Star Wars: Is episode I a good start?
August 14, 2012 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Star Wars: “IV, V, VI, I, II, III” or “I, II, III, IV, V, VI”? If you’ve never seen any of the movies, how would you like to be introduced to them? Better question would be this: how should a person be introduced to them? 1st world issue details inside.

So, here’s the deal: my son is 11 and has never seen any of the Star Wars’ movies. He’s heard about Star Wars, seen some of the cartoons and clips on youtube, and heard things about the movies. Bizarrely enough or at least I think that it’s odd, he even knows a lot of the lines from the movie. "Luke, I am your father" for example, yet he doesn't know who Luke is or anything about the context of that quote.

Being a good dad, I feel it important that he be introduced to this piece of American pop culture. I would like to be the one to do this. I am a Gen Xer and saw the movies in the way that they were theatrically released and I was one of those people who watched the first one multiple times at the cinema (6 or 7 times). . . Ah, and this is kind of my question, when I say “the first one”, I’m referring to Episode IV.

Question is this: should someone who’s never seen these movies view this in chronological order vis-à-vis their theatrical releases or vis-à-vis the actual story time line? My son has pretty much got a clean slate when in comes to star wars and I want to properly introduce him to the movies.
posted by WestChester22 to Media & Arts (52 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You should consider neither of those two options, and instead go with Machete Order.
posted by tocts at 9:25 AM on August 14, 2012 [37 favorites]

I came here to echo what elizardbits said. I've seen IV, V, VI. I've not seen the others. Don't need to, don't want to.

Then show him Star Trek.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:25 AM on August 14, 2012 [7 favorites]

4,5,6 are pretty good. 1 and 2 are incomprehensible. 3 is okay.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:26 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's what I think:

First, you watch A New Hope, then Empire Strikes Back. This preserves the surprise of finding out who Luke's father is, and who his sister is, which is one of the best things about the series.

Then, after your mind is blown because you learn that Luke is DV's son, you watch the prequels in order to give you more context and backstory about DV.

Finally, you watch Return of the Jedi, where Luke and Anakin's stories are resolved together.
posted by visual mechanic at 9:26 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I'd say it depends on how much patience you think your son has... if you think he'll be able to slog through the first three and still want to keep watching, then definitely save the best for last!

Also, as an 11 yr old, he might really identify with young Anakin and actually like 'I' better than the rest of them. Just warning you.
posted by Grither at 9:26 AM on August 14, 2012

I mean, Episode I is really, really bad.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:27 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you should introduce him to IV, V and VI and then the prequels, with the faint hope that he will find them lacking -- I did this with my little brother when he was about the same age and discovered, to my chagrin, that kids have a very different set of tastes to the Elder Nerd, and he loved the shit out of the new movies and their ridiculous CGI.

posted by fight or flight at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2012

Don't get fancy. Show them in theatrical release order.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:29 AM on August 14, 2012

When I clicked on this question, for some reason I thought it was asking about Star Trek movie order. Then I saw elizardbits' response, and thought, "either she's lost her mind, or I have."

But yes, original three, and apparently Topher Grace re-mixed the prequels into one not-shitty 85 minute version. I'm not sure where you'd get a hold of that, but it might be the only way to watch them (although III has its moments).
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:31 AM on August 14, 2012

How do YOU feel about the prequels? Do you enjoy them? Would it break your heart if your son preferred them?

Anecdotally, having watched various parent acquaintances go through this, what tends to happen is that their kids are much more interested in the prequels than the original trilogy, because they're louder and crazier and the latter ones are all Angst Angst Angst in that way that seems really grown up and sophisticated when you're 8 -- the same things that make those movies unwatchable to me can make them really entertaining for a kid. The kids then go on to watch a lot of Clone Wars, and their parents' dreams of watching them dress up as Leia or Han Solo for Halloween are dashed.

If you're basically okay with this outcome, then I'd just ask him which he'd rather do -- 11 is old enough to understand the difference between production order and chronological order, and since there are advantages to both you may as well just let him decide. It might also make him feel more like this is a thing he's deciding to do himself in his own way, and less like he's humoring his dad.

If the idea of him shrugging off the original trilogy fills you with dread, then I wouldn't even bother showing him the prequels. The don't actually add anything to the original story -- arguably, they undermine parts of it -- and if he can watch them on his own later on if he cares enough to bother.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:31 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

For the story, Machete Order (IV, V, II, III, VI), as RobotHero has suggested. Skip I entirely, as it adds nothing to the larger story, and its absence makes the other two prequels better.

