I got an email a while ago pointing me to an article from late last year about a new way to watch the Star Wars movies … and was reminded of it when I saw a post at Neatorama. It is quite intriguing and a new way to look at things – though not without flaws of its own. Here is the core premise:
Next time you want to introduce someone to Star Wars for the first time, watch the films with them in this order: IV, V, II, III, VI
Notice something? Yeah, Episode I is gone.
Episodes II and III aren’t exactly Shakespeare, but standing next to the complete and utter trainwreck that is Episode I, they sure look like it.
Episode I is a failure on every possible level. The acting, writing, directing, and special effects are all atrocious, and the movie is just plain boring. Luckily, George Lucas has done everyone a favor by making the content of Episode I completely irrelevant to the rest of the series. Seriously, think about it for a minute. Name as many things as you can that happen in Episode I and actually help flesh out the story in any subsequent episode. I can only think of one thing, which I’ll mention later.
Every character established in Episode I is either killed or removed before it ends (Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, Chancellor Valorum), unimportant (Nute Gunray), or established better in a later episode (Mace Windu). Does it ever matter that Palpatine had an apprentice before Count Dooku? Nope, Darth Maul is killed by the end of Episode I and never referenced again. You may as well just start with the assumption that Dooku was the only apprentice. Does it ever matter that Obi-Wan was being trained by Qui-Gon? Nope, Obi-Wan is well into training Anakin at the start of Episode II, Qui-Gon is completely irrelevant.
Search your feelings, you know it to be true! Episode I doesn’t matter at all. You can start the prequels with Episode II and miss absolutely nothing.
The article goes on to articulate a number of reasons why things really work well in terms of how tension and conflict is set and resolved throughout the series, and how this order draws new parallels between Luke and Anakin in their Jedi development that really heighten the stakes during the final sequence between Luke, Vader and the Emperor.
Some commenters complain about losing the Darth Maul battle, but I would say that the fragility of the coincidental timing in that sequence is much worse than the already convoluted ending of Jedi, which ruins it for me. Others comment on the wooden acting between Padme and Anakin as they begin a romance. Yet both are awkward sheltered teens … and with two teens of my own … well – let’s just say that teens are not so hip as they would like you to believe.
What do you think? Have you watched the movies recently? What would you suggest?