Cultural icon of my generation... changed cinema forever... blah, blah, blah.
You know what the whole Star Wars thing boils down to? One magic blockbuster summer movie, and five toy commercials. Oh, sure, Empire Strikes Back was more critically acclaimed than the original; darker, moodier, better script... But it ended as a cliffhanger, and cliffhangers have to be resolved, and it got resolved with the horrible formulaic commercial for stuffed Ewok toys and little plastic speeder bikes that is Return Of The Jedi. The third movie just put on display the weaknesses of George Lucas as a science fiction writer. Here was no Tolkein, painstakingly crafting languages with consistent rules of grammar and syntax; here was a guy naming races and spaceships after breaded seafood dishes.
Why didn't they just let it end with the first one? The good guys had won, the bad guys had lost, Luke had got the girl, Han got his cash, Chewbacca got a medal, and we were all screaming ourselves hoarse in the theater. Pinko film critic Eleanor Ringel in my hometown was pissed because a movie that just plain regular folks liked for no other reason than it was fun had completely overturned the Hollywood apple cart. What better way to let it end? Instead, Lucas had to pretend that he had the rest of the stuff all written down already, and there was more to come. Sure, George. Say what you want about having the whole shebang planned ahead of time, but we all saw that kiss in the first flick.
Anyway, thirty years later, I sure remember Star Wars. It's everything that came after it that I wish I could forget.