As many have pointed out, Lucas’ films are stitched together from old tropes and serials and homages: Luke’s family’s farm is burned in a raid out of The Searchers; Leia is chained up in an Orientalist fever dream; the primitive Ewoks inevitably mistake their visitors for gods. The fantasy future is soldered together indifferently from fantasies past, with the inner bits as exposed as C3PO’s stomach. No wonder Star Wars toys were so successful; the world of the films is practically built of toys already—the Death Star floats half-constructed in the third film, all but begging to be rendered in Legos.
The B-movie shoddiness of actors and aesthetics in Star Wars is often what critics don’t like. But even setting aside the fact that the effects charm precisely because they’re marvelously fake, there’s something original and profound in the films’ vision of time not as progress, but as a continued borrowing from the past.