Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Star Wars History and Influence [part 1]
Ahh. The first installment in this epic space opera. First of the original trilogy, fourth in the canonical timeline.
It was released in 1977, an important year for the film industry. The Rescuers, a Disney animated film about anthropomorphic mice and the Rescue Aid Society, brought back an interest in animation that was somewhat lost after Disney's adaption of Robin Hood. Shortly after the release of Star Wars on May 25, 1977, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a Stephen Spielberg film about the discovery of extra-terrestrial life, was released in September. Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the 1978 release of Superman set up the pins for the success of future science-fiction movies such as Alien (1979), the Star Trek films (1979-today), ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Back to the Future (1985), Jurassic Park (1993), Men in Black (1997), The Matrix (1999), Avatar (2009), and the superhero film craze that started in 2000 with X-Men.
A New Hope was George Lucas's third feature length film after THX 1138 and American Graffiti. American Graffiti starred Harrison Ford. Lucas did not consider Ford for the role of Han Solo, but did use Ford for the readings of Han Solo's lines in auditions for Princess Leia. After hearing Ford read Solo's lines, Lucas was won over and Harrison Ford was given the role of Han Solo.
Star Wars opened in 32 theaters on May 25. Mann's Chinese Theatre (previously Grauman's Chinese Theatre) saw the biggest opening day in its 50-year history, taking in $19,258 at $4 a ticket. Playboy founder Hugh Hefner watched the movie twice in a row on opening day.
Star Wars: A New Hope won six Oscars at the 50th Academy Awards, which was hosted by comedian Bob Hope. They won Oscars for Best Music (Original Score), Best Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, and Best Sound. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best DIrector, Best Supporting Actor (Sir Alec Guinness), and Best Original Screenplay.
No one, not even critics, can claim that Star Wars has not helped shape the culture. Star Wars was the highest-grossing film in the box office until beaten out by E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial in 1982. The phrases "May the Force be with you" and "evil empire" have entered popular lexicon. Darth Vader is an iconic villain. He is instantly recognizable. Industrial Light & Magic, a visual effects studio that has dominated visual effects for years, was created in order to make effects for Star Wars. In 2001, on census counts across the world, people put down "Jedi" or variations thereof for their religious preferences. TV spoofs are plentiful, including That '70s Show, How I Met Your Mother, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Robot Chicken, and Saturday Night Live.
It started with Star Wars and it hasn't yet stopped.