In which order should ‘Star Wars’ series be shown to kids?

My 5-year-old son is finally showing an interest in “Star Wars.” He’s been playing the Lego Star Wars game on Wii and is having a terribly hard time figuring out how the story line works from the video game. He’s been asking a lot of questions about the characters and their relationships. The plot is kind of hard to explain to a kid who has never seen any of the movies.

So I think it’s time to we show our son at least some of the “Star Wars” movies (The last one is pretty graphic and violent – I might hold off on that one), but in which order would you introduce them?

Would you start with “Star Wars” the first film released in 1977 but technically the fourth film in the series or would you start with “Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace”? (The fourth film released but the first in the series.)

My husband thinks it’s a no brainer as he vehemently explained to me the other morning.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt you start with No. 4 because everybody in the world saw 4 first. Because that’s the way the story should be told because Luke is the center of the story, not Anakin. You go back to find out how it happened.”

What do you think? In which order did you introduce the “Star Wars” series to your kids and why? Which order helps them understand the story? Is it important to suspend the knowledge of Darth Vader being Luke’s father? Are the newer movies too violent to show to young kids.

45 comments Add your comment

Belle

March 20th, 2009
9:11 am

So my husband has always been a huge Star Wars fan. He has no interest in the newest 3 movies. We have them on DVD but when the kids get old enough to actually sit and watch them, the original Star Wars will be the one to start with. Of course they will most likely have seen all the movies in bits and pieces since my husband still watches them from time to time. As for the violence…I don’t think it is any worse than stuff on regular TV.

JATL

March 20th, 2009
9:18 am

I think everyone should see them in the order we all first saw them. Face it -the first 3 made (not the first three in the series) are superlative, so in order to capture complete interest and awe, those should be viewed first!

JJ

March 20th, 2009
9:40 am

Again, I cannot contribute…….I shall lurk today. I never cared for Star Wars……I know, I know, I’m just not into that kind of stuff.

Happy first day of Spring to everyone!!!!! And Happy Friday!!!!!

jct

March 20th, 2009
9:46 am

Hi Theresa,

This is a no brainer. Start with episode 4. Your husband is right on this one. (The only time I have agreed with your husband :-))

It will be a bonding experience. My dad took me to see the Star War movies when I was a child. It is one of the experiences that I can still remember even though he is now gone.

There is plenty of time in his life to watch in numerical order when he is older. Episode three is way too violent for your sons age. He has plenty of time to grow into the series.

jct

March 20th, 2009
10:03 am

I guess I should be more clear.

Start with episode 4, 5, 6 then go back and complete 1 and 2 and leave 3 until he is older.

I think it is also a time to discuss the movies. Let him tell you what he thinks the events mean. I have sister who is 16 years younger than me. We would watch the episode 3 when she was 3 and 4. She would love to tell me what the story meant. I still tease her to this day about her meaning of what Star Wars was about.

I thinked I just outed myself as a Sci Fi geek. That’s okay. I love all things sci fi – Star Wars, LOTR, BSG (last episode tonight :( ). This will be a fun time in your sons life.

HB

March 20th, 2009
10:31 am

Obviously, start with 4. This really is a no brainer.

Obi Wan

March 20th, 2009
11:53 am

You should start with STAR WARS as Lucas did. Then Empire Strikes Back and then Return of the Jedi. You should show them the original versions, not the redux versions Lucas released later.

You should only show them the other 3 versions when they are old enough to understand how a supposedly outstanding director could take a perfectly good story and reduce it to nothing more than a vehicle for sales of action figures. You might also help them to understand how the technology of the last 3 films is somehow superior to the technology in the first 3 films made, despite the fact that they predate the first 3 as the story is told. If they ask why there are 50 or more different box sets and verions of the films you can then explain to them about marketing and gullible consumers.

There are great lessons to be learned from the Star Wars saga. In addition to the above, make sure they get the message that Rebels are good and that Empire is bad. That message seems to have been long forgotten since the first 3 films were released.

Cammi317

March 20th, 2009
11:57 am

Episode 4, no doubt. The same way we grew up and watched them. When I think of Star Wars, violence never comes to mind. I was 5 when the the original came out and thoroughly enjoyed it. Nothing but good memories.

