Saturday, November 3, 2018

Great Moments in Cinema History #3: Star Wars (1977)

Star Wars threw a lot of the laws of physics right out the airlock. Explosions might not work like that in the vacuum of space, and you can't hear laser beams sizzling through the void, but they made the movie far more exciting to watch.

But, crucially, the laws of acceleration, speed and momentum were carefully followed, and they are clearly on display in the final attack on the Death Star, especially when the tiny fighters charge down from on high and start blazing down that vital trench.

This point-of-view shot of the approach to the trench - which is so good and so striking that they use it multiple times during the climax - sets the standard for decades of fast space action. It's not just that roller-coaster flow of sliding down from a great height, it's the way it smooths out again at the bottom and uses the momentum of the fall to shoot straight down the canyon without losing any speed.

And it's that little bounce, right at the end of it, that really sells it. It goes by so fast and you're already racing down the trench towards destiny, but it truly makes you feel like you're really there with Luke Skywalker, bouncing in your spring-loaded seat and ignoring the impossible physics around you.

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