40 things that made Star Wars great

40 things that made Star Wars great
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

Forty years ago, on May 25, 1977 to be exact, a certain movie called Star Wars was released.

It would go on to become one of the greatest movie franchises of all time, spawning prequels, sequels, animated series, TV shows, holiday specials (shudder), video games and tons and tons of merchandise.

Today being Star Wars Day (May the Fourth, geddit?), we pay tribute to it with a look back at the one that started it all - Star Wars: A New Hope (otherwise known 40 years ago as plain old Star Wars), and pinpoint the 40 things that defined the film, as well as the mega-franchise it created.

1. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

This simple line of blue words was the beginning of it all. But it was only the prelude to the epicness that followed …

2. The Star Wars theme

To this day, John Williams's score remains one of THE greatest and most famous film scores of all time, and for good reason - the opening theme, in particular, was a piece of music so majestic, so memorable that it was seared into my brain forever the instant I heard it.

3. The Star Wars title/logo

There's just something about the words "Star Wars" together that evokes a feeling of wonder and fires up your imagination.

A war fought among the stars? How cool could that be?

4. Episode IV? What?

One of George Lucas' masterstrokes with Star Wars was adding "Episode IV, A New Hope" to the opening crawl, which implied that this movie could be (and eventually was) just a small part of a much bigger story.

Indeed, after watching the movie, all I could think of was, "Episode IV? Where's Episode I to III? And are they going to make Episode V and VI?"

5. The opening crawl

How do you get your audience to actually read long paragraphs of expositional text before the movie without getting bored?

Put it in a cool-as-hell opening crawl of yellow text that seems to be flying towards space, of course!

6. The opening chase scene

Oh look, the vast blackness of space … and, a spaceship! But wait, what is it running away from?

And then there it was, a massive, gigantic, humongous Star Destroyer that seems to go on, and on, and on … as far as opening scenes go, it's a mighty impressive one, and one that perfectly shows, right from the start, just how small the Rebels are compared to the Empire.

7. R2-D2 and C-3PO

C-3PO and R2-D2 are the first characters to appear in Star Wars.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

The first characters to appear in the Star Wars franchise are also the only ones to appear in every official film in the Star Wars saga, from Episodes I all the way to VII.

Anthony Daniels will be reprising his role as C-3PO.

Sadly, Kenny Baker, who plays R2-D2, passed away in August last year. So The Last Jedi will be the first time he will not be playing the iconic astromech.

8. Stormtroopers

They may be famous for their non-­existent marksmanship these days, but in the beginning, the Stormtroopers were actually pretty good shots, taking out several Rebels as they, er, storm the Tantive IV, paving the way for …

9. Darth Vader

That black flowing cape; that terrifying mask; that ominous breathing; if you don't know who Darth Vader is by now, which rock have you been hiding under these 40 years?

The first appearance of the Sith Lord is one of the greatest villain entrances of all time - striding forward onto the Tantive IV, he grabs a Rebel Officer by the throat and demands to know where the Death Star plans are.

10. Princess Leia Organa

From the very first time we met her, we knew Princess Leia was no damsel in distress.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

From the moment we saw her peering out of a corridor, and subsequently defiantly standing up to Darth Vader, we knew that Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) was no mere damsel in distress.

Leia is the heart and soul of the Star Wars franchise, and we shall miss her dearly when her story comes to an end in The Last Jedi, which was the last film Fisher made before her death last December.

11. Luke Skywalker

A New Hope is essentially the story of how a young farm boy rose to become the hero of the Rebellion; but little did we know that the name "Skywalker" would become the driving force for the entire franchise.

Watch where you’re swinging that thing, Luke. You might chop off C-3PO’s head.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

From the revelation of Luke's (and Leia's) parentage in The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, to the fall of Anakin Skywalker in the prequels, all the way to Luke and Leia's "legacy" roles in the new ­trilogy, Skywalker connects everything.

12. Tatooine

The desert planet with the twin suns is the only planet that has featured in every Star Wars movie so far (or in the case of The Empire Strikes Back, just mentioned), with the exception of The Force Awakens and Rogue One.

13. Obi-Wan Kenobi

Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi. His life may have ended in A New Hope, but his legend was only just beginning.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

The first Jedi to come onscreen, Old Ben Kenobi's life came to an end in A New Hope, but his legend was only just beginning.

Through the subsequent additions to the franchise, Obi-Wan would come to be known as one of the greatest Jedi of them all.

14. Let there be light

Obi-Wan and Luke's first meeting is memorable not just for Luke getting knocked out by a Tusken Raider, but also for the first time we ever get to see a lightsaber.

From the moment we heard that SWOOOOSH sound of the lightsaber being lit and the VMMM VMMM VMMM sound of it being swung around, we knew we wanted, nay, NEEDED one.

15. 'I find your lack of faith disturbing'

Note to self: never mock Darth Vader's devotion to the Force by calling it an "ancient religion", unless you want to get Force choked.

16. The death of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru

The sight of Uncle Owen and Aunt Betha's charred corpses on the ground remains one of the most disturbing and horrific scenes in the entire franchise.

17. Mos Eisley

Mos Eisley is a hive of scum and villainy, and the Cantina was where we got to an inclination of just how many aliens there are in the Star Wars universe.

18. 'These are not the droids you are looking for'

Cue endless hours of trying to use the Jedi mind trick on pets and younger siblings to get them to do what you want.

19. The Cantina Band song

Listen to that Cantina song once, and you'll never get it out of your head for the rest of the day.

20. Lightsaber action

When Obi-Wan Kenobi whips it out and slices off the hand of Ponda Baba, it was the first time we see a lightsaber in action.

It may have been just a brief flash of light, but it underlined the power of this "elegant weapon for a more civilised age".

21. Hands off

Speaking of Ponda Baba, this was also the first time a character loses a limb in a Star Wars movie, a recurring theme in all the other movies as well.

22. Chewbacca

UHUUUUURRRR ahrrr arrrrr urrr ohrrr arrrr ARRRRR! (Translation: You may not understand me, and you may think I'm a walking carpet, but deep down, you just want a great big Wookie hug!)

(left) Han Solo and (right) Chewbacca, a friendship to last the ages.Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

23. Han Solo

Did he shoot first? Who cares?

Harrison Ford's scruffy-looking nerf-herder is still one of the best characters in the entire Star Wars franchise.

Luke was the one we were rooting for, but Han was the one we all wanted to be.

24. The Millennium Falcon

It may look like a hamburger patty, but the Millennium Falcon is still the coolest ship in the Star Wars franchise.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

The fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy may look like a flying hamburger patty, but the Millennium Falcon is without a single doubt, THE coolest space craft in the entire Star War franchise.

25. The power of the Force

"It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together".

Obi-Wan's suitably vague explanation gives the Force a certain degree of mysticism that really doesn't need any further detail (not least the midi-chlorian nonsense Lucas tried to introduce in The Phantom Menace).

26. 'You may fire when ready'

Han and Luke’s rescue of Leia was not going to plan. Because they didn’t really have one.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

Poor Leia. As if being tortured was not enough, she had to go through the grief of watching her home planet Alderaan getting blown up.

At that moment, it became clear just how powerful the Death Star was, as we realised he just used it to destroy AN ENTIRE PLANET.

27. 'I have a very bad feeling about this'

The Millennium Falcon jumps out of hyperspace near what's left of Alderaan, and while chasing a lone TIE fighter, they spot a "moon". Only it's "no moon" …

"I have a very bad feeling about this", says Luke, perfectly encapsulating the moment, and marking the first utterance of a line featured in every Star Wars movie ever since.

28. 'Into the garbage chute, flyboy!'

Han, Luke and Chewbacca decide to rescue the princess from the detention cells, but they didn't really think the rescue though.

So, it's up to Leia herself to save them all, further proving just how much of a royal badass this princess is, and how good she is at discovering "incredible smells" by going down garbage chutes.

29. The bumbling Stormtrooper

A blooper that is also one of the franchise's funniest moments - a Stormtrooper bonks his head on the door frame as he enters to confront R2-D2 and C-3PO.

30. The Death Star escape

From Luke and Leia swinging across a massive chasm, to Han Solo chasing down a troop of Stormtroopers only to be chased back by a larger troop, the gang's escape from the Death Star was a whole lot of fun.

Too bad it had to end with …

31. Obi-Wan vs Darth Vader

The first ever lightsaber fight, between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

The franchise's first ever lightsaber fight was memorable for three things - Vader finally revealing his red, yes RED, lightsaber, and the old Jedi sacrificing himself so that Luke and his friends could escape.

The fight also ended in a strange mystery (at the time) - "Strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you can ever imagine," Obi-Wan says, and as Vader's lightsaber cuts through him, the old Jedi somehow just vanishes into thin air…

32. The Rebel base

The danger's not over yet though - the Death Star is on its way to Yavin to destroy the Rebel base, and the Rebels formulate a desperate plan to fight back by targeting the one weakness the space station has - a two metre-wide small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port that leads directly to the reactor system.

33. 'May the Force be with you'

Contrary to popular belief, it was not Obi-Wan Kenobi who first uttered this iconic phrase. Rather, it was actually General Jan Dodonna of the Rebel Alliance who first said it. On Yavin, after explaining the plan to destroy the first Death Star, Dodonna says, "May the Force be with you" to the pilots who would be taking the fight to the Death Star.

34. 'Lock S-foils in attack position'

And as the X-Wing fighters' wings opened up into an X, we all changed our "future career" option to "X-Wing pilot".

35. The Battle Of Yavin

X-Wings! Y-Wings! TIE Fighters! Star Destroyers!

THIS was the "Wars" in "Star Wars" we had been waiting for, and it did not disappoint.

Even today, the final dogfight above the Death Star still ranks as one of the most exciting battles sequences in the entire franchise.

The X-Wing fighters lock their S-foils in attack position as they prepare to attack the Death Star.
Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

36. Luke's trench run

The Rebel's first run at the exhaust port failed miserably, and it is Luke's turn inside the trench.

As his wingmen Wedge and Biggs get taken out one after another, it is up to him alone to finish the mission off once and for all …

37. 'The Force is strong with this one'

Another iconic line that is used throughout the franchise, uttered for the first time by none other than Darth Vader himself, as he pilots his Advanced TIE Fighter in pursuit of Luke's X-Wing inside the Death Star trench.

38. Use the Force, Luke …

Luke finally uses the Force for the first time, stowing his targeting system and putting his faith in a "hokey religion" to guide him as he lines up his torpedoes, and fires them directly into the Death Star's exhaust port!

39. Kaboom!

When the Death Star finally blows up, it signalled the end of one of the most exhilarating movies we had ever seen. Little did we know that this was not the end …

40. The medal ceremony

Han's wink, Leia's radiant smile, and the general joyous occasion was a great but cheesy way to cap the movie.

Just one thing though - why didn't Chewie get a medal too?

Speaking of awards, did you know that Star Wars was also the first science fiction film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards?

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