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Star Wars (1977)

Star Wars IV: A New Hope (video box title), Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (reissue title)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Directed by:

George Lucas

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 121 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: U

On DVD

Country: United States

So, here it is. There’s no need to be patient any more. George Lucas has finally decided to join the rest of us in the 21st Century and release his original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy on DVD – and I’m sure it won’t come as a major surprise to any of you that it’s been worth the wait.

It’s hard to imagine there might still be anyone out there who’s unfamiliar with the basic storyline behind this first movie in the series but, just in case, here’s a brief run-down. R2D2 and C3PO are two robots – one a midget, one a bit camp – who escape from The Death Star, a Russell Grant-sized war ship helmed by intergalactic sod Darth Vader (David Prowse, with vocal assistance from James Earl Jones). They end up on a remote desert planet, where adventure-seeking 70’s-haired scamp Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) takes them under his wing. Upon hearing from them that Vader has kidnapped space-toff Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Luke teams up with the insufferably wise Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and smirking woookiee-loving mercenary Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and sets off on the rescue mission of all rescue missions. Huzzah!!

Along the way they go for a paddle in a vat of inter-planetary waste, dress up as Darth’s henchman, and even get into a pub brawl in the makey-uppy city of Mos Eisley. According to old Obi Wan, it’s “a wretched hive of scum and villainy” – so think Dundee only with better-looking residents and a lower crime rate.

Part Samurai legend, part swashbuckler and part Buck Rogers, Lucas’ brainchild is a rip-roaring amalgam of practically every brand of adventure story you can think of. It’s fantastically-paced to move practically seamlessly from one awe-inspiring cosmic setting to the next, and the plot under-pinning it all makes up for a teensy lack of depth with some gripping set-pieces. Meanwhile, John Williams’ heart-pounding score must go down as one of the most instantly-recognisable in celluloid history.

Of course, it’s not perfect: the characters are a tad under-developed, some of the dialogue is only so-so, and the CGI that was needlessly tagged-on back in 1997 sticks out like a sore thumb. But, faults or not, it’s largely down to this movie that big-budget action blockbusters have since become the staple diet of mainstream cinema-goers the world over. It’s a ground-breaker, and it’s a good ‘un.

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It's Got: A rebel alliance comprised of the chubbiest fighter pilots you’ll ever see.

It Needs: A serious review of Health & Safety issues aboard the Death Star – whoever heard of having maintenance walkways and balconies miles above floor-level with no safety nets, fences or harnesses? That Darth Vader won’t be happy until someone breaks their neck.

DVD Extras The only extra feature in Disc 1 of the ‘Star Wars Trilogy’ box set is an audio commentary from George Lucas with cast and crew. If you want the full range of goodies, you have to head for the bonus disc, where you’ll find original trailers & TV spots, exclusive production stills, posters & print campaigns, a shameless amount of plugging for the forthcoming ‘Star Wars’ video games, and additional DVD-ROM content. The extensive array of documentaries and featurettes include ‘The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy’, ‘Episode III Behind the Scenes Preview’, ‘The Birth of the Lightsaber’ and ‘The Characters of Star Wars’. Suffice to say, it’s a necessity if you’re a ‘Star Wars’ buff, and fascinating viewing even if you’re not. DVD Extras Rating: 10/10

Alternatives:

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

Summary

The galaxy’s favourite fairytale, on DVD at last – it’s a must-have for anyone’s collection.

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