The most important decision we make for our children isn’t their name, nor choosing whether to feed them by bottle or breast. It isn’t which school to send them to, nor when to teach them about sex or savings or both.
The most important decision any parent will make when bringing up a child is the order in which the child should watch the Star Wars movies.
By the way, if your child hasn’t seen them yet, it’s all about to go off like a frog in a sock as the new movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, comes out in cinemas this week. So, unless you want your children out of the loop, it’s time to hothouse and sort shit out quickly. Get yourself down to HMV, buy the DVDs and follow these instructions. This is how you do it.
Some people, drunk people, will tell you that you should watch the Star Wars movies from the start. That is, begin with Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, which starts the story of Anakin Skywalker’s journey to the Dark Side of The Force. But those people are, like weather forecasters and Katie Hopkins, utterly wrong.
This decision, the order one should show the Star Wars movies, has, by the way, vexed me for many years and it’s not one I’ve taken lightly. I’ve deliberated, oscillated, considered and swithered, all in the comfort of my own trousers. However, last week, while shopping in HMV, as Michael Bublé sang over the loudspeakers, shitting Christmas down my ears, the answer came to me.
If you love your children then you have to show the Star Wars movies in the order in which they were made. Starting with Star Wars, the proper one. With Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope, to give it its full title. Then you go darker with The Empire Strikes Back, then the Ewoktastic Return of The Jedi.
That’s how you do it.
Let me give you a bit of background as to the why. Show my workings so to speak.
Star Wars was the first movie I saw in the cinema when I was 5. I loved it, and even today as I write this, a little frisson of excitement comes over me as I realise that the new Star Wars movie is out in a few days time. I’m not a Star Wars geek, whatever one of those is. I don’t have a Star Wars mug, or a Wookie onesie (Do they do those? If not, they should). However, as evidence to the contrary I did recently buy a Lego Millenium Falcon while I was off my tits on Tramadol.
For those who wondered why I disappeared from social media for a month or so, in short, I had a bad back and other associated musculoskeletal problems, as mentioned in my earlier post, AKA Episode 1: Attack of The Back Knack, and had moved onto Tramadol to deal with the hideous pain. However, after realising that Tramadol and social media don’t mix well following an embarrassing tweet I sent to a weather forecaster, I took a little sabbatical. So, while you lot were tweeting and blogging and Facebooking, I was off my nuts on Tramadol and twisting my melons man, giggling at Bargain Hunt or very definitely completely asleep. I don’t remember a lot about November.
I have been out in public on Tramadol, November wasn’t a lost month entirely. I went to see the comedian Ed Byrne who was funny, from what I remember, but I don’t remember very much apart from being hit full in the face with a door during the interval and not feeling a thing. I simply smiled serenely. I also went supermarket shopping once and, as far as I remember, spent over £100 on various bread products but anyhow, I digress. You want background, and why. So yes, my name is Spencer, I’m 43 and I bought myself a Lego Millennium Falcon while on medication, but I’m NOT a Star Wars geek. Even though I’m writing about it.
Denial. It ain’t just a river in Egypt.
Anyhoo, why show your younglings episode 4 before episode 1? Are you some sort of crazy man? Are you being a rebel for the sake of it?
No. Let me explain a little about Episode 1.
The Phantom Menace is shit. It has some deft swordplay but that’s it. It has a race sequence cynically plugged into the movie to sell an associated video game but essentially the movie is about tax. The crawling text at the beginning states:
‘Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Empire. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.’
Turmoil you say? Galactic Empire you say? Oh good. Taxation of trade routes? Yawn. Wake me up when they bring in the Unions.
Which is essentially what they do. They bring in two heavy-handed union reps, Jedi Knights, to sort shizz. All goes tits up.
The next film, Episode 2: Attack Of The Clones is a love story taking place some years later. It includes of lot of political shinanniganning as the baddies jostle for power, cloning (Have you ever tried explaining cloning to a child under 7?), love (Bleurgh! Kissy kissy!) some terrible, terrible acting, and a lot of CGI. Even Ewen McGregor is CGI. Probably. It’s marginally better than episode 1 but not by much.
Episode 3: Revenge Of The Sith, is a lot better, and yet it’s still the movie equivalent of finding a fiver but losing a tenner. Rearrange the letters in Sith and it’ll give you a clue how good it is. It involves genocide, some midiclorean nonsense (a notion so rubbish and bogus I can’t be bothered to even spellcheck the word) to explain The Force, more terrible acting and more not very good at times CGI. Oh yeah. It also deals with infanticide on top of genocide. Sweet dreams kids.
No. This is not how an epic saga begins.
That’s what gwan and ting in Star Wars, Episode 4 if you must, the one I shall always call simply Star Wars just like I will always call Opal Fruits ‘Opal Fruits.’
Luke Skywalker meets old man, gets given lightsabre, loses family, undertakes a perilous journey to rescue the Princess, meets a Wookie and Han Solo, blows up the Death Star, gets a medal and… *unfurls banner* ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’. That’s the epic journey of the Hero, a form of storytelling dating back to Homer in about 800 BC. Much more exciting than The Phantom Menace. Shove that up your taxed trade routes.
Of course you could all say that films 1, 2 and 3 add texture, make the story more complete, and shout ‘Luddite’ at me but let’s be honest about this: they are terrible films. Not so with the first three, episode 4, 5 and 6, made before the first three, episode 1, 2 and 3, if that makes sense. Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back or Return of The Jedi all gripped me as a child and I want people to experience what I experienced when I saw them as a little puppy. For years it dominated my play, imagination, drawing and stories. Almost every picture I drew from 1977 through to about 1983 was of X Wings, Tie Fighters, Imperial Starships, Death Stars, people waving lightsabres and firing blasters; heroes fighting evil in a galaxy far, far away from my own shitty childhood.
I know some out there will say that The Phantom Menace was the first of the saga and if George Lucas could’ve made them in that order he would’ve, but he didn’t and it wasn’t. If George Lucas had made The Phantom Menace first, it would’ve been another The Golden Compass and nowhere near the cultural juggernaut these movies are.
Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi on DVD. This is the order that created the phenomenon and THAT’S the order you show them if you love your children and don’t want them out of the loop in the playground come New Year. Then you take them to see the new movie and try not to be overwhelmed with emotion as the music starts, the text crawls up the screen, the movie explodes into action and you catch a quick glimpse to see their jaws drop open with wonder.
You can thank me later.