May the Fourth be With You

May-the-fourth-be-with-you

Forty years ago in a cinema not too far away, the world was first introduced to Star Wars. Since its release in 1977, George Lucas’ Star Wars has grown to become one of the most widely recognised and adored pop culture properties in the galaxy. So much so, in fact, that it even has a day of the year dedicated to it. Over the years fans across the world (even those in political office; follow that, Trump) have celebrated in their own ways, be it viewing parties, fancy dress or attempting the kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.

Star Wars

We figure the best way to enjoy Star Wars Day is by simply experiencing Star Wars – and what better way to do that than watching them? Perhaps you have that one friend who has never seen them before and is keen to see what all the fuss is about, or maybe you’re watching them for the millionth time. Whatever your excuse, there’s simply no better day to take in a Star Wars flick or two. Or three. Or maybe seven. With this in mind, we figured we would lend a hand in guiding you through the best way to experience the Star Wars franchise.

The perfect viewing order is something much argued and discussed in the Star Wars community; it is never a simple case of simply going from Episode One. But it’s a good place to start as we go through the various means in which you can travel through the galaxy far, far away, taking in the pros and cons of each approach. (Please note: We’re only talking about the main series here. Spin-offs will only complicate matters more than they already need to be. Do check out Rogue One, though. It’s really rather good. Having said that, best leave Caravan of Hope well enough alone…)

Spoilers will follow (of course). Ok Chewie – punch it!

Duel of the Fates

Episode Order (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII)

The most obvious order perhaps, but one that is largely discouraged, what with the prequel nature of episodes one to three. Much of the weight (however thin) of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith comes from seeing how it foreshadows the events of the original trilogy. To view the prequels first would rob the episodes four to six of their many surprises as we see the origins of many of the original trilogy’s secrets (namely that of Darth Vader’s true identity and Luke & Leia’s parentage). The biggest pro of this order is that it gets the prequels out of the way first, but it robs from the narrative of the Skywalker saga more than it enriches it. Fun fact: This is George Lucas’s preferred order. Make of that what you will.

A New Hope

Production Order (IV, V, VI, I, II, III, VII)

This order is fairly self-explanatory as well: watch them in the order in which they were made. This viewing order has many pros going for it, not least due to the fact that is the order in which Star Wars fans have experienced the franchise from the very beginning. Twists are kept intact and it makes the prequel trilogy operate in the fashion in which they were designed (y’know, as prequels). You’ll also get to experience the highs of the franchise from the very off with the very satisfying run of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back (arguably/easily the best in the franchise) and Return of the Jedi, before labouring in the prequels and then hitting nostalgic beats with episode seven: The Force Awakens.

What’s the biggest con of this purest approach? It’s a rather sad one actually; the theatrical cuts of the original trilogy are rather hard to find. While the original cuts of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were put to DVD in 2006, those editions have long been out of circulation and no Blu-Ray version of the theatrical cuts exist, despite constant rumours. As it is, you often have to settle with the divisive ‘Special Edition’ cuts of the original trilogy, which were released in 1997 with changes conducted by Lucas in the form of added visual effects and additional/re-cut scenes (the Blu-Ray release made further unwanted changes). While these editions certainly look crisper, they tend to anger Star Wars fans, not the least for adding a Hayden Christensen ghost to the final scenes of Return of the Jedi. For it being the purist option, it actually proves very difficult to experience the original trilogy in its purest form.

NOOOOOOOOOOOO

Ernest Rister Order (IV, V, I, II, III, VI, VII)

This order, named after the individual who first proposed it in a fan forum, has become very popular amongst fans and, if we’re being honest, is Wowcher’s preferred approach. It is an order which treats the prequels as an extended flashback sequence, allowing for you to be introduced into the world of Star Wars as initially intended with A New Hope before letting the drama of The Empire Strikes Back play out with the twist-reveal of Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker’s father. Using this moment as a catalyst, you then jump back to episode one to see just how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. Once you have experienced Anakin’s seduction to the dark side, you then jump back to Return of the Jedi, allowing the story of Luke and Anakin to feel more entwined leading to a more satisfying conclusion of certain threads.

This approach allows for a lot of the prequels call-backs to gain more meaning, what with you having experienced two of the originals before diving in to the prequels. Much of the mirroring between Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi resonates in a much more narratively satisfying fashion, too, when one is played straight after the other. What’s more, you’ll come to appreciate Return of the Jedi a great deal more coming out of the rather turgid pit of the over-produced prequels. The biggest con of this approach is that it does often feel like an over-stretching of the narrative, and the jump from Empire to Phantom can be a little jarring. But there is something very rewarding about this particular order, and it gives some credence to Lucas’s notion that this movies are supposed to rhyme. If you’re going to pick any order this Star Wars Day, then make it this one. It offers a viewing experience that you may not have considered before, yet one which feels rewarding in the way a more traditional order doesn’t quite obtain.

Exhibition

Beyond the Screen

Fancy exploring the Star Wars universe beyond its cinematic offerings? Star Wars has taken forms through popular culture, be it novels, video games, TV shows and even Pez dispensers. There is a new and exciting means of exploring the world of the films in the form of the currently running ‘Star Wars Identities’ exhibition at The O2 in London. With a display of props, costumes, concept designs, models and more from across the whole franchise,. The Identities exhibition offers a way for you to indulge in the galaxy far, far away in a more hands-on fashion, allowing you to take in not only film history, but also embark on your own adventure as you construct your very own Star Wars character across your journey! You don’t have to bargain a charter from Mos Eisley to get to check it out, though – simply grab our out-of-this-world deal for access to the exhibition and  an over-night stay in London. This exhibition is something no true Star Wars fan can afford to miss out on, and would be a perfectly spectacular way to spend not just Star Wars Day, but any day of the year!

Binary Sunset

We hope we’ve managed to guide you through the vast asteroid field that is the possible ways of both negotiating the Star Wars franchise and deciding what on Earth (or Tatooine, Coruscant, Kashyyyk, or wherever it is that you hail) to do on Star Wars Day this year, be it exploring the films through an uncharted order or venturing into the world of George Lucas’s universe in way that will make your eyes-widen in new found wonder. No matter how you to choose to celebrate, just remember: the force shall be with you… always.

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