Star Wars, at its secret, spiky intellectual heart, has more in common with films like Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books or even Matthew Barney's The Cremaster Cycle than with the countless cartoon blockbusters it spawned. Greenaway and Barney take the construction of their own work as a principal artistic subject, and Lucas does, too. "This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level," one of John Ashbery's works begins. Star Wars, we might say, is concerned with plot on a very plain level. Everything about the films, from the opening text crawls to the out-of-order production of the two trilogies, foregrounds the question of plot. As an audience, we grapple with not just the intricate clockwork of a complex and interwoven narrative, but, in postmodern fashion, with the fundamental mechanics of storytelling itself.
I wrote a piece for GloNo on the final installment back when when it premiered in the theaters earlier this year. Now that the DVD is lanuching there's a little bit more buzz about Star Wars. Wasley does a good job, I think, of putting his thumb on what it is about the films that is so applealing to so many people. The usual conversation (or rather arguement) about Lucas's masterwork is that it either suffers or soars due to his cinematic and technical skills. Lucas has long argued that the real appeal of his creation lies in the deep well of Western Philosophical tradition, that he borrowed themes and components from our collective cultural mythology and used them to construct a narrative that appeals at a deep level.
I like Wasley's take on the whole Series of films as "Art House" movie making. I think his explanation works better to explain, in a context slightly different from Lucas's Joseph Campbellesque explanation, how and why the films fit in our modern cultural history.