Continuing the original Star Wars Trilogy breakdown, 10 mins at a time – starting with the first 10 minutes of A New Hope and ending with the last 10 minutes of Return of the Jedi. Each segment will include a brief synopsis, some truly nerdy trivia, thoughts about the scenes, as well as the moments that were Good, Bad, and Bantha Poodoo. All this leads to the premiere of the new Star Wars film The Force Awakens!”
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) 01:00:01 – 01:10:00
“Where did you dig up that old fossil?”
• This one line perfectly sums up Han Solo: “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”
• Luke is already displaying Jedi skills with the remote.
• In the scene where Grand Moff Tarkin says, “She lied. She lied to us.” Darth Vader replies by saying, “I told you she would never consciously betray the Rebellion.” Watch Vader’s hand after he says that; it’s still moving like he had more to say but it got edited out. He was probably saying, “You should have let force choke her!”
• During this 10 minute stretch of the film Obi Wan Kenobi suddenly turns into “Know-It-All-Kenobi. Behold…
Han – “It’s been totally blown away.”
Know-It-All-Kenobi: “Destroyed by the Empire”
Han: “There’s another ship coming in”
Know-It-All-Kenobi: “It’s an Imperial fighter.”
Luke: “It followed us!”
Know-It-All-Kenobi: “No, it’s a short-range fighter.”
Han: “Chewie, jam its transmissions.”
Know-It-All-Kenobi: “Be as well to let it go, it’s too far out of range.”
Luke: “Look, it’s heading for that small moon.”
Know-It-All-Kenobi: “That’s no moon. It’s a space station.”
Luke: “I have a very bad feeling about this.”
Know-It-All-Kenobi: “Turn the ship around.”
Han: “They’re not gonna get me without a fight.”
Know-It-All-Kenobi: “You can’t win, but there are alternatives to fighting.”
Han: “Damn fool – I knew you were gonna say that.”
Know-It-All-Kenobi: “Who’s the more foolish? The fool? Or the fool who follows him?” What does that even mean?
• Ben Burtt created the sound effect for the Tie Fighters by combining an elephant call with a car driving on wet pavement.
• As they are getting closer to the Death Star, Han asks Chewie to “lock in the auxiliary power.” Chewie either doesn’t hear him or is doing something else because Han has to ask him again to “lock in the auxiliary power.” Finally Chewie locks it in but by then it’s too late; they are caught in the tractor-beam. Chewie could be responsible for them getting captured. If only he had locked in the auxiliary power the first time!
• Those Stormtroopers might be riding the slowest elevator ever!
• Dudes, get a dolly for that scanner! Thing looks like it weighs a ton!
• TK421 must have been some kind of slacker Stormtrooper for them to keep tabs on him like they did.
The Good: Probably Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill’s best scene together in the whole trilogy – when they are dressed up as Stormtroopers wondering how they are gonna get out of the mess they are in.
The Bad: ILM still hadn’t perfected the effect of turning the light-saber on and off.
Bantha Poodoo: Know-It-All-Kenobi
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) 01:10:01 – 01:20:00
“Boring conversation anyway.”
• “I’m not going anywhere.” / “Marching into the detention area is not what I had in mind.” / “Better her then me.” / “Rich?” / “I don’t know, I can imagine quite a bit.” / “I better.” – Now this is the Han Solo we all know and love.
• When Luke tries to put the binders on Chewbacca it might be the scariest that Chewie’s ever looked.
• Speaking of Scary Chewie, he just scared the crap out of that little mouse droid that was strolling down the Death Star corridor, whistling a tune to himself.
• Luke explains why Stormtroopers are such lousy shots: “I can’t see a thing in this helmet.”
• “Oh sorry bro, this elevator is full. You’ll have to catch the next one.”
• Oops, the elevator door opens on the other side.
• Han, Luke, and Chewie blast the joint up taking out all the lasers and cameras. I haven’t seen such precise shooting since Han shot Greedo first in the Cantina.
