Star Wars fundamentally changed the aesthetics and narratives of Hollywood movies, as well as changing the Hollywood film industry in other fundamental ways.
Before Star Wars, special effects in movies had not appreciably advanced since the 1950s. Star Wars was also important in the movement towards the use of computer generated imagery in movies. The commercial success of Star Wars created a boom in state-of-the-art special effects in the late 1970s. There was increased investment in special effects. Companies like Industrial Light & Magic and Digital Productions were created to provide them. The 1977 Star Wars pioneered the genre pastiche, where several classical movie genres are combined in one movie. In Star Wars the genres were science fiction, the Western, the war film, and the quasi-mystical epic.
Along with Jaws, Star Wars started the tradition of the summer blockbuster movie in the entertainment industry, where movies open on a lot of screens at the same time, and profitable franchises are tied in. It created the model for the major movie trilogy and showed that merchandising rights on a movie could generate more money than the movie itself did.
To really explore the question of the cultural impact of SW you have to look at what life was like in the late 70s early 80s. In a nutshell, it sucked. The Cold War was going full blast, there were fuel shortages, America's standing in the world was dropping to levels that were almost as bad as 8 years of Bush has done. Then along comes this little movie from an unknown director called Star Wars. A simple film about good vs evil. It showed that no matter how hopeless a situation was that if you believed in yourself and the basic "goodness" of our soul that you would win in the end. The public latched onto this story as a story of everything that had made this country what it was. Freedom has always been a struggle. Then we have our embassy in Iran taken over by extremists and our people held hostage. Then along comes this actor turned Governor that flat out rejects the notion that the US is a "has been" in the world and that we must fight for what we believe in. Ronald Reagan. He ends the hostage crisis and brings our people home. Then this little rag tag team of HS and college kids goes into Lake Placid and stuns the world, using nothing but raw courage and belief in their own abilities, by beating the Soviet Unions hockey team, a team that was considered the best the world had ever seen, and winning the Gold Medal. But both "celebrations" are short lived as Evil flexes its might again, both in the real world and the 2nd Star Wars movie. In that we have the Empire striking back at the rebels with all their might bringing them to their knees but never destroying them. In the real world we have the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This leads to a escalation of tensions around the world. It leads to the American boycott of the 80 Summer Olympics and the Soviet boycott of the 84 Summer Olympics all while this rag tag band of dirt farmers, with the help of the US is not only holding their own against the might of the Soviet Union but eventually driving them out of their country and essentially causing the collapse of the mighty Soviet Union. This is echoed in the 3rd Star Wars movie when one man acknowledges the evil his father has done and extends a hand of love saying "I forgive you". In doing so he unleashes a power than can not be defeated ... the love between a father and son. Through this act of faith, and the help of a bunch of teddy bear like fighters, a mighty Empire is defeated.
If you're wondering ... yes, this is an early draft of a much larger article that I wrote on this subject. If you would like to read the entire article message me & I will send the full article to you.
May The Force Be With You ...
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