Penguinmom

March 20th, 2009
12:00 pm

One thing to remember in all of this is that all of these movies have some scenes that may be inappropriate for younger kids. Prior to letting your kids see it, you should rewatch it to remind yourself of Exactly what is in it. In our memories, we often to gloss over certain details and just remember the overall story and the cool scenes.

Definitely think #3 is too violent for young kids. And the Princess Leia/Jaba the Hutt scene is not necessarily age appropriate for everyone.

I’ve sent my husband this link so he can comment. He recently did a Bible Study with several boys and their dads using Episodes 4, 5, and 6 as a backdrop for discussing larger themes like redemption and responsibility.

Tom

March 20th, 2009
12:05 pm

Here is the way I would show anyone the Star Wars movie. If you are overly concerned with violence or other hard themes, I might skip 1,2,3 totally, because they are darker in theme than 4,5,6. But here is my list:

4 – New Hope – Must be first. This IS the introduction to the SW universe. This is the WHY you should watch and care at all.
At the end of 4, Luke is a good guy, Darth Vader is the bad guy, and Anakin was killed by Vader.

1 – Phantom Menace – This is great for kids and introduces Anakin, and fills in the story alluded to in #4
At the end of #1, Anakin is still a good guy, and we have no idea who the bad guys are yet.

5 – Empire strikes back – We have obviously jumped time from #4 – We see Yoda who was introduced in #1 and we learn the spoiler truth about Anakin and say “WHAT??”

2 & 3 – Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith – These two movies would work better re-edited into one movie, but…
We have another time jump for Anakin from Episode 1, so that keep continuity. This explains how the Empire happened, the Emperor, and the rise of Darth Vader.

6 – Return of the Jedi – This is the final closing chapter. This is the Redemption Story. It must be last.
The previous movie in this order showed the beginning of Darth Vader, this shows his end.

Personally, I believe this order is the only way to redeem the prequels. In this order they fit in and enhance the originals. The original story is THE story. The prequels should be used simply to explain that story.

I only wish I could see them again in this order for the first time…
Of course, when I was young, we had to wait YEARS before we could see the next movie…with nothing but the Star Wars Holiday Special to tide us over… :)

Stacey

March 20th, 2009
12:20 pm

Like JJ, I am not a sci-fi fan so I haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies. I did see the cartoon version that came out last summer but that was only because that was my goddaughter’s birthday party and there wasn’t another movie starting at the same time that I was interested in. My best friend is a HUGE SW fan and so are both of her children. My husband liked the original series (from when we were kids) but he said he couldn’t get into the other ones. Since our son also loves the Lego Star Wars games we figured he would also like the movies but he never really showed an interest.

FCM

March 20th, 2009
1:02 pm

Massive Star Wars fan here—I have the movie posters in frame on my diningroom wall…..

Skip the Anakin trilogy all together….there is no value add from that portion of the series, it was LAME.

Show Luke’s story in the proper order and do not try to ‘prep’ the kids for it. They get what they get out of it.

It’s like reading the Bible: The story I get from Jonah today is not the one I got 10 years ago.

Cammi317

March 20th, 2009
1:39 pm

FCM you and my sister must be kindred spirits. She has the movie posters on her wall as well as action figures on shelves.

Jess

March 20th, 2009
1:58 pm

Your husband is 100% correct. Duh.

Lori

March 20th, 2009
2:03 pm

I have a 5 year old who LOVES Star Wars. And I do mean LOVE. Like, he went to Dragoncon last year dressed like Obi Wan Kenobi. He likes the first three (storywise, not year produced) the best. The older set are more confusing to him because they are later in the story. He rarely even likes the older films because he can’t identify with Luke’s character because he didn’t see him as a child, whereas afer viewing Anakin’s upbringing in the first movie, he really enjoys watching the budding romance in the second movie. That being said, Episode 3 is definitely not appropriate for him to watch, especially the ending. I think he best prefers #2 because of the big light saber battle scenes, etc. Forget nastalgia, younger kids will be less confused if you show them the story cronologically. So my thinking is for older kids, if you want to view them in the order they were made, why not, but younder kids will be confused if you do it that way. I mean, he’s 5, so he really doesn’t have the attention span to watch all 6 movies anyway. Just let him watch what he will find interesting. He can learn to appreciate the whole deal later.

Marci

March 20th, 2009
2:07 pm

My husband found this site, http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/Star-Wars-Episode-I.html. It is a great tool for determining age appropriate movies.

