Study Guide

Star Wars: A New Hope Quotes

  • Good vs. Evil

    A man dressed in all black enters the battle's aftermath. His faced is covered with a mask, and his mechanical breathing can be heard in the silence. He looks briefly at the dead bodies littering his path before stepping over them and entering the ship.

    It's not good practice to judge appearances, but this dude is totally a bad guy. Before we realize this is the Darth Vader mentioned in the text crawl, we can tell he's an old-school villain that does dirty deeds dirt cheap.

    OBI-WAN: A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force.

    Notice that Vader's seduction to the dark side isn't described in terms of a character flaw or a result of the war changing him. He simply "turned to the dark side," as though going from good to evil is like flipping a switch in your soul. This phrasing really shows the binary morality on display in Star Wars.

    OBI-WAN: I need your help, Luke. She needs your help. I'm getting too old for this sort of thing.
    LUKE: I can't get involved. I've got work to do. It's not that I like the Empire. I hate it, but there's nothing I can do about it right now. It's all such a long way from here.
    OBI-WAN: That's your uncle talking.
    […]
    LUKE: Look, I can take you as far as Anchorhead. You can get a transport there to Mos Eisley or wherever you're going.
    OBI-WAN: You must do what you feel is right, of course.

    Grandpa Obi-Wan's tone suggests, of course, that it isn't right. In Star Wars, the only response good should take toward evil is to ensure it is defeated because the Empire is super-mega-ultra evil. Luke's dropping the ball here.

    TARKIN: You would prefer another target? A military target? Then name the system. I grow tired of asking this, so it will be the last time. Where is the rebel base?
    LEIA: Dantooine. They're on Dantooine.
    TARKIN: There. You see, Lord Vader? She can be reasonable. Continue with the operation. You may fire when ready.
    LEIA: What?
    TARKIN: You're far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration, but don't worry. We will deal with your rebel friends soon enough.
    LEIA: No!

    If you thought Vader was evil, get a load of Tarkin. He blew up an entire planet simply to prove that he could blow up an entire planet. He's what would happen if a Bond villain were elected president. Dude is just evil.

    HAN: It is for me, sister. Look, I ain't in this for your revolution and I'm not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I'm in it for the money.
    LEIA: You needn't worry about your reward. If money is all that you love, then that's what you'll receive.
    LEIA [to Luke]: Your friend is quite a mercenary. I wonder if he really cares about anything or anybody.

    If any character comes close to toeing the good-evil line, it's Han. His motives are self-centered, but his actions are praiseworthy because he fights with the heroes. For an adventure story like Star Wars, actions are what count.

    HAN: You're all clear, kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home!

    Was there ever any doubt? Despite being a bit on the fence earlier, Han lands on the side of good. In fact, all the characters in the original trilogy ultimately choose good or evil in the end, no matter how wishy-washy they were before.

    Luke and Han are presented medals for their heroism during the Death Star assault. The Rebel forces applaud as the triumphant music swells in the background leading to the credits.

    It's a classic ending for a traditional good versus evil story. The good guys stand triumphantly; the bad guys have been defeated. It's good feelings all around. Unless you're Wedge. He got shortchanged in the hero ceremony.

  • Courage

    LEIA: Darth Vader, only you could be so bold. The Imperial Senate will not sit still for this. When they hear you've attacked a diplomatic—
    VADER: Don't act so surprised, your highness. You weren't on any mercy mission this time. Several transmissions were beamed to this ship by rebel spies. I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you.
    LEIA: I don't know what you're talking about. I'm a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan.
    VADER: You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor. Take her away!

    Despite taking the role of the damsel in distress, Leia displays her courage right away. She knows Vader could kill her because he works outside the law, yet she stands her ground against the hulking mass of mechanical death. You go, girl!

    LUKE: No. It's all right, but I think we'd better go.
    R2: Bleep, blop, blip.
    LUKE: What's wrong with him now?
    C-3PO: There are several creatures approaching from the southeast.
    LUKE: Sand People, or worse. Come on, let's go have a look. Come on!

    No, don't go! Have you never seen a movie? Luke starts the film with an adventurous spirit but it manifests as youthful recklessness. His courage results in misplaced action, and he'll need to grow into it as the film progresses.

    GRAND MOFF TARKIN: The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that the emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the old Republic have been swept away.
    IMPERIAL COMMANDER: That's impossible. How will the emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?
    TARKIN: The regional governors now have direct control over their territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line—fear of this battle station.

