Friday, August 10, 2012

On the Star Wars Machete Order

How can you ensure that a viewing keeps the Vader reveal a surprise, while introducing young Anakin before the end of Return of the Jedi?

Simple, watch them in this order: IV, V, I, II, III, VI.

George Lucas believes that Star Wars is the story of Anakin Skywalker, but it is not. The prequels, which establish his character, are so poor at being character-driven that, if the series is about Anakin, the entire series is a failure. Anakin is not a relatable character, Luke is.

The Star Wars Saga: Introducing Machete Order, by Rod Hilton

The thought recently occurred to me that my nephew (now 10 months old) has never seen Star Wars, and at some point he probably will. I remembered hearing somewhere (probably on Back to Work) that there was some loopy recommended viewing order for watching all of the Star Wars movies. Like- not in release order, and not by Episode number.

There are probably others out there, but this had the virtue of coming up high on Google, as well as being a really thought out and thorough post.

Click through and read the entirely of his original post to get all the details. He does a great job arguing his point not only from the perspective of a Star Wars fan, but what makes more sense dramatically for the whole series.

The things I thought particularly interesting were these:

1. That Episode I isn't just bad, but irrelevant

Hilton makes a strong case that you can simply chop Episode I off, and not have missed a thing. I can't help but think he's right. But what gets me is that it's not just that it's bad. Those criticisms have been around since pretty much when the movie came out. But it's that they don't add anything substantial to the bigger picture.

2. You can change the order of the thing and change the thing itself.

I'm not sure if there's another set of movies that you can do something like this. But the claim here is that by watching them in "Machete order" the story gets tighter- the parallels between Anakin and Luke, stronger, and the emotional and dramatic impact in different parts of the movies are actually heightened.

It's kind of funny, because it's not unlike film editing at a more microscopic level. If you move a scene, or even a shot, from one point in time to another, you can change the impact of that moment. The only example that's off the top of my head right now is the experiment where someone had a shot of an actor looking straight at the camera, and then cut in between it with shots of different events or supposed things he was looking at, and then the audience had different comments or takeaways about his performance after each alternating shot (not knowing that it was actually the same shot of the actor the whole time).

(I'm sure I'm butchering this or missing a better example, admittedly).

But it's funny how, if he is correct, with this series, it's possible to just flip the movies around a little bit, and because the context is changed, you can end up walking away with more a greater whole than the original artist intended.