Saturday, June 23, 2012
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV - VI) [Blu-ray]
#15 (1998) and #13 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 Movies List
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, is a 1977 American epic space opera film,written and directed by George Lucas. It 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. Groundbreaking in its use of special effects, unconventional editing, and science fiction/fantasy storytelling, the original Star Wars is one of the most successful and influential films of all time.
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, and save the galaxy.
Produced with a budget of $11 million and released on May 25, 1977, the film earned $460 million in the United States and $337 million overseas, surpassing Jaws as the nominal highest-grossing film and remained that way until being surpassed by E.T. the Extra Terrestrial in 1983. When adjusted for inflation, it is the second highest grossing film in the USA and Canada as of 2010. Among the many awards the film received, it gained ten Academy Award nominations, winning six; the nominations included Best Supporting Actor for Alec Guinness and Best Picture. The film is often ranked among the best films of all time. Lucas has re-released the film on several occasions, sometimes with significant changes; the most notable versions are the 1997 Special Edition, the 2004 DVD release, and the 2011 Blu-ray release, which have modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, and added scenes.
* Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker: Luke is a young man who was raised by his aunt and uncle on the remote, desert world Tatooine. He dreams of something greater than his current position in life and eventually finds it.
* Harrison Ford as Han Solo: Han is a sarcastic smuggler whom Obi-Wan and Luke meet at the Mos Eisley Cantina and with whom they later travel. He owns a ship called the Millennium Falcon and is good friends with Chewbacca, the ship's co-pilot.
* Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa: Leia is a member of the Imperial Senate and a leader of the Rebel Alliance. She plans to use the stolen Death Star plans to find the station's weakness.
* Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin: Tarkin is the commander of the Death Star and a Regional Governor of the Galaxy. He leads the search for the Rebel Base, hoping to destroy it.
* Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi: Obi-Wan is an aging man who served as a Jedi Knight and then Jedi Master during the Clone Wars. Early in the film, Kenobi introduces Luke to the Force.
* Anthony Daniels as C-3PO: 3PO is a protocol and interpreter droid who also falls into Luke's hands. He is rarely without his counterpart droid, R2-D2.
* Kenny Baker as R2-D2: R2 is an astromech droid who falls into the hands of Luke. He is carrying a secret message for Obi-Wan from The Princess.
* Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca: Chewie is the Wookiee co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon and good friends with Han Solo.
* David Prowse as Darth Vader: Vader is a Dark Lord of the Sith and a prominent figure of the Galactic Empire who hopes to destroy the Rebel Alliance. He is voiced by James Earl Jones.
Lucas shared a joint casting session with long-time friend Brian De Palma, who was casting his own film Carrie. As a result, Carrie Fisher and Sissy Spacek auditioned for both films in each other's respective roles. Lucas favored casting young actors without long-time experience. While reading for Luke Skywalker (then known as "Luke Starkiller"), Hamill found the dialogue to be extremely odd because of its universe-embedded concepts. He chose to simply read it sincerely and was selected instead of William Katt, who was subsequently cast in Carrie.
Lucas initially rejected the idea of using Harrison Ford, as he had previously worked with him on American Graffiti, and instead asked Ford to assist in the auditions by reading lines with the other actors and explaining the concepts and history behind the scenes that they were reading. Lucas was eventually won over by Ford's portrayal and cast him instead of Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Walken, Billy Dee Williams (who would play Lando Calrissian in the sequels), and Perry King, who wound up playing Solo in the radio plays.
Many young actresses in Hollywood auditioned for the role of Princess Leia, including Cindy Williams. Carrie Fisher was cast under the condition that she lose 10 pounds for the role. Aware that the studio disagreed with his refusal to cast big-name stars, Lucas signed veteran stage and screen actor Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Additional casting took place in London, where Mayhew was cast as Chewbacca after he stood up to greet Lucas. Lucas immediately turned to Gary Kurtz, and requested that Mayhew be cast. Daniels auditioned for and was cast as C-3PO; he has said that he wanted the role after he saw a McQuarrie drawing of the character and was struck by the vulnerability in the robot's face.