A critic might say "Oh, Lucas combined Flash Gordon with Akira Kurosawa, threw in some science fiction novels, comic books, The Wizard of Oz, and sewed it all up with Joseph Campbell's ideas on the structure of myth." And Lucas did do all those things, but that can't be the final answer. Why? Every storyteller would like to connect with people as deeply as Lucas did with Star Wars, and everyone has access to the same raw materials. If the process was really so obvious and simple, wouldn't every story be just as good?
For those of us trying to write a story we like as much as Star Wars, how do we even begin? Perhaps the answer lies in Basho's suggestion: "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought." Maybe the key to becoming a skillful storyteller isn't imitation of the storytellers who have influenced us most, but figuring out what they were trying to achieve, then reaching for the same goal ourselves.
This website is filled with educated guesses as to what might have influenced George Lucas when he created the original Star Wars trilogy. The question is never where Lucas found his inspirations, but rather how he wove them together with such intelligence, insight and compassion. What gives a story the power to touch us? How does the imagination work?