Favorite Moments... from A New Hope

A couple weeks back, I stumbled upon MSN's poll for their 10 Favorite Star Wars Moments. Avoiding spoilers, the 'moments' don't include any from Revenge of the Sith. The results after 90,000 fans chirped in:

  • Hey Luke, who's your daddy? (22%)
  • Yoda vs. Dooku (21%)
  • Luke vs. Vader vs. the Emperor (17%)
  • Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul (14%)
  • Luke destroys the Death Star (8%)
  • Escape from Jabba at the Sarlaac pit (6%)
  • Leia tells Han she loves him (6%)
  • Obi-Wan vs. Jango Fett (3%)
  • The pod race (3%)
  • Lando betrays Han and Leia (1%)

I agree that when Vader reveals Luke's true lineage is the all-time best Star Wars moment, but after that I felt the list was inadequate or just plain wrong. (I don't hold the Yoda v. Dooku battle as one of the best moments even in Attack of the Clones let alone the entire series.) I started to write this blog about my agreements and general disappointment that so many other great moments were left out. After I had listed a few, I put some reasons behind my choices for favorite moments, but it kept growing and growing. I didn't think that 10 moments were enough to come close to encapsulating all the iconic images I've had burned in my head over the years, so I ended up with seven from each film -- a total of 42 classic bits from the entire series that I cherish. As the circle is now complete, I figured it was as good a time as any to share my best impressions from the films that have given me so much joy. And to do it before You-Know-Who got around to it. It also occurred to me to do a reflection on my favorite musical pieces from the film, but I figure that Jaquandor is better qualified to do it. So he had better get to it before I do it in layman's terms. (That, my friends, is some singularly excellent taunting.)

Lastly, as I mentioned the breadth of what I was writing to Titan, he convinced me to publish this in installments so that he might have something to look forward to in his otherwise dreadfully empty life (also it ended up being about 4000 words, and I know the typical person's attention span). As such, I'll be posting for the next five days with the rest of my keen observations. So, without further ado, here is my list of favorite moments from the first film. (Note: I will be posting them in the correct order in which you would show the films to someone who has never seen them; i.e., IV, V, VI, I, II, III.)

A New Hope moments
  • "Blast the door, kid!" I'll admit it. Though Lucas is mocked for his repeated use of the word "NO!" to let his characters express their angry disbelief, it works awesomely here. When we see the situation, like Luke, we haven't got any idea how Kenobi is going to get out of this one. The last thing we expect to see is for him to give a sly grin, lower his defenses, and allow himself to be 'cut down' by Vader. Hamill's scream of shock and anguish (and immediately followed by Williams' rising orchestra) feels genuine, and as I watched the scene for probably the 100th time the other day, I was astonished to find my eyes watering just a bit. The moment still has wonderful emotional power with me.
  • "Use the Force, Luke." From the last battle, as the orchestral crescendo reaches a fever pitch, the music suddenly drops down as Obi-Wan fulfills his promise to Vader that "if you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." He can only be referring to this, as the old master's disembodied voice urges, "Let go, Luke. Luke, trust me." Only in death could Obi-Wan coach-up his young pupil in his greatest time of need. Shirking off his computer-guidance system, Luke breathes heavily with the intensity that the audience shares. Or at least me.
  • "I see you've managed to cut off our only escape route." Han retorts, "Maybe you'd like it back in your cell, your highness," and the butting-head romance is on. Thankfully nothing close to a 'meet-cute' scenario you see with nauseating regularity these days. The minute between them meeting and escaping into the garbage chute ('flyboy!') is packed with witty barbs, but of course my favorite is Han's "He's the brains, sweetheart!!"
  • "He's got too much of his father in him." "That's what I'm afraid of." Luke kicks some sand in frustration and climbs a small mound to stare off into the twin suns, the future, the horizon. Yet another iconic image, appropriately referenced at the end of Sith, beautifully complimented by Williams' track. (You know, that guy is going to be pretty good one of these days.)
  • "If they found out who they sold them to then that could lead them back... home!" Racing against fate, Luke is confronted with real loss for the first time. A beautiul shot of his standing helpless before the charred corpses of Owen and Beru. [Aside, note the contrast between Luke's reaction to loss and Anakin's. Anakin exacts revenge and foreshadows his own downfall by darkly promising not to 'fail again. Luke's response is to desire to become a Jedi "like my father". We know that Obi-Wan's look of acknowledgement to this request conceals many emotions.
  • "This little one's not worth the effort. Now let me get you something." The first time we see a Jedi in action, Obi-Wan politely attempts to diffuse the situation and then bursts into action with 'aggressive negotiations'. I love poise of Guinness after he's severed some limbs (the only time we see blood on the floor in the series) -- he holds his lightsaber at the ready and glances around the bar defiantly, looking to meet any stares of any other n'er-do-wells. In both deference to the old man's lethal skills and the cutthroat environment, the bar immediately resumes its business. Classic.
  • "I think I just blasted it." While definitely one of the iconic moments (the swing across the bridge), I look with new eyes now that the prequels are finished. Instead of just a hero and heroine, I see them as brother and sister, working in tandem (Leia works some Stormtroopers with the blaster as Luke prepares the grappling hook) that would have made their parents proud.
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