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I have a friend who has never seen Star Wars and he wants to watch it.

I am unsure which order I should suggest. Should he watch the old or new Trilogy first? Or some kind of mixed order? I am looking for a well-reasoned answer, not one-liners.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

The question was asked on Science Fiction & Fantasy:… – Loïc Wolff Apr 21 '12 at 16:01
Meta for SFF overlap: – DForck42 May 9 '12 at 16:54
I have watched it in every possible order. I want you to watch it in the best order. Try : 2,6,1,3,5,4. I can ensure you this is the best order. – user3429 Nov 18 '12 at 1:00

4 Answers 4

up vote 22 down vote accepted

The Machete Order seems to be a great idea. It is a variation of the method @Nobby suggested, but it leaves out Episode I completely.

So the order is: IV, V, II, III, VI

The article is long but worth reading, it makes a lot of great points.

A little extract on why Episode I is unnecessary:

Episode I is a failure on every possible level. (...) 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. (...) Every character established in Episode I is either killed or removed before it ends (Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, Chancellor Valorum), unimportant (Nute Gunray, Watto), or established better in a later episode (Mace Windu, Darth Sidious).

(already added it as a comment, but I think it deserves its own answer)

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+1 I was hoping that you would upgrade this to an answer. Practically no midichlorians, little Jar Jar Binks, no strange age issues between Anakin and Padme, no trade war for little loss in the story arc. – iandotkelly Apr 24 '12 at 14:09
Yes, Ep1 is a chore (even as a life-long SW fan I'll admit this) but there are still some elements in it that have bearing on the story arc as a whole - plus my little guy LOVES the podrace :) – Nobby Apr 24 '12 at 16:09
How about suggesting just the Episode IV? The prequel trilogy is widely regarded as a failure as a whole, Episode V is "just several middle-of-the-story chases", and Episode VI doesn't even make sense with these little furry guys taking on the trained soldiers. – Malcolm Jul 16 at 20:21
@Malcolm I like your idea, but why did you single out Episode IV? Aliens, spaceships, strange wizards fighting with flashlight-swords, huge artificial planet and stuff like that. It is kinda stupid, isn't it? – kapa Jul 17 at 9:41
@kapa Because the question says that your friend wants to watch Star Wars, and you can't really do that without watching Star Wars. But since it's OK to leave out episodes, I suggest sticking to the Episode IV which gets least criticism. – Malcolm Jul 17 at 9:46

I am watching the films with my little boy, and am using a new method that seems to be the most agreeable.

Start with Episode 4 - A New Hope, then Ep 5 - The Empire Strikes Back, then go back and watch the three prequels as a sort of 'flashback', and then watch Ep 6 - Return of the Jedi.

In this way, your child gets the full story of Anakin's rise, fall and redemption, without the big 'Father' surprise being spoiled.

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Interesting, but still the correct way to watch them is in the order of release. But depending on the age of the viewer, that might be a good way to go as then it ends with an upbeat tone. – Peter Grill Apr 23 '12 at 0:07
Luke learns that Vader is his father in Episode V, so according to your suggested viewing order, you will learn this "big surprise" before starting to watch any of the prequels. – Bernard Apr 23 '12 at 2:19
If you watch the prequels first you will learn that Vader is Luke's father before you see Ep V, thus spoiling the shock of discovery along with Luke. Here - read this article which started the whole trend (although I dispute the exclusion of Ep1) to understand why this order works the best.… – Nobby Apr 23 '12 at 4:12

I think the correct way is to watch Episode 4, 5 and 6 and then stop.

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

+1 I'd add MAYBE watch episode 3 afterward to see how Anakin fell, as that one was the only non-doo doo movie of 1-3. Between Jar Jar's annoying presence in ep. 1 and the forced romance in ep. 2, I'd rather have never seen those two. Oh, to have never heard of Midichlorians... Ruined it completely for me. – David Apr 24 '12 at 2:13
Agree Episodes 1-3 are a travesty and a fine lesson in 'less is more' if you watched them all in the supposed numerical order there are no suprises, acting and story improve over halfway through, you get annoying side characters at the beginning and end and you get a Calculon style 'Nooooooo' from Darth at the end of 3 which leaves you little sympathy for his road to redemption in 6. IMHO Lucas should not be allowed to touch the Star Wars films again. – EdChum Apr 24 '12 at 19:31
You might want to provide some explanations for why this is the correct or best way to make this more than an arbitrary statement. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 26 at 11:53

I would suggest watching them in the order they were made IV, V, VI, I, II, III and then make your own mind up whether to watch The Clone Wars film or not (I think it depends on how much you enjoyed the prequel trilogy).

I usually skip I and II, though when I watch them through occasionally I may watch parts of Episode I such as the Darth Maul fight but I can't stand Episode II for me despite it setting up the Clone Wars crisis and the origin of the Clones, I find the whole Anakin plot line tedious in that film but it really depends on what you feel is best. If you're watching it with your kids you might want to start with the prequels as they are more on a children's level, well the first two anyway particularly having Jar Jar in the first one prominently.

But if it's just you wanting to watch them I definitely recommend watching them in order of creation, the whole setup in Episode IV is brilliant when you haven't got the prequel explanations as the characters (Obi Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader) have much more mystery surrounding them and the whole feud between Jedi and Sith plays out much better in my opinion through the original trilogy.

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protected by TylerShads Jun 19 '13 at 12:28

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