Star Wars: A New Hope ending explained

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill in Star Wars (1977). Photo by Sunset Boulevard - ©
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill in Star Wars (1977). Photo by Sunset Boulevard - © /

Contemplating a world without Star Wars takes a stretch of the imagination. This is why it’s all the more impressive that at some point, George Lucas and his team came up with all the stuff that is permanently seared into modern culture.

Back in 1977, A New Hope (or simply Star Wars as it was known then) was a lot to take in for audiences who were more accustomed to something like Logan’s RunSoylent Green or any of the other dystopian sci-fi films that perpetuated that era of cinema.

This film was different. It was less sci-fi and more fantasy. It disposed of the depressing dystopian elements that had been recycled beyond redemption but maintained the political backbone in a tyrannical Galactic Empire, but it was also a western? And a soap opera?? It seemed like too many ingredients for one film, but here you are reading about it on a website dedicated entirely to the massive franchise that came about because of this very thing.

Readers will of course be familiar with the plot of Episode IV, but its ending and consequences may elude even the more experienced fans. So, let’s explore what the ending of the beginning meant for that galaxy far, far away.

The galactic consequences of the original Star Wars

The climax and conclusion are all quite sudden — especially by modern standards, but it was a rush back in the ’70s. Inside of about 90 seconds is the destruction of the Death Star and the rolling of the ending credits, leaving little breathing room for viewers — just how Lucas intended.

There are a lot of unanswered questions which is a given seeing as we were just introduced to an entire galaxy. Luke Skywalker miraculously destroys the Death Star, but Darth Vader lives. At large also, of course, is the mysterious Emperor who is actually mentioned in the original film but not seen until The Empire Strikes Back and even then, only via hologram.

The final battle, known as the Battle of Yavin, is indeed of great galactic consequence. For the Rebel Alliance to achieve such a stunning victory against the supposedly unquestionable might of the Empire sent a signal to the galaxy. Not all hope is lost and the Republic can be restored. Thus, it was also a major symbolic victory. Many moderates in the galaxy would have certainly turned Rebel after such a win. Many more out of anger for the destruction of the peaceful world of Alderaan.

Also, morale among Imperials would have been at an all-time low. The loss alone of the ultimate battle station would have been a sore enough blow on its own. But the death of one of the Empire’s greatest minds, Grand Moff Tarkin, as well as much of the senior Imperial hierarchy and countless others aboard the station would make it a difficult defeat to come back from. Probably quite expensive too.

Classic fans however would have to wait three whole years for the sequel. If A New Hope redefined cinema, then The Empire Strikes Back had a lot to live up to, right?

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