Star Wars has never really gone away. The franchise made a spectacular splash upon the first film’s release in 1977 – so spectacular that director George Lucas went on to make two sequels and millions of dollars in merchandising deals across the 70s and 80s. Then the prequel films happened, to the general disappointment if not outright contempt of all, and the public began to wonder if Star Wars had finally run its course.
That assumption has been soundly disproven with the dawn of a new trilogy, set to become bigger and perhaps even more popular than the first. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already achieved both fan and critical acclaim, securing the future of the franchise and bringing a new generation of fans into the fold.
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But Star Wars didn’t start out as a multi-million dollar franchise. It started out as a film about a farm boy, a princess, a smuggler, a wise man, and a couple of bickering droids who took on an evil empire. The original Star Wars, eventually renamed Episode IV: A New Hope in recognition of its place in the franchise, didn’t just spring fully formed out of George Lucas’s mind. Like all great films, it stood on the shoulders of cinematic giants and incorporated other, equally great films into its mythos, referencing everything from old serials to the samurai epics of Akira Kurosawa.
So, let’s take a look at some of the films that influenced the form, aesthetic, characterization and plotting of the original Star Wars: A New Hope.