Thursday, 17 December 2015

Journal of Whills: Part 27 - A World Without Star Wars...

With all of the hype surrounding the newest release, it is easy to wonder sometimes, what would a world be like without ‘Star Wars’, what if George Lucas had never assembled that cultural collision of westerns, samurai films and science fiction to create his epic space opera. What would the film industry be like without the impact of ‘Star Wars’?

Well looking at the immediate effect that probably means that George Lucas never gets to make ‘Star Wars’ so it becomes unlikely that a studio would be willing to spend $18 million for his writing project of Indiana Jones, and without that staple under his directorial belt it would be safe to assume that Steven Spielberg’s career might be in a very different place. Never mind the countless adventure films that took inspiration from ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, ‘Temple of Doom’ and ‘The Last Crusade’, you also have the fact that without this franchise Harrison Ford would not become the greatest action star of all time. In fact he probably would not have become a star at all, the former stage hand for The Doors and self-trained carpenter would be far from the superstar we know him as, as would all the other cast members. But if there is some good news, Tom Sellick doesn’t have to regret passing up the role of a lifetime as he declined the role of Indiana Jones in favour of ‘Magnum P.I’.

  But George Lucas did a lot more than just write a few films outside of the galaxy far, far away. In preparation for the effects of ‘Star Wars’ Lucas founded ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) and special effects would not have advanced as far as they have by today. For a start, one branch of their computer graphics division was bought by Steve Jobs in 1986, headed by John Lasseter and went on to form Pixar animation studios. So no ‘Star Wars’ would mean no ‘Toy Story’, ‘Incredibles’ or ‘Inside Out’. , not to emntion the rival animation studios so say goodbye to ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ and ‘Shrek’. But the projects that ILM helped develop also led to the pioneering effects that created Andy Serkis’ Gollum for Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy and it is hard to imagine anyone attempting to bring that character to life in any other form, so maybe safe to assume that the epic trilogy would still exist just on paper (and an unfinished animated film).

You would also find yourself short of the breath-taking effects that assembled ‘Avatar’ and ‘Gravity’ so as a subplot of that you could discontinue the whole 3-D revolution. Then there’s the concept of a movie franchise as epic as this, spanning multiple worlds and characters, so would anyone have confidence in a shared Cinematic Universe for Marvel Comics, it’s a long shot, but one worth thinking about.

 Moving on to a little known film that followed ‘Star Wars’ called ‘Alien’. Ridley Scott has often said it was the atmosphere and texture of Lucas’ film that inspired him to make his own science-fiction film. Naturally that means the sequel ‘Aliens’ (directed by James Cameron) would also never come to fruition, but back to Ridley Scott. Much like Lucas, without the success of his earlier films to back him up, Scott’s career as a director might have gone in a radically different trajectory, so no ‘Blade Runner’ (further contributing to Harrison Ford’s non-existent acting career), ‘Gladiator’, ‘Black Hawk Down’ or ‘The Martian’. Then the lack of ‘Blade Runner’ launching the tech-noir genre means no later staples of the genre such as ‘Dark City’, even worse was the fact that ‘The Matrix’ was only made by using leftover sets from ‘Dark City’ so maybe, just maybe we never get to know kung-fu wth Neo.

‘Aliens’ is credited with popularising the action heroine thanks to Sigourney Weaver’s turn as Ripley, so would female driven franchises like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ or ‘Kill Bill’ be around? When you’re talking about thins instigated by ‘Star Wars’, just look at the revival of ‘Star Trek’, it is unlikely that the cancelled TV series would live on as a movie franchise, and that means that there would be no later TV outings for the USS Enterprise like ‘The Next Generation’ and that would mean no resurgence in the science fiction genre on TV like ‘Battlestar Galactica’.

Then just look at the list of directors who have claimed to be influenced by ‘Star Wars’ (we’ve already mentioned Ridley Scott and James Cameron, who quit his job as a truck driver after seeing the film in 1977 to pursue directing). But there’s also David Fincher (‘Fight Club’), Christopher Nolan (‘The Dark Knight’), Gareth Edwards (‘Godzilla’), Joss Whedon (‘Avengers Assemble’), Peter Jackson (‘The Lord of the Rings’) and Kevin Smith (‘Clerks’).

So with all of that in mind, even if you personally do not like ‘Star Wars’ just stop and wonder how many of your favourite movies would not be around today without its influence.

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