Jun 23, 2015

A Backwards Watching of Star Wars

There are strange things that happen when you live in America, are American, but your friends are not.  Namely, pop culture issues and references and a lack of a shared national history to make references to.

One of the big ones, though this might just be my friend, was the lack of having seen ANY Star Wars movie. I had to fix that. But in true adult fashion, she insisted she wanted to watch them in order of plot and not release date so we started with the Phantom Menace and finally finished Revenge of the Sith last night.

(It took us three nights to watch Attack of the Clones. I'm glad I wasn't the only one with issue about Padme and Anakin's relationship.)

While I've seen the originals several times and own both digital and DVD copies (and saw the exhibit in Seattle staring the costumes),
I've never actually seen the prequels more than once. Before, I was concentrating on the story. You know, Anakin's journey. But watching it with my friend I just got a whole new understanding of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

I don't think, even when I first watched the Phantom Menace, that I realized just who Palpatine became. Rewatching it now I saw all the background plays he made for years to get him to where he got. It was rather interesting, my friend wavered back and forth on whether he was evil or not, and here I knew the entire time and so could pick out the motivations of everything he did and understood the beauty of his plan.

For me, watching these movies was exciting. But my poor friend found them confusing. There is a lot of stuff that goes on that's not shown and you have to sorta pick out. And some that even I don't get. (Count Dooku knew about the evil in the heart of the Republic, was fighting against it, and then allied with it? Thank goodness the Wookieepedia explained that to me.)

Now I'm worried about the next three, because some of the big reveals won't be as big. Luke's father. Luke's sister. My friend knows all that already, what's the point?

So being the writer I am, I'm trying to figure out the importance of order here. Episodes I-III steal tension from IV-VI, IV-VI make you reevaluate I-III to make them a bit more interesting.

How does that work in books? Most series are published in chronological order, but not all. Narnia for one. I read it in plot order, starting with the Magician's Nephew. I've never read it in the order Lewis published it. I wonder if I would read the stories differently if I did.

I'm curious, have any of you done this? Read/watched a series in two different ways and noticed a difference in the experience?


  1. Interesting. I'm a Star Wars fan (yeah, I've been through the, "You know, the sound R2D2 makes." "Who?" "R2D2. You know, the robot." "What robot?") but, like you, I've only watched the prequels the whole way through, a few repeat snatches caught while channel-surfing. Nah, they don't do it for me, not quite. It's cool to get a sense of Anakin--and oh yeah, Chancellor Palpatine was HUGE!--but the young Obi Wan didn't fit my idea of him (or maybe it was whatshisname that played him), and the relationship between Anakin and Padme got creepy. I realize these movies weren't made to showcase character arcs or stellar acting, but... I don't know. Maybe for our generation, us that grew up with IV-VI, those episodes have acquired the kind of mythical appeal that no sequel (pre- or post-) will ever be able to match.

    Thanks for the visit over at Quiet Laughter ; always love finding your name in the comments :)

    1. That's true IV-VI have such a culture around them I feel society places them on a bit of a pedestal. And when things are edited, like adding creatures or an extra laser shot (*ahem* Han shot first *ahem*) people compare and rant. Myself included. But I guess I just now have a greater appreciation for the prequels - but only for Palpatine. Because the other stories were just....not well written.

  2. I'd have to say, watching the movies in the order they were made would make them more interesting. It wouldn't spoil the reveals we get with Luke's father and Leia. That seems more important and watching it chronologically ruins it in my mind. Of course, I've only seen it out of order, so maybe I'm biased.

    1. Yeah, I think I agree. Even before the prequels came out the idea of seeing how Darth Vadar came about was exciting, because we know he already had an internal conflict.

    2. I've heard that the best order to watch is 451236.

  3. Oh no, they have to be in release order. My favourite scene from the first 3 was the actual creation of Darth Vader. In the cinema it was fantastic. I'm looking forward to the next one!