It's often been argued that Star Wars was the death-blow to science fiction as proper speculative fiction - or at least marginalised it severely both in cinema and in books.
Jonathan Lethem makes that argument in a great essay on the lost promise of s.f. in the Voice Literary Supplement from the late 90s
"It’s now a commonplace in film criticism that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg together brought to a crashing halt the most progressive and interesting decade in American film since the ’30s. What’s eerie is that the same duo are the villains in SF’s tragedy as well, though you might want to add a third name, J. R. R. Tolkien. The vast popular success of the imagery and archetypes purveyed by those three savants of children’s literature expanded the market for “sci-fi”, a cartoonified, castrated, and deeply nostalgic version of the budding literature, a thousandfold. […] The golden mean of an SF jacket since 1976 looks, well, exactly like the original poster for Star Wars. Men of the future were once again thinking with their swords — excuse me, light sabers."
A death blow dealt by someone who'd only a few years earlier made of one of the great (or at least great-looking and great sounding - Walter Murch take a bow) science fiction films - THX 1138
in Wickman's Slate analysis, George Lucas emerges as Tarantino before Tarantino
“I don’t think I’ve ever come across anyone so immersed in film. I have an idea he goes to bed in it, wrapped up in it, you know, the actual material.” — Alec Guinness on George Lucas
Roger Copeland’s “When Films ‘Quote’ Films, They Create a New Mythology,” New York times piece of September 1977 piece "identified Star Wars’ debts to The Searchers, dogfighting movies, and Casablanca, and held it up as the most prominent example of a new kind of movie, the “film about other films.” Star Wars was “a film that makes so many references to earlier films and styles of filmmaking that it could just as easily—and perhaps more accurately—have been called ‘Genre Wars.’ ”
(J.G. Ballard on Star Wars)
Stars Wars is when pomo goes mass culture - for the first time?
“Star Wars is built on top of many things that came before. This film is a compilation of all those dreams, using them as a history to create a new dream.” — George Lucas, 1975
So in that sense perhaps the logical next step after the nostalgia-fest of American Graffiti
(as discussed in Retromania)
"You step into all this weirdness and you find that the scene that you’re doing is similar to scenes you’ve seen before in other movies that you can imagine very easily. There is a scene that’s based on a kind of Western concept. Shooting the guy under the table. There was no mystery to it. It was just a different face on something that was quite familiar.” - — Harrison Ford in 2004
And the grand-daddy of fantasy TV set in a never-never-past (Thrones etc)
“I put this little thing on it: ‘A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, an incredible adventure took place.’ Basically it’s a fairy tale now.” — George Lucas, December 1975
"It'll make you feel like a kid again" - regression as direct and frank sales pitch
Reversing on the 70s advances in cinema that broke with heroic representations of violence and war (The Godfather, Peckinpah to an extent, Coming Home, Apocalypse Now, etc), it's a full-scale return to hero-myth narrative in which violence, when righteous, is glorious and also seemingly without visible consequences - mess and agony screened out.
“We cut the end battle scene out of all kinds of old war movies, everything from The Dam Busters and The Battle of Britain to documentaries and Tora! Tora! Tora!” — George Lucas, January 1976
The End of (cinematic) History - “It should look very familiar but at the same time not be familiar at all.” — George Lucas, 1975
Now in the real-world supposed End of History (Fukyuma) scenario, the alleged Death of Ideology was actually followed all through the 90s and into our present age by the recrudescence of fascisms of every kind - nativist mysticisms of the blood, theocratic warrior-states on the war path, etc etc.... righteous-violence hero-myths a-go-go. Not the death of ideology but the return of death-dealing human us versus inhuman them ideologies.
Stars Wars reminded me of this book I have been wanting to reread, Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream - which is set in an alternate-history where failed painter Adolf Hitler moved to America and became a successful illustrator in the burgeoning Astounding Stories era field of science fiction (which involved a fair bunch of just-arrived immigrants) and then goes on to writes novels too - like his best-selling Lord of the Swastika. Meanwhile in the Fuehrer-less Europe, Communism has spread Westwards and swallowed up Germany and as I recall the whole Continent apart from U.K.
One of the problems as I recall with The Iron Dream is that the bulk of it consists of The Lord of the Swastika, which is a all-too-well executed parody of a sword 'n ' sorcery potboiler.
Here's Ursula LeGuin on the novel:
"Adolf Hitler's Hugo-winning novel of 1954, Lord of the Swastika, presented by Norman Spinrad as The Iron Dream (Avon 1972), is an extraordinary book. Perhaps it deserves the 1973 Hugo, as well. On the back cover Michael Moorcock compares the book with "the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and Sir Oswald Mosley.... It is the very quintessence of sword and sorcery." None of the authors mentioned is relevant, except Mosley, but the reference to sword and sorcery is exact. The Iron Dream can be read as a tremendous parody of the subgenre represented by Moorcock's own Runestaff saga, and by Conan the Barbarian, and Brak the Barbarian, and those Gor books, and so on--"heroic fantasy" on the sub-basement level, the writing of which seems to be motivated by a mixture of simple-minded escapism and money-minded cynicism.
A parody of S&S, however, is self-doomed. You cannot exaggerate what is already witlessly exaggerated; you cannot distort for comic effect something that is already distorted out of all reality. All Spinrad can do is equal the crassest kind of S&S; no one could surpass it. But fortunately he has larger game in mind....
.... But, in this case, does it matter? How can a novel by Adolf Hitler be well-written, complex, interesting? Of course, it can't. It would spoil the bitter joke.
He has done, in The Iron Dream, something as outrageous as what Borges talks about doing in "Pierre Menard" (the rewriting of Don Quixote, word for word, by a twentieth-century Frenchman): he has attempted a staggeringly bold act of forced, extreme distancing. And distancing, the pulling back from "reality" in order to see it better, is perhaps the essential gesture of SF. It is by distancing that SF achieves aesthetic joy, tragic tension, and moral cogency. It is the latter that Spinrad aims for, and achieves. We are forced, in so far as we can continue to read the book seriously, to think, not about Adolf Hitler and his historic crimes--Hitler is simply the distancing medium--but to think about ourselves: our moral assumptions, our ideas of heroism, our desires to, lead or to be led, our righteous wars. What Spinrad is trying to tell us is that it is happening here.
Here's David Forbes at Airship Daily on The Iron Dream and parallels with Star Wars
"The arrival of Star Wars signalled the full absorption of the former counterculture into a new mainstream. Like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas was a peer of directors such as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola... But Lucas's most famous film was a herald of a coming situation in which mainstream cinema in the America would become increasingly bland, and it would become impossible to imagine films of the quality of The Godfather movies or Taxi Driver ever being made again....