Even if you're Super-Dad (or Mom) and have your kids busy with activities all summer long, there's always a few hours in a day of down-time. And to fill in the gaps, this summer I plan on finally introducing my kids to all the Star Wars movies. But I'm not going to do it in order of release date or episode order, but in "Machete Order".
I got the idea from this blog post by Rod Hilton that's been floating around the Internet for a while, but the basic premise is simple. Episode order ruins the surprise that Darth Vader is the father of Luke and Leia. Watching the episodes in IV, V, II, III, VI order keeps the surprise while filling in a lot of the background story.
Like most of us, I grew up with Star Wars and have lived with the knowledge that Vader is Luke's father since the 80s. But I never thought about how much it would suck if that surprise was ruined for people who have never seen it before. "I am your father!" is one of the best movie moments ever, and as a kid I remember being at family parties and witnessing adults - my parents and their friends - arguing over whether or not this could really be true. At the time it was a tremendous shocker, and I want my kids at least to have that same surprise.
You may have also noticed that "Machete Order" completely removes Episode I. My kids have already seen Episode I when it was in the theater, so I won't be able to entirely remove it from their memories. I'm just going to pretend like it never happened. And as Rod Hilton reminds us, leaving out Episode I also effectively leaves out Jar Jar, midichlorians, trade disputes, Jake Lloyd, confusing Padme/Queen switcheroos and virgin births. All things most of us wished never happened anyway.
Looking at all six movies as a whole, it really seems George Lucas wanted to make them the story of Anakin Skywalker's turn to the dark side and eventual redemption. But that story is executed so poorly it puts the impact of all of the movies at risk. Anakin has almost no character depth. He goes from a simpleton boy to arrogant Jedi to evil Jedi to embodiment of evil to redeemed in the last five minutes of the last movie. It's not much of a change in character at all.
But if you look at the movies as Luke being the main character then not only is he relatable as Mr. Hilton argues, but he's also the only character with a real story arc. He changes from naive do-gooder to grown man who has faced his fears and demons and has come through to the other side to save the galaxy.
Plus, Machete Order deletes Jar Jar Binks almost completely. Which is all you really wanted anyway for your kids.
Search your feelings. You know it to be true.