Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Alamy)

Film | Opinion

How the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy changed cinema forever

The Star Wars franchise is an utter behemoth of popular culture. Morphing into a multimedia leviathan that has expanded the franchise’s reach, the epic space opera is one of the most instantly recognisable titles out there. For a long time, it has not just been about the films but the TV series, games, toys, books, rides and much more. 

There was something in the infinite possibilities that George Lucas’ original trio of films and their giant universe offered that allowed him to return with a prequel trilogy after so many years and then for Disney to purchase the franchise and run off with it into the sunset. Something of a more user-friendly alternative to Frank Herbert’s Dune that took as many cues from the likes of Akira Kurosawa as it did Jungian archetypes, history and political science, Lucas created a multi-faceted and dense world that was readymade to be dived into headfirst, exciting fans and dragging them away from the mundanity of everyday life.

I don’t think any of us who weren’t alive at the time can comprehend the audio-visual sensation of what it must’ve been like to have witnessed the opening credits of the first film, 1977’s A New Hope, in the cinema for the first time. The majesty of those scrawling yellow words and John Williams‘ superb theme tune bursting through the speakers would undoubtedly have been a lot to take in as the audience rapidly tried to read the synopsis given to them by Lucas, unsure of what was in store. 

The 10 greatest ‘Star Wars’ characters of all time

Read More

I’m also confident that none at that point would have imagined what they were about to see would change the world and, more perhaps poignantly, that it would still be alive and well some 45 years later. 

After the credits, the camera pans down into the scene where it all begins. Here we see the hapless rebel fighters slaughtered by the Storm Troopers, as our soon to be favourite robotic tag team C-3P0 and R2-D2 make their escape just before the extremely sinister Darth Vader emerges from the smoke, as the oppressive theme fades in and those heavy breaths cut through the mix.

This kicked off what became one of the most successful film franchises in history, as, from the get-go, millions were hooked around the globe. There’s an indecipherable power that carries Lucas’ FX, worlds, characters, script and direction that made these first three movies so game-changing. It is this that has allowed their relevance to endure and set the vivid imaginations of countless generations of adults and kids alight. 

The first three films were what inspired such an insatiable desire for more Star Wars related content, whether it be in the wider canon or the merchandise that followed, Star Wars continually expanded as if a galaxy itself, drawing more and more people in, and ramping up the pressure for Lucas to return with another set of movies that. regardless of what you may think of it, also helped the franchise to further expand its boundaries, making Disney realise that this was a creation that knows no bounds. It’s a universe that writes itself. 

It is safe to say that the original Star Wars trilogy changed cinema and popular culture forever. Whether it be the groundbreaking visual and sound effects, Williams’ music, or the overall conversation, this was the first time that anyone had made a truly living and breathing world for the big screen, and one that seemed just as idiosyncratic as our own. It was full-proof and without an Achilles heel which made Star Wars a truly immersive experience that left viewers in a trance even after the final credits had rolled. 

(Credit: Alamy)

Star Wars set a precedent for all cinema moving forward. It was the first real multimedia movie franchise that showed production houses and consumers the power of a series that had more than one string to its bow and went many steps further than that of James Bond, which had and still has, a very limited set of parameters. A complete story was the perfect way of pulling people in, and a variety of merchandise and canon was the means of keeping us rapt, a cinematic opiate of the masses, if you will. Indicative of this is the fact that many people have campaigned, albeit unsuccessfully, for Jediism to become a recognised religion. 

Let’s be clear. Without the original Star Wars trilogy, in terms of larger than life film franchises, there would be no Lord of the RingsHarry PotterAvatarPirates of the Caribbean and, of course, the ubiquitous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It’s a testament to the work of George Lucas that he was able to devise a script so three dimensional that it did not need to be established through being published as books or comics prior to the film’s release the majority of the aforementioned. 

There’s no real surprise that Disney decided to finally purchase the rights to Star Wars after clearly taking many cues from it for its marketing for the proliferation of the MCU. Although it was a controversial acquisition for many reasons, it’s safe to say that for the most part, Disney have entrusted the keys to the Star Wars kingdom to those who know it inside out, such as Jon Favreau, who is a lifelong fan of the series.

Even though we could criticise them for minor elements, it seems as if Disney are the right people to take Star Wars genuinely stratospheric. We just hope that it doesn’t lose sight of its core philosophical tenets when it finally becomes countless different cinematic strands. 

One thing is certain, though. Even if the Star Wars story does go astray, we’ll always have the original trilogy, which, apart from being the most transformative set of films in cinema history, also makes a strong claim for being the purest and the most sincere. You cannot argue that there’s anyone more wholesome that then impish Master Yoda. 

Follow Far Out Magazine across our social channels, on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.