There was a moment in the history of film making when everything changed. Before this moment, science fiction films occupied a fairly small niche position in film making and in movies people went to see. But when this moment happened, a change happened that virtually made science fiction the king of film styles for a long time to come. And that event was the initial release of Star Wars.
The fundamental difference in what surprised the world when those words scrolled across the screen and Star Wars took over science fiction movie making was the vision that George Lucas had when he conceived the films. When you have a man of vision creating something completely new, Star Wars you know big changes are going to happen. But there are very specific ways that Star Wars changed science fiction movies forever that we can identify.
* Star Wars created a whole new model for movie making. Because it incorporated elements of the western and even of works of big vision like Wagner’s operas, it reached for something much more noble and literary than what had been seen before.
* Star Wars was as much about people and their relationships as it was about science fiction. We cared about Luke and Leah and Hans from the moment we met them and the more people that got added to the adventure over the years, the more we cared about the human story as much as the space adventure.
* Star Wars was funny but it wasn’t a comedy. That was a break through in science fiction movies. We knew about spoofs and science fiction comedies. And we knew about “serious” science fiction. But Star Wars combined the two and never stopped being a great science fiction movie.
* Star Wars birthed the blockbuster film. Next to Jaws, Star Wars is what got this entire era of huge movies making massive amounts of money going for the very first time. The funny thing was that it surprised George Lucas and the filmmakers as much as anybody.
* Star Wars made special effects explode and changed the scope of movies because of it. We had never seen effects so huge, so real and so fantastic as what we saw in Star Wars. From the bar scene with so much creativity on display to the spine tingling space war scenes, Star Wars was and is the standard every other film is held up to that tries to match the power of that movie.
Those of us that are massive Star Wars “geeks” know why we love it so. We love the stories, the people, the effects, and the excitement that a movie that stretched over six movies and many years and decades has held for us. But it’s good to sit back and appreciate the incredible impact Star Wars has had on film history because after Star Wars came out, nothing was ever the same again. And that was a good thing.