Star Wars Episode IV
A New Hope
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga: two subsequent films complete the original trilogy, while a prequel trilogy completes the six film saga. It is the fourth film in terms of the series internal chronology. Ground-breaking in its use of special effects, unconventional editing, and sci-fi/fantasy storytelling, the original Star Wars is one of the most successful and influential films of all time.
Produced with a budget of $11 million and released on May 25, 1977, the film went on to earn $460 million in the United States and $337 million overseas, surpassing Jaws as the highest-grossing film of all time at the time. Among the many awards the film received, it gained ten Academy Award nominations, winning seven; the nominations included Best Supporting Actor for Alec Guinness and Best Picture. Lucas has re-released the film on several occasions, sometimes with significant changes; the most notable versions are the 1997 Special Edition and the 2004 DVD release, which have modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, and added scenes.
When it was originally released on May 25, 1977, it was titled as "Star Wars". It was not until the re-release in 1981 did the subtitles and opening scrawl read "Episopde IV" and "A New Hope". Up until production started on the prequels, the official title of "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" was always known as "Star Wars".
Because of the film success and cultural success of the original Star Wars movie, the franchise currently spans over 40 years with continued success and following that spans several generations of people.
Set "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away", the film follows a group of freedom fighters known as the Rebel Alliance as they plot to destroy the powerful Death Star space station, a devastating weapon created by the evil Galactic Empire. This conflict disrupts the isolated life of farmboy Luke Skywalker when he inadvertently acquires the droids carrying the stolen plans to the Death Star. After the Empire begins a cruel and destructive search for the droids, Skywalker decides to accompany Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on a daring mission to rescue the owner of the droids, rebel leader Princess Leia Organa, and save the galaxy.
The galaxy is in a state of civil war. Spies for the Rebel Alliance have stolen plans to the Galactic Empire's Death Star: a space station capable of annihilating an entire planet. Rebel leader Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is in possession of the plans, but her ship is captured by Imperial forces under the command of the evil lord Darth Vader (David Prowse). Before she is captured, Leia hides the plans in the memory of a droid called R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), along with a holographic recording. The small droid escapes to the surface of the desert planet Tatooine with fellow droid C-3PO (Anthony Daniels).
The two droids are quickly captured by Jawa traders, who sell the pair to moisture farmer Owen Lars and his nephew, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). While Luke is cleaning R2-D2, he accidentally triggers part of Leia's holographic message, in which she requests help from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The only "Kenobi" Luke knows of is an old hermit named Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness) who lives in the nearby hills; Owen, however, dismisses any connection, suggesting that Obi-Wan is dead.
During dinner, R2-D2 escapes to seek Obi-Wan. The next morning Luke and C-3PO go out after him and are met by Ben Kenobi, who reveals himself to be Obi-Wan and takes Luke and the droids back to his hut. He tells Luke of his days as a Jedi Knight. The Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy before being wiped out by the Empire. Obi-Wan explains to Luke about a mysterious energy field called the Force from which the Jedi draw their power as well as a Jedi's weapon of choice: a lightsaber. He also tells Luke about his association with Luke's father, also a Jedi, who he claims was betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader, Obi-Wan's former pupil who turned to the "dark side of the Force". Obi-Wan then views Leia's message, in which she begs him to take R2-D2 and the Death Star plans to her home planet of Alderaan, where her father will be able to retrieve and analyze them. Obi-Wan asks Luke to learn the ways of the Force. After initially refusing, Luke discovers that his home has been destroyed and his aunt and uncle killed by Imperial stormtroopers in search of the droids. Luke agrees to go with Obi-Wan to Alderaan, and the two hire smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to transport them on their ship, the Millennium Falcon.
Meanwhile, Leia has been imprisoned on the Death Star and has resisted giving the location of the secret Rebel base. Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing), the Death Star's commanding officer and Vader's superior, tries to coax information out of her by threatening to destroy Alderaan. Leia pretends to cooperate, but Tarkin destroys the planet anyway, to demonstrate the power of the Empire's new weapon. When the Falcon arrives at Alderaan's coordinates, it finds only a cloud of rubble. The Falcon follows a TIE fighter towards the Death Star, is captured by the station's tractor beam, and is brought into its hangar bay. The group escapes from the Falcon and take refuge in a command room while Obi-Wan goes off to disable the tractor beam. While they are waiting, Luke discovers that Princess Leia is onboard and is scheduled to be executed. Sizing up the situation, Han, Luke, and Chewbacca stage a rescue and free the princess. Making their way back to the Millennium Falcon, their path is cleared by the spectacle of a lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. As the others race onto the ship to escape, Obi-Wan allows himself to be struck down by Darth Vader's lightsaber. But Kenobi disappears while his empty cloak and deactivated lightsaber fall to the ground.
The Falcon journeys to the Rebel base at Yavin IV where the Death Star plans are analyzed by the Rebels and a potential weakness is found. The weakness will require the use of one-man fighters to slip past the Death Star's formidable defenses and attack a vulnerable exhaust port. Luke joins the assault team while Han collects his reward for the rescue and leaves, despite Luke's request for him to stay and fight. The attack proceeds when the Death Star arrives in the system, its location now known due to Vader having placed a homing device on the Falcon. The Rebel fighters suffer heavy losses and, after several failed attack runs there are few surviving pilots. Vader appears in a TIE Advanced X1 with his own group of fighters and begins attacking the Rebel ships. Luke, realizing he is one of the few Rebel pilots left, begins his attack, while Vader closes in on him; all while the Death Star closes in on firing range of Yavin IV. As Vader is about to fire at Luke's ship, Han arrives in the Millennium Falcon and attacks Vader and his wingmen, sending Vader's ship careening off into space. Guided by Obi-Wan's voice telling him to use the Force, Luke switches off his targeting computer and fires a successful shot which destroys the Death Star seconds before it could fire on the Rebel base. Later, at a grand ceremony, Princess Leia awards medals to Luke and Han for their heroism in the battle.