Study Guide

Star Wars: A New Hope

Star Wars: A New Hope Summary


An Imperial Star Destroyer attacks a Rebel convoy in search of the stolen plans to their new battle station, the (dun dun dun) Death Star. Leading the campaign is the evil masked man Darth Vader. He and his forces search the entire ship but find no plans, just Princess Leia and a bunch of rebels we will never see or hear from again. 

Seriously, what happened to those guys?

Unbeknownst to the Empire, two droids, C-3PO and R2-D2, escaped with the plans and have landed on the desert planet below. They are purchased by a farmer named Owen Lars and his nephew, Luke Skywalker. R2-D2 escapes from Luke's custody to search for someone named Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke follows the little droid, and after a tussle with some Sand People, they find the one and only Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan lays down some truth on the young Luke, telling him about his lightsabers, the Force, and Luke's father's fate.

Imperial stormtroopers, having picked up the droids' trail, locate and murder Luke's family. With no ties to the planet, Luke agrees to go with Obi-Wan to Alderaan and learn the ways of the Force. At Mos Eisley, they charter a ride with Han Solo and Chewbacca, crew of the Millennium Falcon.

Flying the not-so-friendly skies, the Millennium Falcon evades the Imperials and makes the jump to lightspeed. When they come out of hyperspace, they learn that the Death Star has destroyed the planet and—despite their earlier escape—they're captured by the Death Star.


Using video game logic, they trick stormtroopers into the Falcon, steal their clothes, and seize a nearby control room. Obi-Wan goes to turn off the power to the tractor beam while Luke convinces Han Solo to help him rescue Princess Leia.

The heroes manage to rescue Leia, and after a quick detour through the trash compactor, return to the Falcon. Obi-Wan turns off the tractor beam but is confronted by Darth Vader on his way back to the ship. With a knowing smile, Obi-Wan willingly perishes at the business end of Darth Vader's lightsaber. Luke witnesses his mentor's demise but escapes with the others… thanks to some otherworldly prompting by Obi-Wan.

Leia leads the Millennium Falcon to the Rebel base on Yavin IV (although she suspects the Empire is tracking them). They totally are. Using R2's data, the Rebels strategize to destroy the Death Star by having a one-man starfighter launch a photon torpedo into a tiny exhaust port connected to the station's reactor. Han Solo decides to skip the suicide run and settle his debt with Jabba the Hut.

The Death Star prepares to destroy the Rebel base while Luke joins the Rebels in their offensive. Most of the Rebels are killed in the fight, but Han Solo returns at the most dramatic moment to save Luke's life. Luke makes the fateful shot, blows up the Death Star, and returns to the Rebels a hero. 

One award ceremony later and its happy endings all around—well, except for Darth Vader, who will be lost in space until the sequel.

  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • The film opens with that classic text crawl and some seriously epic music.
    • The text informs us that, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away the Rebels have won their first victory against the Galactic Empire and have stolen plans to the Death Star.
    • The Empire's agents are pursuing Princess Leia (rebel royalty with a Cinnabon-looking hairstyle) because they want their stuff back.
    • Now that we're hip on current events, the movie can begin.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • Over a desert planet, a small Rebel cruiser is chased by a giant Imperial Star Destroyer.
    • A laser blast from the Star Destroyer hits something on the Rebel cruiser.
    • We're not space engineers, but we're guessing it was important.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • We cut to inside the Rebel cruiser and two droids.
    • C-3PO (the tall golden one) complains to R2-D2 (the one that looks like a blue soccer ball on a trash can) that they'll be destroyed for sure, a prospect he finds distressing. Character note: C-3PO gets distressed a whole lot.
    • Rebel soldiers take positions and prepare to be boarded.
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • The Star Destroyer captures the cruiser, and Imperial stormtroopers rush into the ship, making quick work of the Rebel soldiers.
    • After the Rebels have been pushed back, a man dressed in all black and with a serious asthma problem enters the ship. This dude's name is Darth. Darth Vader.
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • C-3PO looks for R2-D2—how'd they get separated?—and finds his squat companion just as a woman in white is walking away.
    • C-3PO begins imagining their horrible futures, but R2-D2 rolls away.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • Darth Vader interrogates a Rebel about the Death Star plans but chokes him to death before he can answer all the questions.
    • Vader orders the stormtroopers to bring him the plans, and he wants the passengers alive…well, except for that one choked guy, obviously.
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • The stormtroopers find the woman in white and take her prisoner.
    • Elsewhere, R2-D2 and C-3PO enter an escape pod and launch toward the planet below.
    • On the Star Destroyer, a solider decides not to shoot the escape pod as there are "no life forms" aboard.
    • (Imagine how much shorter the Star Wars trilogy would have been if that solider was good at his job.)
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • The woman in white confronts Vader, saying the Imperial Senate will not stand him attacking a diplomatic ship.
    • Vader retorts he knows she's a member of the Rebel Alliance and orders her taken away.
    • He then orders an officer to send a distress signal that all aboard were killed. He'll use Princess Leia to find the secret rebel base as she is his only lead—guess he's already choked his way through those prisoners we saw a moment ago?
    • Another officer tells Vader that the Death Star plans are not aboard the ship, but that a life pod was jettisoned with no life forms.
    • Vader believes the plans are aboard and orders a detachment to retrieve them.
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • C-3PO and R2-D2 have crashed into an expansive desert that looks like a tourism poster for beautiful Tunisia. (Fun fact: the locations on Tatooine were shot in Tunisia.)
    • R2 heads in one direction believing he'll find a settlement, but C-3PO decides to take the easier path. The two go their separate ways.
  • Scene 10

