To me, the ultimate escape is space. Some say it’s the final frontier and you’d be hard pressed to disagree with them. Yes, there are thousands of miles of ocean we haven’t explored (I’m clearly guessing), but that’s still here on this planet. When you ascend from the depths of the ocean, you’re still on Earth. Traveling to unexplored worlds and galaxies, and seeing things up close and personal that we’ve only seen in pictures, is truly the stuff of dreams. Could it be a reality one day? Sure, but not in my lifetime and probably not in my grandchildren’s great-grandchildren’s lifetime. So until then, we have Star Wars. It all might have happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but it’s been the fuel of my daydreams and zoned out fantasies ever since I was a boy.
Growing up I wanted to be a cowboy, pirate, and oddly enough a biker. There was a phase that I went through where I collected Harley Davidson models and went to biker conventions. Tue story. But when I saw Star Wars, my aspirations changed. I could be a cowboy or pirate (or biker) IN SPACE. Flying my ship from galaxy to galaxy with my blaster by my side shooting bad guys. Discovering new worlds filled with indescribable creatures alongside my faithful droid companion. It’s the best. But as I grew older, I realized very quickly that would never happen. But I could still believe in it and sometimes be a part of it through Star Wars. Today’s favorite scene comes from the first Star Wars film, A New Hope. It’s longer than my previously discussed scenes and for once doesn’t have any gruesome violence. I mean, yeah, there’s space violence, but you see explosions, not bodies. It’s also from the special editions… what are you gonna do?
The rebels have finally caught their breath and are getting ready to assault the planet destroying space station known as the Death Star. They’ve sent out Red Squadron and Gold Squadrom to attack, exploiting a design flaw in the system. All they have to do is run down the trench, and fire their proton torpedos. You all know the scene. The ship's guns are blasting the rebels from the sky. When they can’t, TIE Fighters are sent out to get the job done. Even Lord Vader himself gets in the action. And just when you think Luke is out for the count, in comes Han to save him, and by proxy, the galaxy. Good triumphs over evil.
What I hadn’t noticed before is the lack of score. In my mind, for the entirety of this scene we hear John William’s iconic score ebb and flow as we build tension. But that’s not the case. We hear it sparsely as it is mainly used to introduce characters and add suspense to the climactic shot; literally and figuratively. I like that because it gives the feeling that we're there. We’re in the cockpit with Red Squadron even though the X-Wing isn’t a two human passenger vehicle. We’re back at the rebel base alongside Princess Leia as we listen in on the action and watch as the Death Star inches closer. We’re on the bridge as Grand Moff Tarkin pompously watches on. We’re in the moment, going through a sarlacc pit of emotions. I don’t know if that metaphor works but it’s Star Wars based.
It’s a classic moment in cinema history filled with suspense, excitement, thrills, chills, etc. It’s been parodied and lampooned time and time again, but as I rewatched the scene in preparation for this post, it reminded me of a few things. It reminded me that no matter how bad things seem, there are always groups of good people out there putting in the work to make the universe a better place for others. It reminded me that, even when you least expect it, friends will always have your back. That you can rely on them in times of great need and that they’ll often surprise you. It reminded me that the Y-Bombers weren’t utilized in the later films as much as they should have been and the A-Wings got no love at all. What’s up with that? But most importantly, it reminded me that the force is strong and that I should trust myself more. Believe in yourself, believe in your friends, and you too can save the galaxy.
What's your favorite scene from A New Hope?
What fantasy inspired you as a kid?