What order should you watch Star Wars in?

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With the imminent release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, you might want to refresh your memory by watching the earlier Star Wars films, or even the films and other related productions.

There are two or three philosophies on this. The most obvious is to watch the films in chronological order, or story order, so you are seeing the historical development of the things that happened. This is simple. Watch Episode I first, and work your way in order through Episode VI.

There are objections to this method, however, because the way the story was told, out of historical sequence, involves certain reveals that would be ruined if you watched them in historical order.

The release order of the films, which presumably reflects the intentions of the artist, is:

Episode IV
Episode V
Episode VI
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III

Then, of course, Episode VII, and eventually Episodes VIII and IX

Software expert Rod Hilton developed what come to be known as the “Machete Order” (called that because his blog is named “Absolutely No Machete Juggling”). Hiton argues, as noted, that the historical order (he calls it the “episode order”) ruins a key reveal that so and so is so and so’s father. Hilton rightly notes that this is a key feature of the entire story, and it is not a good idea to ruin that. If anyone watching the films does not know about this reveal, then watching them in historical, or episode, order is the wrong thing to do.

He also argues that the release order is fine for the first three films has its problems as well. His suggestion is a different order from either historical or episode, and it runs like this:

Episode IV
Episode V
Episode II
Episode III
Episode VI

Notably, you don’t watch Episode I at all. The reason? It sucks. Read the original (well, updated) blog post for all the reasons.

Another dude, Ernest Rister, suggests the same order but he leaves in Episode I, so you get this:

  1. Episode IV: A New Hope
  2. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  4. Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  5. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  6. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

You can get the digital version of the existing films at Amazon: Star Wars: The Digital Movie Collection, or if you prefer hard copies, Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) in Blu-ray. There is also a non blue-ray version but since it is an import, I’m not sure if you want that for your DVD player.

You might want to go totally crazy and also watch and read the other things that are parts of the story but not in those movies, such as the TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, or the book A New Dawn. If you want to get those things in the right order, Tech Times has a list.

By the way, John Abraham wrote a review of the recently published novel, “Dark Disciple,” which fits near the beginning of the cannon, here.

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8 thoughts on “What order should you watch Star Wars in?

  1. I always watch in historical order. The whose father bit is silly I figured that from the 1st!!! Its a cliche of the highest order! The brother/sister thing was my surprise!

  2. It will be an interesting weekend. Some time ago my college-age son bought all four of us tickets to see it at our local Alamo Drafthouse theater this Saturday. He thought about getting tickets for the midnight viewing opening day but “figured you and mom would be falling asleep in the theater that late). I’m looking forward to it. The two boys are looking forward to it. My wife has never seen any of the first movies and says ‘I have no idea what to expect.’

  3. I have to say I am all for watching them in the order released if for no other reason than “historical accuracy” — i.e. it gives a better feel for how Lucas was evolving (or not, as the case may be) as a director/ visionary. (I know, he only directed four of the six).

    Honestly the other thing that I think makes that a good order is the nice comparison between what was possible in the 70s and 80s and what came later. But I coudl see not everyone is so interested in that. (Me, it’s because I think Lucas’ best work was when he had strict budgetary limits. See American Graffiti as exhibit A).

  4. Well there’s also the option of watching in order IV, V, VII as I did as a kid ..

    (Almost. Actually not really first movie I recall seeing was the RotJ and, no kidding it gave my Mum nightmares afterwards because of Jabba’s palace.

    I don’t recall the order I watched the next two, suspect it was NH then ESB but not sure. Pretty close together and on VCR -v ideo tape with actual tape – anyhow.)

    ..Then NOT watching any others.

    Till VIII maybe – dunno haven’t yet seen no spoilers please!)

    But sadly I didn’t and did see the prequels which cannot be unseen once seen.

    Although actually, guilty admission here, I didn’t think they were all that bad albeit not up to the emotional and powerful standard and hype stemming from the originals.

    Their music always works anyhow and hey these are Star Wars movies so take them for what they are. All of them.

    Which I say as someone who really loves this ‘verse.

    .. And whose all-time fave SF series is ‘Babylon 5’ FWIW

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