1 - Thirty years ago this month, "Star Wars" was released as a risk for 20th Century Fox. No one had any faith in it, including the main actors who had been given percentage points in the merchandising. This was a way to keep their salaries down in order to use the available funds for the groundbreaking special effects George Lucas' team was making up as they went along.
I was 12 years old when I stood in that line-up with my family, unaware my life would change the moment the opening credits burst with their trumpet fanfare onto the screen.
The impact that one low-budget independent film has made on Hollywood is immense. The merchandise tie-ins, the summer blockbuster and the big heroic happy ending (this was a resurgence of nostalgia at the time, as films in the late 70's tended toward gritty realism and ambiguity, as in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Network".)
2 - George Lucas
In "It's a Wonderful Life" terms, where would we be if there had been no George?
A high-fidelity sound reproduction system for movie theaters, screening rooms, home theaters, computer speakers, gaming consoles, and car audio systems.
Visual effects company responsible for most of what we enjoy today in films like "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "Pirates of the Caribbean".
The summer movie blockbuster began in the summer of 1977 with the May release of "Star Wars".
3 - The opening title sequence of the film. It was a very operatic, breathtaking, hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck raising transportation into a world as far away from the everyday as you could dream up.
4 - The film score of John Williams. I sat with the double album soundtrack for hours and hours, reading his liner notes explaining the different themes he'd written for each character or major story theme. I closed my eyes and identified every time the themes would emerge.
5 - The opening sequence, where a rebel ship heads for the planet in the distance. Then rumbling from what seemed like all sides, before the days of intricately-placed multiple speakers, an Imperial Star Destroyer chased the rebel ship, gliding over our heads for an impossible 10 seconds or so. I knew I wasn't in Kansas anymore.