    Tarkin uses the Death Star like a courage siphon, slurping up the will to resist the Empire and replacing it with fear. Through fear, the regional governors will do what he wants. If it weren't for those pesky Rebels and their abundance of courage, his job would be cake.

    LUKE: They're going to execute her. Look, a few minutes ago, you said you didn't want to just wait here to be captured. Now all you want to do is stay?
    HAN: Marching into the detention area is not what I had in mind.
    LUKE: But they're gonna kill her!
    HAN: Better her than me.
    LUKE: She's rich.
    HAN: Rich?
    LUKE: Mm-hmm. Rich, powerful. Listen if you were to rescue her, the reward would be—
    HAN: What?
    LUKE: Well, more wealth than you can imagine.
    HAN: I don't know. I can imagine quite a bit.

    Han is a courageous guy. Granted, he needs a motivational paycheck to get him going—who amongst us doesn't sometimes?—but his courage allows him to stand up to the Empire where others won't.

    LUKE: Come on. Why don't you take a look around? You know what's about to happen, what they're up against. They could use a good pilot like you. You're turning your back on them.
    HAN: What good's a reward if you ain't around to use it? Besides, attacking that battle station ain't my idea of courage. It's more like… suicide.
    LUKE: All right. Take care of yourself, Han. I guess that's what you're best at, isn't it?

    Han's self-centered priorities get the better of him, and he decides that attacking the Death Star head-on might tap his courage reserves.

    WEDGE: I'm hit! I can't stay with you!
    LUKE: Get clear, Wedge. You can't do any more good back there.
    WEDGE: Sorry.
    DARTH VADER: Let him go. Stay on the leader.

    Three cheers for the courage of the Rebels in this film. Like most characters who oppose the Empire, they've got courage in spades as evidenced by their willingness to assault the Death Star. Han was right; it was a suicide mission since only Wedge and Luke survive, but they went anyway.

    HAN: You're all clear, kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home!

    Han has the mark of a true hero after all. Finding his courage, he returns to help Luke at the last second.

  • Coming of Age

    OWEN: Luke! Take these two over to the garage, will you? I want them cleaned up before dinner.
    LUKE: But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters.
    OWEN: You can waste time with your friends when your chores are done. Now come on. Get to it.

    Ugh, listen to that whine. Luke is still growing up when we first meet him. Unwilling to shoulder his responsibilities, he'd much rather go pick up some power converters—and who knows what that's slang for.

    OWEN: Harvest is when I need you the most. It's only one season more. This year we'll make enough on the harvest that I'll be able to hire more hands, and then you can go to the academy next year. You must understand I need you here, Luke.
    LUKE: But it's a whole 'nother year!
    OWEN: Look, it's only one more season.
    LUKE: Yeah, that's what you said when Biggs and Tank left.
    BERU: Where are you going?
    LUKE: Looks like I'm going nowhere. I have to go finish cleaning those droids.

    Luke's home planet is the galactic equivalent of a village far from the problems of the world. Think the Shire—only an entire planet. Like the many fantasy heroes and small-town youths before him, Luke is itching to get out there and explore the universe but feels trapped.

    LUKE: Alderaan? I'm not going to Alderaan. I've got to get home. It's late. I'm in for it as it is.
    BEN: I need your help, Luke. She needs your help. I'm getting too old for this sort of thing.
    LUKE: I can't get involved. I've got work to do. It's not that I like the Empire. I hate it, but there's nothing I can do about it right now. It's all such a long way from here.
    BEN: That's your uncle talking.

    At first, Luke is unwilling to accept the call to adventure. He feels the universe's problems are too big for him to make a difference. As Obi-Wan rightly points out, Luke hasn't grown up enough to become his own man, so he falls back on his uncle's decisions.

    LUKE: I want to come with you to Alderaan. There's nothing for me here now. I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father.

    Luke decides to take the plunge and sets himself a goal: become a Jedi knight. Side Note: You would think evil empires and dark lords would learn to stop burning down homes and villages to stop creating the heroes that will rise up against them. Happens all the time.

    LUKE: Are you kidding? At the rate they're gaining?
    HAN: Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dustin' crops, boy! Without precise calculations, we'd fly through a star or bounce too close to a supernova, and that would end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?
    LUKE: What's that flashing?
    HAN: We're losing a deflector shield. Go strap yourselves in. I'm gonna make the jump to light speed.

    We see just how green Luke is when compared to the much worldlier Han Solo. Han knows what he's doing in this tense situation. It's what he does. Luke is too scared, confused, and excited to be of much use.

    LUKE: You know, I did feel something. I could almost see the remote.
    BEN: That's good. You've taken your first step into a larger world.

    Luke begins to learn from Obi-Wan. Although there won't be many of these private tutor sessions, these lessons will form the basis of Luke's later growth.

    LUKE: So… you got your reward and you're just leaving, then?
    HAN: That's right. Yeah. I got some old debts I got to pay off with this stuff. And even if I didn't, you don't think I'd be fool enough to stick around here, do ya? Why don't you come with us? You're pretty good in a fight. We could use you.

    After the ordeal on the Death Star, Luke has grown and proven himself. This has earned him Han Solo's respect, something he did not have earlier in the film.

    OBI-WAN: Use the Force, Luke. Let go, Luke.
    DARTH VADER: The Force is strong with this one.
    OBI-WAN: Luke, trust me.
    REBEL: His computer's off. Luke, you switched off your targeting computer! What's wrong?
    LUKE: Nothing. I'm all right.

    Luke took Obi-Wan's lessons to heart. Now putting theory into practice, Luke takes what he has learned and uses it to destroy the Death Star. The act earns him a place among the Rebel forces and shows his growth since his days on Tatooine doing Force knows what with power converters.

  • Power

    OLD MAN: Hello, there. Come here, my little friend. Don't be afraid.
    R2: Bleep, wooo.
    OLD MAN: Oh, don't worry. He'll be all right. (Luke awakens.) Rest easy, son. You've had a busy day. You're fortunate to be all in one piece.
    LUKE: Ben? Ben Kenobi? Boy, am I glad to see you.
    BEN: The Jundland Wastes are not to be traveled lightly. Tell me, young Luke, what brings you out this far?

    Luke lacks the power to survive in the world on his own. One Sand Person puts him out for the count. Thankfully, old Obi-Wan's got his back.

    LUKE: The Force?
    OBI-WAN: The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.

    The Force is the source of power for both Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. Both men are able to tap its energy, but despite having a mutual source, they use that power for very different means.

    IMPERIAL OFFICER: Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels' hidden fortre—
    DARTH VADER: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
    TARKIN: Enough of this. Vader, release him.

    Darth Vader uses the Dark Side of the Force. He exerts its power in a violent manner to get what he wants. In this case, he wants everyone to know they don't troll his religion.

    STORMTROOPER: Let me see your identification.
    OBI-WAN: You don't need to see his identification.
    STORMTROOPER: We don't need to see his identification.
    OBI-WAN: These aren't the droids you're looking for.
    STORMTROOPER: These aren't the droids we're looking for.
    OBI-WAN: He can go about his business.
    STORMTROOPER: You can go about your business.
    OBI-WAN: Move along.
    STORMTROOPER: Move along. Move along.

    Compare Obi-Wan using the Force here to the previous scene with Vader. Obi-Wan also uses the power of the Force, but the power is more passive and persuading. Both men get what they want, but we get a sense of very different characters because of the way they wield their power.

    TARKIN: There. You see, Lord Vader? She can be reasonable. Continue with the operation. You may fire when ready.
    LEIA: What?
    TARKIN: You're far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration, but don't worry. We will deal with your rebel friends soon enough.
    LEIA: No!

    Tarkin's brand of power makes Vader's seem tame by comparison. While Vader might choke a guy, Tarkin blows up entire planets to convince whole peoples to follow his orders. For Tarkin, the purpose of power is to instill fear, and fear leads to compliance.

    OBI-WAN: Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.
    LUKE: You mean it controls your actions?
    OBI-WAN: Partially, but it also obeys your commands.
    [Luke gets hit. Han laughs.]

    As we saw earlier, Luke doesn't have the power to make it in the universe. Obi-Wan begins training him to use the Force so that he can do just that.

    VADER: Your powers are weak, old man.
    OBI-WAN: You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
    VADER: You should not have come back.

    We have already seen the different ways these two characters wield power. During their duel, Vader sees power as brute force, so he believes he has won against Obi-Wan, but Obi-Wan knows that power is a subtler thing and that his sacrifice will ultimately win the day.

    REBEL COMMANDER: The battle station is heavily shielded and carries a firepower greater than half the starfleet. Its defenses are designed around a direct large-scale assault. A small, one-man fighter should be able to penetrate the outer defense.

    Star Wars has a sense of individualism running through it. Again, the Empire only sees power in numbers, massive damage, and epic high scores, but the Rebels see that even an individual has the power to stand up to the largest of opponents. It's totally a techno David and Goliath tale.

    OBI-WAN: Use the Force, Luke. Let go, Luke.
    DARTH VADER: The Force is strong with this one.
    OBI-WAN: Luke, trust me.
    REBEL: His computer's off. Luke, you switched off your targeting computer! What's wrong?
    LUKE: Nothing. I'm all right.

