Revisiting Episode IV: The Oldest of Hopes

As we continue our quest of revisiting and reevaluating the feature films of the Star Wars universe in anticipation of Rise of Skywalker‘s release this December, here are my notes from re-watching A New Hope (“ANH”).  For context, this view is from the blu-ray release and I was accompanied by my two boys who are, 7 and 5, and referred to by their ages herein (they had a few comments, and I noted my favorite ones).  Check out the episode where we discussed ANH on the Clashing Sabers network!  As always, this was a stream-of-consciousness note-taking exercise that has had some edits applied for the sake of clarity.

  1. The original opening fanfare for 21st century Fox is so different from the blu-ray version, and having them back to back is so disjointing (that is, the blu-ray plays a new recording of it and then the classic one kicks in).
  2. First connection with TFA, the opening crawl makes Leia the main focus of our attention as the earliest named characters in the film.
  3. Rogue One fits into this film like a freaking glove.
  4. This blu-ray transfer is immaculate.
  5. Can you imagine if this movie was remade with today’s technology, and what it would look like?
  6. The stormtroopers are vicious in the hallway assault, it might be their most brutal portrayal.
  7. They moved the bodies out of the way of Vader so he didn’t have to step over them.
  8. The side halls of the corvette, where Leia is hiding the plans in Artoo, are so smokey but there wasn’t any blaster fighting going on in there.
  9. Antilles so blatantly puts up his arms to stop his face from hitting the pipes when Vader throws him into the wall.
  10. This film still feels so different watching it in widescreen from what I remember, but I always had the full screen version to watch.
  11. C-3P0 talks SO FAST.
  12. Leia’s first lines are totally ADR’d.
    1. This problem comes up over and over again.
  13. The camera work is so smooth, I’ve never noticed how it goes around corners without the characters actually changing positions within the frame, that’s crazy awesome.
  14. Why does Threepio need to rest?  His joints are almost frozen, but will that be helped by resting?  I don’t think so…
  15. I don’t remember any of the other SW films having close up shots of the droids as they are interacting with each other.
    1. We see Artoo from a Threepio-height level and Threepio from an Artoo-height level, how very odd.  Even when they walk away from each other.
  17. Now, in the canyons, the camera is more hand-held.  What is that supposed to do, increase the tension? But it is mixed with other steady cam shots, so I’m not sure about the success of using handheld for the first 4, 5 cuts.
    1. Pete the assistant manager!
  18. I like the special edition change to make the Artoo/Jawa attack later in the day, it actually creates enough of a time differential so they can go from capturing Threepio to capturing Artoo, so it sort of works.
  20. Treadwell, R5-D4, its like old friends.
  21. The cut to show Threepio waking up doesn’t make sense; he suddenly activates without much provocation. 
    1. A lot like Artoo in TFA, another connection.
  22. WHOA those added dewbacks and lambda class shuttle are ROUGH looking; for a team that had no problem going back to improving the visuals, that’s a weird thing to overlook.
    1. By comparison, the new shots of the sandcrawler look BEAUTIFUL.
  23. Dathcha and Pete the Assistant Manager are really fun for some reason, like when Pete turns around to Threepio and Threepio reads it as a threat to be shot, but he’s holding the droid caller activator thing.  Shouldn’t’ Threepio be able to understand them?
  24. Did they add reverb to Beru calling for Luke?  This might be a blu-ray edition change
  25. The gaggle of Jawa girls giggling at Luke isn’t super great. Seems like an AOTC level moment, and that’s not really okay.  
  26. Isn’t it weird for Owen to tell Threepio, “I have no need for a protocol droid,” as if he needs to have a conversation with Threepio?  
  27. When Luke is calling for R5-D4, one of the Jawas is gently petting him with the back of its hand. So weird.
  28. “What are you trying to push on us!” is an awesome line.
    1. Shows Owen negotiating with Dathcha like any other reasonable sentient being, like a used car salesman.
  29. Soft fade to black like it was made for a commercial break.
  30. “Not if you can alter time, speed up the harvest, or teleport me off this rock.”
