Movie Review

STAR WARS Episode IV: A New Hope

Special Edition

Reviewed by: Ryan Kelly
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
12+
Genre:
Sci-Fi
Length:
135 min.
PG

“Star Wars: Special Edition” is the re-mastered version of the original “Star Wars” feature film which debuted in 1977. The re-mastered version improves the old special effects, and adds footage which did not appear in the original.

Star Wars—a look at THE FORCE
STAR WARS
The True Force
 
The original movie is so well known that I won’t go deeply into the plot. (See here for a review of “Phantom Menace”).The overall theme is that a corrupt (alien) Imperial government is controlling the galaxy, and a handful of rebels attempt to restore the now extinct upright ruling. There is approximately 4½ minutes of added footage, enough to make you notice (and appreciate, I might add), but not enough to damage the classic science fiction film.

“Star Wars: Special Edition” is a wonderful science fiction movie. There is a handful of almost unnoticeable profanities, and the violence shown is mostly phaser-battles between the good guys and the bad. Throughout the movie however, the “force” is portrayed as a god-like energy field, supporting good and evil. The good wins in this movie, and in the rest of the “Star Wars” trilogy, but you should explain to your younger viewers the difference between the non-existent “force”, and the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God.

The two remaining films in the Star Wars trilogy (“The Empire Strikes Back”, and “The Return of the Jedi”) will be re-releasing as well. So, if you are weighing the option of renting the original, or seeing the “Special Edition”, my suggestion would be to see the improved “Special Edition”. It will be worth your time.

