If there’s anything to know about Star Wars, it’s that the very first film released, way back in my birth year of 1977, was amended with a rather confusing label, shortly after its first release (when it became clear there were going to be sequels): “Episode IV”. Episodes V and VI followed only a few years later. When I first watched Star Wars (years later, I might add, I was proably ten or twelve), I figured it was a little gag, a way to make the story more mysterious and imply much had happened before it already. Then, 16 years after the then last Star Wars movie, in 1999, Episode I was released, followed by Episodes II and II with three-year gaps in between.
When introducing the films to new viewers (something I hope to do someday, being a long-time geek and a much-shorter-time dad), there is the obvious problem of the order in which to show the movies (some might say there is no problem, since there are only three movies worth watching, but I’m not that much of a purist). Since episode order wreaks havoc with some important twists in the original three movies, you might be tempted to go for “release order”, but I also heard of something called “Machete order”. Last week, I stumbled across the original blog post that introduces it as a thing:
Unfortunately, Release Order is also an instant failure, and the reason is a single shot. If you’re watching the official releases and you view 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.
Machete order is IV, V, II, III, VI. Yes, that leaves out I, and when you read the blogpost, that starts to make a whole lot of sense. The above quote is not the only reason Machete order is a good idea, because a compelling case is made that the story as a whole actually works better in this order, with parallels in IV/V and II/III, and then the whole thing being tied up in VI. Next time I rewatch the Star Wars saga, I’ll give this a try for sure.
Update 20/2/2016: Not too shortly after finishing this post, I actually started watching the movies again, in Machete order. It works. And quite well, I might say. Wholeheartedly recommended. Feel free to watch Episode I, but more as part of the anthology, like Rogue One, and not so much as part of the saga.