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Post #379705

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Seeing the Saga in order - a review by a first-time viewer....
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29-Sep-2009, 8:32 PM
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30-Sep-2009, 10:30 PM
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Have any opinions changed in the two and a half years since this thread was last active?  Anybody new want to contribute to the discussion?

As for me, I was interested in the 4-5-1-2-3-6 order back then.  Today I feel strongly that it is the ideal order.  (BTW, I think the new material is best viewed after the saga, 4-5-1-2-3-6-TCW, rather than putting TCW in its chronological place between 2 and 3.)  Watching it 4-5-1-2-3-6 I notice so many things that work best that way.  A few:



• If you like twists, the 4-5-1-2-3-6 order maintains the best surprises for Star Wars virgins who have been in a coma for the last 30 years.  In Ep 5 the viewer has the “Holy poodoo, that little green troll is Yoda!” twist and the “Holy poodoo, Darth Vader is Luke’s father!” twist.  At the end of Ep 3 are the “Holy poodoo, Luke has a twin!” and “Holy poodoo, the twin is Leia!” twists.  Thank goodness the Hoth kiss is a distant memory by the time that particular twist is revealed in the 4-5-1-2-3-6 order; the kiss is creepier if the relationship is revealed before the kiss.


• 4-5-1-2-3-6 answers questions in a dramatically natural order.  After the revelation that Vader is Luke’s father, there are two questions: “How the heck did that happen?” and “What happens next?”  It makes sense to answer the first question before the second so viewers can watch the resolution with a better understanding of the events and situations that lead to it and who the characters are.

Feng Zei points out that there may be another question after Ep 5: “Is Vader telling the truth about being Luke’s father?”  If that is a question then I think that watching Anakin’s early life story and seeing what unfolds is a more dramatic way to get the answer than simply having Yoda say, “Your father he is.”


• 4-5-1-2-3-6 has an opening that grabs viewers from the start.  “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...  Star Wars - Episode IV - A New Hope.  It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy....”  That’s one of the great openings in cinematic history.

It’s a hell of a lot more interesting than “Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.”  If the viewing experience starts there, it’s not a good hook.  Why should viewers care about how the Galactic Republic decides the issue of taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems?  Why should they care about the battle between the Trade Federation and Naboo?  The opening crawl lets them know who the bad guys are and who the good guys are by calling the TF “greedy” and calling Naboo a “small planet,” but it isn’t one tenth as compelling as the opening crawl in Ep 4.

If Eps 4-5 are watched first then the viewers see Ep 1 knowing that they’re seeing the events that lead to the rise of the Empire, so they have a reason to be interested.  This is even more compelling after 4-5 than after 4-5-6.  After 4-5, the Empire is a scary evil power that rules the galaxy with brutality; after 4-5-6, the Empire is a flash in the pan that ruled the galaxy for about 23 years.  The former inspires more desire to know its origins than does the latter.


• Fang Zei said, “That last scene of Empire is just as much if not more about how they're going to get Han back. This gets completely interrupted if you stop to watch the PT between Empire and Jedi.”  I think that interruption is a good thing because it’s a cliffhanger and cliffhangers become more compelling when one must wait for the resolution.  TV shows typically place their biggest cliffhangers at the end of the last episode of the season so that the viewer has to wait all summer to see how it’s resolved, instead of placing them in the middle of midseason episodes so that the viewer only has to wait through a commercial break to see how it’s resolved.

Waiting through the PT also makes Han’s hibernation feel longer.  If the end of Ep 5 is followed immediately by Ep 6, it feels like the carbon hibernation was brief and just another incident in the life of Han Solo.


• The arc of Anakin’s redemption is more connected.  At the end of Ep 3, Padmé says of Anakin, “There is good in him. I know there is still...”  This flows right into Ep 6 in which Luke believes, despite the protests of Ben and Yoda, that there is good in Anakin that can be brought back to the surface.

The Emperor’s arc is more connected.  In Eps 4 and 5, he is a shadowy presence of which we know little, then we see who he is and how he rises to power in the PT, then we see his big showdown and ultimate fate in Ep 6.  If instead the viewing order is 1-2-3-4-5-6, then by the time the PT is over the viewer knows Emperor Palpatine as a real specific person who is conspicuously and without explanation absent in 4-5 before returning to his prior level of visibility in Ep 6.

So basically in the 1-2-3-4-5-6 order, the stories of Anakin and Palpatine are developed for three episodes, put on hold for two episodes, and concluded in the final episode.  Watching their stories as 1-2-3-6, without interrupting them for 4-5, makes those stories more cohesive.


• Many of the characterizations in Ep 6 are inconsistent with the characters presented in Ep 5.  Perhaps the most glaring (but far from only) example is the cocky “They're not going to get me without a fight”/“Never tell me the odds”/“I know” Han Solo of Eps 4-5 being replaced by the insecure “Could you tell Luke, is that who you could tell?”/“All right, I won’t get in the way” Han Solo of Ep 6.  Putting the PT in between 5 and 6 makes the inconsistencies between 5 and 6 less glaring.  (It makes the continuity error of Leia remembering her birth mother more glaring, but that’s a minor point.)  Obi-Wan and Vader in particular seem more like the characters we see at the end of Ep 3 than the characters we see in Eps 4-5.


• As I mentioned in an earlier post, I like having the series bookended by Death Stars in the first and last episode viewed.  When 4 and 6 are viewed with only a single episode between them, so that a Death Star is present for a movie, absent for one movie, and back again for the next movie, it makes the Death Star feel more commonplace.


• The tone of 6 is more consistent with the tone of 1-2-3 than the tone of 4-5.  In 4-5, the Empire is evil and brutal; Ep 5 is especially dark.  Ep 6, with its shih-tzus and slapstick approach to action, is more like the “This is where the fun begins” approach to action in the PT than the darker approach in 4-5.



There are more reasons, too.  If you have never watched the saga in the 4-5-1-2-3-6 order, give it a try and let us know what you think.