A New Hope starts with a new adventure…into the Star Wars universe! Being somewhat indifferent about the Star Wars franchise and having not grown up really watching a lot of TV or movies, YouTuber Natalie Gold takes a deep dive into the Star Wars saga. The film, created and directed by George Lucas, produced Hollywood’s most famous original Star Wars trio: Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford. Of course, she was familiar with the many cultural references to Star Wars over the past decade, but she couldn’t really comprehend a true understanding behind them as having never seen any of the films. With the encouragement and suggestion of friends and family who were familiar with the cultural phenomenon, Natalie decided to embark on her journey watching the films in order of their release.
The force is strong with this one, I’ve heard that before.
In Episode IV – A New Hope, right off the bat, the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 captured her heart through their lighthearted and entertaining character whims. Suave, and mysterious Han Solo also seemed to make an impression on Natalie, “Harrison Ford was such a cutie.” One thing Natalie seemed to question throughout the film was why the “good guys” were always at a disadvantage? “They don’t have any amor on, they’re just wearing shirts...you got the good guys wearing shirts and pants and no armor.” During the scene where Leia kisses Luke, Natalie does a double take to make sure she saw correctly, but seemed to have a somewhat “matter of fact” reaction and continued with the film. While watching the space battle scene, Natalie came across this phrase and immediately recognized it as one of the many cultural references to Star Wars that she had somewhat been familiar with, and it created an “Ah ha” moment in her revelation of the movie reference – “The force is strong with this one, I’ve heard that before.”. As the film continued there were constant cheer sessions rooting for the “good guys” to overcome obstacle after obstacle. However, her emotions quickly turned from elation to an uneasiness when it came to the introduction of the infamous Darth Vader and his evil abilities:
What’s he doing? Oh my god, oh my god…that’s some good acting, like he’s choking, I believed it!
Overall, Natalie concluded that the first film was a rollercoaster of emotions and thoroughly entertaining leaving her excited to see what happens next. Having had so much fun watching the first film, she was excited to embark on the next chapter of the original trilogy, Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. In this episode, Natalie noticed right away the more elaborate set designs and the costumes were much more detail oriented compared to the previous film and suggested that they might have had more money or a bigger budget. Doesn’t that make for a more fun film to watch? There were a couple points that confused Natalie in this episode. The first being the timeline of the Death Star and even after its destruction, the imperial army decided to build another one. How many Death Stars need to be built? The second was whether or not these films were based on science fiction or just science fantasy? - “oh no they do have masks, but they don’t have helmets, it’s kind of funny in this movie how a lot of times they just don’t have helmets and who knows what the atmosphere is like on all these different planets and right now they are on a meteor.” Despite knowing the darkness and evil behind Vader’s character, Natalie is constantly surprised by how much destruction Vader continues to deliver:
He just kills people? He just killed him, right there, like savagery.
During the third battle when Vader reveals himself to be Luke’s father, Natalie anticipated the iconic moment with excitement because she was finally able to understand the context behind the popular phrase but her excitement quickly turned into confusion as the film seemed to jump too quickly into a different scene leaving her with a somewhat cliff hanger as to what was suppose to happen next between the two. At the end of this film Natalie finds herself much more emotionally invested in these characters and their development, concluding that R2-D2 was and still is her favorite character:
Yes R2!...I stand by it, my favorite character is R2-D2…everybody needs him and everybody loves him, he’s the best.
With great anticipation she reveled in the continuation of the Han Solo and Princess Leia storyline with the next film Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, in which she has become completely invested in since Episode V, when she comments on the ongoing tension between the lovebirds:
I really really have to see what happens to Han Solo…because I love him, I need to know
Return of the Jedi produces another one of pop culture’s most iconic moments: Princess Leia’s outfit when she is held captive by Java. Once again another “Ah ha” moment for Natalie when watching this scene. When Obi Wan revealed that Leia is Luke’s twin sister, Natalie slowly went into shock, disgust and then into confusion questioning why the characters were meant to kiss if they were brother and sister? She even had to take a quick pause to digest this critical piece of information.
