It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.
During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.
Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy...
A New Hope, or more precisely, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (originally released as and still simply called Star Wars by many fans) was the 1977 film that marked the first chapter of the Star Wars saga. It's the film that started it all, giving birth to one of the most beloved and long-lived franchises in the history of cinema — and entertainment in general. Though most people wouldn't have guessed that at the time...A New Hope is the beginning of the story of Luke Skywalker, a young farm boy who becomes the hero of the Rebellion against the evil Galactic Empire and begins to learn the ways of the Force. Alongside a renegade space pirate, a pair of droids, and an old man who is one of the last of an ancient mystical order hunted to extinction by the Empire, Luke rescues the leader of the Rebellion, Princess Leia Organa, and with the help of the other members of the Rebel Alliance, he destroys the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star.George Lucas had a lot of trouble getting a studio to back him up, and even 20th Century Fox would have dropped the film if not for the support of Alan Ladd Jr. The film also had a Troubled Production, both with the live action and the special effects, the latter because the newly formed Industrial Light and Magic had to spend the first several months just making the technology required to film the scenes Lucas wanted.This left Lucas exhausted after the film was finished, and he didn't direct another film for over 20 years (he was the Executive Producer for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi). It seemed the film would suffer an even worse fate.Of course, we all know that didn't happen.
Airstrike Impossible: The Trench Run. Not only is the Trench guarded by heavy gun towers and TIE Fighters, but at the end of it all is a target so small, the only hopes of hitting it at all are via a targeting computer or The Force.
Amusing Alien: Greedo, whose only purpose was to be a punchline for Han.
Artistic License - Physics: "It's the ship that did the Kessel run in twelve parsecs." A parsec is a measurement of distance (3.262 light years), not time. Lucas claims that a major factor in hyperspace travel times is navigation; with a good enough navicomputer and a shrewd enough navigation sense, you can shave huge amounts of distance (and thus time) off a trip, and that's part of the reason why the Millenium Falcon is so fast. The EU elaborates on this, as it does everything else. (This seems to be something of a Flip Flop of God, since the script indicates the line was meant to expose Han as something of a braggard and thus was supposed to be nonsense. The fact that Obi-Wan is clearly not amused adds credence to this point.)
Ascetic Aesthetic: Averted with the Millennium Falcon, played straight with the Star Destroyers.
Ascended Extra: Every kriffing character gets his/her/its own story in later works. Particularly the ones in the cantina.
Big Bad: In contrast to the other films, Grand Moff Tarkin is given this role as he is in charge of the Death Star and, notionally, Darth Vader - note that Peter Cushing got very high billing for this movie, right behind the 3 main protagonists. Palpatine doesn't show up in the Original Trilogy until Episode V.
Big "NO!": Luke watching Vader slice Obi-Wan in two.
Plus since it was improvised, either Harrison couldn't believe that was the best he could ad lib, or he felt Han would realize he was talking like an idiot.
Changed My Mind, Kid: Just when Vader is about to blast Luke down onto the Death Star surface, the Millennium Falcon makes a surprise intervention and blasts one of Vader's wingmen. Han returns after saying through the movie that he only cares about the prize at the end!
Coming of Age Story: For Luke and Leia. Luke Skywalker leaves his home and family to begin his training as a Jedi Knight while Princess Leia has to prove herself as a successful leader. Later shown to be a mirror of their parents Anakin and Padme.
Commander Contrarian: General Tagge for the Empire ("Until this battle station is fully operational, we are vulnerable.") Unusually he's entirely right and the Empire would have been a lot better off listening to him.
Cover Identity Anomaly: When Han is impersonating a stormtrooper over the com, he can't come up with his operating number.
Covers Always Lie: Darth Vader's lightsaber has a hilt on the original cover and film poster.
There is also this◊ poster as well as a similar one showing a much more muscular Mark Hamil, a sexier Carrie Fischer, the implication that they are lovers, and Luke raising a lightsaber as if he used it in battle. As it stands, Luke only uses a lightsaber during a training scene and doesn't pick it up again until the next movie.