Though, if it were me, this is the order: IV, V, VI. That is all.
posted by eafarris at 9:33 AM on August 14, 2012

Response by poster: Ooo. I like the suggestion from "visual mechanic". I never thought of that one.

Keep the suggestions coming and thanks.
posted by WestChester22 at 9:34 AM on August 14, 2012

Obligatory "there are only three Star Wars movies" answer.

If you *must* expose the little munchkin to the prequels, IV, V, II, III, VI is the best order. Omitting TPM entirely does not harm the story at all, it does nothing besides set the stage. As a bonus, omitting TPM also largely eliminates nonsense like democratically-elected 14-year-old queens, 10-year-old slaves building protocol droids for their mother, "midichlorians," and "Jar Jar."
posted by entropicamericana at 9:35 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

4, 5, 6.

I saw them older than most geeks of my generation. I was 12 when the Special Editions came out in the theaters, and A New Hope is a great movie to capture adolescent longing for a world beyond your home town. I think at 11, your son will really GET IT.

All that machete order stuff and all . . . meh. I'd be really annoyed with someone getting all that involved in it. Show him the original trilogy, in order--it's a proper trilogy, after all. If he wants to watch the rest, let him.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:39 AM on August 14, 2012

Everyone is so close. The correct order is: IV, V, VI, wait twenty years, then I, II, III.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 9:41 AM on August 14, 2012 [12 favorites]

Also, for what it's worth, it's very likely that in a few years time once he discovers The Internet, if anyone asks him which of the movies are his favourite, he'll say original trilogy every time. Those will be the ones he'll rewatch.

On that note, you should totally share with him your memories of going to see the original movies and what they meant to you as a young nerd.
posted by fight or flight at 9:42 AM on August 14, 2012

Except for Return of the Jedi, I didn't see the movies until I was an adult, for what it's worth. Cultural osmosis means I can't be objective but I guess I'm saying I don't have the same nostalgic attachment a lot of folks do.

I don't see a problem with watching them in order of theatrical release. If you watch them in chronological order then it sort of takes something away from Darth Vader; he works better as an antagonist if he's a huge terrifying unknown quantity. If you already have it established that he's a huge badass then you can sort of let your imagination do the work and assume that something happened in the years betwen episodes three and four to make him the shitkicker that he is in 4, 5 and 6.

He won't have had twenty-odd years for the original trilogy to gain emotional vintage and build expectations, nor will he be unable to see the prequels with the same young set of eyes (since he'll be seeing them all for the first time at around the same time), so it's possible that he'll like the prequels just fine, and that is okay. His Star Wars is not your Star Wars. That's as it should be. Time moves on.

I actually found Episode One to be a fun loud dumb romp. It wasn't great but if he's seeing these things all for the first time then he might have the same reactions I did: Mostly it's place-setting and I thought Jar Jar Binks was dumb but not any more of an insult to my intelligence than the Ewoks.* So sure, show it to him. Maybe he'll dig it.

On preview: It's unorthodox but I think visual mechanic has a pretty great idea.

* Yes, I've seen the redlettermedia review, and while I don't disagree with any of it, please bear in mind that we're talking about showing an 11-year old some movies with spaceships and laser wizards in them, and I'm thinking in those terms.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:45 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing IV-V-II-III-VI. And then, after those, let him see I, just because it's got pod-racing and Darth Maul and some other decent stuff. But the reveal of Darth Vader as Luke's father is just too good to screw up by watching the prequels first.
posted by Etrigan at 9:51 AM on August 14, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, on a side note and to my great chagrin, he has a little sister who, unless she surprises me, will probably not be too keen on watching any of the star wars episodes.

How can I weave her into the fold?
posted by WestChester22 at 9:57 AM on August 14, 2012

While I get where y'all are coming from with your Episode I issues, if the kid likes the original movies and wants to watch the prequels, don't treat it like some corrupting horror from which he must be shielded. Let him watch it in context and make up his own opinion about it.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:59 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Everyone is so close. The correct order is: IV, V, VI,
...wait until dormitory age, let him sort it out on his own, but warn him fatherly about I, II, III.
posted by Namlit at 9:59 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Okay. The first one I remember for sure seeing is VI, and I was four years old, and it gave me such awful nightmares that I wasn't allowed to see another movie in a theatre until I was 10 years old and that was Star Trek V, so.

