For me, my first attraction to the power of films started 35 years ago with Star Wars. Up until then I had only a passing interest in films but after the exhilarating experience of seeing a fully realized world that could exist somewhere out in the galaxy, my imagination soared with possibilities.
By now the story of Luke Skywalker is familiar to everyone. A farm boy living on a remote desert planet in the outer reaches of the known galaxy with his aunt and uncle discovers his potential to exceed the life he was given by tapping into the power of the Force.
Inspired by his love of comic books and Saturday matinee adventure serials like Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars adventures of John Carter, George Lucas devised a Science Fiction fantasy fairy tale that would combine everything he loved about pulp serials as a kid growing up.
When Luke stumbles across a hidden message one day while cleaning some newly acquired service robots, it turns out to be a plea for help from a recently captured princess, who is battling an authoritarian Galactic government, to an old retired warrior general living in isolation on Luke’s home planet.
The story is told from the point of view of two robots R2-D2 and C-3PO, who we follow as they come in contact with various odd characters on their journey and who eventually form an intrepid group of unlikely heroes. Lucas also likes stories about people who are too small or insignificant to pose any threat but by sheer will and determination accomplish the impossible.
George Lucas said that his movies are all about breaking free of our own self-imposed limits. The heroes in his films all deal with confinement in some form, whether self-imposed or by an oppressive regime, and finding the courage and faith within themselves to overcome those limitations and break free of the bonds to step into a whole new world of possibilities. This positive message at the heart of Star Wars is for young people but appeals to the young at heart of all ages.
Star Wars was the first film that successfully encompassed and gathered together everything that was cool about Science Fiction into one hot rod of a movie. This had never been done before in such an immersive way. So many new and old ideas and elements came together in such a way that it all made sense and seemed perfectly logical.
George Lucas drew from World War II flying combat footage for one of Star Wars most exciting sequences that gave it an unforgettable climax. World War II dog-fighting footage taken from actual fighter plane cockpits was another reason George wanted to make Star Wars. He thought that putting that kind of visually dynamic action into an outer space setting would be thrilling to watch.
Star Wars took sound design to a whole new level and won 7 Oscars including a special Oscar for sound designer Ben Burt. John Williams created one of the all-time best and most popular films scores ever recorded.
This was the first film I remember having to see multiple times. It was a film that no one saw just once. Everyone who saw it went back again and again.
Since Star Wars the Sci-fi genre has never been the same and led to such classic Sci-fi films as Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), Independence Day (1996), Men in Black (1997), Starship Troopers (1997), Titan A.E. (2000), Treasure Planet (2002), Avatar (2009) and Tron: Legacy (2010).