You should read Rolling Stone’s 1977 cover story / interview with George Lucas.
What sets Star Wars apart from its predecessors are the special effects (some 365 separate shots) and the extraordinary richness of Lucas’ imagination. There’s the Cantina sequence, for instance, where the heroes stumble into a bar whose patrons are the scum of a dozen galaxies. And there are ancillary creatures like the Jawas, tiny, chattering beings who hustle used robots for a living. As for the opticals and miniatures, Lucas and Dykstra have come up with a new standard against which all future space-fiction films must be judged. Before Star Wars was released, Dykstra told an interviewer that the final battle sequence would be every bit as exciting as ‘The French Connection’ car chase. He was right.
And from George himself, letting us know right from the start that Star Wars was for kids:
I saw that kids today don’t have any fantasy life the way we had – they don’t have westerns, they don’t have pirate movies, they don’t have that stupid serial fantasy life that we used to believe in. It wasn’t that we really believed in it…
I just wanted to forget science. That would take care of itself. Stanley Kubrick made the ultimate science-fiction movie and it is going to be very hard for somebody to come along and make a better movie, as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t want to make a 2001, I wanted to make a space fantasy that was more in the genre of Edgar Rice Burroughs; that whole other end of space fantasy that was there before science took it over in the Fifties.
I was surprised to read that even in 1977 Lucas was trying to get out of filmmaking. He has enough money at this point, I kind of wish he was just making weird experimental films.
Also, I figured the merchandising along with the sequels would give me enough income over a period of time so that I could retire from professional filmmaking and go into making my own kind of movies, my own sort of abstract, weird, experimental stuff.