There's More Than One Way To Watch 'Star Wars'
(SOUNDBITE OF "STAR WARS" THEME MUSIC)
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Spoiler alert: In light of the news that there will be even more "Star Wars" films at theaters in coming years, we bring you this story. If you haven't seen "Star Wars," turn your radio down fast.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "STAR WARS: EPISODE V - THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK")
JAMES EARL JONES: (As voice of Darth Vader) I am your father.
CORNISH: Oops, too late. Well, that's the nearly 34-year-old reveal in the "Star Wars" saga - sorry. But if you haven't seen the movies at all, we're here to help you.
ROBERT SEIGEL, HOST:
First, let's review. Director George Lucas made three "Star Wars" movies starting in the late 1970s. The first one, "Episode IV." In it, we met a nice young man with blonde hair, named Luke Skywalker.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE")
MARK HAMILL: (As Luke Skywalker) It just isn't fair. Oh, Biggs is right. I'm never gonna get out of here.
CORNISH: And a big, bad guy in a black metal suit, named Darth Vader.
(SOUNDBITE OF "STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE")
JONES: (As Darth Vader) Commander, tear this ship apart until you've found those plans, and bring me the passengers. I want them alive.
SIEGEL: Darth Vader and Luke battle over the fate of a vast evil empire. The two come to blows in the second film. And then, they team up as father and son to win the empire for good.
CORNISH: So there, OK? So there's three parts - nice, tidy story. Then in the 1990s, George Lucas creates three more episodes, ones that predate the original trilogy - Episodes I, II, III - and they tell us how Luke's father first went bad, back in his younger days.
SIEGEL: There are new films on the way. But to start, there were six films, and Lucas suggests that new viewers watch them in the episode order - one through six.
CORNISH: But blogger Rod Hilton has a better idea. He calls it "machete order."
ROD HILTON: Machete order is watching them in the order - IV, V, II, III, XI. So there's two things about it that make it sort of interesting. And that's, first of all, you're using the prequels as an extended flashback. They're inside of the main trilogy, the original trilogy. So it's sort of like, if you watch a movie and it's like, in a middle of a bank robbery or something and that's how you're introduced to all the characters, and then it cuts to three years earlier or something. And then you get this extended flashback that brings you up to speed with how the main characters decided to rob a bank, and then you have the final climax of the movie. So it sort of makes the prequels a flashback to the rest of the series. And the other thing is that it completely eliminates "Episode I," which is kind of universally despised.
CORNISH: "Episode I - The Phantom Menace," which just came out in 1999 and infamously has the alien Jar Jar Binks. Is this entire order of yours engineered around avoiding Jar Jar Binks?
HILTON: No. Actually, a lot of people think that. A lot of people that read this post I made on the Internet say, yeah, you know, I hate "Episode I," this is a good idea. But it's not just about "Episode I" being removed. It's more that I see the "Star Wars" saga as being Luke's story. He's the character you identify with. He's the character you relate to. And if you watch "Episode IV" first, he's the one you latch on to. He's your main guy.
And it's ultimately the story about Luke saving his father from the dark side and, to an extent, saving himself from being tempted by it as well. And "Episode I" just doesn't add anything to that. It's a distraction. It moves you away from what I consider to be the main narrative. It's just a bunch of background details.
CORNISH: So just to remind people, Machete Order, we're saying, is to watch 1977's "Episode IV, Star Wars" first, right? Like, it's OK to do that.
CORNISH: And then watch the 1980 film, "The Empire Strikes Back," and then skip to the one in 2002, "Attack of the Clones," and 2005, "Revenge if the Sith." So it's OK to bring those and now you're kind of flashback mode, right?
CORNISH: And this would have you ending, as they intended, with "Return of the Jedi," 1983, "Episode XI."
HILTON: Right. "Return of the Jedi" has the best ending. It's - it puts a button on everything. And the empire gets destroyed and it's got this, like, celebration and stuff. So you definitely want to end there.
CORNISH: Your order is not the only kind of alternate order that we see online, right? There are all kinds of suggestions for doing this. And is part of this about fans not quite coming to grips with how George Lucas expanded the story? I mean, it feels like a way to kind of get back at him.
HILTON: I don't know if it's about getting back at him. I think, you know, for a lot of people, "Star Wars" is part of their culture. It's part of how they grew up. In a way, fans - this is going to sound weird, but fans kind of own "Star Wars" as much as George Lucas. They've taken it and put it into their minds, put it into their hearts in a way that maybe a filmmaker alone just can't do. And so I think it's really about - it's sort of just remix culture. It's, I as a fan can improve on this thing I love.
CORNISH: Rod Hilton. His blog is called "Absolutely No Machete Juggling." His suggestion for watching the "Star Wars" saga is called Machete Order. Rod, thanks so much for explaining it to us.
HILTON: Oh, yeah. No problem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.