Since its first installment hit theaters in 1977, Star Wars has grown into a multi-media empire and remains one of the most influential fictional universes in all of popular culture. George Lucas’s space opera series is now a cultural touchstone not just in America but the world over and can be found in film, television, books, video games, comic books, music, merchandise and more. With the highly-anticipated release of the series’ next feature film Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens fast approaching, here are some places where Star Wars‘ influence can still be seen today.
The Spoofs Strike Back
As beloved as it is, Star Wars has also inspired numerous satires in film, television and music. Mel Brooks’ 1987 film Spaceballs is perhaps the best known spoof of the series. Seth MacFarlane’s animated comedy show Family Guy parodied Star Wars in a trio of episodes titled “Blue Harvest,” “Something, Something, Dark Side” and “It’s a Trap.” Artist “Weird Al” Yankovic recorded several parody songs including “Yoda” set to the song “Lola” by The Kinks.
In addition to legions of fans, Star Wars has spawned numerous catch phrases and quotations that have become part of the popular lexicon. Phrases like “May the force be with you,” “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” and “I am your father” are now almost universally known even by those who haven’t seen the film. Jedi master Yoda’s many teachings are also commonly referenced such as “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Perhaps no piece of the Star Wars franchise is as instantly recognizable as its music. Composer John Williams, who also composed the scores for classic films including Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the Indiana Jones series, crafted unforgettable arrangements that gave the movies much of their character. His Overture from A New Hope and The Imperial March are two of the best known pieces of music to ever come out of Hollywood.
A Visual Legacy
Star Wars differed greatly from many science fiction films that depicted shiny, futuristic settings and instead presented a galaxy that was noticeably dirty and run-down. This “used future” concept would also influence later science fiction films like Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien and his 1982 film Blade Runner as well as the Mad Max series, which are all considered classics in their own right.
The Return of the Series
Star Wars has remained one of the most influential movie franchises of all time for almost 40 years now. With the galaxy far, far away set to return to the big screen on December 18th, its influence on popular culture will only continue to grow.
And if you need more proof of just how ubiquitous the Star Wars franchise has become, look no further. We have an interactive guide that dives deeper into the decades, featuring iconic elements of the franchise and the shows and movies that were inspired!