I am terribly enthralled with the Machete Order. I find it delightful and it makes a lot of sense.

I don't know a single child who saw the prequels first. Every single geek kid, or kid of geeks, that I know, saw the original trilogy first. Several of them were quite young when they first saw TPM (the youngest kid to earn line hours at the 1999 LiningUp line was like, four years old), and in general, their like of Jar-Jar and podraces diminished on a logarithmic kind of scale as they got older. That four-year-old likes the logos and such, but is a fairly hard-core original trilogy person at holy crap I can't believe how old he is now. Has it really been thirteen years?

Ahem. Anyway, I don't see any reason to insist on something more complex than the Original Trilogy first, if you don't already care a lot. And if you didn't care at all, you wouldn't ask, so there's no reason to do the prequels first (blech.) But no matter what happens, in about 10 years your son will be able to view the whole thing with the appropriate level of awareness and critical thinking, and will realize that V is the best, George Lucas is actually a terrible writer and fairly lousy director (especially of children,) and VI shouldn't have Hayden Christensen it at all. I don't recommend showing him the RedLetterMedia things for a few more years - give him a chance to figure out why TPM stinks on his own; the RLM review is much more satisfying if you're already halfway there.

(I would personally shell out for the non-special-edition of VI just to keep Hayden Christensen out of the film. You can totally get it on DVD.)
posted by SMPA at 10:01 AM on August 14, 2012

nthing machete order. Either 4, 5, 2, 3, 6 or 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 6 - take your pick.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:06 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I mean, Episode I is really, really bad.

I have only ever seen Episode I. I went ot see it on the behest of my then-boyfriend, who was a fan. I've never seen any of the 'original' films - they were not repeated on TV or rented out for me to watch, and as I was born in 1982 I couldn't see them at the cinema really. As a child, my reaction would have been 'sci-fi? No, don't like it. Can we watch the Pee-Wee Herman film?' As a teenager, when they were remastered, I wasn't sure why everyone was making a fuss over an old film about spaceships. As an adult, I feel the time has passed. I know pretty much the plot of the first three films to be released, I know all the lines and tropes from the films (enough to follow the Family Guy episodes that parody the original trilogy and understand why they're doing what they're doing) and I've seen none of them. I know who Darth Vader turns out to be, y'know, and it's not like it's Macbeth where you can come for the dialogue even if you know who's going to die in the end. (Though my favourite film at eleven was Shirley Valentine, so chances are I wasn't a typical kid.) It's become such a part of pop culture that actually watching them will never live up to what those who adore the films have told me it was.

I quite liked Episode I. The double-ended lightsabre duel was fun, even if the rest of the film was basically BBC Parliament in funny wigs. Jar-Jar Binks was a bit rubbish. The rest was probably lost on me.

I think if you want to do this you should be doing it now before he can quote actual chunks of dialogue for films he's never seen. Everyone in your generation who loves these films like children saw them in 4, 5, 6 then prequels, so I#d do the same. If you start with the apparently terrible first ones, he might think there's no point in seeing the others even if dad really really likes it. He'll get a similar experience to you, which will be awesome.

(See also: Monty Python. I've seen less overquoted sketches and enjoyed them, but thanks to engineering students incessantly fucking quoting The Knights Who Say Fucking Ni to me, the films are always going to be a let down. Also, Clerks. I read a lot about it, finally got to see it when I was seventeen, and I knew all the punchlines and experienced the distress of a 'this is what happened to me and it really hurt' story I was told being something that happened to Dante and his girlfriend. Nnngh.)
posted by mippy at 10:17 AM on August 14, 2012

Oh, on a side note and to my great chagrin, he has a little sister who, unless she surprises me, will probably not be too keen on watching any of the star wars episodes.

How can I weave her into the fold?

Wait until she's a few years older. Two words: "Han Solo".
posted by capricorn at 10:22 AM on August 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

I loved Star Wars as a 5-year-old girl. Han Solo didn't feature into it at all. I spent most of my early childhood (when not in a sunbonnet and prairie dress a la Laura Ingalls) in a long white bathrobe with a lego blaster and my hair in some semblance of Leia buns. Princess Leia is badass! And a princess! COOL!
posted by ChuraChura at 10:27 AM on August 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

. . . and for some of us girls, it was Leia in a metal bikini.
posted by endless_forms at 10:41 AM on August 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

I would do 456, 123 (if at all) because I think the switch between the eras would be just be too jarring.

