Before you catch Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the theatres, perhaps you should catch up on some Star Wars history?
Let’s face it, Star Wars is the closest a movie series has come to forming a religion. If you’re a devoted Star Wars fan and have seen all the movies, then this article isn’t for you. If you are one of the many people unfamiliar with the original movies and the prequels that followed, you should know that there are a lot of theories regarding the perfect way to view the greatest cinematic saga in modern history.
Before we begin, you should know that a total of six official Star Wars movies have been made. Three of these, were the first one’s to come out in a chronological order. It all started with Star Wars Episode IV : A New Hope which was followed by Star Wars Episode V : The Empire Strikes back and Star Wars Episode VI : Return of the Jedi. These three movies formed the core trilogy, which was later expanded by three prequels – namely, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars , Star Wars : Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
The chronological order
A lot of people, including George Lucas himself (possibly to sell more DVDs), believe that the saga should be seen in a chronological order. It must be noted that the first three movies to ever come out can be viewed completely independently, i.e it contains all the details to make it a self-contained trilogy. The prequels only provide more background information about the empire and its functioning, along with a few more visual effects.
However, this option is recommended for established Star Wars fans, who are familiar with every little detail about the saga. If you’re one of them you can go ahead and watch it in any order you like.
The non-linear order
If you want to get the best introduction to the series, it’s best to avoid watching the prequels first. As stated before, there aren’t any gaps in the narrative of the original trilogy that need to be filled. The main characters, including Han Solo, Chewbacca and Luke Skywalker aren’t to be found in the prequels – watch the prequels just to prolong the adventure.
Just watch the first 3
If you’re a stickler for quality, just stick to the first three. A large part of the Star Wars fanbase including several critics find the prequels to be an unneccesary addition to the saga, with the addition of some truly forgettable characters like Jar Jar Bings. With the possibl exception of Ewan McGregor, the whole cast was criticised for their performances, especially Hayden Christiansen whose career never recovered from the blow it received by his portrayal of Anakin Skywalker aka Darth Vader. Another school of thought believes that the movies should be viewed in a more erratic order, with Episode IV and Episode V introducing you to the universe, and Episode II and III providing a decent flashback followed by Episode VI where the story concludes.