Review: Star Wars: A New Hope Radio Drama Topps Collectable Editions
TV & Radio
Star Wars: A New Hope Radio Drama Topps Collectable Editions
"A phrase has come to mind in working on this project," Star Wars: The Original Radio Drama director John Madden said. "You may think you've seen the movie; wait 'till you hear it."
HighBridge Audio has released two collectable editions. They both include all 13 episodes of the series as MP3 files on one CD wrapped in collectable packaging. There's the Light Side edition with the good guys and the Dark Side edition with the bad guys. Each comes with a Topps trading card.
Madden turned to science fiction writer Brian Daley to script the radio drama based on characters and situations created by George Lucas in his 1977 film. Because the radio drama told the story over 13 half hour episodes, instead of just over two hours of film, Daley had the luxury of expanding it. He turned to Lucas's original novelization of the film, and added further embellishments of his own - all with Lucasfilm's blessing.
Lucasfilm was so supportive that it loaned KUSC-FM Los Angeles Ben Burt's signature sound effects and John Williams musical score. The absence of either of these would have seen the project, which aired on National Public Radio in 1981, fade into insignificance.
Mark Hamill reprised his role as Luke Skywalker alongside Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, giving the project all the kudos it needed, although Han Solo, Princess Leia and Darth Vader were played by Perry King, Ann Sachs and Brock Peters. So good was there job that some diehard fans called their performances definitive since they had played the roles longer than Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones in the film.
In the radio drama there's two episodes of story adding up to an hour's introductory narrative before we get to Vader's Star Destroyer attack on Leia's consular ship which opens the film.
Episode 1: A Wind To Shake The Stars starts with the narrator: "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there came a time of revolution, when Rebels united to challenge a tyrannical Empires. But most of the vast Empire of a million star systems took little notice of this tremendous conflict . . . at least at first.
"On the desert planet Tatooine, as on countless other worlds, life goes on though great events are shaping the future of a galaxy. Here, amid the endless sands and the dune seas, the hostile wastes and barren lands, human beings struggle and endure. And here, too, men and women laugh and cry, hope . . . and dream."
Luke Skywalker is discovered by his friend Windy, mentioned in one line of dialogue in the film, playing a recruitment tape for the Imperial Space Academy. "When're you going to grow up Luke? You're a farm boy just like me," Windy chides in a wonderful scene that shows how Luke doesn't fit in. Later Luke's friend Biggs, who has just graduated from the academy, returns to tell him a secret. "I made some friends at the academy. At our first port of call in the inner systems, we're going to jump ship and join the Rebel Alliance." It's a beautiful scene that will have anyone who has a life-long friend get a lump in his or her throat.
Episode 2: Points Of Origin introduces Princess Leia as her ship lands on the planet Raltair where it picks up plans for the dreaded Death Star before returning to her home planet of Alderaan. There she discusses rebellion with her father, Bail Organna, before they are visited by Imperial Lord Tion. It serves as a great character study of one of the strongest women in any science fiction.
But it is not until Episode 3: Black Knight, White Princess and Pawns that the robots C-3PO and his counterpart R2-D2 are introduced, as Leia's ship comes under attack from Vader and his stormtroopers. From here on in the radio drama is an expanded version of the film's script with plenty of Daley embellishment.
It doesn't matter how well you know the film, or if you know it at all, the radio drama stands on its own two feet and keeps you engaged. I listened with my eight year old son who had only recently seen the film and he had one word for it. "Brilliant."
The CD includes a whole bunch of extras including a 30 minute making of documentary, a series of radio adverts and a suite of especially recorded music for the show.