    1. Ahsoka busts through from the World Between Worlds “COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE.”
  31. Threepio doesn’t remember the princess senator that was on board the ship with him 15 minutes ago?  I don’t understand this deception.
  32. Threepio and Artoo belong to Captain Antilles, why don’t they belong to the Organa family?
  33. Man, the switching between ADR and on set recorded dialogue is obvious and distracting, wonder why they had to go back and forth so much within the singular scene in the garage?
  34. Luke hands the tool to Threepio, Threepio considers stabbing Artoo in the receptor.
  35. Man that look between Owen and Beru at the mention of OWK is loaded nowadays.
  36. Owen isn’t saying he is keeping Luke forever, rather he wants to stick to the agreement they had made.  Luke wants to back out of it because his friends have all moved on and he doesn’t feel like he belongs.
  37. Too much of his father in him, that’s what I’m afraid of.
    1. Man that line almost hurts now.
  38. The binary sunset, Luke looks to the horizon in seek of something more than his lowly life harvesting water from dust.
    1. But all of a sudden its dusk?
    2. Time moves strangely on a planet with 2 suns.
    3. And now it’s night!  
    4. We’ll have to wait until morning, good thing that’s in like 30 minutes.
  39. Another commercial break fade to black, so weird.
  40. Owen’s calling for Luke matches the tones of the Force them almost perfectly, no idea how to account for that.
  41. Luke doesn’t speak droid, I wonder if that changes; doesn’t he understand Artoo in TLJ?
  42. Additional rocks added to hide Artoo, not necessary at all.
  43. Oh and that new Krayt dragon call is ridiculous; not a fan.
  44. Hello there!
  45. Alec Guinness is a treasure and a warm welcome presence.
  46. If we allow for the events of the prequels and the Clone Wars, there’s no way OWK wouldn’t recognize Artoo; do we then have to allow that perhaps the desert has taken a toll on OWK greater than we would have previously considered?
  47. “Your father’s lightsaber. It is the weapon of a Jedi knight.”
    1. OWK just told Luke his father was a Jedi, already betraying the story that Owen told him about Anakin being a pilot on a spice freighter.
    2. Now OWK tells him that Vader hunted him down, Vader was a pupil of OWK’s before he turned to evil.
    3. Real fast description of the Force, things are blazing forward.
  48. Leia never introduces herself in her message, only that General Kenobi served her father years ago during the Clone Wars.
  49. I love OWK’s calling Luke to greater things:
    1. “That’s your uncle talking.”
    2. “Learn about the Force, Luke.”
    3. Isn’t that what every young boy wants to hear?  To cast off your old home and grab on to a new persona?  That there is more out there for you and a need for you to answer the call.
  50. The empty chair at the table may have been for Krennic, but it is also where the camera is sitting at the beginning of the conference table scene; it gives us access into the debate and allows us to literally see things from the perspective of the different speakers.
  51. It is interesting how so many of the men around this table saw Jedi in action and even fought side by side with them. There is something interesting about that, to see those closest to the Jedi on the front lines turn against them even without Order 66.
  52. Luke already has the lightsaber hanging on his belt, even when first discovering the Jawa slaughter.
  53. The skeletons aren’t given a lot of real treatment; they aren’t even center of the screen, more like they are on the last third of the screen, but they are some grisly props.
    1. We don’t get much of the moment before we blast right on to the torture sequence, which likewise slams shut too, and then it goes right back to Tatooine.
    2. So Luke does get a moment to deal with his loss but Leia never gets a moment to handle her assault.
  54. Threepio has a Jawa corpse in his arms, but can you imagine him having to bend over and pick it up?
  55. Luke pretty quickly abandons his homestead on Tatooine.
  56. Lots of special edition changes, and they are almost all pretty rough to see:
    1. They stand out so rough.
    2. Okay I still dig the Outrider, but all the other CGI looks so rough.
    3. The rontos look cartoony, the landspeeder has weird blue electricity in the engines that isn’t there in any other part of the film (though in fairness I don’t know that we ever see the rear of the speeder again).