Damsel in Distress: Princess Leia, but the trope is massively subverted for the genre George Lucas was drawing from. True, Leia doesn't try to escape herself, but that's because she's completely outnumbered and then imprisoned in a moon-sized battlestation. When an opportunity does arise, she seizes it with both hands and takes charge of matters once it's obvious her so-called rescuers don't have a clue what they're doing.
"Somebody has to save our skins!"
Danger Deadpan: Gold Leader and Red Leader both have their moments, especially during their trench runs. Gold Leader not only has the infamous "Stay on Target!", but also has the distinction that as he pulls out of the Trench with Darth Vader closing on his tail, his Famous Last Words are a calm sitrep telling Red Leader what he is going to face.
In the Expanded Universe, when the Stormtroopers came to Luke's home and demand for the two droids, Owen refused and spits and them.
Demoted to Extra: Biggs Darklighter got this because his aforementioned scenes with Luke were deleted. In the first theatrical cut, he's just a nameless Redshirt with no indication of a prior history with Luke.
Department of Redundancy Department: In the special edition, most of the lines from the Jabba scene are the same ones Han and Greedo had already traded in the cantina. The reason for this is that when the Jabba scene was originally cut, the lines were moved to the Greedo one. However, by the time the special edition came around and re-added the Jabba scene, Harrison Ford was too old to record different lines while he was reaching for the blaster.
Distinctive Appearances: The differences in color between the lightsabers, the stark contrast in starship designs, and the colors of the protagonists and antagonists are all designed to evoke a strong Good vs. Evil theme.
Easy Evangelism: Luke pretty much accepts everything that Obi-Wan tells him about his father, the Jedi and the Force without question, even though he only just met the guy, who had a reputation as a crazy hermit. This does help speed the story along of course. Luke's belief only starts stretching during Yoda's lessons in the next movie.
One particularly egregious example is when Tarkin threatens her with the destruction of Alderaan if she doesn't give up the Rebel base. Fans chalk this one up to Leia, normally speaking in a Coruscanti accent, panicking and losing the mask.
The film itself drew from many sources. The Hidden Fortress connection is well known. The Dune-Tatooine inspiration is pretty obvious. You can tell George Lucas must have seen at least Space Battleship Yamato episodes 26, 1, and 8, in that order, so we can probably pin his famous trip to Japan down to early 1975, when the series went into reruns. Isaac Asimov noticed some similarity to his Foundation series but didn't take it personally. As Wilson Mizner observed, stealing from everybody is just called "research."
From a Certain Point of View: Tarkin orders Leia to divulge the location of the Rebel Alliance's base. She does, saying that it's on Dantooine. When Imperial ships arrive at the planet they find out that there was a Rebel base there...it had just been abandoned. So Leia did divulge the location... just not the right one.
Heroism Incentive: Luke telling Han he could get a handsome reward for saving Princess Leia. It even got played with in various ways.
Han: No reward is worth this.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Essentially the Rebel plan during the Battle of Yavin. The X-Wings would distract the turrets and TIE Fighters while the slower Y-Wings, unnoticed in the confusion of the X-Wing attack, made their way to the Trench to attack the exhaust port.
Han Solo also evidently doesn't believe in the Force either, but his tone seems to be relatively less contemptuous than Motti's, despite that the consequences to Solo for such contempt would clearly be milder. This may be typical of the times he lives in, as the Empire has done its best to suppress knowledge of the Force.
Luke: You don't believe in the Force, do you?
Han Solo: Kid, I've flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe that there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. 'Cause no mystical energy field controls my destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.
Homage: To Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, with the droids being the focus for much of the film, and also to Yojimbo, with the scene of the two braggarts at the cantina. Lucas' heavy use of frame wipes is also indebted to Kurosawa. The heart-wrenching scene where Luke rushes to the farm, only to find it already raided and his relatives dead harkens to an equally distressing scene in The Searchers.
I Just Want to Be Special: A New Hope begins with Luke saying that he wants to leave home to join the Rebellion. It's bittersweet when he gets his wish.
I Lied: Tarkin threatens to destroy Alderaan unless Leia gives up the location of the Rebel base. When Leia tells him, he has Alderaan destroyed anyway. For her part, Leia lied about it being on Dantooine, at least currently.
Indy Ploy: Played with, as Luke's spur-of-the-moment plan to get into the detention center starts to unravel when they just blindly shoot at the cameras and Han poorly makes an excuse over the intercom.
