In information and insights i have learnt
In this critical analysis i will be looking at the film ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977) directed by George Lucas. I will identify and explain the important factors into how the films narrative structure was shaped and will explore possible interpretations afforded by the storytelling. Within my analysis of ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977) i will, explore links between several narrative theories and compare them to the film. I will also, be applying information and insights i have learnt from the principles of storytelling unit, to my chosen film in this analysis, and will explain how George Lucas unravelled the story of my chosen film.
From the beginning of ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977) you can tell what type of genre and style of film it will be. The mise-en scene of the first scene reveals that you are going to be involved into a sc-fi/fantasy film, as you are shown an opening plot that reveals this was set in a galaxy far away in the past, then followed by the opening shot being of space followed by a space ship flying away and the audience is shown futuristic weapons and machines such as ‘R2D2’ which further goes to show that this film will be a science fiction film, as well they show the in a galaxy far away to show you this based on a fantasy universe.George Lucas revealed the genre very early on within the film which can imply that; the film abides by a the traditional 3 act structure. we can infer this because the film was told in chronological order, showing that its a linear film. A non-linear film is normally more complex and harder for the audience to understand for example, ‘Pulp fiction'(1994) is a good example of a non-linear film. The main character is later revealed to be ‘Luke Sky-walker’ who follows a classic narrative structure, with a beginning middle and a end. The first opening scenes of the film are the most important ones of the films, as it sets up the audience to gather a understanding of what to expect, throughout the film; George Lucas did this to make the start of the film easy and simple to follow, as well as gripping for the audience. You are shown the development of the characters throughout the film especially with the main character ‘Luke Sky-walker’, the film follows a typical hero character arc, called the ‘Hero’s Journey’ derived by Joseph Campbell’s book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces”(Campbell, 1949), the hero structure follows 3 chapters which are: departure; Initiation and the return.
Within the Book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”(Campbell, 1949) it explains it goes into depth about the three chapters, explain what will happen in each chapter. In the first chapter of the film there will be a ‘The Call to Adventure’ which was Princess Lelia’s message followed by a ‘Refusal of the Call’ which was that he must help with the harvest, ‘Supernatural Aid’ Obi-wan rescues Luke from sandpeople, ‘ The Crossing of the First Threshold’ Escaping Tatooine and the ‘The Belly of the Whale’ the trash compactor scene; In chapter 2 you have the ‘The Road of Trials’ the Lightsaber practice, ‘The Meeting with the Goddess’ when he meets Princess Lelia, ‘Woman as the Temptress’ Luke is tempted by the Dark Side, ‘Atonement with the Father’ Darth and Luke reconcile, ‘Apotheosis’ Luke becomes a Jedi and ‘The Ultimate Boon’ Death Star destroyed and in the final chapter you have; ‘Refusal of the Return’ “Luke, come on!” (Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, 1977) Luke wants to stay to avenge Obi-Wan, ‘The Magic Flight’ the Millennium Falcon, ‘Rescue from Without’ Han saves Luke from Darth, ‘The Crossing of the Return Threshold’ Millennium Falcon destroys pursuing TIE fighters, ‘Master of the Two Worlds’ the Victory ceremony and ‘Freedom to Live’ the Rebellion is victorious over Empire. This narrative structure is overlaid onto the tradition three act structure but provides additional insight in the character development, George Lucas used this structure as a direct reference when creating this film as you can see from the examples i have given above along side the stages of the acts.As well as the film following the typical ‘Hero’s Journey'(Campbell, 1949) it also, follows the normal narrative theories such as Todorov’s narrative theory, which he came up within his book ‘Genres in Discourse'(Todorov, 2001) that there are 4 conventional structures within narratives, a state of equilibrium, a disruption, a recognition, an attempt to repair the disruption and a reinstatement of a new equilibrium.
