Galactic Empire. The Rebels have stolen plans for the Death Star, a moon-sized battle station that is capable of destroying planets that was just completed by the Empire. Rebel leader Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is onboard a blockade runner spaceship on her way to the planet Tatooine to recruit a Jedi to join her cause.
Just as the opening crawl finishes, Leia’s spaceship swooshes overhead near Tatooine as its chased by a mammoth Imperial Star Destroyer battle cruiser. The imperial ship overtakes the small blockade runner and tows it onboard. Soon, the Rebel ship is boarded by white-armored stormtroopers led by Darth Vader (David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones), a fallen Jedi who is a Sith follower now. He and his troops turn the ship upside down looking for the plans. But they’re too late, Leia downloads the plans into an astromech droid R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) before she is captured. The small droid makes his way to an escape pod accompanied by a humanoid protocol droid C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) and is able to flee the ship and land on Tatooine.
The desert planet is brutal to C-3P0 who constantly voices his displeasure to R2-D2. The small droid ignores his companion and separates from him to fulfill a mission given by Leia to find Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness). Both droids wind up being captured by Jawas, small nomadic beings that populate the planet’s sand-covered wastelands.
The Jawas wind up selling the droids to moisture farmer Owen Lars (Phil Brown). He assigns his nephew Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to get them ready for work on the farm. While cleaning up R2-D2, Luke triggers a partial holographic message from Leia where she says “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”; Luke wonders if the message is for Ben Kenobi, a hermit that he knows. He later tries bringing up this matter to Owen and over dinner served by his aunt Beru (Shelagh Fraser), but his uncle brushes him off and tells him to wipe both droids’ memory banks. Changing the subject, Luke asks if he can join the Academy, but Owen replies that he still needs Luke’s help on the farm and to wait another season. Angrily, Luke leaves the dinner table and goes outside to brood. He finds out from C-3P0 that R2-D2 ran away, but it’s already nightfall and too dangerous to go looking for the droid.
The next morning he and C-3P0 leave the farm in his landspeeder hover vehicle and find the small droid in the desert just before they’re attacked by tusken raiders. After Luke is knocked out, the tusken raiders are scared off by an animal cry mimicked by Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi. Ben takes Luke and the droids back to his home and after revealing that he was once a Jedi Knight, presents him with a lightsabre. Ben tells him that it belonged to Luke’s father, a Jedi Knight and friend, who was betrayed and killed by Darth Vader, Kenobi’s former apprentice. After introducing Luke to the concept of the mystical Force, Ben is able to activate the full holographic message. It’s a plea from Leia to go to deliver the droids, who have the Death Star plans, to her home planet of Alderaan and join the fight against the Empire.
Pondering the appeal, Ben asks Luke to join him, but Luke turns him down because of his responsibilities. The old Jedi is disappointed but understands and accepts Luke’s offer to transport him to the city Mos Eisley to find passage to Alderaan.
The Star Destroyer arrives at the Death Star. Several military leaders are holding a meeting, which is joined by Darth Vader and his superior Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing). They’re informed by Tarkin that the Emperor has dissolved the Imperial Senate and that fear of the Death Star will keep the many systems of the Empire under control. Tarkin instructs Vader to find the location of the Rebel headquarters to end the rebellion. Vader proceeds to torture his prisoner Princess Leia, but is unable to get from her the location of the Rebel base.
Back on Tatooine, Luke, Ben and the droids find the smoldering remains of the Jawas that sold Luke and Owen the droids. Ben concludes that they were killed by imperial troops and Luke quickly deduces that his family is in danger. He rushes home but is too late. Stormtroopers have been there earlier and killed his uncle and aunt. The young farmer goes back to Ben and asks to join him and to be trained as a Jedi.
Afterwards, Luke, Ben and the droids travel to Mos Eisley, a rundown and seedy port of call bursting with aliens and imperial stormtroopers. They stay one step ahead of inquisitive stormtroopers and go to a local cantina to hire a pilot who can take them to Alderaan. In there, they meet a smuggler called Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his first mate Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), a bear-like Wookiee that only communicates with growls and grunts. The two parties strike a deal, which delights Han since he owes Jabba the Hut, a local gangster, a lot of money.
At the Death Star, Vader reports his failure to get the location of the Rebel base from Leia. Tarkin decides to use a different approach. He orders the Death Star to go to Alderaan and once the battle station arrives he threatens Leia that he will have the Death Star destroy her adopted planet. She reluctantly gives him a planet’s name and in response, Tarkin has Alderaan destroyed anyway, much to Leia’s horror.
On Tatooine, Luke sells his landspeeder to raise funds for the passage; afterwards a local spy spots Luke and his group as they make their way to Han’s ship, the Millennium Falcon . They board the Falcon just in time before stormtroopers catch up to them. Fortunately, the Millennium Falcon is able to escape from Tatooine and jump into hyperspace.
With some time to kill as they make their way to Alderaan, Ben starts instructing Luke on the ways of the Force. Han is skeptical of the old Jedi ways, declaring it extinct, but Luke ignores the putdowns and begins to demonstrate some adeptness in using the Force through some exercises. At that point, the Millennium Falcon arrives at its destination, but Alderaan is nowhere to be found. Only meteors greet the space pirate and his passengers. Ben realizes that the planet has been destroyed and a small moon is spotted nearby. Before they realize it, the Millennium Falcon is ensnared in a tractor beam from the moon, which turns out to be the Death Star.
Once pulled inside the battle station, the small group hides out in the Falcon’s smuggling compartments and avoid capture. They depart the ship and begin plotting their next move. Ben leaves the group to turn off the Death Star’s tractor beam and face an old foe that he senses with the Force. Meanwhile, Luke discovers that Leia is being held prisoner and has to convince Han and Chewbacca to help him rescue her before she is executed.