    Scene 10

    • C-3PO is having a rough time of it when he sees a transport in the distance and waves it down for help.
    • R2-D2 travels his path but is stalked and then captured by some desert nomads called Jawas.
    • The Jawas take R2 to their sandcrawler and fit him with a restraining bolt.
    • When R2 reboots, he finds that C-3PO has also been captured by the Jawas. The duo has been reunited.
  • Scene 11

    Scene 11

    • Stormtroopers discover the escape pod and pick up the droids' trail.
  • Scene 12

    Scene 12

    • The Jawas line up the droids outside their sandcrawler, and a guy named Owen Lars looks them over.
    • He decides on a red R2 unit and C-3PO, after a bit of self-salesmanship on the 3PO's part.
    • He tells his nephew, Luke, to clean the droids before dinner.
    • When the red R2 unit's motivator blows, C-3PO convinces Luke to replace it with R2-D2, ensuring the two stick together.
  • Scene 13

    Scene 13

    • Luke cleans the droids while C-3PO makes the introductions.
    • Trying to remove something jammed inside R2, Luke accidently starts a holographic message from Princess Leia.
    • The message repeats, "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."
    • R2 says the message is a private message for his master, Obi-Wan, but C-3PO contends he doesn't know what the little droid means.
    • Luke wonders if he means Old Ben Kenobi, a hermit living beyond the Dune Sea.
    • Luke removes the restraining bolt from R2 so he can hear the entire message, but the little droid turns off the hologram instead.
    • Aunt Beru calls Luke to dinner before he can press the matter any further.
  • Scene 14

    Scene 14

    • At dinner, Luke says he wants to submit his application to the academy this year.
    • Uncle Owen argues he needs Luke to stay on for one more year.
    • Luke complains that's what he said when Biggs left and excuses himself.
    • Aunt Beru tells her husband that Luke's not a farmer and is too much like his father. Uncle Owen says that is what he's afraid of.
  • Scene 15

    Scene 15

    • Luke returns to the garage to find C-3PO hiding.
    • C-3PO begs Luke not to deactivate him, pleading that R2-D2 is malfunctioning and keeps blathering about his mission.
    • Luke runs outside but can't find the R2 unit.
    • He tells C-3PO it's too dangerous with the Sand People about and that they'll have to search for R2 in the morning.
  • Scene 16

    Scene 16

    • Uncle Owen looks for Luke and Aunt Beru informs him that Luke left early to get some things done.
    • Elsewhere, Luke and C-3PO find R2.
    • Before they get the droid in the speeder, R2 warns them that several life forms are nearby. Luke grabs a rifle and goes to investigate.
  • Scene 17

    Scene 17

    • On a ridge, Luke spies two Banthas and a Sand Person.
    • One of them attacks Luke and KO's him.
    • The Sand People drag Luke to his speeder and begin rummaging through it when a creature appears and frightens them with a ghastly howl.
    • After the Sand People flee, the creature reveals itself to be an old man.
  • Scene 18

    Scene 18

    • Luke revives, and we learn the old man is Ben Kenobi. Luke tells him R2-D2 is looking for his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
    • Ben reveals that he is Obi-Wan, but that he can't remember ever owning a droid.
    • Ben hears the Sand People returning and advises they get indoors.
    • The group gathers the busted C-3PO and heads for Ben's home.
  • Scene 19

