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In What Order Should One Watch the Star Wars Films?

September 19th, 2011

With the recent release of all six Star Wars films on blu-ray, Star Wars is on my mind (and I’m sure I’m not alone).  I am standing by my vow not to purchase this new set, since I am confident that the additional changes to the films (most heinously represented by Darth Vader’s new ridiculous “NOOO!!” yell that has been added into the climactic moment of Return of the Jedi, I guess to parallel the most aggravating moment in Revenge of the Sith) will only piss me off. 

(Addendum no. 1: I have no problem with George Lucas making as many changes as he wants to the Star Wars films.  AS LONG AS HE WOULD RELEASE THE ORIGINAL THEATRICAL VERSIONS TOO, along with his ever-more-Special Editions.  That he refuses to do that, when so many fans like me would GLADLY GIVE HIM LOTS OF OUR MONEY to purchase those original versions, boggles my mind and makes me angry and sad.)

(Addendum no. 2: While the newly mucked-with versions of the films don’t have a lot of appeal to me, the special features on the new blu-ray set, particularly the deleted scenes from the Original Trilogy (click here for a tantalizing preview), look awesome.  So I just want to clarify that I wouldn’t oppose being given this new blu-ray set as a GIFT!)

Where was I?  Oh!  Right.  Star Wars.  So even though I haven’t bought the new blu-ray set, I was thinking about the best order in which one should watch the six Star Wars films.  George Lucas obviously, feels that they should be watched in the order he has numbered them, I-VI, with the prequel trilogy first, followed by the Original Trilogy. 

I, on the other hand, have always felt that they should be watched in the order they were MADE.  So that would be the Original Trilogy first, episodes VI-VI, followed by the prequel trilogy, episodes I-III.  That was the order in which audiences originally experienced the films, and so it makes sense to me that that should be the order which is preserved.  A side-bonus of this order, to me, is that it would also help minimize the jarring change in the look and style of the special effects from the Original Trilogy to the prequels.

(Caveat no. 1: Anyone who would prefer to skip Episode I: The Phantom Menace entirely, when re-watching the saga, is OK in my book.)

(Caveat no. 2: The one thing I will say about George Lucas’ preferred order is that I must admit there is something cool about watching the original Star Wars (now called Episode IV), immediately after watching Episode III.  After first seeing Episode III in theatres, my friends and I went home and, after dinner, decided to pop in our copy of Episode IV.  It was really fun to see all the connections between the two films.)

But now I have begun to doubt my preferred order (IV-VI, then I-III) in favor of a third option that I read about on Drew McWeeny’s blog on hitfix.comDrew was writing about how he plans to show the Star Wars films to his young sons, and he suggested a far-out new viewing order.  Here, allow him to explain:

We’re planning to watch them in the Official Order Lucas Should Start Using, as I’m going to call it from now on, because I’m right.  Lucas should accept it and renumber the films.  My boys will see the 1977 film first.  “Star Wars.”  That’s all I’m calling it no matter what it says onscreen.  That’s the first movie.  The starting point.  Then “Empire Strikes Back,” because that’s how you hook them for life.  That one-two punch, seen first, is about as potent a storytelling set-up as I’ve ever seen, even today, even after endless imitation and homage and outright theft.  And then, after the colossal surprise of the end of “Empire,” cliffhanger firmly in place…

… we’ll go right into “The Phantom Menace.”  And we’ll follow it up with “Clones” and “Sith” as part of one long flashback, designed to answer some of the shocking revelations of “Empire,” and also to set up the Emperor and Vader and their f’ed-up co-dependent soap opera of evil, and then we wrap it all up the only way it can all wrap up, with “Return Of The Jedi.”

I’ve gotta say, that’s a pretty cool idea!  I love the idea of the prequels basically serving as an extended flashback in the middle of the saga, best watched before everything wraps up with Return of the JediYou can read the rest of Drew’s post here.

Food for thought, Star Wars fans!

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