Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope

  • Review Date: June 17, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1977
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Sci-fi action classic perfect for sharing with kids.
  • Review Date: June 17, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1977
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 
Academy Award

What parents need to know

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 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.

Positive role models

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."

Language

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."

Consumerism

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.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic 1977 sci-fi action blockbuster 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 six films in the Star Wars series, this one offers the best and mildest balance of drama and action for younger viewers.

Parents say

Kids say

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. It 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?

QUALITY
 

Star Wars 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 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the heavy merchandising of the film 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1977
DVD release date:September 21, 2004
Cast:Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill
Director:George Lucas
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Adventures, Robots, Space and aliens
Run time:120 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:sci-fi violence and brief mild language
Award:Academy Award

This review of Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 2 and 3 year old Written bysarahphale June 12, 2010
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Not about how good a movie, its about when its appropriate

In response to Sith Lord, this isn't a question of how awesome Star Wars is, it is a question of child development and when the film is appropriate. Way too much violence for a young child to understand....a wonderful movie for older children.Can't believe someone would show this to a 3 or 4 year old. Seems irresponsible to me...I loved it so lets have you watch it before you're ready. And just because a child doesn't get aspects of a movie doesn't make it OK to show it to them....it means they aren't ready to watch it YET.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 1 and 5 year old Written bySmolin June 16, 2009
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

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 7, so I was anxious for him to see it. He probably would have gotten a bit more out of it had he been older, but he did really enjoy it. He wasn't scared by anything in it nor freaked out by the cinematic violence, but the plot nuances might have been a bit over his head. I don't believe that the violence in this movie is worth worrying about for the suggested age group, since it is pretty abstract (e.g. while people do get shot & killed, it's never graphic or distressing.) All in all, a great movie that stimulates the young imagination to no end.
Parent of a 8, 14, 18, 22, and 24 year old Written by6_Grandchildren April 12, 2009
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

DISPICABLE

WAY TO VIOLENT!! BLOODY, TERRIBLE VIOLENCE! NOT FOR AGES 16+ IN MY OPINION! I DO NOT ALLOW ANY OF MY GRANDCHILDREN TO WATCH THIS (EXCEPT FOR THE ADULT ONES) please, take my advice and stay away
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide