I’ve got a problem. There are multiple layers to this thing. And it’s all George Lucas’ fault.
Well, maybe I have some part to play in it as well. But it’s mostly Lucas.
See, I have two young kids. And I want to show them Star Wars. That’s my contribution to this. There are parts of this series that are just too mature for my kids at this age. I accept that, and recognize that I have to be patient – I can’t just pull a marathon Star Wars viewing over a week and expect my kids to grasp the story, or be old enough to deal with the violence. This is going to unfold over a long time.
Well, that was the intent, anyway. I had a plan. We start with Episode IV (A New Hope). They get to watch that as often as they want for about a year, or until I think they’re really ready. Then we move on to Episode V (Empire Strikes Back) and repeat the cycle. At that point I’m a bit undecided: do I go back to Episodes I-III and finish with VI as Drew McWeeny suggests, or do I go in release order, as I saw them? (Btw, I heartily suggest Drew’s Film Nerd 2.0 series on showing the films to his kids. Some great, surprisingly serious and heartfelt stuff in there. Especially the Empire entry.) There are pros and cons to each approach. I like Drew’s order (IV, V, I, II, III, VI) for exactly his reasons – IV is the perfect entry point, V sets the controversy and suspense, I-III fill in the back story, and VI completes the journey. But release order (IV, V, VI, I, II, III) is also tempting because IV-VI is a complete story that still leaves you wanting to fill in the I-III back story. The problem there is ending on a downer of III’s fall. But then again, that’s the way I saw it, and if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for them. Plus it gives them more time to mature for the more difficult parts of III. (For the record, I-VI is a non-starter because I-III spoil all the surprises of IV-VI.)
Then there’s the editions layer of the problem: original “Han shot first” edition? Special Edition? Blu-ray edition? 3D release?
Anyway… I digress. My point was that each film would get about 1 year, give or take. At the earliest that puts my oldest at 10 or 11 to see Episode III. Still maybe a little young, but we’d see. To be honest, I don’t know if I’d have the patience to go through with that plan, but it was a plan.
Then Lucas stepped in again.
He’s re-releasing the films in the theater. I would love my kids to be able to see these on the big screen. My problem is the timing and order. Lucas is releasing them (in 3D, which worries me, but that’s just another layer to this) in numeric order – I to VI – and Episode I comes out in just a couple of months. This totally blows my plan.
I think, maturity-wise, they could probably handle Episode I (Phantom Menace). In fact, it’s probably the most kid-friendly of all of them. But story-wise I don’t like jumping from IV back to I, then back to V – because I don’t think they’re up for understanding the political machinations of II and III yet, and anyway, they’ve gotta see the Big Reveal in V before they see the beginnings of Anakin’s darkness in II.
So, maybe I rush into Empire to fit it in before Phantom opens in the theater. But I’m not crazy about that either because I don’t think they really get the story of Episode IV yet. They’re still learning the characters’ names.
Plus, these are long films for early elementary ages in the theater. They thought the 90ish minutes of The Muppets was long last week.
So… I don’t know. It’s a conundrum.
It’s going to either scare or depress my wife that I’ve thought this through to this extent. Possibly both.
I am impressed that my youngest has internalized at least one thing from A New Hope. As we were walking past my wife in the store recently my daughter said in exasperation, “will somebody get this walking carpet out of my way?”
That’s my girl.