Awesome / A New Hope
"The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was the learner. Now, I am the master."
- The film's opening shot: after an opening text crawl and John Williams' legendary fanfare, we see a spaceship (the Tantive IV) fly past and over a planet, firing at something chasing it... and then a much bigger pursuing ship (a Star Destroyer) flies over the the camera and fires at it, and keeps getting closer and closer. 1977 movigoers had never seen anything like this before, and were witnessing the birth of a whole new kind of filmmaking right away.
- The first appearance of the lightsaber.
- Han Solo's big Establishing Character Moment. One of Jabba the Hutt's goons has come to claim Han's debt at the cantina, with a blaster right at his face... but just before he can fire, Han pulls a gun under the table and kills him before he even knows what's coming. "Sorry about the mess."
- Commander Daine Jir criticizes Vader's decisions to his face and lives to tell the tale.
- Star Wars Legends explains that he was willing to be blunt and honest with Vader, but still carry out orders and do his job quite effectively, earning Vader's respect.
- In a deleted scene, an Imperial officer has no problem telling Vader that he considers Tarkin's plan to break Leia to be a foolish waste of time. And given that he doesn't object, Vader seems to agree with him.
- Vader during the Moff meeting aboard the Death Star. The only thing that we've seen him do so far is strangle a guy and yell at a young woman. After "the man in black" decries the Death Star as insignificant next to the Force, Admiral Conan Antonio Motti decides to insult his beliefs. Vader merely lifts a hand and the guy starts choking, Vader saying that "I find your lack of faith disturbing." We see in this that despite first impressions, Vader is actually dangerous, not just Tarkin's lackey.
- Remember, this was the first use of the Force in film, after it was introduced, which made it all the more intimidating in the day. Obi-wan calls it "an energy field" surrounding people, binds the galaxy, and other pseudo-religious harmonious fluff, and the audience was like, "Oh okay, old guy, that's cool, let's get back to the space opera", then an Imperial officer starts talking smack, and Vader suddenly introduces practical villainous applications of said energy field. Dark Side of the Force indeed.
- There's also Vader's body language, displaying only the most subtle of Tranquil Fury, combined with James Earl Jones' voice that make it indescribable unless you see it.
- And the story it's from is one of Sci-Fi's Big Three. Given that the other two members of that group's attitudes on religion were often condescending at best (and one of them might still be at times), this moment can feel really darn satisfying if you're religious. Even in science fiction, religion and mysticism can still have a place in the world, and its practitioners can not only be justified in it (midi-chlorians debatably aside), but powerful by it as well.
- Tarkin's reaction: first a sort of intellectual curiosity at seeing Vader in action, then he decides enough is enough and yanks him back into line.
- Vader's reaction to Tarkin: the subtext being not that of an inferior responding to the order of a superior, but of grudging respect: "I would really just as soon choke Motti to death as look at him, but I have to work with you, so I'll honor your request to lay off."
- How about Tarkin having the balls to actually threaten Darth Vader, implying that something bad will happen if Vader's plan to let the Falcon lead them to the Rebel base doesn't work.
- Motti himself *does* have a point, though. Vader hasn't found the data tapes with the Force - although he does successfully kill Obi-Wan Kenobi simply by sensing him there, which is something of a win for the Empire.
- Threepio's gotten a reputation as a bit of a Chew Toy, but he really shows a great deal of competence in this movie. Despite his constant complaining, when the chips are down he's able to pull it together and get him and his comrades out of danger. When meeting Uncle Owen and Luke Skywalker for the first time, Threepio calmly manages to not only get himself sold but also bring Artoo into the Skywalker household, all without resorting to hysterics. Then, on the Death Star, after being discovered by the Imperial Force, Threepio manages to perform a Bavarian Fire Drill which allows him and Artoo to escape once again. He may be a bit over emotional and frantic, but Threepio is still dependable when he needs to be.
- Leia is pretty gutsy right from the start. You get the sense she exits her cover in order to deliberately get captured in order to distract Vader and his entourage with a high-profile prisoner instead of focusing on a stray escape pod - and it works for long enough for R2-D2 and C-3PO to escape. In a non-action awesome moment, she doesn't flinch in the face of Vader and Tarkin, despite the low likelihood of escaping the Death Star. This is given extra weight when the events of Rogue One are explored, as Vader had seen her ship depart from Scarif, and thus Vader knew that she was lying to his face - but she did it anyway.
- The Falcon entering light speed.