    Scene 19

    • Ben explains to Luke how he and his father fought in the Clone Wars together.
    • Ben also presents Luke with his father's lightsaber. Luke asks how his father died, and Ben tells him that a Jedi knight named Darth Vader turned to the Dark Side of the Force before betraying and murdering Luke's father.
    • Ben turns on R2's message. In it, Princess Leia requests that Obi-Wan Kenobi keep the little droid safe and return him to her father on Alderaan.
    • She says that information vital to the survival of the Rebellion is stored in his memory unit.
    • Ben says Luke must learn the Force and accompany him to Alderaan. Luke claims he can't go because he has work to do.
  • Scene 20

    Scene 20

    • On the Death Star, the Imperial commanders are arguing over how powerful the Rebellion is compared to the Death Star.
    • One of the commanders heckles Darth Vader, and Vader chokes him from across the room using the power of the Force.
    • Tarkin proves he's a total boss by commanding Vader to release him and proclaiming they will use the Death Star to crush the rebels.
  • Scene 21

    Scene 21

    • Ben and Luke discover a destroyed Jawa sandcrawler. Entering Sherlock mode, Ben deduces that it wasn't Sand People, but imperial stormtroopers that slaughtered the Jawas.
    • Luke realizes the troopers were after the two droids. He speeds home but is too late. He finds the smoldering remains of his home and relatives. Yikes.
    • Meanwhile, on the Death Star, Darth Vader begins interrogating Princess Leia over the location of the secret rebel base.
  • Scene 22

    Scene 22

    • Luke decides to join Obi-Wan and learn the ways of the Force.
    • They drive to Mos Eisley spaceport and encounter an imperial checkpoint. Obi-Wan uses his Jedi mind tricks on a stormtrooper, and they get through without any hassle.
    • Special Edition Notice: If you're watching the Special Edition, then the drive into Mos Eisley has some additional scenes showing more of the spaceport. Keen-eyed fans will even notice the Outrider starship of the Extended Universe character Dash Rendar.
  • Scene 23

    Scene 23

    • Ben takes them to a cantina. Inside, he begins to interview potential pilots while Luke orders a drink.
    • A pig-nosed alien attempts to start some trouble.
    • When Ben intervenes, the alien draws a blaster. Ben quickly draws his lightsaber and severs the alien's arm.
    • After the ruckus, Ben introduces Luke to Chewbacca, first mate on a ship that might suit them.
    • Outside, R2-D2 and C-3PO notice imperial troopers drawing closer.
  • Scene 24

    Scene 24

    • Ben and Luke sit down with Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon. They negotiate passage to Alderaan for 17,000 space dollars.
    • Ben and Luke leave to sell Luke's speeder for the up-front payment,
    • Han is confronted by a bounty hunter named Greedo.
    • Although Han claims he has the money to pay Jabba the Hutt back, Greedo says it is too late. Rather than be captured, Han shoots Greedo first.
    • That's exactly how it happens, right? Right? Right.
  • Scene 25

    Scene 25

    • Back at the Death Star, Darth Vader informs Grand Moff Tarkin that Leia is proving resistant to the mind probe.
    • Tarkin wonders if they should try a new tactic of persuasion and orders the Death Star's course to be set for Alderaan.
    • We also get a brief scene of C-3PO and R2-D2 hiding from stormtroopers.
  • Scene 26

    Scene 26

    • Luke sells his speeder for the cash to pay Han.
    • A shadowy figure in the crowd follows them.
    • Special Edition Exclusive Scene:
    • If you're watching an original cut of Star Wars, you won't see the following scene.
    • Jabba the Hutt waits outside the Millennium Falcon calling for Han.
    • Han confronts the overgrown slug. Jabba wants his money as payback for the cargo Han dumped after he was being boarded.
    • Han tells Jabba about his charter and promises to pay Jabba back, plus a little extra, if he is given more time. Jabba agrees.
  • Scene 27

    Scene 27

    • Ben, Luke and the droids join Han and Chewbacca at the Millennium Falcon.
    • Luke calls it a piece of junk, but it looks awesome to us.
    • The shadowy figure tips off some stormtroopers.
    • They immediate attack the docking bay.
    • Amid the blaster fire, the Falcon takes off.
    • In Tatooine's atmosphere, the ship is attacked by imperial cruisers.
    • Han and Chewie manage to outmaneuver them long enough for the ship's computer to calculate the jump to hyperspace.
    • In a flash of stars, the heroes escape.
  • Scene 28

