I first watched A New Hope when I was six years old. My big sister and I was at my aunt’s house during one of the brief periods where she had cable, I was sick and we found the marathon right before they started it (Incidentally, these were the same condition when I first watched The Princess Bride). It was the first time I had really seen or heard anything Star Wars and what a lasting impression it left. I watched all three movies in one day and the commercial break between episodes 5 and 6 was excruciating for my young heart. I fell in love that day.
After years of consuming Star Wars media, it’s hard to see the franchise with fresh eyes. Even rewatching them now, it’s quite tricky to separate the future movies and Rogue One completely and watch this as a solo movie (No pun intended). Nevertheless, I watched A New Hope and finished it with some interesting thoughts.
One of the things I’m most struck with now is how old A New Hope feels. No, this is not an attempt to make older fans feel ancient but rather it feels older than its 1977 release date. Watching it reminded me of the old black and white from my parents’ childhoods that I watched with them on Saturday afternoons, like Tarzan or The Day The Earth Stood Still. (“Mark Hamill looks like an extra from from a surfer movie” might have be a note I made while watching). I could easily see both the movies and shows that influenced A New Hope and the media it went on to influence.
This experiment also allowed me to really appreciate the movie from a more technical side, such as the sound designs. The Williams score is frequently praised but this viewing gave me the chance to enjoy the ambient noises in the movie, such as on the Death Star, the layering of sounds aboard the Jawa transport unit, the chattering in the Mos Eisley bar. These factors working along the score help fill in the universe the crew worked so hard to build.
The cinematography and sets are also working overtime in greyscale. I’ve watched this twice and both times, I constantly noticed and remarked over new details. Even with most of its color stripped away (No blue milk, guys!), A New Hero is a pulpy, sci-fi flick with stunning visuals. Vader looks even more like an unstoppable wall of black menace as he seemingly absorbs all light around him, Leia’s stark white is a beacon of innocent in the cold, evil Death Star and the infamous two suns setting scene remains a moving iconic moment. As for the special effects added in the restoration, my past feelings of annoyed acceptance turned to actual anger because they’re so jarring and gratuitous in greyscale.
The attack on the Death Star didn’t really wow me but mostly because even in color, the scene is primarily in black and white, save the rebel flight suit and other splashes of color.
The lightsaber fight also looks a little goofy and not in a fun way but I’m hoping that’s a problem the prequels won’t encounter (Especially since the prequels are goofy for entirely different reasons)
Some random bulletpoint thoughts of the movie.
*I’ve just noticed how long it takes for our heroes to appear on screen. Leia and Vader don’t show up until minute 6, Luke until minute 18 and another 30 for Han. The movie uses R2-D2 and C-3P0 to lead up to our second protagonist, Luke. I mean, people complain often about how the hero doesn’t suit up until the third act but for our protagonist not to show up is unique
*I can see how people didn’t trust Obi-Wan. In the past, I’ve noticed how he constantly tells half-truths (the occasional outright lie) but now I see how manipulative and shifty he is.
*Anyone else notice that Millie Bobby Brown looks like a young Carrie Fisher?
*I adjusted my brightness to its original settings as the credits were rolling and somehow had forgotten how colorful it is. I went back to Luke saying goodbye to Han and it maybe melted my brain a little.
Next up is Empire Strikes Back, which I feel l won’t thrive in greyscale as much as A New Hope did but ore on that next week…..