Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope – Young Luke Skywalker lives an unassuming life on Tatooine until he meets two remarkable droids, one of which holds a partial and intriguing message leading him on a mission with the legendary Obi-Wan Kenobi, rogue smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca and the tough Princess Leia. Finding himself embroiled in the Rebel Alliance and their plot to foil the evil Galactic Empire’s plans to dominate the galaxy, Luke discovers there is much more to him than he could have imagined but with no military training, is he special enough to fulfil his destiny?
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) – Director: George Lucas
Rating: 121 mins
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
Genre: Science Fiction
‘STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE’ REVIEW
With all the games, spin offs, prequels and new sequels (plus Rogue One, edging in at the side) it can be difficult to remember what the world was like before Star Wars came along. ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ redefined the word ‘blockbuster’ and, despite a generally sniffy attitude amongst critics at the time, has been beloved by the public since release.
The story follows a very swashbuckling tale of a young remote farmer called Luke Skywalker who has dreams of leaving his barren desert existence in search of adventure. Rather conveniently, adventure finds him when two battered droids with information vital to the Rebel Alliance (who are locked in battle against the evil Galactic Empire) fall into his possession, and, when teamed with the rougish smuggler Han Solo, he sets off to rescue Princess Leia, who is anything but a damsel in distress.
In retrospect there is a lot ‘wrong’ with ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’. The dialogue is mostly poor; there are plot holes you could fit a black hole into, and the emotional journey of the characters is simplistic at best (Luke has no lasting upset about what happens to his family, but can’t get over what happens to someone he has only known for a day at best). However, what ‘A New Hope’ has in spades that others that followed often lacked is huge lightspeeds of fun!
Whether it’s blaster battles with waves of guards, silly plans to bust into prisons, wisecracking sarcasm from the various characters, huge cinematic space battles, or the always cool lightsabres in action – the movie is stuffed full of simple charm and unashamed adventuring fun. It’s very easy to see why ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ was a hit with the children of its generation (who have become the adults of this generation) and why, despite what may have happened to the franchise in later years, after all this time ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ can still enthrall children everywhere.
IS ‘STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
There are numerous blaster fights throughout the movie where people on both sides are killed. Usually the people being killed simply clutch their torsos, groan and collapse to the floor, although occasionally there is a close-up of a grimacing face or a short scream is heard, however there is no blood or gore and the suffering is minimal.
The notorious Darth Vader is a very intimidating figure, one who strikes fear into his enemies. In one scene, he holds a man above the ground by his neck. The man gags and struggles to breath, shortly after his bones can be heard breaking, the man’s eyes roll upwards and he dies.
A race of creatures called the ‘Sandpeople’ are described as being very dangerous and when one character comes across them, one suddenly jumps out in front of them. They wear masks with protrusions all over them, including around their eyes and their expressionless, non-human look together with their aggression could be quite frightening for some kids.
Two minor characters are unexpectedly found dead in their home, one of the major characters is close to them so he is shocked and distressed to return home and find their charred skeletal remains (this is a little graphic as a skeleton is shown almost fully on-screen).
A character is tortured with a syringe, they are strapped to a chair and look scared as the implement begins to move towards them. The door then closes and nothing further is shown, the next time they are seen, the character is completely fine and the torture is never mentioned again so it hasn’t effected them too badly.
An incidental character threatens Luke, telling him that he has ‘the death sentence in twelve star systems’. Another character steps in to help, chopping the threatening characters’ arm off, it is shown in close-up on the floor with blood around it. However as it is not human and is covered in fur, this is not as shocking as it might otherwise be.
An inhabited planet is destroyed to demonstrate the power of a weapon; a character who was from this planet is forced to watch as a punishment and she is devastated and distressed. The camera cuts to another character, unaware of what has happened but says that he felt as if ‘millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced’.
Several characters are trapped inside a small room, water covers the floor up to around knee-height and a creature lurks, watching them. An eye on a stalk is seen briefly as well as ripples and bubbles in the water. A character is then dragged under and disappears for several seconds with the others desperately trying to find them. Soon after, the walls of the room begin to move in, causing the characters to panic, attempting to prop large poles up to keep the walls from crushing them. This does not last long and is more exciting that upsetting.
During the climactic attack on the Death Star many incidental Rebel Alliance fighters are shot down. This is usually shown with the pilot crying out in fear or pain just before the ship is shown to explode. As none of the characters are known and their deaths aren’t dwelt upon the emotional impact is low, but the many ‘good’ deaths in a short period may upset some children.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE FOR KIDS?
‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope’ was from a time before PG-13s or 12As when many films for children had more intense action and themes than they do today. But ‘A New Hope’ treats its story and characters as rather two-dimensional and comic book, with none of the ever-increasing gravitas that later instalments would layer upon the foundations built here. That makes ‘A New Hope’ the most innocent and overall fun movie in the franchise, perfectly suited to watching with children. Due to Darth Vader’s scary presence and some emotional moments, we would recommend this movie to children aged 5-6 and above.
- Violence: 2/5 (mostly child-friendly, very little blood and gore. Lots of incidental characters are killed on both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides, including friends of major characters)
- Emotional Distress: 2/5 (one major character is killed around halfway through, a friend is devastated and mourns for some time, however the death is unlikely to be overly distressing for kids)
- Fear Factor: 2/5
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 0/5
- Dialogue: 1/5
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of sacrifice, adventure seeking, believing in yourself, courage, putting yourself in danger to help others, fighting a stronger foe, spirituality, destiny and the battle of good vs evil.
Words by Laura Record