Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released simply as Star Wars, is an American 1977 space opera film, written and directed by George Lucas. It was the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga: two subsequent films continue the story, while a prequel trilogy contributes backstory, primarily for the troubled character of Darth Vader. Ground-breaking in its use of special effects, this first Star Wars movie is one of the most successful films of all time and is generally considered one of the most influential as well.
Set far in the past in a distant galaxy, the movie tells the story of a plot by a group of freedom fighters known as the Rebel Alliance to destroy the Death Star space station of the oppressive Galactic Empire. The plot follows the tale of farm boy Luke Skywalker who is suddenly thrust into the role of hero when he inadvertently acquires the droids carrying the schematic plans of the station. He must accompany Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on a mission to rescue the owner of the droids, rebel leader Princess Leia Organa, deliver the plans to the rebels' secret base, and help destroy the station before it reaches and destroys the rebel base.
Inspired by films like the Flash Gordon serials and the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, as well as such critical works as Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Lucas began work on Star Wars in May 1973. Produced with a budget of $11,000,000 and released on May 25, 1977, the film went on to earn $460 million in the United States and $337 million overseas, and received several awards, including 10 Academy Award nominations, among them Best Supporting Actor for Alec Guinness and Best Picture. It was re-released several times, sometimes with significant changes; the most notable versions are the 1997 Special Edition and the 2004 DVD release, which were modified with computer-generated effects and recreated scenes.