Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope

Movie review by
Matt Springer, Common Sense Media
Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope Movie Poster Image
Sci-fi action classic perfect for sharing with kids.
  • PG
  • 1977
  • 120 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 53 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 169 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational value

Intended to entertain, not educate.

Positive messages

The forces of good and evil are very clearly defined in the film. The story's positive messages include hard work and perseverance paying off with results, the power of personal sacrifice in pursuit of a larger good, and accepting those who are different or difficult to get along with. Additional themes include courage, self-control, and teamwork.

Positive role models & representations

The film's heroes overcome significant obstacles to work together and defeat the villains, making great personal sacrifice and demonstrating exceptional bravery. Princess Leia is a powerful female character who defies traditional stereotypes about what a princess should be.

Violence & scariness

The film strings together a series of battles that feature heavy sci-fi violence, including lasers and the film's version of swords (lightsabers). There are some brief images of burned bodies in the desert, pilots exploding while in the cockpits of their ships, an arm being severed (with blood), and the destruction of an entire planet seen from afar. The menacing central villain engages in a several acts of direct and indirect choking of other characters. Alien creatures vary in appearance; some some might appear scary to younger kids.

Sexy stuff

Mild flirting and crushes between male and female lead characters. The sexual content doesn't escalate beyond a single chaste kiss on the cheek "for luck."


Much of the film's banter is based in mildly antagonistic relationships between characters, so there are frequent insults and one-liners bandied back and forth. Otherwise, there are a few instances of "damn" and "hell."


No real-world brands or products are featured in the film, since it takes place in another galaxy. But the movie created a template for movie merchandising that persists to this day. Decades after release, its characters are still immortalized in action figures, video games, and countless other products.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Characters visit an intergalactic cantina where otherworldly beverages are served and strange substances are smoked. But it has no visible parallel to anything available in reality.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope is a classic 1977 sci-fi action blockbuster that may be more frightening than you recall. The central villain, Darth Vader, creates a menacing presence and engages in several acts of violence (threatening, choking). Another central character dies, though he just seems to disappear, and several minor characters die or are injured, though the images are brief or non-graphic. There are also a few instances of mild language, specifically "damn" and "hell," plus plenty of insults. Some families may take issue with the film's spiritual philosophies built around "the Force" as the central tenet of existence in the universe. For kids of the right age, this movie is an unforgettable ride through a vast galaxy of imaginative concepts and characters. Of the films in the Star Wars series, this one offers the best and mildest balance of drama and action for younger viewers.

User Reviews

Parent of a 5 and 7 year old Written bygergelyv April 4, 2015

Violence and scares. I'm baffled by the 7 rating

My seven-year-old, who was very hyped to finally see some Star Wars and get to know the characters, screamed and cried begging us to stop it almost immediately.... Continue reading
Parent of a 1 and 5 year old Written bySmolin June 16, 2009

Great for Young Kids

I recently watched this with my 5-year-old son. He's really into the Star Wars franchise, and this movie made a huge impression on me when I saw it at age... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byjohnthemon February 25, 2011

One of the best movies ever made

An amazing movie, I grew up on these movies. This, along with Empire and Jedi are the GOOD Star Wars movies. The new ones aren't in the same league. Classi... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 28, 2010

Amazing for kids 9+

I loved this! My sister and I watched it and love it. We skipped over some of the more gruesome parts: Darth Vader choking a man, the burnt bodies, and the a... Continue reading

What's the story?

Set "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," STAR WARS was the first movie released in the eventual six-film saga. Episode IV: A New Hope begins the adventures of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), a lowly farmboy from the planet Tatooine who finds himself swept into an intergalactic civil war after encountering R2D2 (Kenny Baker) and C3P0 (Anthony Daniels), two droids carrying secret plans for an engine of destruction known as the Death Star. Luke brings the droids to former Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) who unexpectedly leads the motley crew into the hands of the evil Empire via the starship of smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his Wookie sidekick, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). The heroes rescue the captured Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and escape the Death Star just in time to lead a rebel assault against the space station and the vile Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones), Dark Lord of the Sith.

Is it any good?

This is one of those films that has become sewn into the very fabric of our popular culture. And yet, every day new kids are born who have never seen it. Watched through the lens of a young child, some of the scarier moments of the film suddenly become more striking. Darth Vader is one of the great film villains for a reason -- he's a frightening figure who engages in some very real moments of violence. With the continued prominence of the Star Wars story through animated series, video games, and toys, it may be tempting to introduce the films to children when they are too young to handle these more intense moments.

But if kids are old enough or mature enough to handle these moments, then it's likely that Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope will blow their little minds. It remains an enduring classic for the same reasons it made such an explosive impression way back in 1977. It's full of pulse-pounding action lifted straight from the classic 1930s film serials, it's got humor and character to spare, and the story guides you effortlessly into a completely original universe full of strange creatures and amazing sights. It's easy to be cynical about Star Wars given the billions of dollars it's earned selling everything from DVDs to toothbrushes, but returning to the original film with fresh eyes will remind you just how remarkable Star Wars was -- and continues to be.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the heavy merchandising of Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope in the decades since its release. Kids: Did watching the movie make you want to buy toys or games related to the movie? What's the appeal of owning something you've seen in a movie?

  • Movies have changed so much since the late 1970s, when this film was released. Does it still seem exciting, or did you realize you were watching an older film at times?

  • What's the impact of the violence in this movie? Does the fact that the special effects look old fashioned change the way the violence comes across?

  • How do the characters in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope demonstrate perseverance and self-control? What about courage and teamwork? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

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