Top 5 Favorite Moments From: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

This is the tenth installment of this editorial series, where I basically take a movie and pick my personal five favorite scenes from that movie. I'll talk about and analyse these scenes, dissecting them to figure out what exactly makes them so great and why they work so well in the context of the film. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in hype behind movies-- are the characters developed enough, how was the score, how does it fit into the larger universe-- that we forget to appreciate smaller things, such as an individual scene that can strike you in a certain way. After I've said my piece, please feel free to go into the comments section and say why you either agree or disagree with me. So after seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (which you can read our review for here), I thought I'd talk about Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Warning- there are spoilers!

(Make sure to check out our other "Top 5 Favorite Moments From" for The Dark Knight Rises, The Matrix, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Avengers, The Shawshank Redemption, The WolverineSwingers, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Straight Outta Compton- all right here)

#5 Obi Wan vs. Darth Vader

While Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) try to escape with Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) duels with Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) in order to give them time to escape. At the time people didn't know the history between the two, but the altercation is far more meaningful after knowing the story of Obi-Wan and Darth Vader's pasts. While the duel itself isn't the best lightsaber fight we've seen, it's an exciting moment in the movie, pitting the film's ominous villain against its mysterious hero. After a few tense moments of lightsaber upon lightsaber, Obi-Wan glances to Luke, seeing them ready to leave. Obi-Wan knows he has come this far, and doesn't see much of a future left for himself in fighting with the Rebellion. In a heartbreaking moment, Obi-Wan steps back, and allows Darth Vader to kill him. 

The death of Obi-Wan is truly gut-wrenching, as he left so many stones unturned. But the further you get into the franchise, the more you realize why he had to die so early on. He needed to die so that the mystery of what's to come stays shrouded, and it allows Yoda to become Luke's new mentor. It also shows the devastating power of Vader, especially when you learn of their prior relationship. It truly cements his ruthlessness. Like I said, it may not be the best choreographed lightsaber duel we've ever seen, but it's a powerful and riveting moment in of itself due to the clashing of two powerful force-users who were once friends, and the implications Obi-Wan's death has later down the line in the franchise. 

#4 Han Shot First

During the famous Cantina scene, Han Solo makes a deal with Luke and Obi-Wan to fly them to the Alderaan System. Before he can do so, he is stopped by the bounty hunter Greedo, who is looking to cash in on a price on Han's head, set by Jabba the Hutt. Han and Greedo sit down for some heated banter, where they toy with the other. It's very much an old Western shoot out, reduced to a conversation in a bar. It's brilliant filmmaking, the way the scene elevates and the tension rises, all within a conversation. It ends with an abrupt shoot-out, where Greedo bites the dust. Han gets up and apologizes to the bartender for the mess, before walking out of the Cantina and off to meet Luke and Obi-Wan at the Millennium Falcon. 

I don't care what George Lucas says: Han shot first. It's a perfect introduction to his character. We already learned he was a bit of a selfish asshole from his conversation with Obi-Wan and Luke, and his bartering for a bigger payday. But this is where we see the rascal side of him. He tries to ease and manipulate Greedo, bribing him with money he doesn't actually have. And when Greedo doesn't go for it, Han has no problems openly shooting him. It really shows what kind of character Han is. He may be charming and you may love him by the end of the movie, but he doesn't start out as a very nice guy. And this battle of wits is a true testament to who Han Solo really is. 

#3 Taking Down the Death Star

After the death of Obi-Wan, Han and Luke bring Princess Leia back to the Rebel alliance, who decide to seize this moment to attack the Death Star. They have the plans (retrieved by Jyn Erso and her team in Rogue One), and know of the Death Star's fatal flaw. After being paid, Han decides to leave, despite Luke's pleading for him to stay. The Rebels then get in their ships and head for the Death Star, ready to destroy it. A space battle ensues, where the Empire tries to fight off the Rebels as they make their way to the trenches of the Death Star, in order to blow up the main reactor and, in turn, blow up the entire station. An exciting space battle breaks out, which isn't as complex nor as intricate as latter space battles, but it suites the film in giving us a great climatic battle. In final minutes of the battle, Han returns with Chewie in the Millennium Falcon, and joins the fight. Luke is eventually able to blow up the reactor, and destroy the Death Star, giving the Rebellion a huge upper hand in defeating the Galactic Empire. 

