Star Wars fans are some of the most creative people to be found. Fan fiction, cosplay, and theories are just some examples of this originality. It should come as no surprise that admirers of the franchise have invented a “correct” order to watch the saga’s films. The so-called “machete order” has many supporters and is a different take on understanding the Star Wars story. The machete order of viewing is A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, and Return of the Jedi. But is it right way to watch the series? Here are the pros and cons.
Luke is the Main Focus: Whether you watch the series in order of release or in chronological order, you are watching the story of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Luke is the protagonist of the original trilogy, but Vader’s redemption is what drives the story. This becomes even more clear when watching the prequels. The machete order recasts Luke as not just the protagonist but as the main character. Vader is still an important character, but now his backstory is explained after the stunning “I am your father” reveal. Star Wars is no longer Vader’s quest but Luke’s.
Twists are Maximized: This is true whether you are a first time viewer or a Star Wars veteran. If watching in numbered order, Vader’s big revelation that he’s Luke’s father comes in the second to last movie. While it is still shocking for Luke, the audience has already seen three movies explaining it. This is also applies to the fact that Leia is Luke’s sister. The machete order gives us backstory to Vader’s claim while also maximizing the shock of Luke and Leia.
No Episode I: While I do not like The Phantom Menace, how bad I think the film is has nothing to do with its exclusion. Episode I is not important to the overall story. Essential aspects of the first film are reiterated, characters who die are barely mentioned, and the crawl for Episode II brings the audience up to speed. Plus, no Jar-Jar!
Darth Vader: As creative as the machete order is, Episodes I-VI are Vader’s story. This is supposed to be a story about one man’s redemption, not a son saving his father. Vader is one of the deepest and most tragic heroes in cinema history. The machete order downplays his character arc.
The Galactic Empire: Watching in numerical order tells us the story of the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire. Watching in order of release dates makes the sometimes mundane political machinations of the prequels more interesting since we have an idea where it’s heading. In the machete order its formation takes a backseat to Anakin’s turn.
George Lucas: Episodes I-VI are how Lucas planned for the story to be told. As devoted a fan as a person may be, they cannot say their method is correct over that of the creator’s. Lucas’ order may not be a person’s preferred way to watch the films, but it is the correct order.
There is no one correct viewing order for the Star Wars saga. By order of release or by episode are the two correct ways. The machete order is an interesting take on the story and does have its positives, but is simply a matter of preference.