    4. The shadows are wrong on the little speeder that floats behind the stormtroopers head; its shadow is directly behind it, but when you see it from the other point of view, you can tell the sun is shining in the opposite direction.
    5. So we just saw the back of the speeder again and there was no blue electricity there, so it was just for that one shot establishing the introduction to Mos Eisley. How lame.
  57. The cantina!
    1. “They look like puppets,” the 7 year-old says with affection; he ain’t wrong.
    2. It’s pretty rude of Luke who, after being approached by Ponda Baba in a language he doesn’t understand, to just look the other way.  Yes Dr. Evazan takes it too far, but still, Luke could have made SOME effort to figure out what he was trying to say.
  58. OWK looks at Han Solo after the Kessel Run boast like, “Did you just make those words up and pretend they make sense?”
  59. 17k is such an oddball number to pay.  Why not do 2k now and then 13k when they arrive?
  60. Ok the Greedo thing.  I kind of like it this way where they both shoot pretty close to each other.  I think this version is probably the best version of the sequence so far, and I kind of like it better than the original Han-shooting-first edition.  
  61. Artoo and Threepio lock the door, but what the heck door is it?  Where are they hiding? And why would the troopers not want to check out what’s happening on the other side of the door?  We know that the stormtroopers are looking for Luke and OWK, so what does this little scene show us?
  62. The Jabba scene:
    1. They should have kept this scene deleted.
    2. Jabba looks like a Reese peanut butter cup that came to life, died, and then was reincarnated after watching the Oogie Boogie Man from Nightmare Before Christmas.
    3. I don’t feel like this scene makes sense with how Han treats Jabba, given his criminal lord status.
    4. It really blows the Falcon reveal, it shows Han and Chewie boarding the ship but then both of them are off it immediately, it ruins the Jabba reveal from ROTJ and the Boba Fett character from ESB.
  63. The first real gunfight of the film and its over like THAT.
  64. The stormtroopers all stop and stare at the Falcon as it blasts off as if it were something that didn’t happen all day everyday; what is it about this event that makes it so attention worthy?
  65. “I know a few maneuvers, we’ll lose them,” he says as he flies absolutely perfectly straight.  Nice maneuvers, lol.
    1. His maneuver is to jump to lightspeed, sooooooo there’s that.
  66. Leia looks all put together despite being tortured and imprisoned.
    1. I like this sequence as a follow up to what we see in Leia: Princess of Alderaan and the diner sequence therein.
    2. Also, the microphone is too far forward; when Tarkin turns his back to the camera, his modulation changes because it isn’t picking up the direct vocal signal but rather the reflection from around the room.
  67. Super harsh cut from the destruction of Alderaan to OWK, something terrible has happened but we could have experienced through Leia if they could have given us maybe 1 or 2 more seconds with her.
  68. They really could have gone back to replace the lightsaber blades in this film and it would have been alright.  The Rebels ones are too skinny, but the other films all have decent looking saber blades.
  69. When Luke has the blast helmet on, you can see pillows and blanket sets on the shelf behind him; thank the Lord for blu-ray.
  70. OWK looks like he is sweating, or maybe its the glue holding his wig on; whatever it is, its pretty shiny.
  71. Vader gets gesticulating after he finishes saying “I told you she would never consciously betray the Rebellion.”  Wonder what the rest of the line should have been.
  72. Welcome to Project Stardust!
  73. Vader says they are trying to return the stolen plans to the princess; why is that his opening theory?  Wouldn’t they be rescuing her instead?
    1. The stormtoopers don’t really seem like they are checking all that thoroughly
    2. Also, when did they add the line, “There’s no one here!”  We just had that information conveyed through the officer catching Vader up.  I don’t remember that being in earlier versions, might check the DVDs later.
  74. They shoot TK-421 and 422, but are there subsequent blast marks on the armor?  Not on Luke’s front, maybe his back. Not on Han’s front, either.
  75. Pol Triedum, RIP.
  76. Not on Han’s back, nor on Luke’s; come on guys.
  77. The very first time we see a droid jack into a terminal, and it will be repeated over and over and over again.
  78. The control room set feels pretty claustrophobic.
  79. OWK says your path lays along a different path than mine; that must be pretty upsetting for someone he just met and agreed to learn the ways of the Force from.  He’s basically being abandoned on day 1.