    Scene 28

    • The Death Star reaches Alderaan.
    • Leia is brought to the bridge, and Grand Moff Tarkin provides her with an ultimatum: either she provides him with the location of the rebel base or he'll test the Death Star's power on Alderaan.
    • Leia says the base is Dantooine.
    • Tarkin destroys Alderaan anyway, forcing Leia to watch as her home is destroyed. That's coldblooded.
  • Scene 29

    Scene 29

    • On the Millennium Falcon, Luke trains with the lightsaber.
    • Through the Force, Ben feels the genocide of Alderaan and is overwhelmed. Han comes in to announce they've outrun the imperials.
    • Han teases Luke for believing in the Force, and Ben decides to try a new training tactic. He puts a helmet with a blast shield on Luke so he can't see the remote.
    • After a few tries, Luke manages to tap the Force and block the remote's blasts. Han says it was merely luck.
    • On the Death Star, an officer tells Tarkin that they have searched the Dantooine area and didn't find the rebel base.
    • Infuriated, Tarkin orders Leia executed immediately.
  • Scene 30

    Scene 30

    • The Millennium Falcon exits hyperspace into an asteroid field. Han checks the scanners; they're in the right location, only no Alderaan.
    • An imperial fighter spies them and makes a run for it.
    • Han pursues it, and the Falcon gets caught in the Death's Star's tractor beam. Han is ready for a fight when Obi-Wan reminds him there are alternatives to fighting.
    • On the Death Star, Tarkin is told about the Millennium Falcon.
    • Darth Vader suggests they delay Leia's execution.
    • She might still be useful to them.
  • Scene 31

    Scene 31

    • Darth Vader orders the Millennium Falcon scanned and feels a presence he's not felt in some time.
    • Inside the Falcon, Luke and company exit the hidden compartments Han uses for smuggling.
    • Obi-Wan says he'll turn off the tractor beam, so they can take off and… actually, that's the extent of their planning. Go team.
  • Scene 32

    Scene 32

    • Han and Luke trick some stormtroopers into the Falcon, shoot them, and then pull the old clothes switcharoo decoy.
    • They make their way to the hangar control room and blast the officers there.
    • C-3PO and R2-D2 find the location of the tractor beam's main controls.
    • Obi-Wan leaves to disable the tractor beam.
    • Luke wants to go with him, but Obi-Wan tells him to stay and look over the droids.
  • Scene 33

    Scene 33

    • Han and Luke argue about Obi-Wan's sanity when R2-D2 starts beeping and blipping loudly.
    • C-3PO tells Luke that R2 has learned that Princess Leia is in the detention area and scheduled for execution.
    • Luke tries to convince Han to help him rescue her, but Han's not keen on the idea.
    • Luke convinces him to help with the promise of a reward.
    • Han asks Luke what his plan is, and Luke tries to put binders on Chewie, but the Wookie flips out.
    • Han puts the binders on, saying he thinks he knows what Luke has in mind.
    • Who wouldn't? Has Chewie never seen a Saturday morning cartoon?
  • Scene 34

    Scene 34

    • We check in on Obi-Wan sneaking through the Death Star. Darth Vader senses his presence again.
    • At the detention block, Luke claims Chewbacca is a prison transfer from another cell-block.
    • When the guards try to apprehend Chewie, the Wookiee breaks free and backhands them something fierce.
    • Han, Luke and Chewie shoot the guards and the cameras.
    • Luke goes to the cell and rescues Leia.
  • Scene 35

    Scene 35

    • Vader tells Grand Moff Tarkin that Obi-Wan Kenobi is aboard the Death Star and that he must face his old master alone.
    • Elsewhere, Obi-Wan is still in stealth mode.
    • At the hangar, the droids have locked the door and stormtroopers are demanding they open it up.
    • Imperial reinforcements arrive at the detention block and pin the heroes in the cell bay. Thinking quickly, Leia blasts the grate of the garbage shoot and they make their escape.
  • Scene 36

    Scene 36

    • The gang falls into the trash compactor and can't escape because the door is magnetically sealed.
    • Luke is pulled under by a wormlike creature—who threw that thing away in the trash?
    • The creature lets go of Luke, but they soon realize why when the compactor's walls start closing in.
    • Unable to stop the walls, Luke calls C-3PO to have R2 shut down all the trash compactors on the detention level.
    • Stormtroopers enter the room where C-3PO and R2-D2 are hiding, and C-3PO convinces them that they are imperial droids.
    • The droids find another terminal and manage to save Luke and company at the perfectly timed last second.
  • Scene 37

