Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is the original installment in the Star Wars series of movies by George Lucas. It was originally released on May 25, 1977 under the title of Star Wars, and was re-released in 1979, 1981, 1982, 1997, and 2000. The designation "Episode IV: A New Hope" comes from the heading of the introductory text of the opening title, but it appeared only with the 1981 re-release, in order to be consistent with The Empire Strikes Back.

It was digitally remastered (the so-called Special Edition or SE) for the 20th anniversary re-release in 1997. In its remastered form it contains additional scenes not in the original release, most notably a conversation between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt.

A radio adaptation was produced for National Public Radio in 1981.

Plot Summary

Two seemingly undistinguished droids, the effeminate C-3PO and the feisty R2-D2, come into the possession of a young, frustrated resident of a remote settlement on the planet Tatooine, Luke Skywalker, on the largely ignored frontier regions of the tyrannical Galactic Empire lead by Emperor Palpatine. Luke discovers that the droid contains a video message and plans for a huge terror weapon, The Death Star from a mysterious, attractive woman Princess Leia, to be passed to Obi-Wan Kenobi. A sequence of events leads to the droid, and Luke, meeting up with Kenobi, who asks for Luke's assistance to take the droid and the plans to the planet Alderaan as requested by Leia. Luke is reluctant at first, and returns home to find his family murdered and his house destroyed by Imperial Stormtroopers, decides to come with Obi-Wan.

Meanwhile, Darth Vader, on the Death Star where Leia is imprisoned, attempts to use the ways of The Force to extract the location of the Rebel Base - however she has managed to resist the interrogation thus far. The commanding officer of the station, Grand Moff Tarkin, decides on a different approach and threatens Alderaan with destruction if she will not reveal the location. Leia gives in and reveals the base's location, whilst the admiral blows up Alderaan as the first public use of the Death Star anyway.

Obi-Wan, Luke, and the droids (after Obi-Wan mysteriously convinces Imperial Stormtroopers that the droids "are not the droids you're looking for") meet up with boastful smuggler Han Solo in a seedy spaceport bar. He agrees to take them to Alderaan on the promise of a large financial reward. However, the Storm Troopers come back in numbers and the party just makes it to Solo's ship, the Millennium Falcon, in time to escape.

En route to Alderaan, Kenobi begins instructing Luke on the ways of the Force. Solo is sceptical, but a blindfolded Luke is able to sense the location of an attacker whilst practising with a light saber.

Arriving at Alderaan, or, at least, where Alderaan should be, the crew of the Falcon are surprised to discover it is no longer there except for a hail of debris. They are even more surprised to be hauled aboard a moon sized space station which is the Death Star by a tractor beam. Hiding in the secret smuggling compartments of their ship, they manage to evade personal capture, and decide to attempt to disable the tractor beam holding them there, and in the process discover Leia is being held in a cell nearby. Kenobi volunteers to disable the tractor beams, whilst Luke and Han (with some persuasion) go to rescue Leia.

After switching off the tractor beams, Kenobi encounters Vader, who attacks him. It is clear that they have met before, but not how. Kenobi tells Vader in the clash that "If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine". When Kenobi sees that he has distracted the guard around the Falcon which allows his friends to board it and his own escape is cut off; he allows himself to be cut down by Vader, only to mysteriously disappear at the fatal instant.

Meanwhile, after various pieces of derring-do Leia, Luke, Han and Chewbacca make their way back to the Falcon, and escape, fighting off Imperial Starfighters, finally reaching the Rebel hideout where they pass the plans on to the Rebel leadership. Unknown to them but suspected by Leia, The Empire allowed them to escape in order to track the ship to the Rebel Base which turns out to be the forest moon of Yavin.

The film then abruptly shifts to a briefing to a group of pilots about the Death Star, and the Rebel plans to attack it by flying along a canyon-size groove in the Death Star's surface, firing a torpedo down a narrow ventilation shaft which will travel down to the reactor and destroy it. Luke is amongst the X-Wing pilots of Red Group - Han, despite Luke's pleadings, decides to leave with his reward.

The rest of the film depicts the attack by the Rebels on the Death Star. Luke and a few others make it down to the canyon, with Darth Vader in an unusual-looking TIE Fighter in pursuit. Instead of using the electronic aiming gear of the others, Luke is advised by the unearthly voice of Kenobi to "use the Force" to aim his torpedoes. With the aid of Solo coming back and attacking Vader's fighter, Luke successfully launches a torpedo down the shaft, destroying the Death Star and striking a huge blow for the Rebellion against the Empire.

Preceded by:
Star Wars Episode III
Star Wars films Followed by:
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

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