Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Films

Star Wars Episode IV:
A New Hope
Directed by George Lucas
Produced by Gary Kurtz
George Lucas
Written by George Lucas
Starring Mark Hamill
Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher
Peter Cushing
Alec Guinness
David Prowse
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Gilbert Taylor
Editing by Richard Chew
Paul Hirsch
Marcia Lucas
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) May 25, 1977 ( USA)
December 27, 1977 ( UK)
Running time 121 min. (original)
125 min. (Special Edition)
Country USA
Language English
Budget $11,000,000
Preceded by Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Followed by Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, is a 1977 science fantasy film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga; three later films precede the story in the series' internal chronology. Among fans, the title is commonly abbreviated as "ANH".

The film is set nineteen years after the formation of the Galactic Empire; construction has finished on the Death Star, a weapon capable of destroying a planet. After Princess Leia, a leader of the Rebel Alliance, steals the weapon's plans in the hope of finding a weakness, she is captured and taken to the Death Star. Meanwhile, a young farmer named Luke Skywalker meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has lived in seclusion for years on the desert planet of Tatooine. When Luke's home is destroyed, Obi-Wan begins Luke’s Jedi training as they attempt to rescue the Princess from the Empire.

The film, produced with a budget of US$11 million, was released on May 25, 1977. It became one of the most successful films of all time, earning $798 million worldwide during its original theatrical release. It was re-released several times, sometimes with significant changes in its later releases; most notable were the 1997 Special Edition theatrical re-release and the 2004 DVD version, which were modified with CGI effects and recreated scenes.


During post-production on his previous film American Graffiti, George Lucas discussed the concept of a " space opera" with producer Gary Kurtz. In May 1973, Lucas had prepared a fourteen-page story outline for distribution among film studios. Because of its outer-space setting, the story was viewed as science fiction, an unpopular genre at the box office. Lucas later proposed that terms like "space fantasy" or "science fantasy" better fit the story. He brought the outline to Universal Studios and United Artists; both rejected the project. Lucas disliked the studio system because his previous two films, American Graffiti and THX 1138, had been re-edited without his consent. Still, aware that studios were unavoidable, he pursued Alan Ladd, Jr., the then-new head of 20th Century Fox. Although Ladd failed to grasp the technical side of the project, he believed that Lucas was talented. Lucas later stated that Ladd "invested in me, [but] he did not invest in the movie."

Lucas finished a draft of the screenplay in May 1974. As the draft developed, the characters underwent significant changes. Early in development, Luke Skywalker's character changed from a 60-year-old general to a member of a family of midgets; the Corellian smuggler, Han Solo, was envisioned as a large, green-skinned monster with gills. Chewbacca was inspired by Lucas' Alaskan malamute dog, Indiana, who often acted as the director's "co-pilot" by sitting in the passenger seat of his car. The Force, a mysterious energy field in the saga, was initially conceived as the Kyber crystal, a "galactic holy grail". The completed script was too long for one movie; however, Lucas refused to condense it. Instead, he expanded the first third of it into one movie and left the rest for two future films, effectively creating the original Star Wars trilogy.

Lucas hired conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie to create paintings of certain scenes during screenwriting. When Lucas delivered his screenplay to the studio, he included several of McQuarrie's paintings. 20th Century Fox approved a budget of $8,250,000; American Graffiti's positive reviews allowed Lucas to renegotiate his deal with Alan Ladd, Jr. and request the sequel rights to the film. For Lucas, this deal protected Star Wars' unwritten segments and most of the merchandising profits.

In 1975, Lucas founded the visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) after discovering that 20th Century Fox's visual effects department had been disbanded. ILM began its work on Star Wars in a warehouse in Van Nuys, California. Most of the visual effects used motion control photography, which creates the illusion of size by employing small models and slowly moving cameras. Model spaceships were constructed on the basis of drawings by Joe Johnston, input from Lucas, and paintings by Ralph McQuarrie. Lucas opted to abandon the traditional sleekness of science fiction by creating a "used universe" in which all devices, ships, and buildings looked aged and dirty.

