This evening I watched Star Wars with my seven year-old son for the first time. He's just a little younger than I was when I first saw the film back in 1977 and, while he "knows" Star Wars through pop inculturation, he'd never watched any actual Star Wars movies until today. He enjoyed himself well enough, but I don't think it had quite the same impact on him that it did on me over three decades ago. For example, R2-D2 was the character he seemed most interested in, so the perils of Luke, Leia, and Han were generally of secondary importance to what happened to everyone's favorite astromech droid. I can't say I'm terribly surprised by this. My son lives in a post-Star Wars world, so many of things that made the original film such a revelation to me and others in 1977 are pretty banal nowadays. Honestly, I'd have been rather amazed if he'd come away from watching it with anything close to the euphoric buzz I had when I first saw it more than three decades ago.
This was also the first time I'd watched the film in a while and I came away from it more convinced than ever that it's a really good movie in its own right. Just about everything in it works and does so without either pretension or self-consciousness. Indeed, it's the utter lack of self-consciousness that most impressed me, as it's the quality that most separates the original film from all of its successors. Star Wars is the only one of the series that simply tells a story rather than telling a story about Star Wars. To varying degrees, all of the sequels and prequels exist, at least in part, to tell us more about the characters, places, and events of the original film.
A friend of mine once said that Star Wars is the only one of the series that didn't take place within the Star Wars universe. By that he meant that, until a second film had been made, there wasn't really such a thing as "the Star Wars universe," at least not in the sense that we use that phrase now. Certainly there were lots of details established in the first film, but most of those details existed primarily to advance the story it was telling rather than to flesh out the setting of the story. It's the only film of the series that's like that, which probably explains why, even after years of interminable "expansions" to the original through movies, TV shows, comic books, novels, and other media, it still retains a freshness and vibrancy that the others lack.
I say this not to denigrate everything that came after, some of which I like a great deal, but only to note that the original Star Wars is a very different animal than the phenomenon that it spawned. It exists in a world before Ouroboros and I'm glad of that.