Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) review: The ground-breaking original

Star Wars is that rare thing, a film that changed movies forever.

Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope.
(Image: © LucasFilm)

What to Watch Verdict

Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV) review: The ground-breaking original


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    Changed boundaries of cinema.

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    Gave us Harrison Ford.


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    nothing stands out!

A long, long time ago, back in the decade that fashion forgot, a new film burst on the scene like a supernova and expanded the known boundaries of movie science fiction.

The impact of Star Wars on both the film industry and the viewing public over the years has been phenomenal. Just look at all the movies and spin-off TV series that have followed, including more recently The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Many have argued that The Empire Strikes Back surpassed Star Wars, but without Star Wars we wouldn't have had Empire. Indeed, it's hard to imagine what cinema would have been like had Star Wars not happened.

It's been well documented how many of the crew and even some of the cast couldn't imagine the film being a success. Indeed, there were all kinds of production problems and it seemed at one point that the film might never make it to the cinema.

But audiences were dazzled when they saw it at last. For the first time, comic-book-style sci-fi heroics were matched to imagery, music and special effects that were comprehensively exhilarating.

The movie is like a well-oiled space machine: everything is geared towards entertainment and even the silly dialogue ("I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to rescue you") is exactly right. And the film also launched the career of struggling actor Harrison Ford as Han Solo.

In 1997 director George Lucas gave his favorite big baby a subtle make-over for its re-release as a Special Edition: some of the special effects were made just that little bit better and around five minutes of footage was added — including a meeting between Han Solo and Jabba the Hut. In either version, the movie still stands as one of the greatest Hollywood crowd-pleasers of all time.

And it gave birth to one of the greatest villains ever in Darth Vader (check out our Darth Vader timeline). We must also mention the incredible musical score for which composer John Williams won an Oscar. The opening theme tune is just iconic.

It remains one of the best movies ever and if you've not seen it — where have you been?! — you're in for a treat.

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years on TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer on TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!