Classic Trilogy Perspective, Part 1:
A New Hope – The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
On September 22, 2015, three original adaptations of the classic trilogy were released: Star Wars: A New Hope — The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back — So You Want to Be a Jedi by Adam Gidwitz, and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi — Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger. Now that these books have been in circulation for almost a year, I felt it was time to take an exploration through each one from a Star Wars canon perspective, asking the following questions:
(1) What scenes or elements have been added to the narrative we know from the film?
(2) What knowledge from other canon narratives are part of this tale?
(3) How has this book influenced or altered our understanding of the film?
This month, I will focus on Star Wars: A New Hope — The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken.
Before we get too far down the path, it is important to understand that each of these books takes on a unique narrative approach. In this case, Alexandra Bracken uses the third person limited, but has divided the story up into three parts, with each part changing point of views. In Part 1: The Princess, we see things from Leia’s perspective from her initial capture to the destruction of Alderaan. In Part 2: The Scoundrel, we experience the story through Han’s eyes, from the moment he sees Obi-Wan cut off Ponda Baba’s arm to the moment he flies the Millennium Falcon out of the hanger of the Death Star. Lastly, in Part 3: The Farm Boy, we follow Luke from the moment he boards the Falcon (after Obi-wan’s death) through to the throne room scene at end of the film.
Full disclosure: Bracken was allowed to adapt elements from the radio drama for this novelization. I have not looked at that script to see what is adapted from the radio drama and what is her own. As the radio drama is not canon, I will take the approach that anything new in this novel is original to the canon.
Now, let us dive in:
What scenes or elements have been added to the narrative we know from the film?
There were some interesting additions to the story of A New Hope. While there is not enough room here to go through all the nuances, I will highlight a couple here that I find quite interesting.
Early on in the novel, we follow Princess Leia after she is taken aboard the Devastator, Darth Vader’s flagship star destroyer which captured the Tantive IV during the opening of the film. Bracken depicts a scene which shows Leia escaping from her escort and trying to fight her way towards a shuttle that she would use to escape. This attempt shows early on in the book what those who have seen the film already know, that Leia is very brave and determined. The film did not reveal this side of her strongly till she meets Luke in the detention block, but Bracken paints this picture very early on.
Mention is made of Chewbacca’s wife Malla, which is the first canon appearance of this fact. This spins an interesting dynamic on Chewbacca’s character, letting us know that he does has a family somewhere out there, and that something significant happened, tying him to Han Solo the way he is. It may also speak to Wookiee culture in general about honor and duty, which seems to supersede family. Perhaps there is yet another reason which can be explored in future canon stories.
There is a lot of storytelling on the Millennium Falcon between Tatooine and their arrival at (what was) Alderaan. We know their trip took hours, not the mere minutes as it appeared on-screen, giving us a chance to see Obi-Wan give Luke his first practical lessons in the force. Perhaps my favorite moment is when Han saw Obi-Wan put his hand on R2’s dome and said “It’s good to fly with you again, my old friend.” While the scene where Luke brings R2 to Obi-Wan on Tatooine is missing from this book, this particular moment shows us that Obi-Wan did remember R2 and, in a way, deals with the argument that many people have about Obi-Wan’s statement: “I don’t ever remember owning a droid.” Perhaps he only remembered after the fact (it had been 19 years), or perhaps he did not want to give away R2’s past.
The last addition I want to mention is Luke on the Yavin IV base. Perhaps it seemed a bit strange that Luke, who had never been off Tatooine before, was able to handle an X-Wing so masterfully. Bracken explains how he gained this skill. Wedge Antilles helped train Luke in an X-Wing simulator prior to the battle of Yavin, as there was some time between their arrival at the base and the actual attack on the Death Star. There is a clear demonstration of Luke’s eagerness, which turns into him learning a bit of patience as he lets Wedge teach him how to use all the controls. While he did master the simulation quickly, it shows how he quickly adapted to the unfamiliar fighter.
What knowledge from other canon narratives are part of this tale?
In Marvel Comic’s Star Wars, Issue #005, Luke’s nickname “Wormie” was canonized, which had only been heard in the deleted scene from A New Hope. Bracken brings the rest of that scene back in full force here, in Chapter 17, throwing back to Biggs Darkligher’s last trip to Tatooine, where she all but narrates that scene at Tosche Station in its entirety.
In Chapter 14, Luke reminisces about his time racing his T-16 skyhopper through Beggar’s Canyon with Biggs, and remembers how many times he clipped his wings on the canyon walls. This is something we see in Chapter 2 of the Star Wars webtoon from LINE. While that webtoon is considered in a canon “gray” area due to cultural interpretation, this depiction of him racing his skyhopper is in direct correlation to his memories explored in Bracken’s adaptation.
How has this book influenced or altered our understanding of the film?
There are a number of interesting tidbits throughout the book that can slightly tweak our understanding of the film. Perhaps the most interesting character exploration in this novelization is Princess Leia. Being able to see her capture from her point of view changes our understanding of her character. The film depicts Leia as a leader amongst the senate and the rebellion, giving us no context to think any differently. After reading through this book, Leia’s rise to leadership in the rebellion is a direct response to her actions in this narrative. Personally, she feels that the Rebellion doesn’t believe how far she will go to defy the Empire, and she wants to show them and her fellow senators what she is capable of.
In the film, Chewbacca and Han are always seen as a pair, and it is easy to lump the two together in terms of character and background. However, Han is introduced here with his arms around a lady (also from the deleted scenes of this film), and we discover that he can’t remember her name, as he seems to have a lady on every planet he visits. This is placed in stark contrast with Chewbacca, who is married and has a soft spot behind that warrior exterior.
The bond between Luke and Leia is strengthened after the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi. As Han Solo is piloting the Millennium Falcon out of the hanger bay of the Death Star, before Luke is asked to take a gunner position, Leia consoles Luke over the death of Ben, and tells him that it cannot let it defeat him. Luke, who has not had to deal with any sort of devastating loss, quickly recovers from the emotional impact of Ben’s death in the film, and this helps us understand how he is able to celebrate their escape so quickly.
Have you read A New Hope – The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy? Anything you noticed in this adaptation that I did not mention here? Let me know your thoughts by posting in the comments below. You can find my coverage of #starwarscanon stories at my YouTube channel Star Wars: The Canon Explained. I can be found on Twitter (@starwarstce) and Instagram (@starwarstce), and you can also reach me at email@example.com.
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