Starring: Mark Hamill, Alec Guinness, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels (his film debut), Kenny Baker (his first credited role), Peter Mayhew (his debut), Peter Cushing, James Earl Jones (Voice), David Prowse
Director: George Lucas
Summary: Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee, and two droids to save the galaxy and rescue Princess Leia
Other Nominations: Director, Supporting Actor (Guinness), Original Screenplay, Original Score*, Costume Design*, Sound Mixing*, Sound Editing*, Art Direction*, Film Editing*, Visual Effects*
-This is the kind of movie where the elements that often get overlooked (at least compared to things like directing, acting or the screenplay) end up being the main reason for why it’s so great. John Williams’ score is of course legendary and many consider it the best score of all-time which I would probably agree with (at least if you are looking at just a single film, more on this much later), with “Throne Room Theme”, the Main Theme, “Cantina Band” and “Binary Sunset” all being simply amazing. The sound design was by the best in the business Ben Burtt who made a name for himself by creating numerous memorable sound effects (the lightsaber hum, wookie noises, Darth Vader’s breathing, R2-D2, the screeching sounds of the Tie Fighters, etc.) that just seemed to fit perfectly. The costumes and sets are fantastic with tons of original and inventive creature/robot designs (even if a couple of them look a bit cheesy today, they still have the charm that comes from practical effects) that all look very lived in (i.e. C-3PO and R2-D2 being dirty and dinged up) and make the world feel real as opposed to some of the later films. Finally, it’s then-revolutionary special effects (among other things) are what made Star Wars the box office smash that it was-just compare it to 1975’s Best Visual Effects winner Logan’s Run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiyPqbyHXIg. I will always enjoy good miniatures, matte paintings and light effects (laser guns, lightsabers) because they at least look distinctive and show more individualized craftsmanship in comparison to current CG effects which kind of all blend together and look the same at this point (at least for most big blockbuster movies anyway).
-The screenplay has some flaws, but it’s a textbook example of simplicity and accessibility with broad appeal to people of all ages, nationalities and genders (well, more men than women, but hey Princess Leia is portrayed as pretty darn competent especially for a female character in an old-school adventure movie). It’s also incredibly focused with everything being tied to Luke’s quest to save Leia and destroy the Death Star, which is a problem that Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace had where way too many characters were in way too many places.
-Harrison Ford was the big breakout actor from the movie, and it’s very easy to see why-he’s attractive, likeable while also being snarky and selfish with charisma to spare. Alec Guinness is great as Obi-Wan Kenobi even if he didn’t take it all that seriously and hated the movies in general (something that would really show in his appearances in the next two movies) and along with Cushing adds a lot of class to this sci-fi adventure movie. James Earl Jones only provided the voice of Darth Vader, but few casting decisions have ever been better with him giving the character both elegance and a threatening quality.
-I love him and he would do much better work later on (especially his amazing career in voice acting, but Mark Hamill is just terrible here. It’s a credit to how good almost every other aspect of the film was that his doofiness in the lead didn’t bring down the whole movie.
-The script as mentioned has some flaws. The dialogue is spotty even if it does have some outstanding lines as well, and there are a handful of things that kind of feel dumb: I’ve heard people mention “why didn’t they still shoot down the escape pod even if there were no organic lifeforms on board in a universe with droids everywhere?”, but the one that stood out to me was “why does the Death Star have ports laying around on the deck that random droid can access and control parts of the ship with?”
It’s Star Wars, there’s a 98% chance you have seen it if you’re reading this. I love it for numerous reasons, although I can’t shake the question of how I would feel about it I hadn’t had watched it previously as a kid (along with the other films in the series) and grew up on the kind of CGI-heavy movies that have come out the last 15 years. Nevertheless, it’s still great and regardless of times changing, will still age well in most aspects.