What’s the Best Viewing Order For the Saga?

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So if you didn’t own the the Star Wars DVDs, but decided to get the gang together during the weekend to watch the Saga in a Star Wars marathon, what order should you watch them? If your children are to be introduced to the films in the future, what order should they see them? If you decide to rent the Saga on Netflix, how are you going to shuffle the queue?

The singular question was considered by a fan on fanpop.com, and the problem was analyzed thoroughly. The options are to watch the films:

  • in episodic order (I – II – III – IV – V – VI)
  • order in which the films were released (IV – V – VI – I – II – III)
  • in alternating order (I – IV – II – V – III – VI)
  • in flashback mode (IV – V – I – II – III – VI)

Of the choices, the most novel and interesting was the flashback mode.

This viewing order is really interesting. You begin with the Original Trilogy and watch Episode IV, ‘A New Hope’ followed by Episode V, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. But instead of watching Return of the Jedi, you hold off and instead watch the three Prequels. Only after you have finished the prequels do you watch Return of the Jedi to cap off your marathon.

Why it works: This approach tries to reconcile the biggest problems with the chronological and episodic viewing orders: plot and cinematic continuity. The oldest episodes are placed first in the viewing order while the newer episodes are nested in the middle. The climactic finale provided by Episode VI, however, is still retained. Additionally, some of the key dramatic twists are still preserved such as the surprise revelation in Empire Strikes Back about Luke’s parentage. The prequel is preceded by a nice cliffhanger from episode V and episode III also serves as a nice cliffhanger before the final culmination of episode VI. The special effects continuity is mostly contained since episodes IV and V have the most dated appearance (episode VI holds up relatively well against the space battles from the Prequels).

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