Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope

7 Criminally Underrated Moments of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Written by Eric Vogel

As silly as it may seem, to have the phrases “Criminally Underrated” and “Star Wars: A New Hope” in the same title, there are pockets of this movie that remain drastically underappreciated.

The Wit and Wisdom of Princess Leia.
Princess Leia is not given enough credit for her sarcasm in the face of consistently daring and brave stupidity.  Had some of these iconic moments happened after the advent of Michael Schur and the Mockumentary, she undoubtedly would have had several moments of looking into the camera a la Jim Halpert, with a “Really?” look on her face.

“This is some rescue. You came in here, didn’t you have a plan for getting out?”
Zing!  It’s at this point that you realize Luke’s tack of appealing to Han’s desire for green stuff was spot on.  The fact that it got him from “Marching into the detention area is not what I had in mind,” to staging a full on rescue without any plan for egress certainly speaks to Han’s motivations.  It’s at this point we realize the rescue plan was a little half-baked, and Princess Leia is not afraid to rub their noses in it with some snark.

“You came in that? You’re braver than I thought.”
Everyone hates on the Millennium Falcon before they see how she performs under pressure… at least until Episode V where apparently no one in the Galaxy has the technical know-how to turn on the hyperdrive… except for R2… with one tweak. I digress.  Little did Leia know in the detention block that not only did they not have an escape plan, but that if they did manage to magically break out of the prison, their ticket off the Death Star was a ship that would later in the series be very easily mistaken for SPACE GARBAGE.  Not one to hold back, Leia dropping this shade is an underrated moment in the film.

“They let us escape.”
This has been covered in various fan theory forums, and it’s something I generally subscribe to, but Leia is way ahead of the curve when it comes to judging Storm Trooper aim (at least in Episode IV.)  She knows immediately that in light of all the buffoonery mentioned above, the insurmountable number of opposing forces, and the fact that they escaped the belly of the Galactic Empire’s greatest WMD inside of really fast space garbage, their escape was not by chance, but by design. Smart as a whip that one. No wonder they make her a General!

Lightsabers!

Anakin’s lightsaber
Here’s a script of what I like to think my inner monologue would be if I were able to erase my memory and watch Star Wars again for the first time.  “Okay, we’re back at this old guy’s hut, not creepy at all.  Why’s he rummaging around in that chest?  What the heck is a lightsaber? Oh, it’s a little handle thing that OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT THAT’S AWESOME!”

Vader’s lightsaber
So you know Obi-Wan has a lightsaber b/c he cuts off Ponda Baba’s arm.  It’s blue.  We know Luke has his father’s lightsaber b/c he plays with it randomly in a hut, and then fights with tennis ball robots on board the space garbage.  Also blue.  You DON’T know that Vader has one until you see Obi-Wan wandering the halls of the Death Star… then you hear the breathing… and then there it is, already out and in the most badass shade of red ever.

Aliens
In the days before you could whip up a believable extraterrestrial on a computer with relative ease, George Lucas and company populated the first/fourth chapter in the Star Wars saga with a plethora of alien fauna (some who look more like flora.)  Watch the Mos Eisley cantina scene and think about all the work that went into making each one of those aliens look distinct and genuine.  THEN think about the tiny amount of screen time each actually gets.  You’ll quickly realize that the reason A New Hope was such a success was the love and attention that was put into it.

Battleship Parts
The lure of CGI is a strong one in today’s films, as evidenced by the fact that even George Lucas fell victim to its siren call in both the prequels, and the Special Edition releases (for a good primer on HOW to use CGI, see here.)  The practical effects of the original chapter of Star Wars might seem dated now, but for what they were working with (mostly battleship parts,) what they were able to accomplish is nothing short of miraculous.

[Editor’s Note:  What do YOU feel is criminally underrated about A New Hope?  Chime in and let us know in the Comments below.]
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Comments

  1. John Enfield
    John Enfield

    I would add turning babbling into believable dialog. Not just one, but many characters in A New Hope never speak a word of English, or Galactic Basic, yet we find ourselves understanding the gist of what they mean. Chewbacca, R2D2, Jawas, Sandpeople, etc. all have lines that are never translated, but in a way, they don’t have to be because of the great physical acting by the people playing them. Each has a distinctly different sounding language too. The only language translated for us in subtitles is Greedo’s lines to Han Solo. Greedo understands Han’s Basic but only speaks what we later find out is Huttese. Now and then C3PO translates for R2, when he has a complex idea to convey, but his emotional outbursts need no translation. In fact, 3PO embarrassingly refuses to translate a few things he says. “Watch your language!” Whatever those outbursts were, they clearly violated protocol. Han understands Chewie’s bear and dog like language, but we must rely on Peter Mayhew’s amazing pantomime to get the gist of it. Just as amazing is Kenny Baker and the rest of the team’s ability to get a rolling dust bin to show emotions.

    1. Avatar
      Eric Vogel

      100% true. It’s a super sneaky way of drawing the audience in, too. How better to engage an audience than by making them have to decipher what’s being said through inflection followed by the context clues that follow in the language they know. Excellent point.

      1. Avatar
        John Enfield

        That’s for sure. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but using untranslated languages does really draw you in doesn’t it? Probably also partly why those characters who don’t speak Basic are among my favorite Star Wars characters.

  2. Christopher Bishop
    Christopher Bishop

    The thing that always got me in new hope was Luke’s quick elevation from farm boy to intergalactic adventurer. In the space of we shall say one day, his entire world is shattered, he learns his father was an awesome star pilot, and a jedi, he finds out the force is more than a myth, He goes to cantina and narrowly avoids a bar brawl, sees firsthand what the lightsaber he just gained does, trains onboard a starship in how to use a lightsaber without cutting his hand off (bad pun I know). By the time he gets on the Death Star he is ready and willing to fight stormtroopers and swing across Daredevil style with a thin metal grappling hook and princess in Tow. All of this conceivably within a 48 hour span. Most farm boys from a small backwater planet under Imperial and Hutt thrall would probably not be so easily raised to hero status, as I am sure the toil and lifestyle would grind it out of them pretty quickly. I guess to put it in perspective it would be like taking a small boy from Beanblossom,Indiana and in the space of 48 hours teaching him how to fire an assault rifle, slapping him in fatigues and sending him to the closest operation at the ENEMIES STRONGHOLD with “oh ya be careful and make sure you rescue that high profile probably under severe guard prisoner.” Which is probably why this farmboy from Bean Blossom Indiana broke so many shovels and axes messing around doing chores…because if it could be used as a light saber or something remotely like a weapon Conan would use…I was totally messing around the minute my parents got out of sight.

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