And now we pause for a story about the iconic “Laser Blast” sound effect created by Ben Burtt.
THE STORY BEHIND THE CREATION OF THE LASERGUN SOUND
I was interested to come across your article about the Sound Design of Star Wars in which you did discuss the work done by my son. I was pleased that it was accurate.
A recent article in Variety magazine had a number of inaccurate statements. For example, it said that he climbed to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge to hit the cables there and record a sound used for the laser guns. This was not true. Actually, back in the 1970’s we were on a family trip to visit his wife’s family and were all in some gentle hills in Pennsylvania known as the Pocono Mountains. He was at that time always carrying a Nagra recorder and getting all sorts of sound for his collection.
We climbed to the top of a hill where there was a small radio tower in the hopes that the wind would make some interesting sounds in the tower or the support cables. I picked up a rock and banged on the cable just for fun and Ben said, “That sounds like the imaginary laser gun ought to sound!”
So he recorded the sounds there and later in California he looked around for other towers and finally found one that he especially liked in the Mojave desert in California. There was a broken brace hanging on the cable that added a special quality to the sound and that was the one he used in combination with some other sounds to create the sound of the laser gun.
Benjamin P. Burtt
Professor of Chemistry Emeritus
Now back to our regularly scheduled bullet points…
• “Uh everything is under control, situation normal.” I love Han’s Imperial Soldier accent. He sounds more like an Imperial Hairdresser. “We’re all fine here now, thank you, how are you? Are we doing a cut and color today? I think we’ll go with that red color for a rich coppery tone.”
• The very first exchange between Han and Leia is already love at first fight.
• The Detention Block laser battle is a perfect example of what the right sound-effects, optical-effects, music, editing, and great acting can do to a scene – make it awesome!
• Han follows Luke right after he jumps into the garbage shoot. But when Han lands and tries to blast the magnetically sealed door Luke screams at him saying he’s already tried that. Man, Luke must have tried blasting the door AS he was falling or something because the timing just doesn’t work out.
• The monster that sucks Luke under in the Trash Compactor was called a “Dianoga” – which we will discuss in our next segment!
The Good: Luke’s “hero” moment when he opens the Princess’ cell and tells her, “I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you.” A classic moment in film history and makes me smile every time.
The Bad: Luke freaking out on Han for trying to blast the Trash-Compactor door.
Bantha Poodoo: Leia, Han just risked his life to save you. Well okay, it was more for the reward, but still you could be a little nicer to him.
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) 01:20:01 – 01:30:00
“We’re all gonna be a lot thinner.”
• The Dianoga, or Trash Compactor Monster, releases Luke. What exactly is a “Dianoga”? Well, I’m glad you asked….
Dianoga were large cephalopods, capable of growing up to ten meters in length, though most specimens grew to approximately five or six meters. They had a single eyestalk protruding from their mollusk-like bodies, and seven suckered tentacles surrounding a fanged maw containing a sharp serrated probe.
Dianoga originated on the planet Vodran—discovered by the Hutts prior to the formation of the Galactic Republic—where the creatures evolved a form of natural camouflage to avoid the planet’s large predators. Their bodies would become transparent when unfed, and, conversely, were known to change to reflect the color of the food they had eaten. This was achieved by diverting small portions of digested food into a series of ducts underneath the creature’s skin, which would appear to affect the color of the dianoga’s flesh.
Over many millennia, dianoga migrated from Vodran by stowing away aboard garbage ships in their microscopic larval forms, and could be commonly found in trash compactors, garbage pits, and sewers across the galaxy, living off any present organic matter. They were primarily scavengers, and only posed a threat to living creatures when starving or threatened. Because of their penchant for living in and feeding on organic waste, dianoga were sometimes referred to as garbage squids, sewage squids, or trash monsters.
