'Star Wars' and the coming of age of special effects
The original “Star Wars” was when special effects got “real,” at least for a certain generation of movie fans. They could believe they were there, “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” from the opening shot on. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” No. 7 in the series, opens Dec. 18, and film scholar Julie Turnock will be watching with an eye on those effects. Her 2015 book, “Plastic Reality,” devotes significant attention to the 1977 original and its innovations – as well as special effects developments before and since. A professor of media and cinema studies at Illinois, Turnock spoke with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain about what’s “real,” how effects now get produced, and the large, global, underpaid labor force doing the work.