A young man with unusual psychokinetic powers assists a rebellion against an authoritarian empire. [Dir: George Lucas/ Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness/ 124 min/ SciFi-Fantasy, Action-Adventure/ Resistance to Tyranny]
When this film was released in 1977, the free world was besieged by economic malaise, worldwide expansion of totalitarian socialism, and growing self-doubt. We needed heroes, if only fictional ones. In this first installment of the Star Wars episodes, significantly subtitled “A New Hope,” we got them. Set in the far future, this upbeat story concerns an evil Galactic Empire. The Empire is well on its way to completing its “ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.” A rebel spy intercepts the Death Star plans, which in turn inadvertently end up in the custody of a young man on a remote planet. Events lead the young man to become a rebel himself, and together with other rebels, he sets out to destroy the Death Star. Many libertarians like this film because the good guys here are explicitly trying to “restore freedom to the galaxy.” And indeed they must face down an evil empire of the first order to do so. However, the concept of “freedom” is left conveniently undefined and the only form of government mentioned on the side of good is a (presumably beneficent) monarchy. This is really just a war between relative virtue and certain evil, not a war of ideas. Also, there are elements of mysticism and self-sacrifice that will be disturbing to Randians in particular. Regardless, this is a great film and one of the most popular of all time, thanks to nonstop action, groundbreaking special effects, and legend-like story, and an absolutely awesome John Williams musical score. Altogether, the film won seven Academy Awards, mostly for art and technical innovations. The variety and authenticity of its imaginative alien and robot characters is wonderful to see, and the fight sequences are particular exciting. It was followed by two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, continuations of the same story. May the force, or rather the lack of it, be with you.
This article was reprinted from Jon Osborne's Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video: Movies for the Libertarian Millenium, available in the Advocates Liberty Store.