I'd explain it to a kid as "this was the original story, which people loved on its own, then they went back years later and tried to tell the rest of the story."

And please don't listen to anyone who tries to say "Return of the Jedi" is a bad movie. For my money it's the best of all six, Ewoks and all. The Emperor's throne room part is definitely the best scene in any of the six.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:46 AM on August 14, 2012

Nthing Machete Order. I did this for a (grown-up) Star Wars virgin, and I must say that it really works well.
posted by rokusan at 11:03 AM on August 14, 2012

Yet one more vote for Machete Order (4, 5, 2, 3, 6 -- skipping episode 1 entirely). I almost regret that I saw Star Wars so long ago that I couldn't have been exposed to them this way.
posted by willbaude at 11:35 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

A New Hope

The Empire Strikes Back

Return of the Jedi

The other trilogy does not exist.
posted by Sara C. at 11:35 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Additionally, if your kid is eleven and has really never seen any Star Wars ever, you should just leave the DVDs around (except for the Three That Do Not Exist) and let him discover them himself.

Every time my parents tried to "introduce" me to something they thought was cool, or that they liked when they were my age, it fell completely flat. Your kid might be different, but especially by the time I was a pre-teen, I needed to discover pop culture and most narratives on my own.
posted by Sara C. at 11:40 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'll provide a somewhat detached (non-hardcore fan) opinion: the so-called "Machete" order, which omits The Phantom Menace, seems like it would be the best way to experience the series, and the way I'd prefer to see them if I were to have my memory wiped and were to watch the series again for the first time. I saw The Phantom Menace with my father when it came out, and I believe I was around your son's age (I was a year older, I think), and absolutely hated it. I had viewed the original trilogy a few times throughout my life, but never really had a strong opinion about it. The Phantom Menace is two hours of people whose names you can't remember talking about shit you don't care about followed by some kid I didn't relate to at all in a long, boring race to win his freedom or something followed by more talking. That was my perspective thirteen years ago and it's still my perspective. I have no problem with movies with a lot of talking and character development, but all I can remember about the plot (aside from what I already mentioned) was talk about trade agreements and something to do with a princess parading around as a handmaiden while the actual handmaiden paraded around as the princess. What the fuck is going on?

I'd go with your best judgement, though. Do you honestly think your son can sit through The Phantom Menace and retain it all? If you're not sure, then either save it for last, or go with one of the orders that puts it in the middle. If your son gets bored, shut it off, and move on to the next movie. Problem solved! I doubt he'll miss out on too much plot if he skipped it.

So, take that as you will.

After previewing, I kind of agree with Sara C. I don't believe I ever really got too into anything my parents tried to introduce me to, other than some music and S.E. Hinton (what?) and Stephen King novels. Anything else I wound up liking that they also liked was something I discovered on my own.
posted by Redfield at 11:49 AM on August 14, 2012

Ignore the prequels. Nothing happens in them that will help you like the originals more, and they actually tarnish your enjoyment of the originals. Fuck them.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:58 PM on August 14, 2012

Watch them in the order they were released. Quit watching them when they suck :)

Yes!: IV. V.
Meh, but worth watching: VI.
As for I, II and III, it's up to you and your son.
posted by Mr Ected at 2:15 PM on August 14, 2012

he has a little sister who, unless she surprises me, will probably not be too keen on watching any of the star wars episodes. How can I weave her into the fold?

Huh? I don't get it. If she's not too keen on watching them, why are you trying to come up with a strategy to get her to watch them? Maybe just make this a "dad and son" thing?

Also, obligatory: How to Talk to Your Kids about Star Wars
posted by deanc at 2:16 PM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have only ever seen Episode I.

I have a brother like you, mippy. He has seen only a single episode of Star Trek, yet feels his opinion in a question like this is valid. Nobody else agrees with him -- because, like you, he's only seen the worst!

But I admire your purity -- I remain Harry Potter-free, but not many think this is something worth bragging about.
posted by Rash at 3:12 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @ deanc

posted by WestChester22 at 3:14 PM on August 14, 2012

451236. I think that order also better reveals that Leia is Luke's sister.

And I agree that he should watch them all. Maybe he'll like them now, and hate them when he's older, but let him decide if they're any good, rather than a bunch of disappointed internet grumps.