- Leia shooting out a grate and snapping that "Somebody has to save our skins!".
- Then she steps out of cover, fires several blasts down the narrow hallway, throws the blaster back to Luke, and jumps down the garbage chute. In that one moment, she utterly demolishes the Damsel in Distress image in favor of being an Action Girl equally participating in her own rescue.
- "We, uh, ran into some old friends."
- Luke and Leia swinging across a bottomless pit. It's made more awesome when you remember that shot was real; they swung across a real ledge three stories up in the air. Then you learn that their harness was broken, and the stunt coordinator lied to them about it being perfectly safe.
- The duel between Vader and Obi-Wan.
- "I've been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master."
- "You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
- As a bonus feature on the Blu-ray and DVD releases shows, that quote was edited down from an even better line:
"Should my blade find its mark, you shall cease to exist, but if you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
- Even more awesome with knowledge of the prequel trilogy: Obi-Wan crippled him in a volcanic planet and left him for deadーwhich made his life-support system necessary in the first placeーand Vader also believed him to be responsible for his wife's death. They're having a rematch, one that Vader has wanted for a long time. And he does get his revenge... just not the way he'd hoped for.
- And then he sees Luke and looks back at Vader with this slow smile. It was the look of a man who'd won, despite appearances to the contrary.
- Vader runs a successful Batman Gambit to reveal the location of the Rebel base, which involves allowing Luke and Han to stage Leia's rescue. Then he's the only one smart enough to realize the Rebels' attack might work. Then he personally gets into the dogfight in his customized TIE fighter and blows away enemy fighters right and left. The Empire would've crushed the Rebels if he was in charge.
- We know he's skilled with a lightsaber with his battle against Obi-Wan, but we then go out and see him in his personal TIE Advanced fighter and effortlessly destroy the fighters in Gold and Red Squadron, including the leader of the squads and Biggs, without breaking a sweat. Only Luke had the skill with the Force to avoid his blasts.
- Star Wars Legends sources like Shadows of the Empire state that destroying ace Rebel pilots is what he does for fun. Dogfighting is his way of relaxing, and he normally has a dozen kills under his belt once he's done.
- During the Death Star battle, Luke has an enemy on his tail. Does Wedge come up behind the bad guy and blow him up? No. He comes at them head on and weaves between Luke and the TIE fighter to take his shot.
- The dive toward the Death Star trench, done twice, and awesome both times.
- Luke taking charge during the final trench run. Consider that his wingmates are Biggs (his best friend and a much more experienced pilot) and Wedge (described in Legends as being so badass that Imperial pilots have bed-wetting nightmares where he chases them), and the inexperienced farm-boy with no more experience than varmint-hunting manages to tell them what to do. Wedge even calls him "boss."
- "I have you now." (The Millennium Falcon intervenes a second later) " YEAHOOOOOO! You're all clear, kid, now let's blow this thing and go home!" Welcome to the Rebel Alliance, Han Solo.
- The best part: up until he turned around, Han Solo saw all the rebels on that base as walking corpses and his last scene with Luke was a goodbye to a dead man. That Crowning Moment of Awesome was probably the first time Han had felt optimism in years.
- One word, two syllables: Kaboom. This was on Luke's official first day of joining the Rebel Alliance. "So, I took out a squadron of stormtroopers on my first day. What did you do?" "Oh, nothing much. I just blew up the Death Star."
- Just before the Death Star gets blown up, there's a very brief shot of Tarkin anxiously holding his hand to his mouth, as if he's just realised how utterly boned he is.
- The destruction of the Death Star is given extra gravitas after Rogue One as it means that Jyn, Cassian, Bodhi, Chirrut, Baze, K2 and all the rebels who died on the assault on Scarif did not die in vain.
- Brian Jay Jones' biography of George Lucas describes how he first discovered just what a mark the film had made: he and his wife were having lunch in a diner, when they noticed that the movie theater across the street was getting absolutely mobbed by people desperate to get in. They both wondered what this hot new movie could possibly be, neither one dreaming that it could be the one they just finished until they headed across after finishing their meal and asked.
- Another anecdote in the same vein is told in the Empire of Dreams documentary. While attending the premiere of the film in Japan, 20th Century Fox head Alan Ladd Jr. was initially worried about the utter silence the film had received from Japanese audiences during screening... until he was later informed that in Japan, silence was the greatest compliment a movie could receive, meaning that Star Wars had hit it big there too. The box office returns further accentuated that.