Year of Re-release—1997


Learn about the true FORCE

Viewer Comments
…I do think what was not said tells much about how real American Christians view evil to be. Apart from the obvious New Age themes, the movie could be used as an illustration of spiritual warfare. All Christians need to be spiritual Jedi’s for our battle is not against flesh and blood but against Satan’s evil empire. Jesus Christ, the real Lord of the Universe, not some impersonal, part good and part bad force goes with us into victory. I see nothing wrong with using popular culture such as this movie to get across a Christian message to those who may not be open to hearing it otherwise…
—John M. Crowe
We must not compromise our beliefs saying this movie is OK because it has some “good” in it or is a good movie is like saying “Those new age people teach to be nice to people or you’ll come back as a bug, lets go believe what they teach” or “it’s OK to believe that because it is ‘good’.” “Don’t be like the people of the world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Him” Romans 12:2. Also read 2 Corinthians 11:14 about how the devil can appear as an angel of light. Just because something appears to be good doesn’t mean it is. Brothers and sisters we must pray for discernment on such matters so we will not be lead astray.
—Hope Krumal, age 19
The “Star Wars” saga depicts good versus evil in a way that shows victory for the good side. While there may be some Christian themes in the overall conflict (e.g., hatred being destructive, Vader’s ultimate rejection of the “Dark Side” of the Force), the overall “Force” concept itself is based upon Eastern mysticism which provides for no personal God to give account to, and which only provides direction by different mortal “sages” such as Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi. I would cautiously give these movies a favorable rating (and I have enjoyed watching them myself; the music and special effects help to steal the show!), but Christians should be cautious in how the story parallels, either in a good or bad way, the Bible’s message of good and evil and the redemption that Christ provides. I would also be led to believe that the overall basis behind “Star Wars” is evolutionary especially with regards to the “Force” motive, and God is not regarded as the creator, though He truly is. The question of extraterrestrials is a whole other question that I cannot discuss concisely.
—Bill, age 30
Star War is a great movie. However, Christian should be cautious the message here. Why? George Lucas tried to communicate messages to the viewing public through his films. What message? Time magazine reports these words from Lucas, “I was trying to say in a very simple way, knowing that the film was made for a young audience, that there is a God(?) and there is both a good side and a bad side. You have a choice between them, but the world works better if you’re on the good side.” This is not Biblical concept of God. Irvin Kershner, the director of The Empire Strikes Back, is a Zen Buddhist. He said, “I wanna introduce some Zen here because I don’t want the kids to walk away just feeling that everthing is shoot-em-up, but that there’s also a little something to think about here in terms of yourself and your surroundings.” Kershner indicated Yoda, the Jedi trainer, as a “Zen Master.”
—Joshua C., age 27
While the movie could be construed as “new age” with the idea of the “force,” it can be a tool to instruct that power exists for *both* sides of the Spirit world, and personal choices are extremely important. For teens, it can be used to teach that the “dark” side can indeed be seducing, and one’s guard should be up. (to quote one of the sequels: “It is unwise to lower your defenses!”)
—Dan Bobinski, age 35
Fake looking CGI hardly constitutes “improved” effects. Also the additional scenes were generally snippits that were rightfully cut from the original 20 years ago, and only served to make the film more confusing and choppy. The original was great, and deserved better treatment than this. The whole thing smaked of gimmicky tampering to me. “Special edition” my wookie! How about “lesser edition?!”
—the not silent X, age 25
Because I never saw the original, I was in no hurry to see this “special edition.” My husband promised me I’d like it tho, and he was right. …It was great! However, as a Christian being led by the Holy Spirit, comparing the force with God makes me uneasy. The millions of viewers who do not know Christ as their Savior are in danger of being mislead that simply believing in a higher force and choosing good over evil will somehow save them. As Christians we know that we aren’t truly saved until we believe in our hearts that “to die is to gain” (and that choosing Christ goes far beyond choosing between good and evil. I’m not condemning the movie, but I am going to say some extra prayers for my family and friends who don’t know Jesus, but love SW! It’s not safe to underestimate the power of film, tv, etc. over discerning believers or anyone else.
—Amanda Derespino, age 26
It’s nice to see the general appreciation expressed here for the Star Wars trilogy. …That which is associated with the Dark Side (murder, oppression, destruction, evil, etc.) is that which the Bible has always associated with the devil. The converse is true for the Good Side. What some of us here find challenging (if not downright blasphemous) is the idea that a discipline completely foreign to Christianity (Zen, in this case) also knows these truths. …I think the movie does the important job of connecting its viewers to the spiritual while not shirking the task of saying that it’s important to connect to the RIGHT side of the spiritual. …let’s all give a round of applause to George Lucas for demonstrating that it is possible to find commercial success with a positive-values movie that avoids crude language, unnecessary sex, and disgusting violence!
—Gerald Davis, age 41
The Star Wars Trilogy are the best movies ever made! I like all three movies, but Return of the Jedi is my favorite.
—Erica B., age 13
Even though I’m a young Star Wars fan, I am really excited about it’s re-release. I have heard many opinions about the movie and I think that it can parallel the Christian faith in many ways. I also am very relieved that …there are no extra curse words added to degrade the film. I’m glad that there are still some great movies out there that don’t have all the cursing and gory, bloody scenes in them. I have and always will give Star Wars, and the Star Wars sequels 5 stars.
—Liz W., age 15
I think Star Wars is a great movie. However, its theology is so-so. It is good, because the story is a battle between absolute good and absolute evil. …(Unfortunately) in the Star Wars world, good and evil are two sides of the same force…
—Gerard Pawlowski, age 19
I am disappointed that “Christian Spotlight on the Movies” has elected to give the “Star Wars” re-release such a glowing review. Whether the original, or this updated version, it remains a major New Age tract that no Christian should give their money to. …George Lucas has been (successful) in co-opting Christianity through his artistry. Sorry, no cigar here.
—John Hale, age 44
I say bravo to the folks at ChristianAnswers.net for reviewing movies good or bad. I do understand Mr. Hales' personal conviction on the spirtualty of this movie, but I hope he can celebrate with all of us when a movie masterpiece like “Star Wars” is produced and we can witness the God given talents of a man like George Lucas. It’s men like this who we should keep in our prayers… so they may truly know the power of “The Force”!
—Bill Olson, age 31
Positive—…I found many religious undertones in this film. The jedi were the followers of an all-powerful, omni-present “Force,” followed where it led and with it maintaned peace throughout the galaxy. After the jedi are wiped out by the evil empire, a former-jedi named Obi-Wan Kenobi appears and begins to teach young Luke Skywalker the ways of the force, a religion which has been abandoned by most since the fall of the Jedi. Luke’s father was a jedi who was corrupted by the dark side, and is now a sith lord named Darth Vader. Luke begins to learn the ways of the force and becomes a believer, despite being mocked by the arrogant smuggler Han Solo, who refuses to believe that everything is controled by an all seeing force.

Later on, Obi-Wan is confronted by Darth Vader and allows himself to be killed so that he can become part of the force and guide Luke on the right path. Ultimately, peace is restored to the galaxy and Han Solo comes to realize the presence of the force and is a believer.

Christian symbolism is apparent throughout this magnificient piece of cinematic genius. I found everything about it so familiar and relevent in the world today. People have been slipping away from Christ over the years, and our world has become more and more liberal and anti-faith as the years pass. And yet God still remains omni-present and we must remain faithful to him and resist the appeal of worldly things as Obi-Wan did, and not be corrupted by it as Darth Vader. Obi-Wan’s act of ultimate sacrifice is obviously very much like Christ’s sacrifice for us. Obi-Wan Kenobi died so that Luke could become a jedi and a true follower of the force, and he could always be with him, just as Christ died for us. Sadly, there are still some like Han Solo who refuse to accept the presence of God, but with the help of believers like us will come to realize that He is undeniably there.

…That’s what makes Star Wars so great; not only is it entertaining visually because of its excitement but spiritually because of the awesome Christian symbolism. What I have described above is only a small portion of it, you have to watch the entire trilogy for yourself to see the rest. I would highly recommend this movie to any of my Christian friends. However, the prequals recently released (episodes I and II) are not CLOSE to being as impressive as the originals, and I would not recommend them as much. I can’t tell you how great this film is, watch it! My Ratings: [Good/5]
—Allegra Hobbs, age 14