Got that? Good. Moving on…
• “Where could he be?” Well Luke, most likely C3PO is somewhere on the Death Star trying not to get melted down into scrap metal by Stormtroopers since you left him and R2 all by themselves… jerk.
• And here we have another classic moment in film history – the Stormtrooper hitting his head on the door.
• The number of the Trash Compactor that Luke gives C3PO was Mark Hamill’s real phone number at the time: 326-3827 (if you would have known that back in 1977 you could have prank-called him).
• Kenobi found the Tractor Beam controls. When he turns it off, there is this loud sound-effect “BEEeeeooooooooo……….” you know, like somebody just turned the Tractor Beam OFF! Wake up Stormtroopers!
• Watch Carrie Fisher… uh… adjust herself when they are all getting out of the trash compactor.
• Man I hate ragging on Leia all the time but dude, Lucas, you could have made her a little nicer. “Walking carpet?” What did Chewie ever do to you? These guys just rescued you!
• There’s “The Wilhelm Scream.” If you don’t know what The Wilhelm Scream is you probably shouldn’t be reading these posts.
• Luke and Leia kiss before the big swing across the chasm. That kiss really wasn’t that passionate though. It was more of a kiss you would give to your brother or something. Uh… umm… wait a sec…
• Han turning around to shoot, while jumping through the closing blast door is awesome! Nice move on Harrison’s part.
• Darth Vader tells Obi Wan, “Your powers are weak old man.” But I think what he really wanted to say was, “That spin move you just did was weak, old man.”
The Good: C3PO’s line, “Listen to them! They’re dying, R2…” is pretty great.
The Bad: Obi Wan’s lightsaber moves.
Bantha Poodoo: Leia’s ungratefulness.
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) 01:30:01 – 01:40:00
“Hear me baby? Hold together.”
• Han and Chewie make it back to the Falcon.
• All those Stormtroopers standing around the Falcon are probably wondering where the heck TK421 went and why isn’t he at his post.
• Later, Ben.
• No doubt Luke used the force without even knowing it to shoot the controls to the blast door so Darth Vader couldn’t come and get them.
• Luke grieves more for Ben, someone he knew for about 2 or 3 hours, than he did for Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, who raised him from a baby! They must have beat him or something.
• Those black armored Tie-Fighter pilots are pretty cool looking.
• The space battle with the Tie-Fighters and Falcon was choreographed using footage of real World War II dogfights.
• “Great kid. Don’t get cocky.” Classic.
• You gotta give it up to ILM, who when they started were just a bunch of college students, hippies, artists, and engineers, that smoked weed and played video games most of the day, occasionally filming some effects. But they got it together enough to blow our minds and change filmmaking for all time.
• The Falcon approaches the moon Yavin 4, where the secret Rebel base is located. Yavin 4 is the 4th moon that orbits the red gas giant Yavin. The other 3 moons are named…ummm…Yavin 1, Yavin 2, and, uh….Yavin 3.
• The exterior shots of the Rebel base were filmed in Tikal, Guatemala. Tikal is one of the largest ruined cities of the Maya civilization.
• So you may be wondering how The Death Star got from the Alderaan system to the Yavin system so fast? Well allow me to put your mind at ease:
(Please read the following paragraph in a Stephen Hawking voice)
In order for the Death Star to be a deadly threat, it needed to be mobile. Using linked banks of 123 hyperdrive field generators tied into a single navigational matrix, the Death Star could travel across the Galaxy at superluminal velocities.
• This briefing scene has the first of appearance of Wedge. The story of Wedge in the Star Wars Trilogy is a messy one…
Antilles first appears in Star Wars during the Rebels’ Death Star attack briefing. In this scene Wedge is portrayed by Colin Higgins and voiced by David Ankrum, who dubs the character throughout the film. Denis Lawson plays the character for the remaining scenes filmed in the X-wing cockpit. Lawson also portrays Antilles in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; the former featured Lawson’s voice dubbed over by an unidentified actor, while Lawson used his own voice in the latter (with a false American accent). Coincidentally, Lawson is the maternal uncle of Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy.
