The biggest debate that goes around is on the chronology of viewing the movies, because Episodes IV, V and VI, were the ones that came to the theatres much before the prequel trilogy (I, II and III). Here is my argument. Episode VI has to be the last movie in this marathon, because it has a grand-scale climatic battle that sounds like the perfect way to end this mammoth series. Moreover, it completes a journey, and feels like a proper ending unlike any other movie in the series. It ‘wraps’ up things. So I cannot see any other way to bring this marathon to an end other than Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.
Now we need to structure the other five movies. Here is what I feel about them. If you are totally new to Star Wars series, and completely oblivious to that one moment somewhere close to the end of Episode V that had the audience reeling in shock, unsure on how to handle the gravity of what they had just heard, then this is how you need to go about watching the series:
Episode IV – Episode V – Episode I – Episode II – Episode III – Episode VI
Look at the prequel trilogy as a flashback, where what you learn in Episode V is explained in greater detail. But if you have already seen the Star Wars movies and/or know about the ‘big secret’, then it’s better to follow the straightforward approach which I used.
Episode I – Episode II – Episode III – Episode IV – Episode V – Episode VI
There was a seventh Star Wars movie that had a theatrical release after the above six. An animated film called Star Wars: The Clone Wars which was actually a pilot episode of a new TV series but was seen by George Lucas to be big enough to warrant a theatrical release. In terms of the timelines, it stands between Episode II & Episode III. It’s a different sort of film, meant to be seen in a different setting, and hardly of the same quality as the Star Wars saga; so my suggestion is to completely skip it, and maybe have a look at it sometime later.
The breaks during each movie may not be required, but it’s advisable to take a gap between each Episode so that you can run through what has happened in the movie, take a breather, quickly complete a few home chores, and more importantly, build an excitement for the next movie. The last bit is what I realised in this marathon – the break actually increases the longing to know what happens next (even if you have known it for the better part of your life) and that allows the universe of Star Wars to sort of overwhelm your existing one and put you in the movie’s world. Running through movies even if the eyes are hurting or the concentration is lacking ruins everything that a movie marathon stands for.
Beyond my advice on how to watch the Star Wars marathon, here are a few things I realised about the series on watching things again. The Star Wars prequel trilogy is essential to the saga no matter what people say! Fans of the original series never warmed up to Lucas’ prequel trilogy which released from 1999 to 2005 and have been especially dismissive of the first two episodes. I strongly differ. I especially loved Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, and now I am going to make a case for the prequel trilogy.
The origins of Darth Vader are absolutely essential to understand better how entrenched he is in the dark side. Not much about him is told in the original trilogy which added to the mysticism of the character and gave him a God-like status in the sci-fi genre. But Darth Vader, more than anyone else, needed to be understood better and that is what the prequel trilogy does. It in fact does more than that. It explains the idea behind the Storm Troopers, it shows the master plan of Darth Sidious, it sets the stage for Yoda’s journey to the swamps of Dagobah (though that one was clumsily handled, I must admit).
Another reason I absolutely love Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is because it’s the only one which has Liam Neeson. How can that not be a good enough reason? Neeson, as the master of Obi-Wan, looks to have been born to play a Jedi someday. Calm, poised, charismatic, someone who looks deeply knowledgeable, he is one of the highlights of the movie. On the other end, I know almost everyone found the character Jar Jar Binks, who also made an entry in Episode I, to be darn annoying, but try listening to him with the subtitles for the movie on, and it might just make things bearable.
The prequel trilogy held one thing which the original did not, politics. This too can be a matter of debate on whether the original trilogy excels because of its leaner storylines and more focus on the core characters. That would be true to a large extent, but the politics angle brought up in the prequel trilogy brings a whole new flavour to the Star Wars saga which a series of such stature could not have avoided. The whole scheme that is being hatched by Darth Sidious is cunning, and feels akin to the politics we see on our homelands here too. The journey of the Galactic Republic to became the Galactic Empire, and the crumbling of democracy, elevate the series to a bigger level than it being only about rebels trying to bring down the Empire through force. As I said earlier, opinions on this would be divided, but I could not have loved the whole politics shown in the prequl trilogy any better.
That was my defence laid down for the prequel trilogy which, before I forget, also gave us Christopher Lee and Samuel Jackson yielding lightsabers, Yoda fighting acrobatically with one, and also one of the fiercest fight scenes of the entire series towards the end of Episode III. As for the original trilogy, which released between 1977 and 1983, there is little to say except that it is a masterpiece. Not only was it out of the world back in the old days, it still stands aside as a piece of cinematic magic even today. The ambition in writing the script itself is praise-worthy, but then to be able to pull off such a saga and give rise to a new era of ‘blockbusters’ is phenomenal. The final lightsaber duel between Luke and Darth Vader would always remain as my favourite bit from the entire series, but there are so many other moments that can never be forgotten – Darth Vader’s entry, Yoda’s training of Luke and that legendary line “Do or do not. There is no try.”, Han Solo and Princess Leia getting off on the wrong foot during a mission to rescue the Princess, and other epic moments that I will not point out in case you haven’t seen the series yet.
So catch hold of the six Star Wars movies and begin your journey to a galaxy far, far away. In a couple of months, we will be heading there once more!