It was 35 years ago this month that the world was first exposed to what was going on in a galaxy far, far away. Unless you were there, it's hard to explain how big a deal Star Wars become with that first movie. Not only did it change sci-fi, but it also was a landmark in CGI technology.
And then there was the sound of Star Wars. We heard things from a movie that we'd never heard before. Now, many of those sounds are indelible parts of pop culture.
This is where we meet Ben Burrt who was just 28 when he figured out the sound of a light sabre or how R2-D2 should beat. Check out this article from Wired:
Shunning the slick sounds typically associated with science fiction movies, George Lucas tasked Burtt with creating audio that would lend realism to his epic space opera.
“You had this fantasy world, but the sounds give the illusion that it was all real,” Burtt told Wired in an interview at Skywalker Sound. “That it really existed. That spaceships really sounded like that.”
The resulting audio palette imbued Star Wars, released 35 years ago today, with an air of authenticity that helped transport moviegoers into the enduring universe crafted by Lucas and his associates. The work also cemented Burtt’s reputation as one of the world’s most important sound designers. Burtt played a key role in many major movies, putting his distinctive sonic stamp on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Wall-E, and many more.
The 63-year-old Burtt, who still works at Skywalker Sound, began experimenting with tape machines as a child growing up in the 1950s. He saw the science fiction movie Forbidden Planet when it came out in 1956, and the film’s prescient electronic music soundtrack, by the pioneering composers Louis and Bebe Barron, still inspires him to this day. In this interview, conducted in December at Skywalker Sound and edited for length, Burtt discusses the impact of Forbidden Planet and how it inspired the sound design of Star Wars.