    Luke assumes power that he lacked at the film's outset. With no one to help him, he taps the Force to destroy the Death Star and find his place among the universe.

  • Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

    C-3PO: Hey! You're not permitted in there. It's restricted. You'll be deactivated for sure.
    C-3PO: Don't you call me a mindless philosopher you overweight glob of grease. Now come out before somebody sees you.
    C-3PO: Secret mission? What plans? What are you talking about? I'm not getting in there.
    C-3PO: I'm going to regret this.

    R2-D2's hopes are what get this whole story started. He wants to complete his mission and find Obi-Wan Kenobi, and it is the little astrodroid's drive that sees the Rebel's victory at the movie's end. C-3PO just doesn't want to be shot at, and you got to respect that. We don't imagine laser burns are pleasant.

    LUKE: Yes, sir. I think those new droids are gonna work out fine. In fact, I, uh, was also thinking about our agreement, about me staying on another season? And if these new droids do work out, I want to transmit my application to the academy this year.
    OWEN: You mean the next semester before the harvest?
    LUKE: Sure. There's more than enough droids.

    Luke's dream is to escape from his home planet and see the universe; his uncle's hope is that Luke will take up moisture farming and not seek adventure like his father—we all know what happened to that guy. Like much of the film, the collisions of character desires are what create conflicts.

    HAN: Yes, Greedo. As a matter of fact, I was just going to see your boss. Tell Jabba that I've got his money.
    GREEDO: It's too late. You should have paid him when you had the chance. Jabba's put a price on your head so large every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you. I'm lucky I found you first.
    HAN: Yeah, but this time I've got the money.

    Han doesn't want to be killed for the money he owes Jabba. It's not the loftiest of goals, but it makes sense. You can only pull the gun-under-the-table trick so many times before the Greedos of the universe catch on.

    BEN: I suggest you try it again, Luke. This time, let go your conscious self and act on instinct.
    LUKE: With the blast shield down, I can't even see. How am I supposed to fight?
    BEN: Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them. Stretch out with your feelings.

    Star Wars loves to play the destiny card, but it just doesn't give its characters their dreams. That would make for a boring movie. Instead, they have to work for them as evident by Luke having to train to be a Jedi.

    LUKE: Uh. 3PO, hand me those binders there, will you? Okay. Now… I'm gonna put these on you.
    CHEWBACCA: Grawh!
    LUKE: Okay. Han, you—you put those on.
    HAN: Don't worry, Chewie. I think I know what he has in mind.

    Chewbacca isn't a chatty Cathy, but we get a sense of his hopes through the growls and roars. He is fiercely loyal to Han, and he wants both of them to maintain their freedom. This scene tells both the viewer—and Luke—that fact loud and clear.

    VADER: Obi-Wan is here. The Force is with him.
    TARKIN: If you're right, he must not be allowed to escape.
    VADER: Escape is not his plan. I must face him alone.

    Vader is a basic sci-fi Black Knight, but we do get a sense that he dreams of being the most powerful bloke on the block. His desire to kill Obi-Wan and prove he is the master shows us this.

    LEIA: At least the information in R2 is still intact.
    HAN: What's so important? What's he carrying?
    LEIA: The technical readouts of that battle station. I only hope that when the data's analyzed a weakness can be found. It's not over yet.

    We can't forget about Leia. Her hope is straightforward enough: See that the Rebellion succeeds over the Empire. Arguably, though, she suffers the most for her dream. She is tortured, sees her home and family destroyed, and is almost killed. It's a rough couple of days for the princess, but she ultimately manages to succeed in her goal.

    LUKE: Come on. Why don't you take a look around? You know what's about to happen, what they're up against. They could use a good pilot like you. You're turning your back on them.

    Courage is another theme in Star Wars, and the characters who succeed in bringing their hopes to fruition are those who find the courage to do so. Luke wants to find his place in the universe, and by summoning the courage to join the Death Star assault, he locates it among the Rebels.

    LEIA: Luke.
    HAN: Hey! Hey!
    LUKE: I knew you'd come back. I just knew it.
    HAN: Well, I wasn't going to let you get all the credit and take all the reward.
    LEIA: Hey, I knew there was more to you than money.

    Han's original dream was self-centered, but through his adventures, his character arc brings him to a place where he cares about others. We don't understand why he couldn't just go and pay back Jabba once the Death Star offensive was over, but as evident by Empire Strikes Back, it must have slipped his mind.