The fourth installment released in a continuing series of science fiction films created by George Lucas. Before the release of Star Wars, science fiction was regarded as "B-Movie" material, and was not taken that seriously in the world of television and film. The Saturday matinee serials brought forth the adventues of Flash Gordon, among others. In the 1960's, a show named Star Trek came along, and was able to add some credibility to the genre. However, despite it's best efforts, the public at the time wasn't ready for "story-driven" science fiction, so the show ended after only 77 episodes. In the 1970's, science fiction was still viewed as a non-profitable medium. It was at this time George Lucas proposed the idea of Star Wars. His pitch initially didn't go over very well. In fact, several major movie studios turned the film down for distribution, feeling it too risky of a gamble, and that Lucas' story was too strange of a concept. Despite this, 20th Century Fox agreed to release Lucas' film, and the rest is history.
The main reason that Star Wars was so different than other films of its kind was the fact that the bizarre aliens and special effects, which were unprecedented for its time, took a backseat to the story. The story focuses on the events of a young Luke Skywalker, and the adventure he takes part in when his family purchases two droids to help around the farm. What Luke doesn't realize, however, is that the droid R2-D2 carries vital information to turn the tide of battle for the Rebel Forces against the Empire.
If you watch a lot of films, and are fluent in history and mythology, you can see the influences which shape the story of Star Wars. One of Star Wars most famous scenes pays an obvious homage to another film classic, Casablanca, starring Humprey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Take the character Bogart's character of Rick Blaine, and compare it to Harrison Ford's Han Solo. Both characters are introduced in a bar, and are portrayed as a tough, cynical character who claims to not care about anything or anyone but himself. Each film is set in a time of war (Casablanca - WWII against Adolf Hitler and his Nazis, Star Wars - Intergalactic Civil War against Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers) Both Blaine and Solo, while seeming to turn their back on what is "right" in the situation, save the day, and the lives of their friends.
The use of "The Force" is a religious aspect honored by the "Knights" of this adventure. In Star Wars, the warrior, priest, and wizard characters were combined into the Jedi Knight. A Jedi's abilities describe someone who was an excellent swordsman, someone who relied on faith, that was combined with the "mystical" powers of a wizard. Star Wars is at heart the story of a young knight-in-training and his allies storming a "castle" (More commonly known as the Death Star) to save a Princess from an evil warlord. As for the Force itself, it is the God image presented in this story that can offer guidance and strength to those who believe. This is essentially the long-lasting appeal of the Trilogy. It allows us to relive those fantasies and stories of our childhood.
Star Wars also had a strong emotional pull to it. One of my favorite non-action scenes in the film is the discussion at the Lars' dinnertable. Luke tries convincing his Uncle for permssion to attend the Academy that year, since they now have enough help on the farm. His Uncle refuses, promising that Luke can attend the next season, as it is just too busy. Frustrated, Luke leaves the table, and when asked where he going, mutters "It looks like I'm going nowhere." He goes outside to be alone, and looks to the horizon, watching the twin suns of Tatooine set. However, he doesn't seem to be watching the suns. He looks to the horizon, as if to find his future, or if he even has one. Another good non-action scene is when Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi tells Luke of his father's past, and asks him to come with him to Alderaan. As much as Luke wants to help the old man, his sense of responsibility would not allow him to leave his Uncle and Aunt. Luke representeded the point of a person's life when they are ready to leave home, but are stiil tied to family obligations.
As great of a character that Han Solo was, I've always felt Luke to be the more interesting of the two, since his family was the main focal point of the series. Luke was portayed as young, a bit whiny, and impatient, which doesn't exactly make for the traditional hero. However, through self-control and his experiences was he finally able to become responsible. This, and the losses he continually suffered throughout the Trilogy continued to shape his character. His Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were slaughtered in a Stormtrooper raid in a search for the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO. He was unable to help Obi-Wan as the old man sacrificed his life to Darth Vader to insure Luke's escape, although it meant the loss of his teacher and friend. Even his childhood friend Biggs Darklighter was killed in the the trenches of the Death Star during their final attack. To the events leading to the destruction of the Death Star, Luke lost many of the ties to his former life. Despite this, he was able to endure these tragedies and emerge a hero alongside his new friends.