It's time for another matchup in the Star Wars Madness Tournament, a showdown between a classic and a popular prequel that will close out the Final 4 round of voting! Star Wars: A New Hope is an unparalleled cinematic feat that changed the landscape of motion pictures forever. Coming off a major, yet fairly unsurprising, upset in the Elite 8 is Revenge of the Sith, which looks to continue its conquest of the Original Trilogy by firing the torpedo shot into A New Hope's thermal exhaust port. A New Hope is an upbeat adventure for a farmboy, a scoundrel, and a princess. Revenge of the Sith acts as its foil, a tragedy that separates the farmboy and princess at birth as their mother dies and their father terrorizes the galaxy for two decades. Does Luke and Leia's first major victory claim the day, or can the rise of Darth Vader and the Empire triumph? VOTE BELOW!
Star Wars: A New Hope throws us into the action immediately as the Empire flags down Princess Leia aboard the Tantive IV to recover the stolen plans to the Death Star. With the princess captured, the bickering droids C-3PO and R2-D2 flee to Tatooine, launching an epic journey for Luke Skywalker, who yearns for adventure. He joins Obi-Wan Kenobi to learn the ways of the Force, and is helped by Han Solo in rescuing Leia and later destroying the Death Star. A story about hope and friendship, this modern fairy tale kicked off the entire series as we took our first step into a larger world.
Use the Force, Luke.
There a thousand notable moments in the film, but this one in particular holds a lot of significance. The moment was built up from the moment we met Luke Skywalker at his homestead on Tatooine, watching a twin sunset as he looks out at what lies beyond his limited scope of the world around him. Having been exposed to the Force by Obi-Wan Kenobi before an episode takes place for the young hero aboard the Death Star, Luke is prepared to help the Rebel Alliance destroy the battle station despite the loss of his mentor. The attack was a disaster for many pilots, as the vast majority were taken out before they could reach the trench. All hope seemed lost. Luke's old friend Biggs was just shot down, one attempt at hitting the exhaust port has already missed, and Luke has his (unknowing) father Vader on his tail. A cue of the Force theme picks up as Obi-Wan's voice tells Luke to use the Force. Luke has a newfound sense of peace and clarity, prepared to trust his feelings and turn off his targeting computer as he takes down the Death Star, with a little help from Han at the last minute. The only way to describe this moment is magical, the culmination of everything this film is about.
Impact on Star Wars
A New Hope is Star Wars. This film kicked off everything, establishing George Lucas' space fantasy as an expansive universe with an infinte amount of stories to tell. Everything we know about Star Wars came from this film. Everything we've seen has been built on the shoulders of A New Hope. The movie gave us a modern fairy tale with a cast of heroes who use their belief in each other as fuel to defeat the evil Empire. We were given our first look at the mysticism of the universe through the teachings of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who explained how the Force binds the universe together. In a stroke of genius, the film is set in the very middle of the galactic action, as a victory is alluded to in the opening crawl and Kenobi details the Clone Wars and the fall of the Jedi Order. A history is established that gave an opportunity to go back and tell preceding stories, while the film sets up a strong cast of heroes who are ready to push the story forward as well.
Why A New Hope should beat Revenge of the Sith?
You can never go wrong with the one that started it all. More than anything, A New Hope is just fun. The heroic trio's escapades aboard the Death Star never ceases to entertain, creating unique dynamics among the three that show how much chemistry the cast had from the earliest days. Unlike Revenge of the Sith, this film has a more contained story that leans into the hero's journey to push Luke Skywalker forward into findng victory, as opposed to tragedy. The opening sequence is brilliant, letting us know instantly who's important, what the sides are, and setting the stakes high instantaneously. For all intents and purposes, everything great about the Star Wars universe is thanks to A New Hope. Without this epic space fairy tale, none of us would be here.
Revenge of the Sith throws us right into the action with an incredible space battle as Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi rush to rescue the captured Chancellor Palpatine. Following their heroic feat, Kenobi is dispatched to Utapau to destroy General Griveous while Anakin is groomed by Palpatine, who reveals himself to be a Sith lord. Anakin joins the Emperor and becomes Darth Vader, helping to destroy the Jedi Order, the Republic, and the Separatists in a tragedy that ends with loss of his loved ones, the separation of his children, and his enslavement to the dark side.
If you're not with me, then you're my enemy.
There are so many key moments that could've been selected for recognition here. "Execute Order 66" certainly deserves an honorable mention, which led us into perhaps the saddest, but most pivotal sequence in all of Star Wars. But this line from the newly reborn Darth Vader carries so much weight that embodies the entire film. Anakin has felt the tugs between Palpatine, Obi-Wan, and Padme since the beginning of the film, and his trust was irreparably shaken in the Jedi when they asked him to spy on the Chancellor. By this point in the story, Anakin is no longer taking commands from idealists like Kenobi and has been consumed by his lust for power. The Prequel Trilogy is known for its immense scale, both visually and in character count. What makes this scene so special is that, despite all that scale, the most galaxy-altering sequence is taking place on a remote world between three people in an intimate moment. Anakin is offered two chances to turn away from the dark side by two people he's closest to, but his desire to dominate and rule is too strong, which leads to disastrous consequences for Vader and the galaxy.
Impact on Star Wars
Revenge of the Sith initially tied up George Lucas' complete Star Wars saga, a six film story that showed the rise, fall, and redemption of Darth Vader. Thanks to this film, we're able to sympathize with Vader in a way that we never could have if we didn't know how he got to the point he was in during the Original Trilogy. Episode III is by far and away the best film in the Prequel Trilogy, correcting many of the mistakes that its predecessors had been panned for and convincingly showing us how tragic Anakin's fall from grace was. Seeing Order 66 and the rise of the Empire fulfilled setups that were laid down by A New Hope nearly thirty years prior, and the fabled lightsaber fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan exceeded all expectations, now largely regarded as the best duel in the saga. This film also shows us the completion of Sidious' master plan to gain unlimited power and exemplifies how far the Jedi Order has fallen from their path. Revenge of the Sith is the darkest film in the saga, showing us how deep Star Wars can go when it needs to, and is also the most memed.
Why Revenge of the Sith should beat A New Hope?
In many ways, Revenge of the Sith is a perfect Star Wars film. It gives us heavy action sequences, deep emotional moments, one of the best scores by John Williams in the series, a pivotal story with galaxy-altering implications, and a hopeful conclusion. As has already been stated, the lightsaber fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan is the best in the saga. The fight between Vader and Kenobi in A New Hope was given some added weight by Episode III, but it pales in comparison to the duel on Mustafar. The second half of the film brings continually heavier emotional sequences, ultimately culminating the inevitable completion of Darth Vader's creation. The ending of the film is a perfect example of George Lucas at his best, showing and not telling. We see what becomes of the mother, the father, the daughter, and then the son, all accompanied by a brilliant score. Despite all of the bad things that have transpired, the movie still ends on a hopeful note as little Luke Skywalker is delivered to his home, with the promise of freedom on the horizon.