Posted at May 27, 2020

The Technology of Star Wars

The technology in ‘Star Wars’ back in 1977 opened our imaginations to new ideas and possibilities that have wandered in our minds since, but that begs the question: What was it about ‘Star Wars’ technology that made people feel awe-inspired and thrilled that it was apart of the culture of a new generation? And why did it break ground in technology of science fiction? I’m Double R3 and this is Breaking Down Scenes from Movies. To answer that question in a way that appeals to all science-fiction fans, you need to think about science-fiction before ‘Star Wars’ came to be ‘Star Wars’. We first had ‘A Trip to the Moon’ which began the science-fiction escapade of that particular genre and came to be because of George Melies’ brilliant imagination. Before that, though, people received science-fiction in small, yet effective, helpings of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Each piece of work acting as its own form of self-fulfilling prophecy that may or may not allude to what science may come to in the distant or near-future. That future at that time was, of course, uncertain and people had no idea what it would hold and the fact that people held onto those keen imaginations about things was already inventive for things that they had no idea existed. 

Special effects, in fact, where something that was either done with practicals or claymation that, by today’s standards, are very boring and/or campy and could never hold up to today’s work of Science Fiction films. 

Science-Fiction is just dreaming up something that doesn’t yet exist and putting it into the imaginations of the reader or the viewer. The witness can only look at what is being produced by the imagination of the author and assumes that it is a mere fantasy.

That’s what made Star Wars’ technology so revolutionary. It was the first of its kind and made for a brand new film that opened doors for the sci-fi era and genre. It took on such “vehicles” as speeders, spaceships, and other worldly creatures that other science-fiction films just teased around with. Star Wars went full throttle and then left the audience wanting more with each film that was made. The technology is what made such an impact on modern science and technical achievements that without this movie, the sci-fi era would never be the same. 

Star Wars tech resonates with us because unlike other technology from other films, it was more realistic and it wasn’t campy or silly. The film might have had their silly moments with R2-D2 and C-3PO but, overall, the movie and its tech was made to look and be taken very seriously to emote the tone and mood of the film: A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away. 

It has action, thrills and some of the best and iconic moments that die hard fans have geeked out for over four decades. If you took a sci-fi show like “Lost in Space” and tried or at least attempted to compare it to Star Wars, the result would be a landslide in favor of the latter only because the former looks so frightfully cheap and dull. “Lost in Space” doesn’t look like it is adding to the sci-fi genre. It looks like it is making a mockery of it. Star Wars and the look of the film is what sent the genre into orbit–no pun intended and gave viewers not to laugh at the visuals but instead marvel at them for what they are: A magnificent sight to behold that will forever stay in our hearts and minds forever. 

We are just going to try and forget about that most of Star Wars’ technology, while impressive as it both sounds and looks, is almost completely inaccurate. For example, all of those battle scenes in space would never have any sound as outer space is a vacuum and jumping to lightspeed across the universe without hitting any solid objects in space. Or the fact that you can lightspeed at any given time and none of the characters in the franchise have jet lag or whiplash. I will be sure to get back to that later. 

Let me just elaborate on why Star Wars’ technology is so much more superior than that of the other science fiction films that came before it. I’ll give you a perfect example. Star Trek first arrived on people’s television sets in 1966 and has since gained a cult following that has amassed millions of fans around the world. This, however, does not negate the fact that Star Trek is still a lot campier than Star Wars. Much of the favorite show of Trekkies is often covered in cliches and riddled with comedic technological advancements. The old “Beam me up, Scotty” line where you can use a machine to beam somebody up to a ship has now, since, become a running gag and throughout the years has been used as a joke in some other pop-cultural instances. The technology in the old Star Trek movies and tv series have, honestly not aged that well, even when you give credence to Star Trek and say that it came out before Star Wars. 

George Lucas’ science fiction space drama has been alive since 1977 and has been going strong since its inception. One of the reasons is because of the tech used. Star Wars took a more serious approach to the genre and fans embraced it with open arms in the years that followed A New Hope. George Lucas was able to create a phenomenon that captured audiences and give them a franchise that stood the test of time. Admittedly, things started to get campier when the first two prequels came out but when it came to technology, George Lucas stuck by his craft and paid proper justice to the advancements and as the Star Wars films progressed, even if the movies didn’t necessarily get better, the technology never got sillier, so to speak. If anything, it grew more and more menacing-no pun intended- and had the computer-generated advancements to make it more menacing. Despite what you might think of the latest Star Wars movies, you can’t deny its amazing skills at piecing together technology that looks believable and the audience buys into it almost automatically. 

However, there are still some flaws to the technology of Star Wars. According to Mark Brake and Jon Chase, the acclaimed authors of The Science of Star Wars, the films leave a lot to be desired when it comes to accuracy and continuity of the technology. “Let’s imagine that Rey is soaring through the sky of Jakku, at night. She salvaged some repulsorlift tech, and is wearing it around her waist. She’s really tearing through the night sky. In fact, she is travelling at the speed of light. As she rips through the planet’s atmosphere, she decides to check her reflection. She pulls a hand mirror out from her expedition backpack, and stares at the glass, knowing the light from the two moons of Jakku is enough to spy her reflection. However, if she is moving at the speed of light, then the moonlight reflected from her face couldn’t catch up to the mirror. That is because Rey is moving at the speed of light and so is the mirror. Rey is essentially sitting on top of the light wave, so the light from her face can’t catch up to the mirror” (Brake & Chase). 

These inaccuracies in the technology of light speed, if we think about them hard enough, can leave plot holes unexplained and make us question their logic. Even Star Wars isn’t completely accurate in their portrayal of future technological advancements. 



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