Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SEARCH YOUR FEELINGS; YOU KNOW IT TO BE TRUE:  Remember how we debated the proper order in which to watch the Star Wars films, generally agreeing on Release Order (IV-VI, then I-III) rather than Episode Order (I-VI)?  Rod Hilton has a better idea:
If you’re watching the original trilogy first, then after the Empire is destroyed and everyone is celebrating, Luke looks over at his mentors, Ben Kenobi and Yoda, and suddenly they are joined by… some random creepy looking teenager who needs a haircut. Placing Hayden Christensen in the ending of Jedi, since he’s not in ANY of the other films, turns an ending that should be celebratory into one that is confusing for the viewer. The fact that Christensen looks like he’s undressing someone with his eyes doesn’t help.

So neither order really works. What to do?

How can you ensure that a viewing keeps the Vader reveal a surprise, while introducing young Anakin before the end of Return of the Jedi?

Simple, watch them in this order: IV, V, I, II, III, VI.

George Lucas believes that Star Wars is the story of Anakin Skywalker, but it is not. The prequels, which establish his character, are so poor at being character-driven that, if the series is about Anakin, the entire series is a failure. Anakin is not a relatable character, Luke is.

This alternative order (which a commenter has pointed out is called Ernst Rister order) inserts the prequel trilogy into the middle, allowing the series to end on the sensible ending point (the destruction of the Empire) while still beginning with Luke’s journey.

Effectively, this order keeps the story Luke’s tale. Just when Luke is left with the burning question “how did my father become Darth Vader?” we take an extended flashback to explain exactly how. Once we understand how his father turned to the dark side, we go back to the main storyline and see how Luke is able to rescue him from it and salvage the good in him.


  1. Drew McWeeny at Hitfix did a very long series about showing them to his kids in this order.

  2. Jordan5:23 PM

    Correct order: IV, V, VI.

  3. isaac_spaceman5:50 PM

    Hilton's creepy-Anakin problem is not a problem if you just show them the original transfer instead of the retconned one.

  4. Anonymous6:39 PM

    I do like the suggestion of completely eliminating Episode I from the viewing and the fact that you miss nothing without it. 

    Even better would be the Topher Grace edited version that cuts down all 3 prequels to 85 minutes: http://www.slashfilm.com/topher-grace-edited-star-wars-prequels-85minute-movie/

    I did just watch the linked version of Star Wars in HD and it looks very nice and very faithful to the original. 

  5. Andrew6:42 PM

    Oops - I was that anonymous guest.

  6. Adam C.7:34 PM

    Yes, this is actually a no-brainer if you bought the original trilogy on home video before the later trilogy came out (or if you have no intention of subjecting your kids to the later trilogy).  But if the only copy of Jedi you can get your hands on is the butchered ghostly Christensen version, and your kids are dying to see mumble-mouthed artificial actors and also Jar Jar, then the suggested order might make some sense. Assuming you stayed awake through all of II and III, which some of you may be able to claim.

  7. isaac_spaceman9:16 PM

    We bought the trilogy DVDs a couple of years ago, when the kids were really into the Lego Star Wars video game.  Couldn't have been more than two and a half years ago.  The set came with two discs per movie -- the Christensen/non-humanoid Jabba version and a slightly grainier original transfer with the middle-aged Anakin.  Frankly, the middle-aged Anakin is no less confusing than Hayden Christensen, since the only time you see the guy before that is when the Vader helmet comes off, and it's not an easy leap from that grey, distended head to the cleaned-up old ghost Jedi.  Either way, a first time viewer is going to go, "huh?" 

  8. Shayera9:44 PM

    What you do is find the original release videos, burn them to dvd and watch them. Pretend I, II, and III don't exist.

  9. Joseph J, Finn9:54 PM

    Even better, don't show your kids the prequels.  If they want to watch them at some other kids house, that's find.  No reason you should enable it.

  10. Adam C.10:03 PM

    That's the version I'm thinking of on DVD - I had thought Lucasfilm/Fox pulled those out of print (due to Lucas wanting to erase all vestiges of the original, non-augmented editions) earlier than that, but apparently not.  

  11. The even more correct order is IV, V, VI, and turn off VI before the celebration at the end.  I can't be the only one who HATES the redemption of Vader at the end of ROTJ.  He killed, what, BILLIONS of people?  And then he has one half-baked moment of redemption and he gets to go to Jedi Heaven.  God, I hated that.  (And not that I'm encouraging watching I, II, and III -- but won't someone think of the younglings!)

  12. lisased10:46 PM

    We watched IV, V, and VI last weekend. They weren't confused about the switch at all, but then they weren't surprised about anything because they have played the Lego games so much. I was a little sad about that, but my mood improved with this exchange after IV:

    "Can we watch 'Empire' now?"



    "In three years, just like I did."

  13. Adam C.11:00 PM

    This is essentially how I've handled it.  After the credits had rolled on Jedi, and the first "When can we see Phantom Menace?" question was asked, I said to my kids, "You're on your own for those." And it has not been spoken of since. 

  14. Joseph J, Finn11:38 PM

    And eliminates the evil, vicious sentient-eating guerilla warriors known as Ewoks.

  15. Jordan11:58 PM

    Why you can't start with Episode I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbV5hn_ET0U

  16. Paul Tabachneck5:59 AM


    And none of this inserted digital crap, either: HAN SHOT FIRST.

  17. bill.6:29 AM

    the correct order is Star Wars, then Revenge of the Empire. Then stop, just stop.

  18. Tosy and Cosh10:24 AM

    So I'm the only one who likes the prequels quite a bit? OK, I'll be that guy. Wooden acting and some shockingly bad dialogue? Yes. But the virtues make them worth it to me:

    A fully formed vision of Jedis in action--we see the glory Kenobi referred to.

    A vision of the Jedis as complicit in their downfall--stubborn, inflexible, and blinded.

    An enemy much more complicated than in the originals--I absolutely love that the first real look we get of what will become "The Empire" is of it saving our heroes at the end of II.

    Absolutely wonderful John Williams additions to the original scores.  His score for III easily equals any of his work on the orginal.

    An ending in III that feels earned and appropriately tragic--I can't be the only one who loves teh final Anakin/Obi-Wan duel, can I?

    A younger Yoda demonstrating great power, but also poor judgment; he's not the perfect oracle we get in the originals

    OK, I'll stop there. Getting hard to dodge the tomatoes. ;)

  19. Despite an exceedingly wooden performance from Christensen, Episodes II and III aren't that bad.  I haven't revisited Episode I since its original release and have no desire to.

    My deep weighty question--I can get the market for the Blu-Rays for all 6, and the "original trilogy only" Blu-Rays, but who on earth is buying the "Episodes I-III" Blu-Rays only?

  20. Lurker David3:44 PM

    My only problem with the prequels is that my eldest loves "The Saga Begins", and now I feel I have to show that to her (once we've gotten through the originals).  I suppose I could just tell her the song was better than the movie, and skip right to Episode II.