Leia's ploy also works partly. Diving into the garbage chute gets them out of the firefight, but the droids have to save them from the compacter.
Leia:[from a test shot] And you call yourselves humans.
Knight, Knave and Squire: Luke Skywalker is the Squire, with Obi-Wan and Han Solo as the Knight and Knave respectively. A key point in Luke's character development is when he rejects Han's pragmatism, leading to Han second-guessing his own beliefs.
Leeroy Jenkins: Han Solo chasing after a group of retreating Storm Troopers. Followed by Han Solo running full tilt away from the same group of Storm Troopers when they turn around and start shooting at him again.
Let's Get Dangerous: At first, Obi Wan seems to be little more than a wizened old man, who may have once been a warrior of the Clone Wars, but is now, well, an old man who lives in a hovel. Then we get to the cantina scene, where said old man whips out a lightsaber, deflects blaster shots and lops a man's arm off. You can tell from the look on Luke's face, that's the moment when he starts to take the whole 'Jedi' thing seriously.
A Light in the Distance: C-3PO, lost on Tatooine, sees light glinting off a Jawa sandcrawler and concludes that he's saved.
Mentors New Hope: Luke is being taught by Obi-Wan, who also taught Darth Vader before Vader went to the dark side.
The Merch: Famously, toy makers were caught with their pants down.
Not only them, the studio executives didn't think the movie would do well and gave Lucas all merchandising rights.
Mood Whiplash: Only applicable if you watch the films in chronological order: Revenge of the Sith is a dark tragedy in which an already-tainted hero turns evil, kills children and is mutilated by his former best friend while this film is a straight-up action adventure with wisecracking heroes. Going from the former to the latter is a bit jarring.
Han: We can't get out that way. Leia: Looks like you've managed to cut off our only escape route. Han: Maybe you'd like it back in your cell, your highness.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Grand Moff Tarkin's decision to blow up Alderaan, simply to spite Leia, ends up being the final straw for many individuals in the Galaxy and leads them to take up arms against the Empire, vastly increasing the amount of support for the Rebel Alliance. Of course, Tarkin isn't worried at all.
This gets lampshaded in Family Guy's parody, where it has a Mood Whiplash scene right after Alderaan's destruction of the two guys in the laser tunnel asking about why there aren't any railings.
Nothing Is Scarier: The dianoga in the trash compactor. We only see a couple tentacles and an eyestalk.
Leia's session with the torture droid.
Obstacle Exposition: We have the briefing before the attack against the Death Star that clearly outlines their mission of hitting the exhaust port and everything that can possible stop them. This includes the need for tactical computers to make such a shot, and for good measure there was an unsuccessful attempt mid-way through the battle just so we know just how necessary a precise shot with the targeting computer is. Cue Luke turning off the targeting computer.
Off Model: The CGI Jabba from the Special Edition.
Offstage Villainy: The Empire as a whole. They do some pretty evil things with that Death Star, but we never hear much of how they affect the rest of the Galaxy. A deleted scene between Luke and Biggs explores this somewhat.
Out Of The Frying Pan: Twice during the escape from the Death Star. First, the heroes escape from a shootout with stormtroopers by diving into a chute, realizing too late that it leads to the interior of a garbage compactor—which begins compacting with them inside. Later, Luke shoots a control panel to lock a door between him and some stormtroopers, then realizes immediately afterwards that this same panel controlled the extendable bridge. Thus, he's traded death by stormtrooper for death by bottomless chasm.
Point Defenseless: Justified in that the Empire didn't think that fighters couldn't possibly threaten the Death Star on their own, so their static defenses were designed to fight off capital ships. In fact, Tarkin is so arrogant about his station's invincibility that he didn't bother scrambling the vast fighter fleet available to deal with the Rebels' fighters. Unfortunately, Darth Vader is not so stupid and had his personal squadron launch on his own authority with himself in the lead to deal with them.
The Power of Legacy: Obi-Wan refrains from telling Luke about his father's true nature. Luke thinks of whoever his father is as a hero throughout this movie.
Uncle Owen led Luke to believe Anakin was a navigator on a spice freighter, neither painting him as hero or villain.
