Star Wars: The Force Awakens is getting ever closer, and that makes now the perfect time to revisit the original six films. Whether you have seen the films hundreds of times or you are about to venture into a galaxy far, far away for the first time, there are several ways to tackle the 13 hours and 17 minutes that Star Wars has to offer. Some will set out to watch them in the order the films were released, others may decide to watch them in chronological order. Several years ago, though, a blogger named Rod Hilton offered an alternate viewing order he dubbed the “Machete Order.” It may be the best way to watch Star Wars.
Rod Hilton’s Machete Order, named after his own blog, offers a viewing experience that better contextualizes the prequel films without having to sacrifice the focus and surprise the original Star Wars trilogy offered. Hilton’s order theorizes that fans are able to better enjoy both the original Star Wars films and the Anakin Skywalker backstory in the prequels by viewing the film episodes in order of IV, V, II, III, VI. The exclusion of Episode I will be explained later on, but first let’s look at this order’s significance.
This may seem obvious to older fans, but starting at Episode I: The Phantom Menace and going all the way to Episode VI: Return of the Jedi fails because the prequel films give away the twist that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. The original trilogy is Luke’s story, and is more compelling than Anakin’s. The prequels were created after the original trilogy, and were therefore not built to carryover into the original films, but instead support what people already knew. Chronological order then spoilers viewers on one of the biggest reveals in movie history.
On the other hand, Hilton’s argument against watching the movies in release order hinges on the Special Edition versions of the film, which include the Hayden Christensen version of Anakin at the end of Return of the Jedi. While this bothered many fans, and does seem odd with his rather creepy expression, the addition of Christensen does not fully take away from the experience of the original films. However, to fully appreciate Christensen’s inclusion, and understand that he is meant to be Anakin, means seeing the prequel films.
The Machete Order is built to accommodate these issues and offer a truly unique experience. By viewing A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back first, fans are introduced to Luke’s story and the struggles of the Rebel Alliance. It establishes the main players, and ends on a shocking twist when Darth Vader is revealed to be Luke’s father. From there, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith offer a look at Anakin’s fall to the dark side, as well the formation of the Empire. Finally, Return of the Jedi finishes the story of Luke’s redemption of Vader, his ability to succeed where his father failed, the fall of the Empire, and the end of the story Star Wars was meant to tell.
So, why leave out The Phantom Menace? The answer is simple: it doesn’t matter. There is nothing in The Phantom Menace other than Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padme meeting that has any relevance to the rest of the movies. Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn, the pod race, the battle on Naboo, and the trade negotiations just aren’t relevant to the saga as a whole.
Implementing Rod Hilton’s Machete Order, fans finally have a way to meld the two established trilogies (minus one) into a viewing experience that does not become counter-productive to its own story.
Will you try this order? Have you already? Let us know in the comments below.
HT: Rod Hilton
Images property of Lucasfilm