Unquestionably one of the greatest films of all time, it’s hard to narrow down the best moments in Star Wars: A New Hope down to just 10, but we’ve done our best to do so. Here, we count down the 10 best moments of Episode IV…
10) “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”
Princess Leia is one tough nut. She’s been captured, tortured and forced to watch her home planet get destroyed, but she still has time to crack wise at who she thinks is a simple henchman. Not content with this, when her rescuers prove to be ever so slightly out of their depth she decides to take matters into her own hands. That’s not to forget the excellent bit of improv Harrison Ford manages to sneak in (“Negative, we’re fine. How are you?”).
9) “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope”
The first instance of Luke accidentally uncovering this holographic message is arguably the more iconic moment, but the subsequent explanation that the full recording gives truly allows the saga to step into a wider universe, hinting at young Skywalker’s destiny and revealing that there is far more to old ‘Ben’ Kenobi than meets the eye.
8) “I find your lack of faith disturbing”
We’ve already seen Darth Vader throttle a guy with his bare hands, so we know he’s not to be messed with, but this is the first true glimpse of his power, choking the gobby Admiral Motti despite not actually touching him. Luckily for Motti, Peter Cushing’s garygoyle-like Grand Moff Tarkin is also around, this scene serving as a demonstration of not only Vader’s power, but also Tarkin’s.
7) “He doesn’t like you”
Up until that point in cinema history, most alien locations were sparkly-shiny vistas. Mos Eisley was unique; a lived-in, dirty and bustling locale that actually felt like a real place. And the Cantina is one of its most infamous landmarks, where fights and worse are frequently in the air, as Luke discovers when he somehow gets on the wrong side of Ponda Baba and Cornelius Evazan (at least that’s what Wookieepedia calls them). Unfortunately for them, they don’t know who Obi-Wan Kenobi. Even more unfortunately for Ponda, the Jedi Master has a track record of removing limbs (as Zam Wessel, General Grievous and Anakin Skywalker will testify. Maybe they should start up a support group).
6) “You’re far too trusting”
For all of Vader’s mystique, Tarkin’s cunning, the Stormtroopers’ ruthlessness and the Death Star’s sheer ominousness, it’s not until here that we truly get an idea of the power the Empire wields, and how willing they are to do so. The distinctly Earth-like Alderaan is waved aside as merely a “demonstration”, with billions of lives snuffed out just like that. For the first time we see Leia in despair and Obi-Wan rattled – and in one fell swoop, the stakes are raised.
5) “We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life”
Having escaped the capture of the Tantive IV, C3PO and R2D2 escape to Tatooine, where they proceed to bicker about what to do next. Again, it shows off Star Wars off at its unique best – two robots bickering and going their separate ways. Moreover, it’s arguably 3PO’s best scene in the entire saga, philosophically bemoaning his lot while the galaxy falls apart around him.
4) “Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine”
Admittedly, Anna Kendrick’s delivery of the line in the Star Wars: Battlefront advert is almost as impressive as Alec Guinness’s, and it doesn’t hold up well against later lightsaber battles, but this is still an iconic moment: two master swordsman going at it, with Kenobi refusing to even acknowledge his former friend’s true identity (did Lucas know at this point?). When the end comes it’s a hammer blow to the gut – yet as Kenobi’s famous line and subsequent smile denotes, he goes out in exactly the way he wanted.
3) “What have you done with those plans?”
There are few more memorable openings in cinema: a lone ship being pursued by a titanic Star Destroyer, dominating the screen with its sheer size. From there we have the shootout, and the memorable arrival of Darth Vader, a hulking menace with the strength to choke a man with his bare hands. Oh how we wish we could watch this again afresh, without the knowledge of what’s to come.
2) “You’re all clear kid!”
Battles don’t get more David and Goliath than this: a handful of fighter pilots against a planet-sized battle station with only the slightest of weaknesses. Everything seems to be going badly – until Han and Chewie swoop in and saves the day while Luke embraces his destiny and makes the one-in-a-million shot. If you didn’t punch the air at this moment then we’re genuinely confused.
1) “Going somewhere, Solo?”
Han Solo: card player, scoundrel. We like him. Even so, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, as evidenced when he’s cornered by opportunistic bounty hunter Greedo. It says a lot about his cool and sense of suave that despite having a gun trained on him, he never looks in any way intimidated – slightly outraged when the prospect of losing the Millennium Falcon is raised – but aside from that he’s always in control of the situation. The adjustment to this scene in the special editions outraged a lot of people, with Lucas arguing that the original scene had Han as a cold-blooded killer (which we’d respectfully disagree with; it was in self-defence). Regardless of which portrayal you prefer (and we’ve included both here), it’s a scene that perfectly encapsulates the man Han Solo is – or was, rather – and is our pick as A New Hope‘s best scene.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released in cinemas on 17 December 2015. Read our bumper Force Awakens special in issue 113 of SciFiNow, on sale now. You can download our Complete Manuals to the Original Trilogy and Expanded Universe from GreatDigitalMags.com.