The galaxy is in a state of civil war. Spies for the Rebel Alliance have stolen plans to the Galactic Empire’s Death Star, a weaponized space station capable of annihilating an entire planet. Rebel leaderPrincess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is in possession of the plans, but her ship is captured by Imperial forces under the command of the evil lord Darth Vader (David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones). Before she is captured, Leia hides the plans in the memory of a droid called R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), along with a holographic recording. The small droid escapes to the surface of the desert planetTatooine with fellow droid C-3PO (Anthony Daniels).
The droids are quickly captured by Jawa traders, who sell the pair to moisture farmers Owen and Beru Lars (Phil Brown and Shelagh Fraser) and their nephew, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). While Luke is cleaning R2-D2, he accidentally triggers part of Leia’s holographic message, in which she requests help from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The only “Kenobi” Luke knows of is an old hermit named Ben Kenobi (Alec Guiness) who lives in the nearby hills. The next morning, upon finding R2-D2 after he escapes to seek Obi-Wan, Luke meets Ben Kenobi, revealing himself to be Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan tells Luke of his days as a Jedi Knight, one of a faction of former galactic peacekeepers who were wiped out by the Empire. Contrary to his uncle’s claims, Luke learns that his father Anakin Skywalker fought alongside Obi-Wan as a Jedi Knight before he was betrayed and killed by Vader, Obi-Wan’s former pupil who turned to the “dark side of the Force”.
Obi-Wan views Leia’s complete message in which she begs Obi-Wan to take the Death Star plans to her home planet of Alderaan for her father to retrieve and analyze. He then asks Luke to accompany him and learn the ways of the Force. Luke initially refuses, but changes his mind after discovering that Imperial stormtroopers have destroyed his home and killed his aunt and uncle in search of C-3PO and R2-D2. Obi-Wan and Luke hire smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to transport them on their ship, the Millennium Falcon.
Upon the Falcon‘s arrival at Alderaan, they find that it has been destroyed under the orders of the Death Star’s commanding officer Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) to demonstrate the Death Star’s power. The Falcon is caught by the nearby Death Star’s tractor beam and brought into its hangar bay. While Obi-Wan goes off to disable the tractor beam, Luke discovers that Leia is imprisoned on board and, with the help of Han and Chewbacca, rescues her. After several harrowing escapes, they make their way back to the Falcon, though Obi-Wan is killed in a lightsaber duel with Vader. TheFalcon escapes the Death Star but the Empire has placed a tracking device on the ship to follow them to the rebels’ hidden base on Yavin IV.
The rebels analyze the Death Star plans, disclosing a vulnerable exhaust port leading to the station’s main reactor. Luke joins the assault team, but Han collects his reward for the rescue and plans to leave despite Luke asking him to stay. The rebels suffer heavy losses after several failed attack runs, leaving Luke one of the few surviving pilots. Vader and a group of TIE fighters are about to destroy Luke’s ship, but Han Solo returns at the last moment and destroys the Tie Fighters and the blast sends Darth Vader spiralling away. Then Luke successfully destroys the Death Star seconds before it can fire on the rebel base. Luke and Han are subsequently awarded medals by Leia for their heroism.