THE CYCLE OF REALISM, HISTORICAL CHANGE
We know that what the audience accepts as a convincing form of reality in cinema does not remain static.
Cultural shifts in public consciousness cause expectations to change with time.
Some of these shifts are due to the familiarity of industrial genres and aesthetics, requiring a novel approach in both content and style to entice moviegoers.
But some of these shifts also derive from historical change.
OLD HOLLYWOOD VERSUS NEW HOLLYWOOD
In many ways, "Star Wars" may be seen as the difference between Cold War science fiction and Post-Vietnam science fiction.
COLD WAR SCIENCE FICTION
|"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951)|
|"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956)|
Just as "2001: A Space Odyssey" may be seen as a transition from Cold War science fiction to counter culture science fiction.
Just as "The French Connection" may be seen as the difference between Post-World War police thrillers and Vietnam police thrillers.
And finally "A Fistful of Dollars" may be seen as the difference between World War Westerns and Post-World War Westerns.
Collectively, late '60s through early '80s American cinema is referred to as "The American Wave" or "The New Hollywood." Film historians broadly refer to this as the post-classical period.
During this time, American and foreign film industries were "growing up" -- making movies that, once again, reacted to, and were inspired by, the movies of Old Hollywood.
With all of the social and historical change taking place, it's no wonder that the general audience's conception of reality changed as well.