When filming began on March 22, 1976 in the North African Tunisian desert for the scenes on the planet Tatooine, the project faced several problems. Lucas fell behind schedule in the first week of shooting due to a rare Tunisian rainstorm, malfunctioning props, and electronic breakdowns. When actor Anthony Daniels wore the C-3PO outfit for the first time, the left leg piece shattered down through the plastic covering his left foot, stabbing him. After finishing filming in Tunisia, production moved into the more controlled environment of Elstree Studios, outside of London.

Lucas clashed with Director of Photography Gilbert Taylor, whom producer Gary Kurtz called "old-school" and "crotchety". Moreover, with a background in independent filmmaking, Lucas was accustomed to creating most of the elements of the film himself. His camera suggestions were rejected by an offended Taylor, who felt that Lucas was over-stepping his boundaries by giving specific instructions. Lucas eventually became frustrated that the costumes, sets and other elements were not living up to his original vision of Star Wars. He rarely spoke to the actors, who felt that he expected too much of them while providing little direction. His directions to the actors usually consisted of the words "faster" and "more intense".

Alan Ladd, Jr. continued to offer Lucas some of the only support from the studio; he dealt with scrutiny from board members over the rising budget and complex screenplay drafts. After the film became two weeks over schedule, Ladd, Jr. told Lucas that he had to finish production within a week or he would be forced to shut down production. The crew split into three units, led by Lucas, Kurtz, and production supervisor Robert Watts, respectively. Under the new system, the project met the studio's deadline.

Star Wars was originally slated for release in Christmas 1976; however, massive delays pushed the film's release to summer 1977. Already anxious about meeting his deadline, Lucas was shocked when his editor's first cut of the film was a "complete disaster". After attempting to persuade the original editor to cut the film his way, Lucas replaced the editor with Paul Hirsch and Richard Chew. He also allowed his then-wife Marcia Lucas to aid the editing process while she was cutting the film New York, New York with Lucas' friend Martin Scorsese. Richard Chew found the film had an unenergetic pace; it had been cut in a by-the-book manner: scenes were played out in master shots that flowed into close-up coverage. He found that the pace was dictated by the actors instead of the cuts. Hirsch and Chew worked on two reels simultaneously; whoever finished first moved on to the next.

During production, the cast attempted to make Lucas laugh or smile as he often appeared depressed. At one point, the project became so demanding that Lucas was diagnosed with hypertension and exhaustion and was warned to reduce his stress level. Post-production was equally stressful due to increasing pressure from 20th Century Fox. Moreover, Mark Hamill's face was injured in a car accident, which made reshoots impossible.

Meanwhile, ILM was struggling to achieve unprecedented special effects. The company had spent half of its budget on four shots that Lucas deemed unacceptable. Moreover, theories surfaced that the workers at ILM lacked discipline, forcing Lucas to frequently intervene to ensure that they were on schedule. With hundreds of uncompleted shots remaining, ILM was forced to finish a year's work in six months. Lucas inspired ILM by editing together aerial dogfights from old war films, which enhanced the pacing of the scenes.

During the chaos of production and post-production, the team made decisions about character voicing and sound effects. Sound designer Ben Burtt had created a library of sounds that Lucas referred to as an "organic soundtrack". For Chewbacca's growls, Burtt recorded and combined sounds made by dogs, bears, lions, tigers, and walruses to create phrases and sentences. Lucas and Burtt created the robotic voice of R2-D2 by filtering their voices through an electronic synthesizer. Darth Vader's breathing was achieved by Burtt breathing through the mask of a scuba tank implanted with a microphone. Lucas never intended to use the voice of David Prowse, who portrayed Darth Vader in costume, because of Prowse's English West Country accent. He originally wanted Orson Welles to speak for Darth Vader. However, he felt that Welles' voice would be too recognizable, so he cast the lesser-known James Earl Jones. Nor did Lucas intend to use Anthony Daniels' voice for C-3PO. Thirty well-established voice actors, such as Stan Freberg, read for the voice of the droid. According to Daniels, one of the major voice actors recommended Daniels' voice for the role.