Precision F-Strike: During the following conversation between Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi:
Han: Even if I could take off, I'd never get past the tractor beam.
Redemption Equals Death: In the EU, we learn that the head gunner for the superlaser was filled with remorse and desperately stalled for time at Yavin. In addition, it is hinted in said source that he may have caused the superlaser to misfire.
Retronym: When he made Star Wars, Lucas imagined that it would be Episode I in a series of films with the overall title The Adventures of Luke Skywalker. But while making The Empire Strikes Back (which was at first going to be Episode II of the series), he decided that he also wanted to do three prequel films. Since Luke obviously wouldn't be the hero of the prequels, Lucas needed a new name for the overall series. His solution? Star Wars, once just the chapter title of the first film, became the title of the entire saga. As a result, the subtitle A New Hope was retroactively tacked on to the first film, and it was now numbered Episode IV.
Shoot Out the Lock: Subverted when Han tries this in the trash compactor, only to find that the lock (and the walls) are shielded and thus the laser blast simply bounces off. Luke even says he already tried it.
Small Role Big Impact: Everything that transpires in the original Star Wars trilogy can be attributed to the actions of the gunner on the Star Destroyer at the beginning who decides not to shoot the pod that C-3PO and R2-D2 are in.
Smug Snake: While not as obvious an example as Jabba, (who in this installment is actually more along the lines of Affably Evil) Admiral Motti's "any attack made by the Rebels would be a useless gesture" remark comes across as fairly presumptuous in any context, but especially in light of what happened near the end of the movie. Also, his attitude towards Vader's belief in the Force is a DTRYOA of Hollywood atheism, of the Recycled IN SPACE! variety.
Vader: Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Motti: Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels' hidden fort...
Vader Force-chokes Motti.
Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Sore Loser: Han mentions that Wookiees have been known to tear arms out of sockets when they lose.
Space Is Noisy: Played straight, but given an unusually good justification in the novelization, though it only works for some of the scenes. Fighters like the X-wings (and Han would likely have done this for the Falcon as well) have a speaker system installed that simulates noise as an audible warning of an enemy's position so that the pilot doesn't have to constantly watch his display to see where an enemy fighter is.
Spontaneous Crowd Formation: When Darth Vader and Obi-Wan face off, the Stormtroopers leave their posts guarding the Millennium Falcon to watch the duel. Luke's shouting at Obi-Wan's death snaps them out of it.
Tactical Withdrawal: When Wedge's ship is badly damaged during the trench run, Luke tells him to retreat rather than be a sitting duck. Considering Wedge's key involvement in later battles in the series, it proves to be a move that pays dividends for the Alliance in the long-term.
Technology Marches On: The Death Star plans were stored on data tapes, which are still used for long term storage, but tape back then was a standard form of regular storage. This got spoofed by Irregular Webcomic!here, "We have the ability to destroy a planet and tape is the best backup medium we have?"
Too Dumb to Live: Admiral Motti. Clearly, insulting Darth Vader to his face and mocking his powers is not a good idea (especially in retrospect, after you see what he is capable of later in the series), as the exchange proves:
Motti: "Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel's hidden fortre..." (Is cut off as Vader starts to strangle him using Force Choke)
Vader: "I find your lack of faith disturbing..."
Fortunately for Motti, he got lucky; Tarkin intervened, and he survived.
Tracking Device: The Imperials plant one on board the Millennium Falcon, which allows them to track the heroes to the Rebel base on Yavin IV.
Weld The Lock: Luke shoots the control panel lock in order to keep the Stormtroopers from getting in. It turns out that the panel also controls the bridge. His makeshift lock doesn't hold for too long, either.
You Are in Command Now: After most of the Rebel pilots have been killed during the Death Star attack, Luke takes command of the last few fighters for one last run in the Trench...
Averted in a way, as well. Red Leader did tell him to get ready to make a run when Vader shot him down. At the beginning of the next episode, we see that all he and Wedge really earned in addition to Luke's shiny medal were their own starfighter squadron.
You Said You Would Let Them Go: Tarkin attempts to force Princess Leia into revealing the main Rebel Base by threatening to use the Death Star's superlaser on Alderaan as a demonstration of its power. She gives them the location (or so it seems). Unfortunately for her, Tarkin is not a man of his word.