Study Guide

Star Wars: A New Hope Power

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.