Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Catch up on the original trilogy before Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released on Thursday 17 December Lucasfilm

As if we really needed to tell you, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is released in the UK on 17 December. While the plot occurs 30 years after the events of Return Of The Jedi, they will undoubtedly be linked to all that happened in the six earlier films.

Not everyone has the time to sit through that many films in one day. To help you out, IBTimes UK has recapped the original trilogy of movies from A New Hope to Return Of The Jedi (here's our recap of the prequel trilogy) just in time for all things Episode VII...

Episode IV - A New Hope

Star Wars
Smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and first mate Chewbacca team up with Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi to take down the Galactic Empire Lucasfilm

To put a stop to an uprising trying to overthrow him, Darth Vader (David Prowse) orders his Imperial Forces (Stormtroopers, Siths) to capture Rebel leader Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). Leia was a threat to Vader before her imprisonment as she held plans to the Galactic Empire's Death Star, a heavily armed space station capable of destroying entire planets. The plans were hidden in the memory of R2-D2 prior to her being taken.

The droid, accompanied by C-3PO, escape to desert planet Tatooine, where they meet Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Luke triggers the playing of Leia's recording, in which she requests help from Obi-Wan Kenobi, while cleaning R2-D2.

After discovering R2-D2 searching for Obi-Wan, Luke learns he is a former Jedi, a galactic peacekeeper with powers derived from an energy field called the Force. He also learns his father fought alongside Obi-Wan as a Jedi Knight, before he was "betrayed and murdered" by Vader, Obi-Wan's former pupil. Obi-Wan offers Luke his father's lightsaber.

Following Leia's message, Obi-Wan and Luke (now a student of the Force) travel to Alderaan to deliver the Death Star plans to Leia's father. They hire smuggler Han Solo and his Wookiee first mate, Chewbacca, to transport them to Alderaan on Han's ship, the Millennium Falcon.

On arrival, they find Alderaan has been destroyed by order of the Death Star's commanding officer. The Falcon is captured by the Death Star and while on board, R2-D2 discovers Leia is there. With the help of Han and Chewbacca, Luke rescues her while Obi-Wan fights Vader and is eventually killed.

The Falcon escapes, but unknowingly carries a homing device that enables Tarkin and Vader to track it to the rebels' base. In an another attempt to take down the Death Star, the rebels suffer heavy losses after several unsuccessful attack runs.

Vader leads his army against Luke's X-wing ship, but Han fires on the Imperials, making Vader retreat. Helped by spiritual advice from Obi-Wan, Luke destroys the Death Star, killing Tarkin before he can fire on the rebel base. Leia later awards Luke and Han medals for their bravery.

Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Episode V
Chewbacca, C-3PO, Princess Leia and Han Solo in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Lucafilm Ltd

Three years on, Leia leads a group including Han and Luke from a new base on the icy planet of Hoth after being forced out of their old one by the Galactic Empire, while Vader continues to hunt the rebels using his Imperial Fleet.

During an investigation of a potential meteor strike, Luke is ambushed by a wampa but escapes its cave. Later, the spirit of Obi-Wan, instructs him to go to the Dagobah system to train under Jedi Master Yoda. On a separate patrol, Han and Chewbacca discover the meteor is one of Vader's probe droid, which alerts the Imperial Fleet to the Rebels' whereabouts.

The Empire launches an attack but Han and Leia escape on the Falcon with C-3PO and Chewbacca, however their hyperspace drive malfunctions. The gang hide in an asteroid field, where Han and Leia grow closer; Luke also escapes but in his X-wing fighter alongside R2-D2. He later crash-lands in Dagobah, where he meets Yoda. After conferring with Obi-Wan's spirit, Yoda accepts Luke as his pupil. Elsewhere, Vader employs bounty hunters, including Boba Fett, to help locate the Falcon.

Han begins a journey to Cloud City, a floating gas mining colony above the planet Bespin run by his old friend, Lando Calrissian, but unbeknown to them, they were tracked by Fett; on their arrival, Lando leads the group into a trap and they are handed over to Vader. He plans to use the group as bait to lure out Luke so he can present him to his master, the Emperor.

Vader intends to hold Luke in suspended animation via carbon freezing, and as a test freezes Han. He hands the frozen Han over to Fett, who intends to leave for Tatooine to deliver Han to Jabba the Hutt. Meanwhile, Lando, who was forced into cooperating with the Empire, initiates an escape and frees Leia and co. They try to save Han but after failing, flee Cloud City in the Falcon.

After seeing a premonition of Han and Leia in pain, Luke disobeys Yoda and travels to Cloud City, falling into Vader's trap. When he arrives, the pair strike up a lightsaber battle over the city's central air shaft but during it, Vader severs Luke's hand. After Luke refuses to join Vader against the Emperor, Vader reveals he is Luke's father.

Luke throws himself down the air shaft before making a telepathic plea to Leia who persuades Lando to return for him in the Falcon. Later, Luke is fitted with a robotic prosthetic hand, while Lando and Chewbacca set off to find Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett in order to save Han.

Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi

Star Wars: Episode VI
Does Luke Skywalker turn to the dark side in Return Of The Jedi? You'll have to read on and see... Lucasfilm Ltd

Amid their attempts at saving Han, Leia infiltrates Jabba's palace disguised as a bounty hunter with Chewbacca as her prisoner, while Lando pretends to be a guard. Leia releases Han from his carbonite prison, but is captured herself and enslaved. Luke, who arrived later, is also imprisoned.

During a battle, Boba attempts to attack Luke but Han knocks him into a Sarlacc pit. Meanwhile, Leia strangles Jabba to death, and Luke destroys Jabba's sail barge as the group escape. Later, Luke returns to Dagobah where he discovers Yoda is dying. Before he dies, Yoda confirms Vader, once Anakin Skywalker, is Luke's father and there is "another Skywalker".

The spirit of Obi-Wan confirms the other Skywalker is Luke's twin sister, Leia. He also alerts Luke to keep his emotions in check, as they could lead him down a darker path.

The Rebels learn the Empire are constructing a new Death Star under Emperor Palpatine's orders. Working with the knowledge that the station is protected by an energy shield, Han concocts a plan that involves destroying the shield generator on the forest moon of Endor. Later, Luke tells Leia she is his sister, Vader is their father, and that he must go and confront him, and to do so, surrenders himself to the Imperial troops.

Vader takes Luke to the Death Star to meet the Emperor, intent on turning him to the dark side. The Emperor reveals the Death Star is fully operational and the Rebel fleet are about to fall into a trap. Back on Endor, Han and the group are ambushed by Imperials but due to an attack on their enemies by Ewoks, the rebels are able to fight back.

Elsewhere, Lando pilots the Falcon into the Death Star only to discover the fleet's shield is still operating and they have been waiting for their arrival. The Emperor teases Luke to join the dark side, which leads to start a lightsaber duel with Vader. Sensing Luke has a sister, Vader taunts his son saying he will turn Leia over to the dark side, thus enraging Luke and culminating in him severing his father's right hand. The Emperor tries to encourage Luke to kill Vader and take his place but he refuses, stating he is a Jedi like his father.

On Endor, the team defeat the Imperials and destroy the shield generator, allowing the Rebel fleet to launch their full assault on the Death Star; meanwhile, Palpatine tortures Luke with Force lightning. Unwilling to see his son die, Vader kills The Emperor but is injured in the process. He asks Luke to help remove his mask before dying in his arms.

As the battle continues, Lando leads a band of ships into the Death Star and destroys the main reactor causing the station to explode, while Luke escapes on a shuttle with Vader's body. On Endor, Leia reveals to Han that Luke is her brother, and they kiss. As the Rebels celebrate their victory, Luke smiles at the spirits of Obi-Wan, Yoda and Anakin he sees watching over them.