When Lucas screened an early cut of the film for his friends, among them directors Brian De Palma and Steven Spielberg, their reactions were disappointing. Spielberg, who claimed to have been the only person in the audience to have enjoyed the film, believed that the lack of enthusiasm was due to the absence of finished special effects. Lucas later said that the group was honest and seemed bemused by the film. In contrast, Alan Ladd, Jr. and the rest of 20th Century Fox loved the film; one of the executives cried during screening. Lucas found the experience shocking and rewarding, having never gained any approval from studio executives before. Although the delays ballooned the budget from $8 million to $11 million, the film was still the least expensive of the Star Wars saga.


The opening crawl reveals that the galaxy is in a state of civil war. The Rebel Alliance has stolen plans to the Galactic Empire's Death Star, a space station capable of annihilating a planet. The plans were transmitted to the rebel blockade runner Tantive IV, a ship in the service of Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan. Imperial stormtroopers take control of the ship, and Darth Vader arrives to assess the damage. Before she is captured, Leia entrusts the plans and a holographic recording unto a small droid named R2-D2. R2-D2 and his partner, C-3PO, board an escape pod and crash on the planet Tatooine.

On Tatooine, the droids navigate the desert until they are captured by Jawas. The next day, the Jawas sell the droids to Owen Lars and his nephew, Luke Skywalker. Luke accidentally triggers part of the holographic message, making him suspect that R2-D2 is stolen property belonging to "Obi-Wan Kenobi." Returning to his garage at sunset, Luke discovers that R2-D2 has escaped. After finding him, Luke and C-3PO are attacked by Sandpeople and rescued by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke and the droids are brought to Obi-Wan's hut, where Obi-Wan tells of his days as a Jedi Knight and reveals to Luke that his father was also a Jedi skilled in a mysterious energy field called the Force. When Luke asks how his father died, Obi-Wan replies that he was "betrayed and murdered" by Darth Vader. Finally, they view the holographic message from Princess Leia, who asks Obi-Wan to take the droid and the plans to the planet Alderaan. Obi-Wan invites Luke to accompony him to Alderaan; Luke refuses, citing his household responsibilities. After returning home, Luke discovers that his family has been murdered and his home has been destroyed by the Stormtroopers looking for the droids. He returns to Obi-Wan and decides to go to Alderaan and become a Jedi. At Mos Eisley Spaceport, the group encounters a smuggler named Han Solo, who agrees to transport them on his ship, the Millennium Falcon. When Obi-Wan and his companions reach the ship, they are attacked by Stormtroopers. They hastily board the Millennium Falcon, make a speedy launch, and dodge attacks in space before escaping to lightspeed.

Meanwhile, Leia has resisted interrogation on the Death Star. When threatened with the destruction of her home planet of Alderaan, however, she bluffs and states that the Rebel Base is on Dantooine. Grand Moff Tarkin destroys Alderaan anyway, as a display of the Death Star's power. En route to Alderaan, Obi-Wan instructs Luke in the Force. When they arrive at Alderaan's location, the crew discovers only a hail of debris and a moon-sized space station - the Death Star. A tractor beam pulls the Falcon into the Death Star; inside, Obi-Wan attempts to disable it so that the group can escape. Upon learning that Leia is awaiting execution in a nearby prison cell, the rest of the group navigates through the station and rescues the princess. After deactivating the tractor beam, Kenobi engages in a lightsaber duel with Vader. The duel distracts the guards, allowing Luke and his companions to board the Falcon. Once he sees that they are safely near the ship, Obi-Wan allows Vader to strike him down. Luke screams in horror, gaining the attention of the Stormtroopers, who attack Luke and his companions.

The group escapes; unknown to them (but suspected by Leia), the Empire allowed the escape to track their ship to the Rebel Base. They finally reach the Rebel hideout on Yavin IV, where they deliver the plans to the Rebel leadership. After reviewing the battle plans, which involve flying along a canyon-sized trench in the station's surface and firing a torpedo down a narrow ventilation shaft, Luke and a group of Rebel fighters begin their assault on the approaching Death Star. Several squadrons of Rebel ships are destroyed by Imperial fighters as Luke's "Red" group begins its run down the trench towards the ventilation port. As Luke makes his run down the canyon, the voice of Kenobi instructs him to use the Force. When Vader locks his weapons onto Luke's X-Wing, Han Solo and Chewbacca fly in and destroy one of Vader's wingmen. Panicked, the second wingman hits Vader's ship and sends it spiraling into space. Luke, hearing Obi-Wan's voice, deactivates his targeting computer and launches torpedoes down the shaft, destroying the Death Star. In a civil ceremony at the Massassi Temple rebel base on Yavin IV, Luke and Han are awarded medals by Leia for their valor in the battle.