The Good: Han and Luke taking out the Tie-Fighters. One of the best action scenes of all times.
The Bad: Kenobi’s lack of a spin move at the end of his lightsaber duel with Vader. He just stands there.
Bantha Poodoo: The Wedge mess.
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) 01:40:01 – 01:50:00
“Stay on target.”
• Go on Han, take the money and run.
• Han tells Luke, “May the force be with you.” Seems like he might be coming around to all that hocus pocus stuff, but Chewie’s not too sure about that and is all, “Aaarrrrgg, uHgrreg.”
• “I only wish Ben were here.” What about Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, Luke?! Huh?! What about THEM?!
• Leia gives Luke another “brother kiss.”
• I love the build up of all the X-Wings’ and Y-Wings’ engines starting up. Helps build the tension and anticipation of the coming battle.
• “Luke, the Force will be with you.” Oh great, now Know-It-All is in my head.
• Alright, lets get to know our X-Wing pilots shall we….
• Red Squadron (X-Wings)
Red Leader – Garven “Almost there” Dreis (Shot down by Darth Vader)
Red Two – Wedge “Look at the size of that thing” Antilles (Managed to retreat after sustaining damage to fighter)
Red Three – Biggs “I can’t see him” Darklighter (Shot down by Darth Vader while covering Luke at trench)
Red Four – John D. “D. stands for dead” Branon (Shot down by TIE fighters)
Red Five – Luke “Got a little cooked” Skywalker (Destroyed the Death Star; saved by Han Solo)
Red Six – Jek “I’ve got a problem here” Porkins (Destroyed; Debris from turret caused computer malfunctions)
Red Seven – Elyhek “Lucky number 7” Rue (Shot down by TIE fighters)
Red Eight – Bren “We should be able to see it by now” Quersey (Shot down by Darth Vader at trench while covering Dreis)
Red Nine – Nozzo “What’s this button do?” Naytaan (Shot down by TIE fighters)
Red Ten – Theron “Arrrrggggg” Nett (Shot down by a TIE fighter at trench while covering Dreis)
Red Eleven – Wenton “No one knows my name” Chan (Shot down during combat)
Red Twelve – Puck Naeco (Shot down by Darth Vader at trench while covering Dreis)
• Gold Squadron (Y-Wings)
Gold Leader – Dutch “Loosen up” Vander (KIA)
Gold Two – Tiree “The guns, they’ve stopped” (KIA)
Gold Three – Ryle “I should have joined the Empire” Torsyn (KIA)
Gold Four – Lieutenant “Why can’t I be Gold 5?” Lepira (KIA)
Gold Five – Davish “Stay on Target” Krail (KIA)
Gold Six- Hol “Y-Wings suck” Okand (KIA)
Gold Seven – Keyan “I hid behind one of the towers” Farlander (Survived)
• Biggs tells Porkins to “eject.” Eject into what? The deadly vacuum of space?
• When Vader tells those two Tie-Fighter pilots to “Come with me,” watch how that the pilot on the left walks. Super excited to be flying with Vader.
• I’m gonna go on record and say that Wedge is probably the best fighter pilot in the galaxy.
• Darth Vader tells his wing-men to “Stay in attack formation” and boy do they ever.
• The first-person approach into the Death Star trench makes you feel woozy even on the small screen.
The Good: The shot of the X-Wings and Y-Wings approaching The Death Star. An awesome “David and Goliath” moment.
The Bad: Porkins’s piloting skills.
Bantha Poodoo: The cardboard cut-outs of X-Wings in the Rebel base hanger.
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) 01:50:01 – 02:01:00
“Let’s blow this thing and go home!”
• Red Leader heads into the trench, “This is it!”
• Look at that attack formation of those Tie-Fighters! Perfect!