You can apply this theory to the film ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977), as you have an equilibrium of the main character Luke on his farm not knowing anything about the war that is going on, then you have the disruption which is Princess Lelia, requiring help and then you have the recognition when Luke is found by Obi-wan and taught the ways of the force, and then the repair which was them destroying the death star, creating a new equilibrium. The use of these theories, creates a linear structure, providing a simple structure for the audience to follow. Other theories that can be applied to this film would be, the theory of the narrative being created due to constant conflict between binary oppositions by Levi-Strauss, so for example within the film ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977), there is a constant binary opposition between the light and the dark side the whole film is about the fight between the main character defeating the dark side of the force, instead of joining it. Another example of a binary opposition would be, in the film ‘The Dark Knight'(2008) directed by Christopher Nolan, which creates a binary opposition between the protagonist and the antagonist, creating conflict as which therefore the whole narrative structure is based off about this battle between the antagonist and protagonist. With all these theories you are provided with a idea of how the films narrative structure was formed, through multiple narrative theories combined together it created the plot and story of ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977). Within this area of my critical analysis i will explore how technological, industrial and ideological changes link to the film ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977). Technological advancements through the years has had a drastic effect on the film ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977), for example when filming the scenes with spaceships and space scenes they used a technique called motion control photography; motion control photography is used for special effects in modern films, as well as in ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977), but in the past the process was still fairly new as it was pioneered by the film ‘A Space Odyssey’ (1968), although it was in the film ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977) where it was used first time in such a large scale.
They used a specific camera which was created just for the film called the ‘Dykstraflex’ created by John Dykstra which changed the film industry with a technological change;”Where earlier sci-fi films flew a model around in front of the camera, motion control moved the camera and kept the model stationary.” (Trenholm, 2017), it was small enough and had higher quality compared to the other cameras they used to use. With this technological change it allowed for better special effects for the whole film, without this change the film would not be the same and not as popular as the special effects was one of the main selling points of ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977), as it offered a brand new experience for the audience something they had never seen before. Another technological advancement that effected film was the creation of the ‘Kinetoscope’ developed by Thomas Edison in 1889, which allowed people to watch short videos back through a scope; as time passed this creation was turned into a camera and sound capture as well as film was added in 1927 and then developed further to make it easier to record sound, and throughout the war the advancements only increased due to the competition created by the war to where we are today. The camera they used for filming ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977) was a “Panavision PSR 35mm’, which was a fairly new camera which was only introduced in 1972 which was created to provide reliable film capture, the creation of this camera allowed for a higher production quality to when creating this film and made way to brand new cameras that are used in today’s films.
When looking at ideological changes to film, you can see a clear link between the ‘Haze code'(1930) and my film ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977) , due to the fact that the ‘Haze code’ was collapsed in 1968 due to new ideologies and ideas on how films should be monitored and censored. This effected the film as the rules on how you can make a film were changed, with less restricting rules and allowing creativity within the directors. Pre 1968 films were subjected to the code, which required them to find ways around the code sparking popular knew ways to create films and get passed the code. I would argue that ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977) took inspiration from these techniques, for example they showed in the gun scenes the lasers firing but never showed the gore, or the person actually being hurt, this technique would be used in the era of the code as it was forbidden to show the bullet entering the body or gore; by doing this George Lucas could show this film to a much wider audience allowing a bigger profit increase as it became a universal film that anyone could watch with no restrictions.When looking at where George Lucas got his inspiration for ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977), you can see several films in which George Lucas directly referenced for example; with the film ‘The Hidden Fortress'(1958) which tells a story about a general and a princess fighting their way home, from this film was the way ‘C3PO’ and ‘R2D2’ have their conversations George Lucas said in 2001 “the fact that the story was told from the perspective of the two lowest characters. I decided that would be a nice way to tell the Star Wars story, which was to take the two lowest characters, as Kurosawa did, and tell the story from their point of view, which in the Star Wars case is the two droids.
“(Barber, 2016) not only that he also, took a direct reference to the film with the scene of the two droids walking in the desert to the film ‘The Hidden Fortress'(1958) as it was set up in a very similar way, but with two peasants instead including the way his “wipe” cuts were made to make a homage to The Hidden Fortress'(1958) . Another film George Lucas has taken inspiration from when creating ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977), was the film ‘The Dam Busters'(1955), he took some inspiration from this film when it came to the assault of the ‘Death star’ in which some bombers fly along a heavily defended reservoirs aiming bombs at German made dams in order to cripple the heavy industry; this can be seen as inspiration for ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'(1977) due to Luke and other characters piloting ‘X-Wings’ in order to blow up the ‘Death Star’ and cripple the empire.