My opinion of Ep I has declined over the years, but I wouldn't deny a kid a chance to potentially be enthralled by some aspects of it. Bay's Transformers is another matter... And its "trade disputes" plot can't be nearly as confusing for a kid as Dark Knight Rises.

As for your daughter, I'd think she'd like Star Wars too. If she's totally bored with IV, it probably won't get much better as it goes. Unless she likes Ewoks, maybe.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:24 PM on August 14, 2012

My 4 and 6 year old daughters have seen the original trilogy and they looove it. Last Halloween they chose their costumes: Chewbacca and Luke, respectively.
posted by ellenaim at 3:45 PM on August 14, 2012

Oh, another factor regarding the original trilogy is special edition vs theatrical release. Unless you really want to show the movies in HD, you may want to consider getting the "limited edition" untouched versions. You can find them used, but I think they're readily available on Netflix (by mail). The big drawback is that they're not anamorphic widescreen.

For me it's more a matter of being a purist rather than how good or bad the SE changes were.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:52 PM on August 14, 2012

IV, V, VI. Honestly, I wish I could erase ever seeing I, II, and III. Still, if I were forced to watch all six and had a choice, I would still go IV, V, VI, I, II, III rather than the I-VI order. That's the way we were all introduced to the series and I still think it's best. It's hard to know, but I think if I would have seen the prequels first, I probably never would have become a Star Wars enthusiast. [Incidentally, I'm a girl and besides the incredible characters and all the on-screen excitement one of the reasons I loved Star Wars from my first viewing was.. well, Luke Skywalker was my first crush!]
posted by Mael Oui at 9:04 PM on August 14, 2012

I'll echo: IV V (I) II III VI

The question about IV V VI is which to use. I cannot, in good faith, use the SE editions of IV and VI. The pacing is destroyed in several places in the SE version of IV and VI needs Yub Nub (and sure as shit does not need 'Jedi Rocks'!). Track down a fan edit *cough* Harmy edit *cough* for IV and VI.

Funnily enough, Empire's the best movie of the lot and, not only does it weather Lucas' re-edits, but it is subtly improved by them.
posted by mazola at 9:15 PM on August 14, 2012

I don't know what this "Episode IV"/"A New Hope" business means. The first movie's title is Star Wars.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:47 PM on August 14, 2012

. . . and for some of us girls, it was Leia in a metal bikini.

For some of us boys, too.
posted by pjern at 1:36 AM on August 15, 2012

IV, V, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, The Goonies.
posted by run"monty at 1:54 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

But I admire your purity -- I remain Harry Potter-free, but not many think this is something worth bragging about.

I'm certainly not bragging. I've just never seen them, and I feel that now I've had 30 years or so of everyone talking about how great they are, they just won't live up to that expectation. Which is why I think the OP needs to start now if he wants his kids to properly enjoy them, free of the pop-cultural baggage.
posted by mippy at 3:14 AM on August 15, 2012

I feel that now I've had 30 years or so of everyone talking about how great they are, they just won't live up to that expectation.

If I'd had that mindset, I would've missed out on a lot of great movies and albums.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:11 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

In release order, the original versions only! My dad took me to a triple bill of them when I was a little girl, and that was one of the most exciting film experiences of my life. Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back are great, and as a kid I did love the Ewoks in Jedi. The later three (well, I only saw - or, more accurately, suffered through - I and II) were so awful that if you can get away with not watching them, I wouldn't.
posted by sumiami at 11:44 PM on August 15, 2012

And I was not older than 8 when I saw them, so your daughter might be totally into it. Just have her watch them with you, and if she's not into it then let it be. But please, please start with IV and V.
posted by sumiami at 11:51 PM on August 15, 2012

Forgot to answer the question. Using the current nomenclature, this is the order I saw them in, at the cinema. (Watching "Star Wars " on a TV set's never had much appeal to me.) Of course, YMMV:

IV, IV, IV, IV, IV, IV, V, V, VI, V, II, III.

(Many years later, noticing a "Phantom Menace" DVD at the library, I finally saw I, on my TV, and it wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting.)
posted by Rash at 8:59 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older How to run 20 feet of 3.5mm to RCA cabling?   |   Small liberal arts in Portland: What say you? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.