  80. Great comparison between line reading:
    1. Luke “Oh no!” – cheesy and sincere.  C
    2. Han “What is going on here?” – genuine and exasperated.  A+
    3. Harrison Ford is so comfortable in Han Solo’s skin, its like he’s barely acting (which is the best kind of acting, when you can’t notice the performance at all) whereas Mark Hamill is basically screaming “I’M A HERO ARCHETYPE!  ERROL FLYNN EAT YOUR HEART OUT!”
  81. I like how they wave off the Imperial officer trying to get in the elevator with them, Han waves him off with a gesture to Chewie as if to say, “Trust me you don’t want to be in here with this thing.”
  82. If they redid this movie, would they open up the hallway sequences like they did to Cloud City in ESB’s special edition, or would they keep it all in the deep recesses of the DS like it appears to be?
    1. This makes me really appreciate the set design and staging of TFA, real interested to revisit that one soon.
  83. Another gun fight, nice!
  84. Han totally fails his bluff check and he knows it, super brilliant.
  85. How many other prisoners do you think were there at the time, listening to the fight and wondering if they were going to be busted out too.
  86. It’s odd to hear Tarkin refer to the Jedi as a religion when he worked along side of them for years, but there’s no real worship demonstrated within the Jedi Order; not sure it meets the definition of religion, but that’s another topic for another day.
  87. First demonstration of a comlink.
  88. “This is some rescue!”
  89. I like the blaster rifles in this film so much better than the prequels.  These look like actual weapons whereas the prequel film blasters all look like toys.
  91. Couldn’t Luke’s lightsaber open the door?  He may not have thought about it though if he’s never seen one before this very day.
  92. Leia’s hair stays absolutely perfect through this entire escapade, maybe she’s the real Chosen One.
    1. Thinking of which, the novelty of her hairstyle has so completely worn off that there’s not an ounce of surprise or even interest in it.
  93. Let’s keep in mind that the only reason they got out of the trash compactor situation is that Luke remembered his cell phone.
  94. Okay, now the stormtroopers are acting a bit doofy.
    1. The one guy bonks his head on the door (to which they have now added appropriate sound effects), they speak in super clipped sentences, and blindly accept everything at first glance.  No critical thinking skills required; maybe these ones are clones that are at the end of their warranty coverage.
  95. When the gang is slipping back to the hangar bay, Han does a weird little proper Imperial officer strut for a second across the hallway and then drops it when they get past it, like the scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where the principal runs down the hall but walks past doors.
  96. The reverb on the chasm sequence is overwhelming and unnecessary; it’s simply not how echoes work!  Was Ben Burtt absent the day they approved this for the special edition? Or is this blu ray exclusive?
  97. More gun fights!  There are more of these than I remember.
  98. Why does the door only open 12 inches?  Like, what’s the functionality that they were able to restore to get it to work that much?
  99. “Open the blast doors!  Open the blast doors!” still makes me giggle.
  100. The sound effects of the lightsaber battle are pretty overwhelming.  There’s a lot of hum in the bass registers and the clashes and buzzing are super strong; even the ambient hum when they aren’t in contact is strong.
  101. I like how simple the plot of sneaking onto Project Stardust and then back to the ship is; it completely works.  They are there to get in and out, no other superfluous tasks like a modern movie might have had.
    1. Now that I think about it, its a big departure for TFA where so much happens during their infiltration mission.
      1. Finn exacts revenge on Phasma.
      2. Ben confronts Han and murders him.
      3. Rey and Finn both get their turns at facing off against Kylo Ren.
    2. I think there’s an alternate cut of TFA where all that happens on Starkiller Base and then they escape to Takodana to get the Resistance to suit up.
    3. While I might prefer that version, that would make it even more lined up with ANH’s beats.
  102. The 7 year old called the TIE pilots Deathtroopers; there certainly is some similarity there.  Might need to review them side by side to consider how reasonable that connection is.