J-Tex

March 20th, 2009
2:45 pm

I couldn’t disagree with Lori more – I am a firm believer in ALWAYS watching or reading things in the order in which they were created, because that allows the narrative to unfold as it was originally conceived.

It’s similar to the renumbering of the Chronicles of Narnia that was put into place some years back. There is no sense of wonder or “Oh!” in The Lion, the Witch in the Wardrobe if you’ve already read The Magician’s Nephew, because you’ve already been exposed to the world, most of the characters, etc.

The same applies to Star Wars – the OMG! moment that so many of us had watching the end of Empire should unfold as it was intended. And frankly, I can’t imagine watching the “first” trilogy, with Hayden Christiansen as the whiniest nascent villain EVER, and then watching New Hope, etc. and seeing Darth Vader as the phenomenal villain that he was. Nor would his eventual redemption have been so powerful if we knew his origins.

Stick with the original. It’s by far the best. It was a grown-up soap opera, and the prequels were little better than cartoon caricatures.

J-Tex

March 20th, 2009
2:49 pm

SPACE opera, I should have written. The fingers were moving automatically.

Jeff

March 20th, 2009
3:05 pm

Just switch over to Star Trek. Much simplier universe over there – except that Kirk is a womanizer…

The whole Star Wars chronicles are a joke. It’s interesting to see when special effects get bigger and more expensive, the scripts and character developments get worse. There wasn’t a single character like Hans Solo in the first three prequels.

Gman

March 20th, 2009
3:08 pm

In reality, Georgie wrote all 6 stories way back in the day. But since he started with the 4th movie, most people don’t know that. Though the prequels tell the orign of Darth Vader, Obi Wan, the emperor, I’d stick to the the way they were released back when we were kids. Besides, I can’t tell you how teary eyed my 7 year old son got during the phantom menace for what happened to all the jedi.

If you don’t shield your child from violence, then I’d start from the prequels.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 20th, 2009
3:09 pm

I assuming this is our friend and regular Jeff — If so, Jeff i was thinking of you when I wrote this last night. I was hoping you’d come and comment. We haven’t heard from you in a while. I hope all is well!

I think they are going to watch this weekend — Interesting new dilemma brought up — original version versus the doctored new versions released of the old movies — This shouldn’t be this complicated!

Also am fascinated by the Bible study using the films for lesson on redemption.

Be aware that this system is marking more of the comments as spam and is pulling them. It seems to be if you post a lot of links it assumes it’s spam but then again it pulled one of MJG’s from yesterday — I try to check the spam cue during the day so just be aware that seems to be a new problem.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 20th, 2009
3:11 pm

Gman — I thought he had the whole thing written out and I thought I had heard he just started with 4,5,6 because he couldn’t do technologically what he wanted to do in 1,2,and 3 yet — maybe I’ve made that up in my head — that’s partially why I wondered about the order also .

jct

March 20th, 2009
3:14 pm

If you have the original versions I would watch those. If not, the updated versions are alright. I guess I am a purist. I have both versions in my library (VHS and DVD). (Yes, I feel for the marketing.)

Jeff

March 20th, 2009
3:26 pm

Different Jeff here. Sorry, hope he makes it on here though!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 20th, 2009
3:48 pm

Well nice to have this Jeff too!

Kat

March 20th, 2009
4:00 pm

There are only three movies in the REAL franchise – Star Wars (4), The Empire Strikes Back (5) and the Return of the Jedi (6). If you let him watch any of the others, he’ll think you are nuts.

Gman

March 20th, 2009
4:05 pm

You’re absolutely right Theresa. I’ve also heard that the studio didn’t ok the first three due to the storyline and such, but that could be a rumor. Heh, I happened to ask this question at work and started a debate! Everyone concludes that you should start with “a new hope”.

Lori

March 20th, 2009
4:19 pm

To J-Tex – You missed my point completely. We aren’t talking about adults here who are capable of “letting the narrative unfold” or have “OMG moments” as you described during Empire. Certainly older children could do this and should view the movies in order created. The questions posed to this blog was about a 5 year old. Children that age are not going to grasp the same things as an adult in these movies – they aren’t going to have OMG moments. They are CHILDREN. Small children will enjoy the action & comedy elements more (and love the pod racing scene in the first film). The story line and the twists of the bad guys are meaningless and lost on a 5 year old. So you show a child what a child wants to see – a kid racing a flying machine and a cool light saber battle. That was my point.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 20th, 2009
4:27 pm

Lori — my little guys IS much more interested in Anakin than Luke because in the video game they actually get to pod race. he does like yoda. He doesn’t get the whole girl thing and apparently in the game they show padme giving birth to the twins because he said “something was coming out of her shirt.” (we need to preview these games better) — I totallylove 4,5,6 and hate to show him 1 and 2 (i think three is pretty well out of the question) but he really is more interested in anakin and that pod racing — he would probably like the double light saber fight in menace also.

