Star Wars: Which order
to watch them in?
With the completion of the trilogy, there
are now two (or more; see below) clear ways to watch the trilogy: In
chronological order by
their date of production/release or in "episode" order, by their
in the story. Let's look at the issues involved in this decision.
By starting with Episode
totally miss out on the revelations that made the original trilogy so
All of these facts are revealed in
and I wouldn't trade the surprise for anything. The prequels work
best at dramatizing how things came to be rather than setting up the
for the "later" episodes of the original trilogy.
- Ben can return from the
- Yoda the muppet is a Jedi
- Vader is Luke's father
- Leia is Luke's sister
- What's behind Vader's mask?
It's beyond debate that
Lucas pushed special effects farther faster than anyone in the history
of cinema. While Episode IV: A New Hope was breathtaking
its day, it was only the beginning. There is a clear and
escalation in effects technology that is evident with each subsequent
and part of the fun of watching the series was seeing where they could
take things next.
By viewing things
starting with the "Special Edition" versions of the trilogy, there is a
steady increase throughout the saga... with a notable leap forward into
fully-realized CG characters when one comes to the prequels. To
with Episode I means lowering expectations halfway through the
While the original trilogy is movie-making at its best, viewers will
miss the remarkable panoramas of worlds like Coruscant that are never
in the original trilogy (aside from the brief Special Edition inserts
such as the celebration tacked
onto the end of Return of the Jedi).
The only visual surprise Lucas
the original trilogy was smeared starfield of the hyperspace jump
revealed aboard the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope).
that was, it's very little compared to the modern digital
realized in the prequel trilogy.
As of 6/10/05 the
for the saga were as follows:
Episode 1 = 6.4
Episode 2 = 7.0
Episode 3 = 7.9
Episode 4 = 8.8
Episode 5 = 8.8
Episode 6 = 8.1
|When viewed "episodically"
starting with The
Phantom Menace, the series starts on a very low note. In
it is at its lowest of the series. One might view this
as humble beginnings, but that doesn't encourage the viewer to move
The series continues to build in overall appeal through The Empire
Back, but concludes with the anti-climactic Return of the Jedi,
that is merely a reworking of A New Hope.
|On the other hand, if the
series is viewed
in chronological order of production, the saga starts with a
While it looses some of its appeal over the course of the series, the
do get gradually better in quality and ultimately conclude with Revenge
Sith, that is tremendously satisfying visually and
Start in 1977 with A New
Let your kids enjoy it just like we did!
Alternative viewing orders
Basically the two sequences most fans consider (including myself in the
text above) are Release Order (i.e., watch the films in the order they
came out) and Episode Order (i.e., George Lucas' chronological telling
of the story). But there are other ideas:
Alternative Suggestion: IV, V, I,
II, III, VI.
This approach has the advantage of
the big Vader reveal is a surprise. It also introduces the young
version of Anakin before the end of Return of the Jedi.
(Personally, I think showing him as a young man instead of the "healed"
version of Vader that Luke just met made more sense to me. That's
the version I plan to show my kid(s).) The idea is that there's a
sort of lengthy flashback two-thirds of the way through the original
trilogy in which we get the backstory. That certainly helps us
better understand Vader's relationship with the Emperor, but I don't
know that it brings that much to the game. It also makes RotJ a
bigger let-down for me because I consider RotS a better movie, meaning
there's a big drop from the 2nd-to-last movie to the last movie in this
Order: IV, V, II, III, VI (Episode I is gone.)
Assuming you like the Alternative
Suggestion above, this is a genius amendment to it. The
rationale is that tPM simply sets up a lot of things later in the
series that we really don't even need to know about. We can
certainly live without Jar Jar or knowing that (among other odd facts)
Padme was once a queen before she was a senator (which doesn't make
sense anyway since she was elected in both cases). This order
still has the
same problems I mentioned above with the drop-off in quality from RotS
to RotJ, both in terms of the story and the special effects.
However, I have always felt like the
series wasn't two trilogies but rather a single movie (tPM) that served
as a prologue or prequel to a two-parter about a galaxy going to war
(AotC and RotS) followed by a twenty-year gap before we resume the saga
with a three-part story about the next generation attempting to right
the wrongs that followed from that war.
order: IV, I, II, V, III, VI
If you read the comments on the page cited
below, there was also the suggestion to juggle the order just a bit
more in order to keep the whole Anakin/Vader secret a secret for just
that much longer. It is so-named for the parallels it has with
the De Niro flashbacks in "The Godfather II."
These are all interesting intellectual exercises, but I'm going to
settle for Release Order for many of the reasons stated above.
You can read more about these here: