"A Big, Sprawling Space Saga of Rebellion and Romance"
"Remember, The Force will be with you, always."
— Obi-Wan Kenobi
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 start 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 smuggler, 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.The difficulty of the film left Lucas exhausted after the film was finished, and he didn't direct another film for over 20 years; primarily serving as the Executive Producer for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, he would finally return to directing for The Phantom Menace. He would also direct Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
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.
Ascetic Aesthetic: Averted with the Millennium Falcon, played straight with the Star Destroyers.
Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Han charges headlong at the Stormtroopers as a diversionary tactic; he turns and runs as soon as they realize they out number him (the special edition changes this to them running into a hangar full of troopers)
Obi-Wan Kenobi: If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine
Bad-Guy Bar: The Mos Eisley cantina, where bounty hunters and smugglers hang out and Luke almost gets killed for no reason at all.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: When imprisoned on the Death Star, Vader turns up to interrogate Leia with a droid fairly bristling with syringes. As the the door closes on them, it's clear that she's about to be tortured for information. And yet the next time we see her, she looks perfectly fine, without so much as a puncture wound or a hair out of place.
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.
Breakout Character/Breakout Villain: Darth Vader. No, really; he has nine minutes of screentime and arguably isn't even the Big Bad here, yet became not only the most iconic Star Wars character and the central piece of the Saga's story, but also one of the most iconic movie villains of all time.
Han Solo over the intercom: "How are you?" <cringes>.
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!
Comic Book Adaptation: Marvel Comics launched its long-running Star Wars comic with a six-issue adaptation of the film. The comic is notable for being based on an early edit of the film and as such has characters and scenes (including one featuring a humanoid Jabba the Hutt) not in the final movie. In 2013-2014, Dark Horse Comics released a miniseries titled The Star Wars, adapting an early version of Lucas' screenplay for A New Hope.
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.
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 Hamill, a sexierCarrie Fisher, 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. Also while this poster has all the elements for a classic Leg Cling, it averts it by giving the princess a strong independent pose.
Damsel in Distress / Damsel out of Distress: Princess Leia is captured in the opening scene and remains a prisoner for a good deal of the movie. Then the trope is inverted (one could almost say deconstructed for the genre George Lucas was drawing from). True, Leia doesn't try to escape herself, but that's because she's outnumbered and then imprisoned in a moon-sized battlestation. But 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.
Deadly Deferred Conversation: In a deleted scene restored in the Special Edition, Luke runs into his old friend Biggs Darklighter before Red Squadron launches against the Death Star, with them promising to catch up afterwards. Biggs dies to Vader's guns during the final trench run.
Han: Listen, princess, let's get one thing straight. I only take orders from one person: Me. Leia: It's a wonder you're still alive. Would somebody get this walking carpet out of my way? Han: No reward is worth this!
Defiant Captive: Leia takes none of Vader's crap and resists the mind probe.
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, though the shot of Luke visibly upset following his death remained.
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.
Grand Moff Tarkin seems perfectly comfortable with acting like he's Darth Vader's superior—and Vader doesn't give any hint of having a problem with it. This sort of dynamic would never happen in the later two movies—where Vader is answerable only to the Emperor, and commands Admirals and even disposes of them as he sees fit. (Justified in universe, as Tarkin and presumably a lot more of the Imperial leadership was killed in the explosion of the Death Star, presumably causing Vader to move up to The Dragon).
Admiral Motti's description of the Force as a "sad old religion" seems downright bizarre, given that its existence was treated as common knowledge in the Prequel Trilogy, a timeframe in which Motti would likely have been alive. This is largely because when the film was written Lucas envisioned exact knowledge of the Force and Jedi powers to be something which only a select few had knowledge of, which was gradually contradicted by the Expanded Universe novels and comics, and then jettisoned altogether by The Phantom Menace.
The Imperial March, Darth Vader's iconic theme and the synonymous with the character, was actually not in the first film at all. It did not debut until The Empire Strikes Back.
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.
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. Vader himself was inspired by the appearance of the villain in Kikaider. 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. Unfortunately, Darth Vader is wise to that maneuver and goes after the Y-Wings.
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: The film 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.
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 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.
The Obi-Wan: Trope Namer. Named for the character, although he spends very little time filling that role in this film.
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.
Vader: "I have you now." *wingman goes boom* "What?"
Luke: "But that would lead them back... home..."
Old Soldier: Gold Five calls out the defenses on the Death Star run, predicts Vader's attack from the rear, and uses his last breath to warn Red Leader "They came from behind!" in a Dying Moment of Awesome.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Carrie Fisher occasionally slips into a British accent for no reason. It is particularly noticeable in the scene where Tarkin is threatening to blow up Alderaan.
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: Uncle Owen led Luke to believe Anakin was a navigator on a spice freighter, painting him as neither a hero nor a villain. Obi-Wan refrains from telling Luke about his father's true nature but tells him that his father was the "best star pilot in the galaxy".
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.
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.
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.
Also inverted later, when Luke shoots a door's control panel to make it harder to open.
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 INSPACE 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.
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 Rebels' 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.
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 Are Not Alone: Just when all seems lost during the final trench run with Luke being chased by Darth Vader with Artoo out of action, Luke suddenly hears Obi-Wan's voice out of nowhere, "Use the Force, Luke... Trust me."
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.