Nono

March 20th, 2009
5:03 pm

The question for true SW fans isn’t what order should you show the episodes in to your kids, but what VERSION of the 4, 5 and 6 do you show your kids? Do you show them the more gritty, CG-less ORIGINAL version which is awesome, or the more recent restored versions (sooooo lame that in the restored version Greedo shoots Han first–HAN is a SMUGGLER. Get over it–HAN shoots first!! DUH!)

Episodes 1-3 are soooo boring and having grown up loving SW 4-6, they were a HUGE disappointment to me, so why bother wrecking something your kids love by showing them those at all? I’d prefer that 1-3 didn’t exist to my kids at all and just let them grow up with the SW universe as I knew it before those episodes existed.

FCM

March 20th, 2009
5:43 pm

When your mother puts a full size autograph standee of Chewie in the closet…..well…..

Truthfully, mine have never had the desire to watch all 6. I *think* their Dad has 1 -3. I know I have 4-6 both the original and the remakes. They like 4 & 6 best. I just got Spaceballs (Mel Brooks) the other week.

I suppose I could be a kindered spirit Cammi….My brother has his action figures (cira 1977) and the ships etc. He also has the poster for 4. His fiance took one look at my dining room and said “not in my house. don’t show your brother!”

Then again, Harry Potter book 7 cover art is on a wall and I have a Twilight key chain….I never considered myself sci-fi/fantasy chick before but I guess I need to keep it real.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

March 20th, 2009
6:11 pm

FCM — you are officially a sci-fi fantasy chick!

Penguinmom

March 20th, 2009
7:40 pm

J-Text – I completely agree with your Narnia analogy. I have tried to indoctrinate every mother I know that they HAVE to let their kids read Lion, Witch, Wardrobe first. I don’t know how many people have said, I don’t know why they made LWW before the First book ‘Magicians’. Have to stop myself from yelling, ‘Magician’s Nephew is NOT the first book!’

Theresa – the Bible study is from a church in Cincinnati. It was designed for young adults. My husband would read over their points and think about what part of the movie was going to be viewed. Then he would emphasis the points he thought were important in a way that was appropriate for upper elementary kids. Included things from ‘Don’t be a C3PO – whiny and fearful’; the imagery of the Bible as our sword and Holy Spirit as our Force; Friendship and sacrifice; Having a mission in life.
Here’s the link to download it: http://www.covfirstchurch.org/resources.htm

DB

March 20th, 2009
9:55 pm

Another sci-fi fantsy chick, here! Absolutely, no question about it: You MUST show IV, V and VI. In that order. Then show I. Skip II and III for a while. And skip that stupid “Clone Wars” animated P.O.S.

“Star Wars” is our Christmas-tree trimming movie! When my son was 5, he was helping me put ornaments on the tree one afternoon, and picked up one of Luke with his light saber and said, “Who’s this?” I answered, “It’s from Star Wars . . . wait, you haven’t seen Star Wars . . .!”, grabbed it from the shelf, and slammed it in the VCR. He was absolutely mesmerized, and I must admit, it certainly slowed down the decorating process. It took three times as long for the tree to be decorated, but for the last 15 years, the Christmas tree only gets decorated with a “Star Wars” 4,5,6 marathon!

He was old enough to see I, II and III as they came out in the theatres, and yes, I was interesting with cute little Anakin, but II and III were more than we wanted to deal with, and the adolescent Anakin whined and pouted WAAAY too much. ALTHOUGH: The end of III did answer a lot of questions about how Anakin became Darth Vader, though, so there was some closure, there, albeit of a bittersweet variety, since you know what goes on to happen to all the characters.