This scene is obviously great because it's the climax of the film. And, after the seeing Rogue One, it's pretty much the climax of two movies. It's what everything has been building towards for both of those movies-- destroying the Death Star. It's an exciting battle, seeing the camera pop in and out of all the different Rebel X-Wings. The battle does stretch on for a little bit too long, but it's the climax of the movie. It deserves to be long and grandiose. So Luke blows up the Death Star, and you feel the overwhelming sense of satisfaction. Darth Vader's TIE-Fighter drifts off into the emptiness of space, and the underdogs in the race, the Rebel Alliance, has won the day. The Empire has taken a massive hit in losing their ultimate super weapon. 

#2 Cantina

Trying to find a ship to get to the Alderaan System, Obi-Wan and Luke enter the local Cantina in Mos Espa on Tatooine. When the door opens, you are hit immediately with the famous Cantina music, composed by John Williams. We then get a quick montage of all the alien faces in the Cantina, all talking and drinking. As Luke tries to get a drink, he has an altercation with two other creatures at the bar. When things get physical, Obi-Wan draws his lightsaber, and cuts off the creature's arm. It's our first real look at what a lightsaber can do. This then leads to Luke and Obi-Wan meeting Han Solo and Chewbacca, who agree to take them to Alderaan on the Millennium Falcon, which of course made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. 

What's great about this scene is first and foremost the music. Other than the main Star Wars theme and the Imperial March, the Cantina theme has to be the most iconic Star Wars music. It's classic, and I honestly hum it all the time. But pair that music with the montage of all the aliens, and you get a fascinating scene. It's a real look into the creative mind of George Lucas, seeing all the different kinds of creatures and aliens. The prosthetics and animatronics look so good, especially for Lucas' tiny budget at the time. It's a truly memorable scene. We also get to see Obi-Wan use his lightsaber, which we don't see again until his duel with Darth Vader later on in the film. The grotesque and bloody shot of the arm on the ground really reaffirms the power of a lightsaber, and how it definitely is not a toy, and I think that part particularly was instrumental in Luke's training. 

Honorable Mentions

"These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For": As Obi-Wan and Luke are trying to enter Mos Espa in order to find a ship to get to the Alderaan System, they are stopped by Storm Troopers, who recognize R2-D2 and C-3PO. As the Trooper begins to question them, Obi-Wan waves his hand, uttering the iconic phrase "These aren't the droids you're looking for". After the Jedi mind trick, the Trooper lets them go about their business. 
Trash Compactor: While trying to rescue Princess Leia, Han, Chewie and Luke find themselves stuck in a trash compactor. After a brief stint with a tentacle monster, the walls begin to close in on them. As their death impedes, C-3PO is able to stop the walls from crushing them at the last minute, saving their lives. 
"I find your lack of faith disturbing": While Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) and Darth Vader talk about the importance of the missing Death Star plans, a fellow Imperial leader voices his doubts about Vader, saying "Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader." The leader begins to choke, as Darth Vader demonstrates the power of the force. The tension-filled scene ends with Vader stating "I find your lack of faith disturbing", before letting the Imperial leader live. 
The Two Setting Suns: After a dispute with his Uncle Owen, Luke looks out at the two setting suns of Tatooine. The John Williams score fills the screen, as Luke looks at the sky. It's a very simple yet beautiful scene. Not only is the music perfect, but the imagery is breathtaking. It's a wonderful and small scene in the movie that is wholly reminiscent of what Star Wars is all about. 

#1 Introduction to Vader

The first ten minutes of this movie is probably the best first ten minutes of any movie in cinematic history. We get the exciting opening crawl with the booming John Williams music, cluing us into the state of this civil war. We then see a Rebel ship soaring through space, followed by a ginormous Star Destroyer. The Rebel ship gets sucked into the Star Destroyer, where Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers board the ship. Not only is this the opening of the movie, but it's our first ever introduction to Vader. The terrifying villain boards the ship, killing Rebel soldiers and taking Princess Leia captive. We know nothing about this character, and yet we're absolutely terrified of him, due how excellently George Lucas shot the scene. The booming voice of James Earl Jones also holds the audience hostage, as they witness the horror of Darth Vader. 

It's certainly an incredible way to open a movie, and it immediately captures the audience's attention. Vader commands the screen every time he's on, and Jones' voice adds to his powerful screen presence. The back-and-forth between C-3PO and R2-D2 also adds to the scene, as they try to escape the impending Imperial army. Of course, the scene ends with Leia giving R2 the plans, and the two droids escaping in a pod, hurtling towards Tatooine. Like I said before, it's probably the greatest opening scene to any movie, simply because so much happens in the first ten minutes. We are immediately thrown into this world and, without knowing anything about him, we know that we are absolutely terrified of Darth Vader. 

What do you think? Do you agree with my picks for the best scenes in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope? Which would you have picked instead? Are you planning on seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Written by: Nate
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