Then & Now: Star Wars Episode 4 – A New Hope

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Geoff Harris

**Dedicated to Erica**

Then:

In a previous article, I wrote about the pivotal movie that really solidified me as a geek. (Then and Now: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimention) I now find myself reaching even further back. I was seven years old and the world seemed so large. The opening scene starts with a Star Destroyer bearing down on a smaller ship, flying almost literally overhead from the top of the screen into frame, and my little brain was fried. My teeth were rattling as the speakers thumped. The piercing shrieks and flashes of color from blaster fire. Screaming. Smoke. Chaos. Darth Vader. I was somewhere else. I was terrified and couldn’t stop watching. The world would never be the same again. Most of the movie passes in a blur of faces and half-understood dialog. I knew quickly who the bad guys were and who were the good ones but wouldn’t understand the subtleties of personal interaction for at least a decade or so. (I honestly still have a few glitches.) The final battle racing across the surface of the Death star was dizzying. I felt lost in the back and forth of the aerial combat. Then, an explosion that filled the screen and a happy ending. Fade to black.

A catalyst is something that starts a process. I went home changed. Something had awakened within me. I wanted more. I wanted to be a part of something bigger. It was like some strange radiation had evolved me into something new. I had little interest in science fiction and fantasy until Star Wars came along.  A vampire has a hunger which can never be satisfied. I became the same with all things fantastic and surreal.  I read comics of all kinds, including the Star Wars one from Marvel. The action figures! It was a whole new world.

Now:

Every rose has a thorn, and it also withers and dies. The film I saw is gone. I could relate the twisting tale of George Lucas and his near obsession to rework his movie into something closer to his vision, but I won’t. I will admit, once upon a time, that I was one of those frothing at the mouth fist-shakers who cried foul to the re released special editions, decrying them as abominations. I have since calmed and come to realize that the movies don’t belong to the public. (As of this writing, they belong to Disney.) Lucas wanted to finish what he had started back in 1977. Then, he was limited by the technology of his time. Computer generated effects were a pipe dream. The very stuff of science fiction itself.  So he went back into his films and added elements and tweaked others.  The movie I saw was changed. In many ways, it became something new. I had spent all these years doing the same to myself. I am not quite the same person I once was. That wide-eyed child became the awkward teen. The teen became a still evolving man. I have made edits to myself too. The original “me” is long gone.

I’d like to share a cautionary note. If you EVER decide to collect action figures, buy two of whatever you choose. One you can open and play with and the other you keep in a cool dry place. I want to jump back in time and raid every toy store I can find. I would be sitting on a beach right now, sipping fruity drinks and watching the surf roll in.

The other thing I’d like to touch on is Rogue One, the prequel to A New Hope. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading, go watch it, and then continue.

I want to say right off that I actually like Rogue One. It moved at a fair pace and had some really good gritty combat scenes, similar to old war movies. My biggest bitch is the end. You sit through all this kick ass stuff just so you can learn their secret of why the Death Star had a faulty exhaust port.  Basically the greatest joke geeks will ever tell has been nerfed into a line of dialog, which could have easily been slid into one of the reissued versions Lucas cranked out. No, instead we are treated to an entire movie based around the fact that for all its might The Empire obviously doesn’t have one single solitary Efficiency Officer worth a cup of warm spit. But Geoff, you might say, the designer worked in secret and with very little supervision. He built the flaw into the station on purpose so his daughter could get the plans to the rebels and they could use them to blow it up! Yeah, and if I hold my breath long enough I’ll float away on a stiff breeze. What grates my cheese is how the line in A New Hope about where the plans came from is mysteriously absent from any reissue of the movie. If you watch, you can almost count the seconds as they watch the hologram spin showing the “critical weakness” of the monstrous beast. There was but one spot upon mighty Smaug that was vulnerable to arrow or spear. It bothered me as child, and it bothers me today.

I appreciate the opinons of others, but on this matter let’s agree to disagree. To quote my editor-in-chief, get off my lawn.

 

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2 thoughts on “Then & Now: Star Wars Episode 4 – A New Hope

  1. This one actually left me wanting more. By that I mean this: In “Then,” you set up quite nicely how Star Wars inspired you to become the geek you are today. In “Now,” I get that just as Star Wars had to evolve and change you do too. But even with all that established, what has the end result looked like? Does Star Wars still overall stand the test of time, edits notwithstanding? Are you a better or worse geek for how it’s impacted you?

    Just asking for a friend. 😉

    Like

    1. A New Hope will always have a place in my heart. To be honest, not all of the edits are really that bad. It made Mos Eisley even cooler to look at. I now own the original trilogy on DVD. (Yes, I’m a bad geek for not getting it sooner.) I do intend to further explore my evolution through Empire and then Jedi. Hope you and your friend come along for the ride. Thank you for the kind words!

      Like

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