    Scene 37

    • Obi-Wan powers down the tractor beam.
    • Luke and the gang head to the Millennium Falcon and encounter some stormtroopers along the way. Han charges after them, telling the others to get back to the ship.
    • After much derring-do and a good old-fashioned swing across a perilous chasm, the gang meets up outside the hanger and makes a break for the Falcon.
  • Scene 38

    Scene 38

    • Darth Vader finally confronts Obi-Wan.
    • They engage in a lightsaber duel across from the hangar.
    • The stormtroopers guarding the Falcon see Vader fighting and move to support, clearing the way for Luke and company to make it to the ship.
    • Luke notices Obi-Wan fighting Vader. With a knowing smile, Obi-Wan sacrifices himself to let others escape on the Falcon.
  • Scene 39

    Scene 39

    • The Millennium Falcon is attacked by the Death Star's sentry TIE fighters. Luke and Han defend the ships in the turrets and destroy the TIEs.
    • Back on the Death Star, Vader confirms the Falcon has made the jump to hyperspace and that the homing beacon is aboard the ship.
    • Tarkin remarks that they are taking an awful risk.
  • Scene 40

    Scene 40

    • In the Millennium Falcon, Han brags about the escape, but Leia insists they're being tracked, or they wouldn't have made it.
    • Leia says the fight isn't over, but Han argues it is for him.
    • He's only in it for the reward.
    • Leia leaves angry just as Luke enters the cockpit.
    • Luke tries to be sly and figure out if Han like likes Leia. Han teases him a bit about the obvious probe.
  • Scene 41

    Scene 41

    • At the rebel base on Yavin IV, the rebels analyze information in R2. The Death Star enters the Yavin system.
    • During the attack briefing, the rebel commander explains that the Death Star's defenses are designed against large-scale attacks, but a small one-man fighter could penetrate those defenses.
    • There's a small exhaust port that leads to the reactor core.
    • One torpedo in that thing would start a chain reaction. Then it's bye-bye Death Star.
  • Scene 42

    Scene 42

    • The Death Star begins its orbit of Yavin. The moon hosting the rebel base will be in targeting range in 30 minutes (read: movie minutes, a.k.a. an eternity for a military offensive).
    • In the hangar, Han is packing up his reward to pay back Jabba.
    • Luke confronts him, saying the rebels could use a good pilot like him, but Han counters that a reward isn't worth much if you don't get to use it. Touché.
    • Luke leaves, and Chewie growls gloomily. Han insists he knows what he's doing.
    • Leia runs into Luke, who's upset over Han's decision.
    • Leia reminds him that Han will have to choose his own path.
    • Special Edition Extra Scene 2
    • Luke runs into Biggs, his friend from Tatooine. Luke says he has stories to share with his old friend.
    • The Leader of Red Squadron interrupts the two to ask if Luke can handle the X-Wing. Biggs vouches for his friend's piloting skills.
    • Biggs says he has to get ready, but he'll listen to Luke's stories when they get back. Yeah… Biggs isn't coming back.
  • Scene 43

    Scene 43

    • The attack on the Death Star begins.
    • Once the imperials realize the rebel fighters are too small for the Death Star's defenses, Darth Vader orders the TIE fighters to scramble, and the dogfight begins.
    • The rebels make two attack runs on the Death Star's exhaust port, but Darth Vader destroys all the fighters that try.
    • After the intense dogfighting (and having lost most of their fighters), Luke has Wedge and Biggs form up behind him and begins his attack run.
  • Scene 44

    Scene 44

    • Luke, Wedge and Biggs begin their attack run.
    • Darth Vader comes behind them and damages Wedge's ship, forcing him to pull out. Vader then shoots down Biggs.
    • Luke hears the voice of Obi-Wan telling him to trust his feelings, so Luke switches off his targeting computer. Vader manages to knick Luke's X-Wing, damaging R2.
    • Right before Vader finishes Luke, Han and Chewie arrive in the Falcon and blast the TIE fighters.
    • Darth Vader's TIE fighter is ejected from the trench and drifts into space. Luke makes the shot, successfully destroying the Death Star.
  • Scene 45

    Scene 45

    • In the hangar, Luke is greeted as a hero. Han, Leia and Luke reunite, and C-3PO worries over R2.
  • Scene 46

    Scene 46

    • Princess Leia awards medals to Han and Luke. The music plays triumphantly, everyone is happy, and the heroes are applauded for having defeated the enemy.
    • Well… except for Darth Vader because he's still out there, and so is the Emperor.
    • Oh, and the Imperial Starfleet. Also, they haven't brought democracy back to the universe. However, that's what the sequels are for, so we're calling it. The End!