Star Wars IV: A New Hope Lighting Techniques

1. Identify the type of lighting used in the film (traditional three-point, high-key, or low-key) and assess the impact of the lighting used to establish the theme.
The style of lighting used in Star Wars IV: A New Hope is a combination of low-key, high-key and natural lighting. Though there’s a combination, the film mostly uses low-key and natural lighting throughout. In the first scene or chapter when Princess Leia’s ship is being boarded, high key lighting is used and then during the battle between the storm troopers taking over the ship and the crew members defending the ship it seems to tone down to the natural lighting of the ship, especially with the gun fire and smoke filling the rooms. When Darth Vader enters the captured ship, it can go either way between the three-point lighting and the natural lighting because of the ship’s bright interior lights. The film then switches to low-key lighting when Princess Leia interacts with R2D2. This is seen all throughout the film. There’s the natural lighting of being outdoors or the interior lights from being on a ship. Then the low-key lighting is used when the interior lighting is not enough and one can tell because of the prominent shadows casted by the light. The three-point and the natural bright lights of interior places are sometimes hard to distinguish because of the natural interior lighting back lighting the characters. This is why I’m hesitant to use three-point lighting as one of the tools used. High-key lighting is used in some parts like when Princess Leia and Han Solo discuss the tracking of Han’s ship after escaping Darth Vader. The combination of lighting techniques highly impacted the film. It made the film more realistic to take in.

A. What are the benefits of the style of lighting used?
The benefits of the style of lighting used added to the mood and the overall dire situation and action of the film. It made the characters and action more persuasive in getting the viewers to believe that there is a life or death situation taking place.

B. How did this technique contribute to the theme?
One knows the film is considered science fiction, not reality, but the lighting helped it become more believable in a sense. The deep shadows produced doom. The bright lighting had an air of hope. The natural lighting has an everyday effect.

C. How was the lighting technique suited to the genre of the film? For example, documentary films tend to rely on natural light as a way of creating an overall tone of authenticity.
Low-key and natural lighting suits science fiction films because of the deep shadows, intenseness and naturalism they produce.

2. Compare how the scene would play if different choices had been made.
If high-key lighting was used mostly through this film instead of the low-key and natural lighting, then the film would appear to be fake and unrealistic. It would set too bright a mood for what is actually happening – a battle for life and freedom.

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film: From watching to seeing (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Kurtz, G. (Producer), Lucas, G. (Directors). (1977). Star Wars IV: A New Hope [Motion picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox

MrGanamae. (2010, August 22). Adywans – Star wars: Revisited – The Opening Scene. [Video file]. Retrieved from

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