Argentina:  Atp
Australia:  PG
Canada (Manitoba):  PG
Canada ( Ontario):  PG
Canada ( Maritime):  A (original)
PG (special edition)
Canada (Quebec):  G
Chile:  TE
Denmark:  11
Finland:  K-8
France:  U
Germany:  6
Hong Kong:  I
Iceland:  L
Ireland:  G
Malaysia:  U
Mexico:  AA
Netherlands:  AL
New Zealand:  PG
Norway:  11
Peru:  PT
Portugal:  M/12
Singapore:  PG
South Korea:  12
Spain:  T
Sweden:  11
United Kingdom:  U
United States:  PG

Charles Lippincott was hired by Lucas' production company, Lucasfilm Ltd., as marketing director for Star Wars. Because 20th Century Fox gave little support for marketing beyond licensing T-shirts and posters, Lippincott was forced to look elsewhere. He secured deals with Stan Lee and Marvel Comics for a comic book adaptation and with Del Rey Books for a novelization. Wary that Star Wars would be beaten out by other summer films, such as Smokey and the Bandit, 20th Century Fox moved the release date to Wednesday before Memorial Day: May 25, 1977. However, few theaters ordered the film to be shown. In response, 20th Century Fox demanded that theaters order Star Wars if they wanted an eagerly anticipated film based on a best-selling novel titled The Other Side of Midnight.

The film became an instant success; within three weeks of the film's release, 20th Century Fox's stock price doubled to a record high. Before 1977, 20th Century Fox's greatest annual profits were $37,000,000; in 1977, the company earned $79,000,000. Although the film's cultural neutrality helped it to gain international success, Alan Ladd, Jr. became anxious during the premiere in Japan. After the screening, the audience was silent, leading Ladd, Jr. to fear that the film would be unsuccessful. He was later told that, in Japan, silence was the greatest honour to a film. Meanwhile, thousands attended a ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where C-3PO, R2-D2 and Darth Vader placed their footprints in the theatre's forecourt. Although Star Wars merchandise was available to enthusiastic children upon release, only Kenner Toys — who believed that the film would be unsuccessful — had accepted Lippincott's licensing offers. A stunned Kenner responded to the sudden demand for toys by selling boxed vouchers in its "empty box" Christmas campaign; these vouchers could be redeemed for the toys in March 1978.

In 1978, at the height of the film's popularity, Smith-Hemion Productions approached Lucas with the idea of The Star Wars Holiday Special. The end result is often considered a failure.

The film was originally released as — and consequently often called — Star Wars, without Episode IV or the subtitle A New Hope. In 1980, the sequel, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, was released with the episode number and subtitle in the opening crawl. When the original film was re-released a year later, Episode IV: A New Hope was added above the original opening crawl. Although Lucas claims that only six films were ever planned, representatives of Lucasfilm discussed plans for nine or twelve possible films in early interviews. The film was re-released theatrically in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1997.

Special Edition

After ILM used computer generated effects for Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, Lucas concluded that digital technology had caught up to his original vision for Star Wars. As part of Star Wars' 20th anniversary celebration in 1997, A New Hope was digitally remastered and re-released with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi under the campaign title The Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition, or SE. The Special Edition versions contained visual shots and scenes that were unachievable in the original release due to financial, technological, and time restraints, such as a scene between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt. Although most changes were minor or cosmetic in nature, some fans believe that Lucas degraded the movie with the additions. For instance, a controversial change where Greedo shot first when confronting Han Solo has inspired T-shirts brandishing the phrase " Han Shot First".

