Star Wars (1977)

Source: 20th Century Fox: Blu-ray, 2011.

Year: 1977

Director: George Lucas

Action Stars

Peter Cushing

Carrie Fisher

Harrison Ford

Alec Guinness

Mark Hamill

Genre: Science Fiction

Country: United States

Story Duration: 01:58:21

Act Duration:

1st Act: 00:30:40

2nd Act: 00:26:39

3rd Act: 00:34:12

4th Act: 00:26:47

Plot Turns:

1st: Luke Skywalker rescued by Obi-Wan Kenobi

2nd: Alderaan destroyed

3rd: Escape from Death Star

ASD Ratio: 57%

AAD Ratios:

1st Act: 43%

2nd Act: 27%

3rd Act: 82%

4th Act: 71%

Action Structure: 2143

Action Scenarios


Dangerous Environment

Daring Leap Variant








Total Action Moments: 33

1. World War II aerial battle rendered as a space battle.
2. Y-wings engaged in a bombing run.
3. Visualization of the approach of the Death Star setting up deadline.
4. Destruction of Death Star.
Action Structure

Notable Action Sequence: Death Star

Duration: 00:15:09

Act: 4th

Action Scenarios:





Description: Although Star Wars (1977) is often cited as one of the films that ushered in the 1970s blockbuster film, less recognized is its impact on the science fiction genre. For the most part, the science fiction film was previously typified by works that explored the themes of technology – Things to Come (1936), alien encounters – The War of the Worlds (1953), space travel – Forbidden Planet (1956), artificial intelligence – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and dystopia THX 1138 (1971). While such films are not bereft of action, they do not possess the unprecedented levels of action found in Star Wars and the subsequent entries in the franchise that transformed the science fiction genre into an action vehicle. This is most evident in the 3rd act of Star Wars with a whopping 82% Action to Act ratio.

This commitment to action is also expressed in terms of the action genres that inform the film. As Todd Berliner notes, Star Wars references a range of genres, many of which are genres that are associated with action, including the western, swashbucklers, fantasy, World War II films, and samurai films. The climactic Death Star attack sequence features battles between rebel X-wing fighters and Imperial TIE fighters that are striking and similar in staging to World War II aviation films, particularly The Dam Busters (1955), through the bombing run of Y-wings that speed through a trench on the surface of the Death Star to target an exhaust port [Figure 1 and 2]. Also structuring the sequence is the use of a deadline to generate suspense as the Death Star gradually gets within range to fire its superweapon to destroy Yavin 4, the moon that harbors the Rebel Alliance base [Figure 3]. This sets a time limit for the rebel forces to successfully hit the exhaust port. Luke Skywalker takes one last run through the trench in his X-wing with Darth Vader firing at him in pursuit. When all seems lost, Han Solo appears from nowhere in his Millennium Falcon, and fires at the TIE fighters, allowing Luke to complete his run and destroy the Death Star [Figure 4] and fulfill his destiny as the hero.


 Berliner, Todd. 2014. Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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