Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Star Wars: The Machete Viewing Order

After today's Star Wars discussion, my friend Adam coincidentally sent me a link to a post on nomachetejuggling.com about the perfect order in which to view the Star Wars movies. He discusses the pitfalls of watching them in Release Order and Episode Order, then goes on to discuss an alternative: Watch Eps 4 and 5, then after the Vader revelation watch the prequels and then wrap it up with Jedi.

He then goes on to present a variation on this, the "Machete Order," in which you watch them as was just laid out but skipped Episode I altogether.

"George Lucas has done everyone a favor by making the content of Episode I completely irrelevant to the rest of the series. Seriously, think about it for a minute. Name as many things as you can that happen in Episode I and actually help flesh out the story in any subsequent episode. I can only think of one thing, which I’ll mention later.

Every character established in Episode I is either killed or removed before it ends (Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, Chancellor Valorum), unimportant (Nute Gunray, Watto), or established better in a later episode (Mace Windu, Darth Sidious). Does it ever matter that Palpatine had an apprentice before Count Dooku? Nope, Darth Maul is killed by the end of Episode I and never referenced again. You may as well just start with the assumption that Dooku was the only apprentice. Does it ever matter that Obi-Wan was being trained by Qui-Gon? Nope, Obi-Wan is well into training Anakin at the start of Episode II, Qui-Gon is completely irrelevant.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true! Episode I doesn’t matter at all. You can start the prequels with Episode II and miss absolutely nothing. The opening crawl of Episode II establishes everything you need to know about the prequels: a bunch of systems want to leave the Republic, they are led by Count Dooku, and Senator Amidala is a senator who is going to vote on whether the Republic is going to create an army. Natalie Portman is called Senator Amidala twice in the first 4 minutes of the movie, so there’s no question of who’s who."

You might not agree with everything he says, but it's interesting stuff. Read the rest here.

12 comments:

JPX said...

This is very interesting. I have always felt that Episode 1 could be cut down to a 15 minute prelude to the rest of the series. I would still like to see the pod car race and the Darth Maul stuff, but little else. Aside from recently watching Menace in 3D I don’t envision a time when I would ever watch it all the way through again, unless some future grandchild insists.

Jordan said...

I'll read the thing and respond more fully later on, but I already disagree. I've become a big fan of the progression of the prequel trilogy.

I think the big difference between me and everyone else on Horrorthon (as bears on Star Wars is that I have the Blu-rays, which means that my conception of the Prequel Trilogy is almost exactly the same as if I had a Loew's theater in my house and had just had a screening of all six movies.

(Attack of the Clones, along with Zodiac, Black Swan and several other movies, was actually shot at the same resolution as Blu-rays on my 1080p 24p Sony screen. It's really not "home video" at all...it's something else entirely.)

Octopunk said...

For myself I don't think there's anything I dislike about the prequels that would be alleviated by better resolution or sound quality.

I find his discounting of the pod race refreshing; Star Wars meets NASCAR has never done much for me.

Adam said...

+1 for Machete Order!

Also, I love the idea of the Despecialized Editions. I wanted the prequels to feel familiar, related to the universe that I experienced when I first saw Star Wars. I was extremely disappointed that Lucas instead felt that he needed to update Star Wars to make it more compatible with his more modern (and inferior) ideas of what the universe should be.

The idea that you can play with the order to optimize the experience re-invigorates me to the idea of watching these movies again! I'm finally going to buy the Blu-rays...

Jordan said...

Octo, come over to my house and we'll see about that.

Octopunk said...

Your confidence is adorable, but my impressions of Ep I are all from seeing it in the theater. I don't see how precisely emulating that is going to fix the story, Lloyd's acting, Jar Jar, "Are you an angel?", etc.

Jordan said...

Because when you saw it in the theater, you hadn't seen the other two yet.

Octopunk said...

Still dubious, at least about the specific items I mentioned. I'll probably check out the 3D version, though, because I'm curious.

Jordan said...

We've been over this before. I'm not saying you won't dislike the bad stuff. I'm saying it's like the first 100 pages of Fellowship of the Ring. The pod race etc. are like the Tom Bombadil chapter; the chapter where they all take a bath in Buckland; etc. If you know what's coming it's completely different.

Jordan said...

You, yourself, called Book I of The Lord of the Rings a "glue trap." Whenever someone's reading it for the first time, you have to urge them to keep going...but there's no way you'd tell them to skip ahead. The Phantom Menace is like that.

Octopunk said...

That's true that I wouldn't suggest anyone skip Book 1 of Rings, but in contrast I'd feel pretty comfortable telling someone to skip Phantom.

I've never had the opportunity to guide someone in this way, because besides little kids, who hasn't seen Star Wars?

Jordan said...

I'm not trying to get you to like The Phantom Menace. I'm trying to get you to see my way of looking at it, and understand why I originally said I could get you into it on Blu-ray. That's all.

Obviously the totality of Star Wars is way more uneven than the totality of The Lord of the Rings but the comparison holds; Both epics start in a bucolic mode that doesn't involve especially good storytelling but is richly textured and technically proficient, and sets up a stable, neo-children's-book environment that's about to be penetrated by ultimate darkness.

There's a lot of bad stuff out there, and most of it is made by talentless people and/or people who (in the words of Joel Hodgson) just don't care. Star Wars is neither. The Phantom Menace was a profound disappointment and could have been 1000 times better, but it's not worth tearing it out of the sequence of the total epic. Anyway that's how I see it.