DVD release

A New Hope was released on DVD in September 2004 in a box set with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, along with a bonus disc of supplemental material. The movies were digitally restored and remastered, and more changes were made by George Lucas (see List of changes in Star Wars re-releases).

The DVD features a commentary track from George Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher. The bonus disc contains the documentary Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy and the featurettes: The Legendary Creatures of Star Wars, The Birth of the Lightsaber, The Legacy of Star Wars. The disk also includes teaser and theatrical trailers, TV spots, still galleries, an exclusive preview of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, a playable Xbox demo of the LucasArts game Star Wars Battlefront, and a "Making Of" documentary on the Episode III video game. The set was reissued in December 2005 as part of a three-disc "limited edition" boxed set that did not feature the bonus disc.

The trilogy was re-released on separate two-disc Limited Edition DVD sets from September 12, 2006 to December 31, 2006; the original versions of the films were added as bonus material. Controversy surrounded the release, as the unaltered versions were taken from the 1993 non- anamorphic Laserdisc masters, and were not retransferred with modern video standards.


Star Wars debuted in 37 theaters and broke 36 house records, effectively becoming one of the first blockbuster films. It remains one of the most financially successful films of all time. Some of the cast and crew noted lines of people stretching around theaters as they drove by. Even minor technical crew members, such as model makers, were asked for autographs, and cast members became instant household names. The film's original total U.S. gross came to $307,263,857, and it earned $6,806,951 during its first weekend in wide release. Lucas claimed that he had spent most of the release day in a sound studio in Los Angeles. When he went out for lunch with his then-wife Marcia, they encountered a long queue of people along the sidewalks leading to Mann's Chinese Theatre, waiting to see Star Wars. The film became the highest-grossing film of 1977 and the highest-grossing film of all time until E.T. The Extraterrestrial broke that record in 1982. The film earned $797,900,000 worldwide, making it the first film to reach the $300 million mark.

In a 1977 review, Roger Ebert called the film "an out-of-body experience" and compared its special effects to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but claimed the true strength of the film was its "pure narrative". Vincent Canby called the film "the movie that's going to entertain a lot of contemporary folk who have a soft spot for the virtually ritualized manners of comic-book adventure." Pauline Kael of The New Yorker criticized the film, stating that "There’s no breather in the picture, no lyricism", and that it had no "emotional grip". Jonathon Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader stated "None of these characters has any depth, and they're all treated like the fanciful props and settings!" Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix said "Star Wars is a junkyard of cinematic gimcracks not unlike the Jawas' heap of purloined, discarded, barely functioning droids." The third negative review, from Stanley Kauffmann of the New Republic, where he states "His work here seems less inventive than in THX 1138.", is now offline. The consensus for the film reads "The action and special effects are first rate."

In 1989, the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress selected the film as a "culturally, historically, or esthetically important" film. In 2006, George Lucas' original screenplay was selected by the Writers Guild of America as the 68th greatest screenplay of all time. The American Film Institute (or AFI) listed it 15th on a list of the top 100 films of the 20th century; in the UK, a poll created by Channel Four named A New Hope (together with its successor, The Empire Strikes Back) the greatest film of all time. In addition, the AFI has named Star Wars and specific elements of the film to several of its "top 100 lists" of American cinema, compiled as a part of the Institute's 100th anniversary celebration. These include the twenty-seventh most thrilling American film of all-time, and the thirty-ninth most inspirational American film of all-time. Darth Vader was ranked as the third greatest film villain of all time, and Han Solo as the fourteenth greatest American film hero of all time, with Obi-Wan Kenobi thirty-seventh on the same list. The oft repeated line "May the Force be with you" was ranked as the 8th greatest quote in American film history. John Williams' score was ranked as the greatest American film score of all time.

Star Wars won several awards at the 1978 Academy Awards, including Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, which went to John Barry, Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley and Roger Christian. Best Costume Design was awarded to John Mollo; Best Film Editing went to Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew; John Stears, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Grant McCune and Robert Blalack all received awards for Best Effects, Visual Effects. John Williams was awarded his third Oscar for Best Music, Original Score; the Best Sound went to Don MacDougall, Ray West, Bob Minkler and Derek Ball; and a Special Achievement for sound effects went to Ben Burtt. Additional nominations included Alec Guinness for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, George Lucas for Best Screenplay and Best Director, and Gary Kurtz was nominated for his producing duties in Best Picture. At the Golden Globe awards, the film was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor ( Alec Guinness), and Best Score. It only won the award for Best Score. It received six BAFTA nominations: Best Film, Best Editing, Best Costume, Best Production/Art Design, Best Sound, and Best Score. The film won in the last two categories. John Williams' soundtrack album won the Grammy award for Best Album of an original score for a motion picture or television program. The film was awarded the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. In 1997, the MTV Movie Awards awarded Chewbacca (played by Peter Mayhew) the lifetime achievement award for his work in the Star Wars trilogy.

Cinematic influence

Star Wars has influenced many films and filmmakers since its release. It began a new generation of special effects and high-energy motion pictures. The film was one of the first films to link genres together — such as space opera and soap opera — to invent a new, high-concept genre for filmmakers to build upon. Finally, it ended the film industry's focus on personal filmmaking of the 1970s and shifted gears towards big-budget blockbusters for younger audiences.

Actor Michael Shanks listed Star Wars as an influence on many battle-scenes from the television series Stargate SG-1 namely " Fallen". Joss Whedon's Serenity features several references, such as the influence from the Millennium Falcon on the spaceship Serenity, Lucas' use of a "used future" where vehicles and culture obviously dated, as well as its clothing for its own evil empire. Director James Cameron quit his job as a truck driver to enter the film industry, after seeing the film. Other filmmakers who have said to have been influenced by Star Wars were Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, and John Singleton. Many believe that the cinema-going experience had been changed drastically by the film. Scott, in addition to Whedon, was influenced by the "used future" and pushed the concept even further for his science fiction horror film Alien. Jackson used the concept for his production of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to gain a sense of realism and believability.

Critics of Lucas have blamed Star Wars for "ruining" Hollywood by shifting its focus from "sophisticated" and "relevant" films such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Annie Hall to films about "spectacle" and "juvenile fantasy". Peter Biskind lodged a complaint for the same reason, "When all was said and done, Lucas and Spielberg returned the 1970s audience, grown sophisticated on a diet of European and New Hollywood films, to the simplicities of the pre-1960s Golden Age of movies… They marched backward through the looking-glass."


  • Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Skywalker is a young man who lives with his aunt and uncle on a remote planet who dreams of something greater than his current position in life.
  • Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Solo is a self-centered smuggler who Obi-Wan and Luke meet in a cantina and later travel with. Solo, who owns the ship known as the Millennium Falcon, is good friends with Chewbacca, who is the co-pilot of the ship.
  • Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa. Organa is a member of the Imperial Senate and a leader of the Rebel Alliance. She plans to use the stolen Death Star plans to find the station's weakness.
  • Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi. Kenobi is an aging man who served as a Jedi Knight during the Clone Wars. Early in the film, Kenobi introduces Luke to the Force.
  • David Prowse as Darth Vader. Vader is a prominent figure in the Galactic Empire who hopes to destroy the Rebel Alliance. He was Obi-Wan's apprentice before turning to the Dark Side of the Force. James Earl Jones provided the voice.
  • Anthony Daniels as C-3PO. C-3PO is an interpreter droid who falls into the hands of Luke Skywalker. He is friends with his partner, R2-D2.
  • Kenny Baker as R2-D2. R2-D2 is a mechanic droid who also falls into the hands of Luke. He is carrying a secret message for Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca. Chewbacca is the Wookiee co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon and close friend of Han Solo.
  • Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin. Tarkin is the commander of the Death Star. He leads the search for the Rebel Base, in hopes of destroying it.
  • Denis Lawson as Wedge Antilles. Wedge is a starfighter pilot who fights alongside Luke in the Battle of Yavin. In the ending credits, Lawson's first name is misspelled "Dennis".

Lucas shared a joint casting session with long-time friend Brian De Palma, who was casting his own film Carrie. As a result, Carrie Fisher and Sissy Spacek auditioned for both films in each other's respective roles. Lucas favored casting young actors without long-time experience. While reading for Luke Skywalker (then known as "Luke Starkiller"), Mark Hamill found the dialogue to be extremely odd because of its universe-embedded concepts. He chose to simply read it sincerely and was cast in favour of William Katt who was subsequently cast in Carrie. Lucas initially rejected the idea of using Harrison Ford, as he had previously worked with him on American Graffiti, and instead asked Ford to assist in the auditions by reading lines with the other actors, as well as explaining the concepts and history behind the scenes that they were reading. Lucas was eventually won over by Ford's portrayal and instead cast him over Kurt Russell, Burt Reynolds, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken, Billy Dee Williams and Perry King. Virtually every young actress in Hollywood auditioned for the role of Princess Leia, including Terri Nunn, Jodie Foster and Cindy Williams. Carrie Fisher was cast with the condition that she lose 10 pounds of weight for the role. Aware of the studio's disagreement over Lucas' refusal to cast big-name stars, he signed veteran stage and screen actor Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Additional casting took place in London, England, where Peter Mayhew was cast as Chewbacca after Mayhew stood up to greet Lucas. Lucas immediately turned to Gary Kurtz, and requested that Mayhew be cast. Anthony Daniels was cast as C-3PO, who auditioned after seeing a Ralph McQuarrie drawing of the character. Struck by the vulnerabliity in the robot's face, he instantly wanted to help bring the character to life.

Cinematic and literary allusions

According to Lucas, the film was inspired by numerous sources, such as Beowulf and King Arthur for the origins of myth and world religions. Lucas' originally wanted to rely heavily on 1930s Flash Gordon film serials; however, Lucas resorted to Akira Kurosawa's film The Hidden Fortress and Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces because of copyright issues with Flash Gordon. The scene where Princess Leia awards Han and Luke is reminiscent to a scene in Leni Riefenstahl's 1934 film Triumph of the Will; both scenes have large, enthusiastic crowds seated in a shallow amphitheatre bounded by columns, with a low dais where the leader stands.

Star Wars features several parallels to Flash Gordon, such as the conflict between Rebels and Imperial Forces, the " soft wipes" between scenes, and the famous " opening crawl" that begins each film. A concept borrowed from Flash Gordon — a fusion of futuristic technology and traditional magic — was originally developed by one of the founders of science fiction, H.G. Wells. Wells believed the Industrial Revolution had quietly destroyed the idea that fairytale magic might be real. Thus, he found that plausibility was required to allow myth to work properly, using the Industrial Era to substitute the original myths: time machines instead of magic carpets, Martians as dragons and scientists as wizards. Wells, however, called his new genre " scientific fantasia".

Star Wars was influenced by the 1958 Kurosawa film The Hidden Fortress; for instance, the two bickering peasants evolved into C-3PO and R2-D2, and a Japanese family crest seen in the film is similar to the Imperial Crest. Star Wars borrows heavily from another Kurosawa film, Yojimbo. In both films, several men threaten the hero, bragging how wanted they are by authorities. The situation ends with an arm being cut off by a blade. Mifune is offered "Twenty-five ryo now, twenty-five when you complete the mission." whereas Han Solo is offered "Two thousand now, plus fifteen when we reach Alderaan." Lucas' affection for Kurosawa may have influenced his decision to visit Japan in the early 1970s, where he borrowed the name "Jedi" from "Jidai Geki". Translated to english it reads "period dramas", or films about samurai.

Lucas drew inspiration from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy book The Lord of the Rings in that Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Wizard Gandalf reincarnate in differing fashions, and Darth Vader and the Witch-king of Angmar are the chief servants of a higher evil power and dress in black. Moreover, Luke watches the duel of Obi-Wan and Vader from across a chasm as Frodo witnessed the duel between Gandalf and the Balrog; both feature their respective blue and red melee weapons.

