I mean, it’s fantastic. I love it. Along with the opening of The Matrix with Trinity in bullet time, it is probably one of two times I was totally blown away by the first minute of a movie and literally had my mouth hanging open. The soundtrack and any number of scenes reduce me to tears.
But it shouldn’t work.
I’m not even talking about the inconsistencies set up by the prequels. Vader doesn’t recognize his daughter face-to-face. Or comment on his home planet. Kenobi doesn’t seem to recognize C3PO or R2D2. Yeah, he “pretends” not to notice them. Sure. Not to mention the whole incest thing.
The core of it all is the Luke/Leia/Han relationship. And there is no way that should work.
Lucas does an awful lot right. He shows instead of telling. He builds the world beautifully. Even the talky scenes add to it without bogging down. Vader is terrifying. The score is soooo good.
But the big problem is that the whole movie takes place in just about four days. And most of the important stuff in less than two.
Day 1: The blockade runner is captured and the droids escape and are captured by jawas.
Day 2: The Skywalkers buy the droids. R2D2 runs away.
Day 3: Luke meets Ben. Owen and Beru are killed. Luke and Ben go to Mos Eisley, meet Han, and fly away.
Day 4: Literally everything else. At one point Vader says “Today will be a day long remembered. It has seen the death of Kenobi, and will soon see the end of the Rebellion.” So the day the Millennium Falcon arrives on the Death Star is the same day as The Battle of Yavin IV.
So everything from the Death Star on is the same day. By the end, Luke has been in Jedi training for about 36 hours. Teh force is strong in him indeed. Luke knows Han for less than two days. And the two of them know Leia for about 12 hours. Heck, when Luke tells Biggs that he has stories to tell or when he tells the deck crew he doesn’t want a different R2 unit in his X-wing because they have “been through a lot together,” he is talking about the previous 48 hours.
This is one of the valid arguments why Star Trek: Into Darkness doesn’t work. How can we believe nuSpock cares for nuKirk so much when they have only known each other a few weeks or so? That’s lifetimes compared to how long Luke, Han and Leia know each other.
Yet somehow, the actors sell those relationships and you believe that they are friends and care about each other. I don’t know how they do it. I’m nowhere near enough of a writer to know those tricks. I just know that, a long time ago in a movie theater far, far away, George Lucas still knew how to create those feelings in two hours of real time. Before he got fascinated with everything that didn’t matter, before nobody could tell him he was making a mistake, he was a pretty good film maker.