I used to be the greatest Star Wars nerd once upon a time (before 1999). How nerdy? Obviously I had watched the movies. I also downloaded and read the scripts. Mind you this is during the dark days of the internet: no Google. In fact my college computers did not even have a gui-based browser, so all this on lynx. That is nerdy enough? No, not really. I also grepped the scripts for the number of times “may the force be with you” is spoken and did geeky things like that. So what happened in 1999 that shook my faith? The Phantom Menace! The prequel trilogy seriously messed up the whole story. Plus the special editions of the old trilogy were a bit much (Han shot first, all the Jabba bits…). I didn’t really dislike the special editions altogether, though.
TPM was horrible in so many ways (virgin birth, midichlorians, etc.) For new to the series viewers the terrible script, direction, ham acting would be intolerable. So watching the movies in episode order would ensure that no one ever got beyond the first movie.
If we see the big reveals in the series, these are:
- Vader is Luke’s father (spoilt by the prequels)
- Luke and Leia are siblings (spoilt by ROTS, plus this makes ANH icky)
- The big reveal (if that is really a reveal) in the prequels is that Darth Sidious is really Senator (later Emperor) Palpatine. However TPM spoils this right off the bat with the holographic conference with the Trade Federation and the ending shot of Palpatine.
So there is a new way of watching the movies: the machete order. This order is: ANH, TESB, AOTC, ROTS, ROTJ. Note that this skips TPM altogether. Read the full (long) piece for why this works. What is really good about this is that:
- It preserves the surprises (we watch TESB, then take a flashback to Anakin’s life)
- Leia’s identity is revealed in ROTS just before it is revealed in ROTJ anyway, so still a surprise as of the end of TESB
- Palpatine’s identity is revealed nicely without the TPM mess
Plus this has none of the TPM’s other flaws including its greatest: Jar Jar. In addition we understand better the transformation of Luke from ANH/TESB to ROTJ better. In ROTJ Luke is being tempted to the Dark Side. By watching Anakin’s evolution we see that the son is following in the footsteps of the father. The tension at the end between the Emperor, Vader and Luke is better understood in this context.
So here’s the thing, I am going to watch the movies in machete order and see for myself how it works out. I will report back here!