How it all began
The Star Wars series began in 1977, though the original idea was conceived in the early 1970s. Initially, George Lucas wanted to create an action movie that was more like a Saturday afternoon series that he enjoyed as a child, but blend it with mythological, psychological motifs. It was an idea that ‘evolved’. To begin with, it was to be a potential remake of Flash Gordon, with some overtones of Japanese action series. In fact, Lucas has also often cited The Lord of the Rings series as a major influence on Star Wars; he acknowledged that the Gandalf and the Witchking characters influenced the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader characters respectively.
John Dykstra, started his Oscar-winning career in the special effects industry helping out with the extensive optical and model-work on Silent Running (1972). In the mid-seventies, he was chosen by George Lucas to head up Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), a new special effects facility that would provide the seemingly impossible optical work for Star Wars. The distinguished team that Dykstra led, went on to win Oscars, not only for effects work on Star Wars, but for the pioneering Dykstraflex motion-control process developed for the film Dykstra stayed in Los Angeles after Lucas moved ILM to San Francisco, working on effects for the original Battlestar Galactica, and contributing sequences for the first Star Trek film. He has since worked on a number of blockbuster films such as Spiderman and X-Men to name just a few. In addition to these, he has extended his skills set to video games!
Did you know
- The cast and crew of Star Wars began filming in Tunisia, where mid-morning temperatures reached 40 degrees celsius!
- Steven Spielberg recommended the composer John Williams, to create the original music for Star Wars.
- After the first film, Star Wars was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, and won 6 of them.
- The line “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”, which appears at the beginning of every Star Wars film, alludes to the classic fairytale line “Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…”
- George Lucas went on holiday soon after Star Wars premiered, so he didn’t realise the scope of the phenomenon until friends called him a week later!
- John Dykstra was denied a degree from the film department at Cal State Long Beach because he had a dispute with the head of department at the time of graduation.
- Despite working on Star Wars, Dykstra was one of the few people not to be gifted a percentage of the profits.