A new study names 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz as the most influential film of all time, with Star Wars landing in the runner-up spot. When it comes to film franchises, there are few beloved to the same degree as George Lucas' epic space opera creation. While 1977's original Star Wars film (or as it would later come to be known by fans, Episode IV: A New Hope) wasn't the first summer blockbuster - that honor goes to Steven Spielberg's Jaws - Lucas' first trip to his galaxy far, far away certainly cemented what that label meant.
At this point, Star Wars now stands as one of the most all-encompassing multimedia franchises in history, having produced eight films in the main series, two spinoff movies, several animated TV shows, books, video games, comics, and basically every other possible type of tie-in product imaginable. To be fair, much of that can also be said about The Wizard of Oz, as the magical world popularized within director Victor Fleming's Best Picture nominated film - and created in L. Frank Baum's novels - has gone on to repeatedly be adapted, reinterpreted, and reinvented for countless movies, shows, and other forms of mass media.
Despite Wizard of Oz's status as one of the most acclaimed films ever, due to Star Wars' continued cultural dominance, it's likely many modern moviegoers would assume that the first appearance of Han, Luke, and Leia has influenced more following films than anything else. However, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Turin (via The Telegraph), it's Wizard of Oz and not Star Wars that has directly influenced more films. 47,000 films were assessed as part of the study, and Wizard of Oz topped the list, with Star Wars at #2.
One potentially controversial thing that should be pointed out is how exactly the study was conducted. Researchers developed a computer program to determine which films had influenced others, which used data from IMDB (which contains extensive sections about which films get referenced by others, and which share narrative connections) to make its determinations. Since IMDB is user edited, some might argue that the veracity of everything this program encountered in IMDB's information archives should be called into question.
That aside, the final top 20 list put together by the study does indeed consist of some of the best movies to ever come out of Hollywood. Beyond Wizard of Oz and Star Wars, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho sits at #3, with the original King Kong at #4, and 2001: A Space Odyssey at #5. Other choice picks in the top 20 include Citizen Kane, Frankenstein, Casablanca, The Godfather, and the aforementioned Jaws. Fleming's other 1939 directorial effort, Gone with the Wind, appears at #19. Interestingly, 1915's Birth of a Nation also made the list, a film now best known for being unambiguously racist, even featuring the KKK as heroes. That said, director D.W. Griffith did pioneer many cinematic techniques while working on the film.
Source: University of Turin (via The Telegraph)
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