A Star Wars Debate: How to Introduce the Saga to New Viewers

December 18th can’t get here fast enough. Everyone around here is excited about the new Star Wars movies. Some friends love watching every piece of behind the scenes footage and reading all of the speculation. Others, including my husband, prefer to stay back so that they can experience the films without preconceived ideas. I’m not sure which camp I want to belong to, so I’ve limited myself to what my husband knows. I suppose it’s better that way so I don’t spill any spoilers.

The upcoming movies have also spawned some debate between us and our friends. One is introducing his daughter to Star Wars for the first time in preparation for the coming movie. The first question that came to everyone’s mind is an important one: in what order should someone be introduced to the Star Wars films?

I can see the argument for universe chronological order. After all, watching Episodes I-VI in that order seems like an easy answer. We do that with The Chronicles of Narnia (though when someone should be introduced to The Magician’s Nephew — the second to last book in publishing order but first book chronologically — deserves some serious consideration).

However, I lean towards release order. Even though it’s the most cliché line, I wouldn’t want to ruin that moment when Luke (and therefore the viewers) learns (*SPOILERS*) that Darth Vader is his father. Besides, I love Han Solo and Princess Leia. But especially Han Solo.

Fortunately, my husband and I are on the same side, which means that we’ll be unified in how we raise our future children.

I have heard that there are other ways of mixing the movies up as well, but I’m not very familiar with those.

As far as personal experience goes, my introduction to Star Wars was a little rough. My parents took us to a video rental store (you know, back when those things still existed), and my younger brother and I were terribly excited because it was shaping up to be a big movie night. However, the store only had Episodes VI. Someone already had Episode IV and V checked out. Undeterred, my brother and I insisted that we wanted to watch it that night, so we brought Episode VI home. Needless to say, neither of us could figure out who the green guy was or why he was dying, but we still loved it.

Soon after, we returned, but only Episode V was there. So we watched it next. Suddenly the green guy wasn’t a green guy anymore: he was Yoda, the coolest Jedi ever. And there had already been some spoiling about Darth Vader being Luke’s dad, but that was okay. It was still a big deal.

Last but not least, we watched Episode IV, and finally the whole story fell together. We were delighted and instantly transformed into unabashed Star Wars fans. Years of audio books and lightsaber duels in the backyard followed.

How were you introduced to Star Wars? Do you believe in chronological order or release order? Or have you found another way of watching the films?

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8 responses to “A Star Wars Debate: How to Introduce the Saga to New Viewers

  • Colleen

    Being much older than you, I actually saw Star Wars IV when it first came out at the movies. It was my first PG movie (my parents saw it first to make sure it was “okay” and I think it was the last movie my dad ever saw in a theater) and I think the first that my brother and I went alone without supervision of parents or older sibs. The line was surprisingly LONG! I remember enjoying it – it was like no other movie I have ever seen. I loved the way the introductory words unfolded in such a laid back way. After that, we watched V and VI as they were released. Then there was the LONG wait for I. We had heard way back when the plan that the original characters were already contracted to do the final 3 as older people — we did not expect them to be THIS old. By the time I, II and III came out, my kids were not old enough and I was not as interested. However, recently, with the news that VII was coming, we decided to catch up. We checked out I from the library. It was good, but really missing Han Solo light humor and the love story. We’ve been trying to get II and III from the library to no avail — always checked out. So, yesterday, I ordered cheap versions from Amazon and we hope to be caught up before the new release.

    • S.B. Roberts

      I wish I could have seen it in theaters. I’m sure it was even more fantastic. :)

      Episodes I-III definitely don’t have their Han Solo and that je ne sais quoi that makes the originals special. Not to say they still aren’t good. After all, they’re Star Wars. :)

  • C.B. Wentworth

    Star Wars is very special to me. It’s how my stepdad and I bonded. I was already a Star Trek fan (and so was he), but had never fully watched the entire Star Wars trilogy. He fixed that straight away and it’s been “our thing” ever since. He even took me to see all of them in the theater when it re-released in mid 90s. :-)

    I’m soooo excited for the new movie (as it actually looks really good). My stepdad and I have already made plans to see it together – the force is still strong in our tradition. :-)

  • Anthony Lee Collins

    1) Release order, definitely. That’s the order they were written in, and I’d hazard a guess that if George Lucas had written Phantom Menace first, he’d have written it differently. To use an analogy, you can’t take a flashback and turn it into a prologue (or vice versa) without altering the experience of reading the story.

    2) I first saw Star Wars not long after it opened, in a huge movie theater in the Dayton Mall (in Ohio). Somewhat drunk, as I recall. :-)

    • S.B. Roberts

      So true. Just last night, we were watching Episode IV and discussing the minor things that don’t quite line up with Episodes I-III, like Ben not being called Obi-Won since before Luke was born. It must have been incredibly hard to make I-III, even though they were already written, after IV-VI.

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