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Star Wars star destroyer Star destroyer from "Star Wars"

Special effects take a low profile, with naturalistic cinema verité films in the ascendancy, until several special effects hits herald the start of the blockbuster era.

Disaster is the order of the decade, beginning with "Earthquake" and "The Towering Inferno" in 1974. More mayhem follows with "The Hindenburg" (1975) and "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972).

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" features a spectacular UFO mothership aglow with thousands of lights overseen by visual effects supervisor Doug Trumbull; the 400-pound fiberglass model, four feet high by five feet wide, is meticulously wired with neon tubes, incandescent bulbs, and fiber optics. Additional lighting is added through projection.

Millenium Falcon 1977 - the Millenium Falcon, from "Star Wars"

"Star Wars" is released, featuring highly complex space battles made possible by electronic motion control, invented by visual effects supervisor John Dykstra. Dykstra and the film receive Oscars, and "Star Wars" revitalizes the effects field.

Continue: 1980s

Photos: (1) ©1996 WGBH Educational Foundation.

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