Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Star Wars: A New Hope

Since Star Wars strangely enough starts with Episode IV, here is everything you ever wanted to know about Star Wars: A New Hope. When this movie first came out, most people had never heard of the series, but the awesome special effects shown in the trailers made going to the theater to watch this crazy new story mandatory.

Star Wars: A New Hope

Billion Dollar Film

The first film in the franchise originally was known simply as Star Wars, released on May 25, 1977. Over the decades the film has been re-titled twice: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and now it is marketed as Star Wars: A New Hope. George Lucas began working on the new film in 1994, meaning he had no more than three years to get everything done, but he pulled it off. It took the production team a budget of $11 million. If adjusted for inflation, the film earned more than $2 billions worldwide. 

Star Wars: A New Hope: joseph campbell

Inspired by Joseph Campbell

George Lucas used the basic theory in Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, to build A New Hope. Campbell opines that old myths from all around the world, such as King Arthur and Beowulf, share similar framework. According to the book, a hero ventures from an ordinary life into a supernatural realm before coming back from the inexplicable journey to claim victory. For Lucas, the hero is Luke Skywalker.

Star Wars: A New Hope: first draft

A Draft 200 Pages Long

The first draft was ready by 1973. George Lucas submitted the original 13-page story, titled “the Star Wars” to Universal Studios and United Artists the same year. Both studios did not give their approvals; they said it was too confusing. Alan Ladd Jr., the head of 20th Century Fox, picked up the draft and secured a preliminary deal. Lucas revised the draft and extended the story to 200-pages long, consisting of three acts.

Star Wars: A New Hope: first act

First Act

A screenplay is between 95 and 125 pages long on average. To make the film plausible, Lucas dropped the latter two acts from the screenplay. The first act became Star Wars, the second act would be used for The Empire Strikes Back, and the third act made its way to the screen as Return of the Jedi. The extensively long screenplay is the original trilogy.

Star Wars: A New Hope: obi wan kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi Was Not Supposed to Die

Peter Mayhew, the actor behind Chewbacca, shared an interesting detail about A New Hope in 2016. According to Mayhew, the original script doesn’t mention anything about Obi-Wan Kenobi getting killed in a duel against Darth Vader. It didn’t happen, but then again, his death never really diminishes his importance in the overall storyline. The prequel trilogy brings the character back.

Detailed Drawings

Lucas knew it would require a hard sell to convince the studio, 20th Century Fox, to approve of the proposed budget of around $11 million. He ended up hiring illustrator and concept designer Ralph McQuarrie to produce 21 detailed drawings of certain scenes including a confrontation between Luke and Vader, the Millennium Falcon, the Mos Eisley Cantina, and a crash-landing on Tatooine featuring C-3PO and R2-D2.

Star Wars: A New Hope: ben burtt

Ben Burtt on Display

Fresh out of the USC, Ben Burtt had to get innovative at his work on creating the soundscape for A New Hope. It was a time when sci-fi used mostly futuristic and electronic sounds, but Lucas wanted the sounds to be predominantly organic. One of Burtt’s first creations is Chewbacca’s voice, created with a mix of walrus, lion, badger, and bear vocalizations.

Star Wars: A New Hope: darth vader

Darth Vader Voiceover

Orson Welles was supposed to be the voice actor for Darth Vader. The problem was that his baritone could be easily recognized, and the voiceover task was then given to James Earl Jones. For Vader’s heavy breathing noise, Burtt put a microphone inside a regulator of a scuba tank and recoded the noise from the apparatus. No one else would have thought of that. 

The Opening Crawl

Among the most iconic parts of the film is the opening crawl, created with nothing but die cut letters and black background. The camera slowly passed over the billboard-like structure to give the impression of moving letters. The sequence runs less than one and half minutes, but it took three hours to shoot. Episode number and subtitle “A New Hope” appeared for the first time in theatrical re-release in April 1981.

Robert Englund for Han Solo

Fred “Freddy” Krueger actor Robert Englund auditioned for the role of Han Solo. He was apparently too young to portray the character. He then suggested Mark Hamill audition for Luke Skywalker; Hamill got the role. Harrison Ford was there only to feed the lines for actors, including young Kurt Russell, auditioning for Han Solo. Back then, Ford was relatively unknown, but Lucas was impressed with his every delivery and ended up giving him the role.

Real-life War Footage

The scene in which the Millennium Falcon was involved in a space battle with TIE fighters was an exact copy of a World War II dogfight. The special effects company tasked with creating the visuals for the scene, Industrial Light and Magic, used the video footage provided by Lucas himself. ILM managed to match the sequence frame-by-frame, creating intense realistic-looking maneuvers for the spaceships.

Millennium Falcon Concept

If the original concept model for the Millennium Falcon had been used, the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy would have looked entirely different from the familiar sleek-looking saucer-shaped light freighter. Initially the Millennium Falcon was supposed to be cylindrical and quite long, like the shape of the spacecraft featured in TV series Space: 1999. Another version of the concept ended up being used for the Tantive IV.

Theaters Didn’t Want It

Around the same time as the release date for Star Wars, 20th Century Fox was about to release the highly anticipated The Other Side of Midnight. Theaters were eager to show the latter – an adaptation of a popular book, but not so much about Star Wars. The studio’s workaround was to require all theaters showing The Other Side of Midnight to also show Star Wars. The strategy paid-off; Star Wars became the highest grossing film ever at that point. Mega-production company 20th Century Fox was fined $25,000 for the illegal strategy.

Kurt Russell playing Han Solo? Sure, I can see that. But Robert Englund (a.k.a. Freddie Krueger)? Nah. What do you think? Send us note. We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you may want to know about.

What are some of the best quotes from Star Wars: A New Hope?

According to screenrant.com here are 10 of the best quotes from A New Hope.

10. “Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

 9. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

 8. “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

 7. “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

 6. “That’s no moon. It’s a space station.”

 5. “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”

 4. “Somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, flyboy!”

 3. “I have a very bad feeling about this.”

 2. “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

 1. “The force will be with you. Always.”

Why does Obi-Wan Kenobi smile just before dying?

According to screenrant.com (Manson Mithaiwala) Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker the history of the Jedi and gives him his father’s lightsaber. Kenobi already knew that Leia was Luke’s sister and that they hadn’t seen each other since they were separated at birth for their safety. There are two thoughts about this smile. One suggests Obi-Wan is seeing Leia and Luke together for the first time in his mind. The other is he was about to become one with the Force. Once Luke made his escape and knowing he was the last hope, his smile tells us there is more going on.

What is the film crawl for A New Hope?

“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy…”. (starwars.fandom.com)