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.