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The Star Wars Conundrum

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.

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8 comments to The Star Wars Conundrum

  • Pam

    Honestly, it neither scares nor depresses me that you’ve thought it through to this degree. I’ve come to expect it. Saddens, perhaps, would be the correct word. :) But that’s okay.

    In my opinion, they should see 4, 5 and 6 (what’s with the roman numeral-thing?) as they come out on the big screen. I could honestly say skip the rest. (I know. Blasphemy, and all that.)

    And that’s all I have to say about it. :)

    Oh, except this. … No. Just kidding.

    That’s all.

    – signed The Wife, aka the walking carpet :)

    Reply to this comment

    Jeff says:

    Roman numerals are fun – and technically proper as they’re used in the film titles.

    As to skipping the rest… that’s actually on the table for II and III (for at least the next few years), but I really think they’d enjoy Phantom Menace.

    I think either way they’ll see the Original Trilogy on the big screen as they’re released… but it’ll be 3 years before that happens, if I’m not mistaken. I think they’re releasing the 3D versions 1 per year.

    Reply to this comment

  • It’s actually surprisingly complex and since I do not have little people in my life it’s really somthing I can only armchair comment on.

    I would do it in the release order personally. As you say when you watch the films in Lucas order the thematic impact is lost completely. When Vader reveals to Luke that he is his father it was a mind blowing occurance for us watching when they came out but for anyone watching in Lucas order that’s already known. Also the reveals of Obi Wan, Yoda and Leia are non events.

    I don’t like the order of leaving Jedi till last, Jedi should be watched after Empire, I don’t believe that it has any themes that are any harder than those in Empire and Empire is such a bridging film that it seems wrong to jump back to Phantom without the redemption of Vader and the rescue of Han.

    When you finish Episode III it’s a good time to go rewatch the original trilogy to remind the kids that it turns out okay :)

    Now Clone Wars…?
    Lee Sargent recently posted..Problems 2.0My Profile

    Reply to this comment

    Jeff says:

    Honestly, I’m teetering on the edge, but my gut is telling me to go in release order as well. But again, that’s a problem if I want them to get to watch Phantom in the theater. I’m actually considering just throwing Phantom in as a “hey, here’s Luke’s dad as a kid” and leave it almost as stand-alone while we go through the rest of the OT. I might toss a couple of Clone Wars episodes at them. They’ve seen bits and pieces here and there already.

    Reply to this comment

    Jeff says:

    I forgot to mention… I actually had the same initial reaction to Drew’s order, but once you read through his series it’s obvious it worked extremely well with his kids. As he put it, it added weight to what was going on in the final chapter – especially with the Emperor and Vader. I think he actually makes a strong case for it in his RotJ article.

    Reply to this comment

    Lee Sargent says:

    As I said too, no kids over here, only a cat and he doesn’t care what order he sees them in (we’re watching original Star Trek fyi). So I can easily see that the scope needs to be slightly different for your younglings. Clone Wars is quite mature given what it is but I highly recommend the Clone Wars movie for the family.
    Lee Sargent recently posted..Problems 2.0My Profile

    Reply to this comment

  • SG-3

    Our boys have watched in the order IV to VI, THEN I and II. They have then watched The Clone Wars Movie, and seasons 1 & 2 of the CGI Clone Wars series. They are now 11 and 12, and we still haven’t let them watch III. Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but “in the (Australian Office of Film and Literature Classification) Board’s majority view this film warrants an M classification as, in accordance with Part 5 of the Films Table of the National Classification Code, it cannot be recommended for viewing by persons who are under 15. The classifiable element is violence that is moderate in viewing impact.” They are just SO HANGING OUT to see it though, and I’m feeling like a big meany! Moral dilemmas aside, this is still the viewing order I’ll be using for the younger kids as they grow up- it silk seems the right order to me!

    Reply to this comment

  • [...] Wars Conundrum: Sorted By Jeff, on January 12th, 2012 I wrote before about the problem I have with showing my daughters the Star Wars series (well, some of them). [...]

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