Well, perhaps the original cinema release was before your time, but I did sit in the audience of Star Trek the Motion Picture (a painful memory, that one), and listened to people comparing notes on how many times they had seen Star Wars in the theatres. Seventeen was the record.|
It was that kind of movie, a unique experience, a film labelled 'charming' by the reviewers, because it took all the elements of old-time science fiction serials and dressed it in state-of-the-art special effects. The over-the-top over-our-heads opening shot that went on and on, the villains and heroes properly delineated in black and white, all those space ships, it made no pretence to being a work of great art -- it was just great entertainment.
It was fun, although after my first viewing I took a novel and read through the dogfights.
|Star Wars was the first real science fiction film to hit the cinemas in years. Its nearest predecessor was probably 2001: A Space Odyssey, a film which left audiences awestruck by its visual effects, and confused as to its message. Star Wars didn't satisfy the intellectual aspects of science fiction, it didn't explore society, despite the 'force' it didn't bother with the metaphysical. It was a space opera, and proud of it.
Star Wars is riddled with cliches and references. While the mainstream reviewers likened C3PO and R2D2 to Laurel and Hardy, the cognecenti pointed to Silent Running. And anyone with a passing knowledge of science pointed out that a parsec is a measure of distance, not speed.|
It's supremacy in the theatres didn't last, as another young filmmaker Steven Spielberg's next UFO film Close Encounters of the Third Kind hit. More aliens. More sfx, but this time close to home. We watched, rapt and theatres wrestled with the dilema: whether to replace Star Wars with CE3K.
|Star Wars found the hearts of generations of people, many of whom would never spend their time reading or watching science fiction. It became a recognisable icon, and concept, and the media quickly dubbed a new military technology and strategy "Star Wars".|
And the man who finally gave the green light to George Lucas' film didn't go empty-handed. Alan Ladd Jr, who took on Star Wars when the other studios passed, earned a reported $US944,000 in 1978 making him the highest paid studio executive in Hollywood history.
|After three films, twenty years, a Christmas special, a plethora of books and a barrage of marketing concepts, George Lucas returned his trilogy to the big screen with nineties state-of-the-art effects. The film that had made it's mark as a technological breakthrough was given a second visit by the special effects wizards. Star Wars Version 2.0, if you will.|
Kenny Baker (R2D2) speaking in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Critics were generally kind to Star Wars, although William Rotsler (aka John ryder Hall) said of Carrie Fisher, "She is not my idea of a galactic princess. But that is purely taste. Some love her. Some people would love a toad."
Star Wars ushered in a new era for science fiction (sf) fans. All that money being made encourages studios to make fair films and foul set in outer space. And to try all sorts of things to tap that money-making market. In 1978 they televised the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films awards for the first time.
Dave Prowse also visited Melbourne
|Star Wars gave Twentieth Century Fox their best year to date. The production costs of the film were covered in the first three weeks and according to TV Week, Fox were 'buying up television stations, cinema chains, construction companies, and even golf courses to clear money out of the bulging coffers."|
|by Ali Kayn|
See also: Star Wars: The End of an Era
Star Wars: Information and reviews page
Pic of the Week
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Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: 10-May-1999 Last updated: 26-May-1999 Last tested: Last compiled: 08-Aug-2014
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