Julie A. Turnock tracks the use and evolution of special effects in 1970s filmmaking, a development as revolutionary to film as the form's transition to sound in the 1920s. Beginning with the classical studio era's early approaches to special effects, she follows the industry's slow build toward the significant advances of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which set the stage for the groundbreaking achievements of 1977.
Turnock analyzes the far-reaching impact of the convincing, absorbing, and seemingly unlimited fantasy environments of that year's iconic films, dedicating a major section of her book to the unparalleled innovations of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. She then traces these films' technological, cultural, and aesthetic influence into the 1980s in the deployment of optical special effects as well as the "not-too-realistic" and hyper-realistic techniques of traditional stop motion and Showscan. She concludes with a critique of special effects practices in the 2000s and their implications for the future of filmmaking and the production and experience of other visual media.
About the Author
Julie A. Turnock is assistant professor of media and cinema studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Part I: Before 1977
1. Optical Animation: Special Effects Compositing Up to 1977
2. Before Industrial Light and Magic: The Independent Hollywood Special Effects Business, 1968–1975
Part II: Circa 1977: Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind
3. The Expanded Blockbuster: The Auteurist Aesthetics of 1970s Special Effects–Driven Filmmaking
4. "The Buck Stops at Opticals": Special Effects Technology on Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind
5. A More Plastic Reality: The Design and Conception of Star Wars and West Coast Experimental Filmmaking
6. "More Philosopical Grey Matter": The Production and Aesthetic of Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Part III: The 1980s and Beyond
7. Optical Special Effects into the 1980s: A Well-Oiled Machine
8. "Not-too-Realistic" and Intensified Realistic Approaches in the 1980s: Traditional Stop Motion and Showscan
Conclusion: World-Building and the Legacy of 1970s Special Effects in Contemporary Cinema
What People are Saying About This
An important book. Turnock mounts a convincing and detailed analysis of visual effects from the late 1970s onward. She offers a rigorous historical account of how special effects engendered the shift to a more commercial, genre-driven, and assaultive kind of filmmaking in Hollywood. A groundbreaking work.