The Force has been with us for 40 years now

For the few readers who haven’t already heard, today is the 40th anniversary of the release of the original ‘Star Wars’.

A long time ago, somewhere in southern California, a bearded young man had a dream of turning old samurai films, Eastern philosophies, and something like Flash Gordon into an operatic adventure set in space. That dream was eventually realized as the seminal science fiction film Star Wars, written and directed by George Lucas, and released on May 25, 1977—40 years ago today.

The original $11 million put into filming Star Wars (eventually renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope years later) is arguably the best investment ever made in Hollywood. Even when adjusted for inflation, the film would’ve only cost about $45 million in today’s dollars … The original Star Wars film is the third-highest-grossing film of all time, raking in close to $2 billion when adjusted for inflation. That alone would’ve made the original investment a spectacular one.

. . .

In making Star Wars, Lucas pioneered new camera technology, new filming styles, new sound design techniques, and, most importantly, a new way of thinking about science fiction. Unlike the generically clean, shiny, and metallic futurist alien worlds in other sci-fi films at the time like Logan’s Run, Lucas’s Star Wars universe was lived-in, dusty, and creaking—a lot like our own world. The expanse and detail of Star Wars made Logan’s Run look corny and dated by comparison.

Star Wars stands as a testament not only to Lucas’s filmmaking abilities, but also to his film industry innovation. The film itself set the tone for arguably every science-fiction action film that followed (and even prompted Paramount Pictures to cancel plans for a new Star Trek series to pursue a feature-length film). The technical success of Star Wars gave rise to other Lucas creations, including the audio company THX, the visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic (which has done effects on every Star Wars film and hundreds of other films), and the animation giant Pixar—all of which were originally parts of Lucasfilm, the production company Lucas founded to help him realize his artistic vision.

There’s more at the link.

I can recall seeing Star Wars for the first time, in a somewhat tatty, run-down movie theater in Cape Town, South Africa.  I had a weekend pass from the military, and decided to take it in to see what all the fuss was about.  When I emerged a couple of hours later, it seemed almost strange to be in familiar surroundings.  The film had taken me completely out of myself, and I sat rapt through the whole thing.

I wonder what happened to that rapt young man?  He went away somewhere during the intervening years . . . but the movie is still with us.



  1. The movie premiered the weekend of Disclave (the older DC area regional convention, with about 800 people there), and was playing in a theater a few blocks from the con hotel. And many of us knew what the movie was going to be like, since, at the Kansas City Worldcon the year before, we'd seen the presentations, and exhibits, and had Mark Hamill enthusiastically tell everyone who passed near him about this really great movie he was going to be in.

    So people would leave the con, walk over and see the movie. And then rejoin, raving about what a great movie it was. By the end of the weekend, pretty much the entire con had seen it, with some of us having seen it more than once.

  2. I was *cough cough* years old and my parents took me to see it. From then on I wanted to be Han Solo. The girl next door insisted on being Princess Leia. All the kids on the block LARPed Star Wars in our back-yards for the next few years, long before anyone had ever heard of LARPing. It is one of the few movies that the years have not tarnished, despite the best efforts of G**rg* L*c*s.


  3. It came out the first year I was in college, and was playing in a theater just down the street. I saw it several times on the first run, and I've lost count of how many times since.

    40 years, now – I wonder what they'll be saying about it 40 years hence.

  4. Ahh, the joys of it.

    I was working in a radio/tv shop and we could order albums (yes – vinyl!). I had seen the trailers for the movie earlier in the year and noticed the album was available. What I didn't know until I received it was that it contained quite a few pages of stills from the movie, with more content than the trailers.

    Still a good movie but maybe not quite as exciting as seeing 2001 when it premiered.


  5. My then-wife and I went to see it about a week after it opened. Part of that was wanting to miss the crowds. As if.

    There were kids in line who'd seen it daily since the premier. Personally, I can still get chills thinking about the opening scene when the Star Destroyer comes in from the top of the screen … and keeps coming and coming and coming.

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