Tatooine is similar to Arrakis from Frank Herbert's book Dune. In addition, Arrakis is the only known source of a hallucinatory drug called the Spice Melange; Han Solo is a spice smuggler who has been through the spice mines of Kessel. Lucas' original concept of the film dealt heavily with the transport of spice, although the nature of the material remained unexplored. Furthermore, in the conversation at Obi-Wan Kenobi's home between Obi-Wan and Luke, Luke expresses a belief that his father was a navigator on a spice freighter. Other similarities include Princess Leia and Princess Alia (pronounced a-leia), and Jedi mind tricks and "The Voice", an controlling ability used by Bene Gesserit. In passing, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are "Moisture Farmers"; in Dune, Dew Collectors are used by Freman to "provide a small but reliable source of water."

The climactic scene in which the Death Star is assaulted was modeled after the 1950s movie The Dam Busters, in which RAF Lancaster bombers fly along heavily defended reservoirs and aim " bouncing bombs" at their manmade dams to cripple the heavy industry of the Ruhr. Some of the dialogue in The Dam Busters is repeated in the A New Hope climax; Gilbert Taylor also filmed the Special Effects sequences in The Dam Busters. In addition, the sequence was partially inspired by the climax of the film 633 Squadron directed by Walter Grauman.

The opening shot of A New Hope, which shows a detailed spaceship filling the screen overhead, is a nod to the scene introducing the interplanetary spacecraft Discovery One in Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The earlier big-budget science fiction film inspired the look of A New Hope in many other ways, including the use of EVA pods, hexagonal corridors and primitive computer graphics. Also, the orbiting space station in 2001 has a docking bay reminiscent of the one on the Death Star. The film also draws on The Wizard of Oz with similarities between Jawas and Munchkins, with the main characters disguising themselves as the enemies soldiers and Obi-Wan dying and leaving only his empty robe in the same fashion of the Wicked Witch of the West. C-3PO is inspired by the robot Maria from Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis, albeit a gold, male version of the robot. The whirring sounds of C-3PO moving were speculated to be inspired by the clanking noises of the Tin Woodsman moving in The Wizard of Oz as well.


On the recommendation of his friend Steven Spielberg, Lucas hired composer John Williams, who had recently worked with Spielberg on the film Jaws, for which he won an Academy Award. Lucas felt that the film would portray visually foreign worlds, but that the musical score would give the audience an emotional familiarity. In March 1977, Williams conducted the London Symphony Orchestra to record the Star Wars soundtrack over twelve days.

Lucas wanted a grand musical sound for Star Wars, with leitmotifs to provide distinction. Therefore, he assembled his favorite orchestral pieces for the soundtrack, until John Williams convinced him that an original score would be unique and more unified. However, a few of Williams pieces were influenced by the tracks given to him by Lucas. The "Main Title Theme" was inspired by the theme from the 1942 film King's Row, scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and the track "Dune Sea of Tatooine" drew from the soundtrack from Bicycle Thieves, scored by Alessandro Cicognini.


The novelization of the film was published in December 1976, six months before the film was released. The credited author was George Lucas, but the book was revealed to have been ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster, who later wrote the first Expanded Universe novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye. The book was first published as Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker; later editions were titled simply Star Wars and, later, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, to reflect the retitling of the film. Certain scenes deleted from the film (and later restored or archived in DVD bonus features) were present in the novel, such as Luke at Tosche Station with Biggs and the encounter between Han and Jabba in Docking Bay 94. Other deleted scenes from the movie, such as a close-up of a stormtrooper riding on a Dewback, were included in a photo insert added to later printings of the book.

Smaller details were also changed; for example, in the Death Star assault, Luke's callsign is Blue Five instead of Red Five as in the film. Charles Lippincott secured the deal with Del Rey Books to publish the novelization in November 1976. By February 1977, a half million copies had been sold.

Radio drama

A radio drama adaptation of the film was written by Brian Daley, directed by John Madden, and produced for and broadcast on the National Public Radio in 1981. The adaptation received cooperation from George Lucas, who donated the rights to NPR. John Williams' music and Ben Burtt's sound design were retained for the show; Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) reprised their roles, as well. The radio drama featured deleted scenes of Luke Skywalker's observation of the space battle above Tatooine through binoculars, a skyhopper race, and Darth Vader's interrogation of Princess Leia. In terms of Star Wars canon, the radio drama is given the highest designation, G-canon.

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