  103. The dog fight is so well put together!  They create tension and action simply by having the characters look and move side to side.  When they move to exterior shots, there’s almost NOTHING happening and yet it feels tight and dangerous.
  104. Tarkin says he is taking an awful risk, but what is he talking about?  Letting them go, or tracking them to their base? Not sure that there’s enough info in film to make that more clear.  He’s clearly not worried about any threat the Rebels pose against Project Stardust.
  105. Three back to back shots of the Falcon flying through space, maybe a little excessive.
  106. Okay there’s a moment when the gang first arrives on Yavin 4 and there’s establishing shot of the hangar with all the ships and I SWEAR the voice on the loudspeaker calls for Phoenix squadron!
  108. I like how they include the little back and forth with Wedge to demonstrate the possibility of making the shot at the exhaust port.  It feels pretty appropriate.
  109. How many physical ships did they build in order to populate the hangar?  Looks like maybe 2 X-wings and 2 Y-wings?
    1. Trying to see if there’s ever a shot with more than that in it at a time.
  110. What is Threepio doing with Chewie behind Han?  It looks like he’s trying to run inventory or something.
  111. I only wish… Ben were here…
  112. I love the Biggs/Luke scene they added back in.
  113. “Gold Squadron, begin takeoff procedure.”
    1. I’ve never paid more attention to the loudspeakers in my life.
  114. Why don’t the squadron wings report in order?  10, 7, 3, etc. how confusing that must be for anyone taking attendance.
  115. One of the thing that bothers me the most is the number of times they use the same shot of black space with two different green blaster lines being fired:
    1. I I I
  116. There’s really good displays of lasers hitting shields and its super cool.
  117. The cut back to the tech on Yavin alerting them to new Imperial ships is pretty lame.  
  118. “Pick up your visual scanning” is basically pilot talk for “LOOK AROUND.”
  119. The shots that were added for the special addition really help to show the nimble capabilities of the fighters, how they can duck and bob with some real grace, a lot better than having film crews bounce the cockpits up and down just off screen.
    1. They call for Red 6 to see if he can see Red 5, but Red 6 has been dead for about 2 minutes.
    2. Luke says, “Blast it Biggs where are you?” but its Wedge who is coming to save him.  Is that an error or does Luke simply want his best friend to help save him?
  120. I’m not sure why Gold Squadron enters the trench so far away from the exhaust port.
    1. Are they hoping to reduce the amount of TIEs following them?
  121. Pops immediately assumes the role of Gold Leader 3 seconds after Dutch bites it, after basically coaxing him into his death; what a loser.
  122. Luke, Biggs, and Wedge, what a powerhouse team.
  123. This whole sequence is really well paced and edited.
    1. This is an example of really well put together sequences (for the most part) because of the required tension and stakes at risk.
  124. They took out the line, “He’s on your tail,” when Vader is chasing down Red Leader, or did I imagine that line?
  125. The crescendo in music when Vader is chasing down Biggs, with the trumpets escalating their notes, must have been an absolute PAIN to play live.  I can hear them straining pretty hard to maintain their notes because they are BLARING those notes.
  126. I think the shots of all the techs in the main rebel base start a long and storied history of background actors not having any clue what they should be doing.
  127. Vader’s TIE Advanced x1 looks a lot more black in the trench but pure white when he is blasted out of it.
  128. Do you think Rex and Hera are in the ceremony crowd somewhere?  Do we think they were at the Battle of Yavin? Or did they have somewhere else to be after Scariff?
  129. I would have been okay with digitally inserting them onto the platform somewhere?
  130. First question from the 5 year-old was “HOW COME CHEWIE DIDN’T GET A MEDAL?” To which the 7 year-old answered, “Maybe they didn’t have a big enough strip!” presumably to hang it around his neck.
  131. So the credits, when they start to scroll don’t have the starfield behind them; don’t the rest of them?
  132. The end!  Yup, it is still a good movie.

And that’s it!  We made it through the first chapter of the classic trilogy.  It will be super interesting to see how Empire fares in this exercise.  It is encouraging that the good ones still hold up.  So far, that is.

Drew Brett


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