• Red Leader tells his wingmen, “Just hold them off for a few seconds.” Uh, and just how are they supposed to hold them off, Red Leader? Could it be by DYING!?
• “Almost there.” I’ve always wondered why they started SO far away from the exhaust port?
• And now my impersonation of the death of Red Leader, “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh”
• I love the music cue right after Red Leader’s death and the cut to Luke. He now knows it’s up to him and he’s ready for it. Great, great moment and again John Williams’s score adds so much to this movie.
• “Just like Beggar’s Canyon back home.” Except Biggs never got blown up by a Dark Lord of the Sith in Beggar’s Canyon.
• R2D2 gets a laser blast to the dome! Luke yells out, “I’ve lost R2!” Back at the base C3PO turns to Leia in a very concerned way. Leia, however, doesn’t bat an eyelash.
• “Yahooooo!” Han saves the day. I always knew he wanted more then just money.
• Seconds before the Death Star explodes, Grand Moff Tarkin sits in his conference room, hand to mouth, looking rather serious. I wonder what his last thought was? “No sequel for me I guess.”
• Luke jumps off his X-Wing after blowing up the Death Star and sees Princess Leia and yells, “Carrie!” Or so the rumor goes. Let’s get to the bottom of it…
The debate over Mark Hamill’s fumble goes like this. During the ending of Star Wars: A New Hope, Hamill is seen exiting his X-Wing on the Rebel base on Yavin 4 after destroying the first Death Star. It is claimed that Hamill messed up his lines in the moment he was greeted by Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia and Harrison Ford’s Han Solo characters.
As Luke Skywalker climbs down the ladder of his X-Wing, Princess Leia shouts out “Luke!” as she rushes to embrace him. It is what Luke shouts in return that has been debated by fanboys for many years since the movie was first shown in theaters.
Some fans claim the then 26-year-old Mark Hamill flubbed his lines by accidentally screaming “Carrie!” as he exits the X-Wing. Other fans insist Hamill merely said “Hey!” in return. The evidence seems to be in favor of the latter side since even Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt confirmed that Hamill appears to be saying “hey” or “yay.”
On Monday, 11/09, one Star Wars fanboy tweeted this question to the Jedi Master’s Twitter account in order to settle the matter once and for all.
TOTAL BS! Actually said “There she…” as in “There she is.” Dialogue in that scene was dubbed. In-jokes disallowed! https://t.co/nWLmsLsgpw
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) October 13, 2015
• And now the medal ceremony. Luke changed his outfit and looks like a real rebel now. Leia is looking rather glamorous with a new hairdo and dress. Han, well Han looks pretty much same, why fix what ain’t broke. R2 was broken, though, and they fixed him in no time flat. And looks like C3PO got another oil bath. Thank the maker.
The Good: The final trench run by Luke, Wedge, and Biggs is outstanding cinema.
The Bad: Wish there was another 60 minutes to the movie.
Bantha Poodoo: No medal for Chewie.
Final thoughts about the movie:
Everyday after school for about three years I would watch my worn-out copy of Star Wars (recorded from HBO). Sometimes my friend Brian would join me and we would recite the whole movie together as we watched it. Sometimes I would pause the movie during a laser battle and examine the laser-effects.
My favorite part of the film is the whole Death Star sequence from the time the Millennium Falcon is captured to the time it blasts off thanks to the handy work of Obi Wan. And it never failed: when Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie, and the droids made it back to the Rebel base and the movie seemed like it was over I would remember, “Oh yeah, there’s still the X-Wing attack on the Death Star coming up!”
From 1977 till 1983 my world revolved around Star Wars. I rode my bike to Ernie’s Toyland, without money, just to look at the Star Wars toys. Those six Christmases were filled with magic for me. My backyard WAS that galaxy far, far away. Those memories serve me well and I still walk down the toy aisle in Target, now with my own kids, and look at the Star Wars action figures.
Up next: The Empire Strikes Back !