What?...ew ew ew, they kissed…are you kidding me?...I have so many questions…I am so confused
When it came time for the Vader and Luke battle in which Vader ultimately turns to the side of redemption when he saves Luke, Natalie’s suspenseful look changed into empathy but then very quickly changed into horror at the sight of Vader’s face when his helmet was removed. The visual of Vader caught her attention and she immediately turned to comment on the film’s hair and makeup detail rather than Vader’s change of heart. Ultimately the film left Natalie more curious to learn more about Darth Vader’s story.
Delighted to move into the next chapter of the series with Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Natalie really enjoyed the light saber battle scenes becoming more intricate, in which she noted is probably due to the advancement in film technology in the early 2000’s compared to the original films back in the 70’s. However, after a few scenes with Jar Jar Binks, Natalie concludes that he is an unnecessary character, questioning his purpose and role in the film:
This Jar Jar is such a liability, get rid of him ASAP please.
Jar Jar Binks was one of the first full time CGI characters to grace a movie and though it was an improvement in new animation technology, many viewers at the time of the movie release were not on board. Immediately after the introduction to young Anakin, Natalie commented on the actor Jake Lloyd’s ability to portray very intricate and complex emotions for someone of such a young age:
I can see how they are really establishing Anakin Skywalker as a sweet little angel and it’s going to break my heart when he turns to the dark side.
This was true especially during the scene where Anakin leaves his mother, the character really began to tug on Natalie’s heart strings leaving her teary eyed. In conclusion, Natalie felt this episode was more character driven and really focused on the development of the Darth Vader complex. However, throughout this film the storyline also left her somewhat confused as to who was who. Who is Natalie Portman? Is she the queen? She is Padmé? Is she both? Who were the “good guys”? Who were the “bad guys”? The Senate? The Trade Federation? Which side were they on?
n Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Natalie notes the extremely awkward scenes between Anakin and Padmé, which she assumed were scenes of the characters slowly falling for each other. However, she thinks that there is no chemistry between the actors, making the intentions of the characters to be unbelievable and almost at times cringey to watch:
I didn’t really feel the chemistry there, leading into that kiss.
When it came down to the long-awaited Yoda fight scene, Natalie described it as watching someone place Super Smash Brothers on Nintendo because of the way Yoda looked fighting on different platforms. As the story progresses, Natalie found it a little more difficult to follow the storyline and is again confused as to which side each character is on:
Wow I’m having a hard time following this…it seems like both sides are evil right now and I’m very confused.
All in all, Natalie ended up with mixed feelings about this episode. There were times where she felt misled and then it was difficult for her to know what was true and what was mistrust, “Who was actually in charge of building the clone army?”
Stoked and ready for the last episode in the new trilogy Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Natalie started off by relaying how much empathy she had for Anakin who was doing what he needed to do to save all the people he loved. In the scene where Anakin finally turns to the dark side by killing Mace Windu, Natalie, already anticipating the fate of Anakin, watched in more disbelief when Palpatine’s physical appearance also turns dark and disfigured looking as he reveals his dark side.
Oh my god, I’m shook to my core. What the heck just happened? So that one move just aged him...ew...if I saw that guy turn into that ugly piece of shit in front of my eyes I’d be like I am never turning to your side are you kidding me
To Natalie, it seemed that the turn to the dark side for Anakin was so abrupt and so quick without much explanation. She was anticipating that one big epiphany moment that Anakin would have, finally changing his course and bringing him to the dark side. It left her questioning the meaning or reason behind his newly bestowed name of Darth Vader:
Why…what does it mean? What is the significance of the word Vader?
Is there also a significance behind the names Luke and Lei?. And if this film wasn’t emotional enough, the murder of all the Jedi children by Anakin left Natalie, an already “sensitive sally”, in tears needing to pause and take a moment to comprehend what just unfolded. In the end, Natalie concluded that this was definitely the saddest film in the trilogy and now having watched all the films was able to better understand the Star Wars phenomenon.
Is she now invested in the Star Wars films? Yes. Is she invested in the Star Wars lore? Not really. Being such a character driven person, Natalie seems more interested in the character development and intricate storylines as opposed to the Star Wars universe as a whole. Is she a fan? Yes!
Natalie Gold is a fairly new YouTuber who does first impression movie reviews and reactions on her channel weekly.