With the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a question has been raised about where the film fits in the Machete Order. Thankfully, we have that answer, and some recommendations for how the rest of the movies will fit as well.
What is Machete Order?
When it comes to watching Star Wars, there has always been three ways you can watch the seven films: chronological order of release (IV, V, VI, I, II, III, VII), numerical order (I to VII), or Machete Order (IV, V, II, III, VI). For most Star Wars fans, Machete Order has been the go-to method since it was invented in 2011 and here’s why.
When you watch the films in numerical order, you’re told the tale of the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker as he falls to the dark side of the Force and redeems himself in the final act of Return of the Jedi. This journey, however, then loses much of the emotional punch that the best Star Wars film, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back provides. For example, in the climax of the movie, when Darth Vader tells Luke Skywalker that he, the Dark Lord of the Sith, is Luke’s father. If you’ve watched them in numerical order, you already know this because of how Episode III ends. Additionally, when Ben Kenobi tells Luke that Darth Vader seduced and killed Anakin Skywalker, you already know it for the shading of the truth that it is.
A chronological release viewing is also okay, but will leave a viewer dissatisfied because there is no conclusion that the end of Return of the Jedi provides in Revenge of the Sith. (We’ll put aside the unfinished trilogy of VII through IX for now.) Instead, you get the open-ended hanger of Obi-wan dropping Luke off with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru and going off to live in the Jundland Wastes. Additionally, the closing shot of Jedi with Hayden Christensen as Vader’s Force ghost has been cited as a jarring irrelevancy, as the viewer only knows Vader from how he looks when Luke removes his mask on the second Death Star.
Machete Order then, is the way to go. This viewing order takes a six movie arc that was about Anakin Skywalker and returns the focus to Luke, the person on the hero’s journey. Watching II and III right after the revelation that Darth Vader is Luke’s father allows you to experience a time shift, showing you that Vader is Luke’s dad and not just having Yoda tell you.
As the inventor, Rod Hilton describes why the Machete Order makes the most sense.
“The prequel backstory comes at the perfect time, because The Empire Strikes Back ends on a huge cliffhanger. Han is in carbonite, Vader is Luke’s father, and the Empire has hit the rebellion hard. Delaying the resolution of this cliffhanger makes it all the more satisfying when Return of the Jedi is watched.”
In case you’re wondering why The Phantom Menace is removed, it’s because it has no impact on Luke’s story. Everything that happens in Episode I is largely irrelevant and resolved by the time the movie ends. There’s almost nothing in Episode I that has lasting ramifications on anything else. Qui-Gonn is gone, Darth Maul has been bi-sectioned, and the time jump between Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones removes any need for Anakin as a child.
Where Does Rogue One Fit?
Essentially, Rogue One, because it isn’t part of Luke’s story, can serve as an appendix of sorts, much in the way that The Silmarillion is an appendix to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. As fascinating as the stories of The Silmarillion are, they aren’t directly a part of Frodo’s story, so they can serve as filler to read after the fact.
So where does Rogue One fit in the Machete Order? The recommended viewing order is now IV, V, II, III, VI. That tells Luke’s story from New Hope to Jedi. After that, VII to IX, as they are released, and then, Rogue One, any Han Solo stories, and all the miscellaneous filler, such as Rebels, Clone Wars, and future one-shot installments. As an added bonus, watching it that way gives a new viewer the opportunity to enjoy all of the Easter eggs in Rogue One.
What do you think, readers? Do you use Machete Order when you watch Star Wars? Let us know in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Lucasfilms]