George Lucas hadn’t really conceived of Darth Vader becoming Luke’s father until a re-write of Episode V. The original screenwriter didn’t have Vader as Luke’s father, and it wasn’t until she died and Lucas had to take on the re-write on his own that the idea came about for Vader to be Luke’s dad — and that changed the flavor of the entire trilogy, and opened up the possibilities for Episodes I, II, and III. Even several re-writes of Episode VI showed Vader as a sympathetic character, trying to save Luke from the Emperor, which we get a little flavor of in the final cut of VI. Lucas was almost broke after his divorce in the late 80s, and privately blamed his obsession with the “Star Wars” movies as contributing to the break-up of his marriage. But in the 90s, when CGI technology became more advanced, he realized that the technology would make the costs of doing I, II and III much more do-able. Also, he was intrigued that there was still a strong audience for the franchies — a ready made audience was already in place, because while the original audience had grown up, their children were still experiencing the magic of “Star Wars”.

FCM, I love, love, LOVE “Spaceballs”! Bill Pullman as Lone Star from the Ford Galaxy and Dark Helmet’s revelation that he is Lone Star’s “father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate!’ is always good for a hoot!

FCM

March 20th, 2009
11:35 pm

I can accept being a sci-fi/fantasy chick. I love LOST, SW, HP, Twilight, Narnia, Labrynith (Bowie WOW), Dr. Who (longest running Sci Fi show in history) and probably others. Had never really thought about it before.

My parents look at some this stuff my brother and I have on display in our homes and ask if we are still 12. I point out that when I was 12 I had a poster of Budweiser on wall that said “I don’t much about art but I know what I like’ and one of a Unicorn….I was dorky then too but in a much less COOL way.

BTW if your into this stuff…..Hugh Jackman is back as Woleverine in X-men Orginis: Wolverine May 1, 2009.

Jeff

March 24th, 2009
9:17 am

OK, original Jeff is back! But just briefly.

On issue:

While I actually like Tom’s suggestion earlier about showing the two trilogies in a combined order, I’m still going to have to side with showing the original trilogy first, followed by the second, but withholding Episode 3 until the kids are mid-late teens.

Personally, and I know I’m gonna get flamed for this, Episode 3 was my favorite one of the 6. But you have to know the full story from the original trilogy first, and you have to have the build up from Episode 2, particularly between Anakin and Padme, to get the full effect. Exactly how Anakin goes about his journey and why resonates deeply with me, and magnifies the tragedy of his actions tremendously. To the point that there were several scenes in that movie that had me bawling the first time I ever saw it. While the ‘backstory’ of the original trilogy is needed for the full effect here, to know exactly how evil Darth Vader truly was, the original trilogy never affected me to the same level that Episode 3 did.

Update on where I’ve been/ what I’ve been doing:

In short, I’ve been getting much more active politically. I started my own blog at http://swgapolitics.wordpress.com and am now a contributing author at Jason Pye’s Georgia Legislative Watch (http://www.georgialegislativewatch.com), as well as being very active on PeachPundit.com (I am known as Dark Knight Begins there) and twitter (@swgalibertarian). I also keep decently active on Facebook, but that reveals a lot of personal details and y’all may or may not want to contact me there. The new email that I primarily use is southwestgalibertarian@gmail.com

I actually just started using Google Reader for rss feeds, and I will add the Momania feed to it. Theresa, is there a comments feed as well?

Jeff

March 24th, 2009
9:23 am

FCM:

Wolverine is one of the movies I’m most excited about this year, and I can’t WAIT for May 1 to get here! Every trailer I see for that movie only makes me want to see it more!

Jeff

March 24th, 2009
9:34 am

BTW: For any interested, there IS a comments RSS feed for this blog:

http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/comments/feed/

Theresa

March 24th, 2009
10:35 am

Hey Jeff – It spammed you for all the links — I had to pull you out of the big bad dark hole of spam comments — I will check out your links — I’m glad you’re writing and enjoying it!! I knew I had an RSS feed for the blog but didn’t know for the comments — good to know. Hope you’ll still pop in some.

Jeff

March 24th, 2009
10:58 am

I was wondering why that comment had to wait for you and the other went through! :) And I do have both feeds added to my Google Reader, so I’ll pop in when I see something interesting.

d

July 2nd, 2009
3:27 pm

I suggest that you let them start with episode 4 and watch through 6. Then, stop. Episodes 1-3 were nothing more than money-makers for George Lucas, to whom nothing is sacred. Episodes 1-3 are nothing but 6+ hours of dumbed-down, teenager-speak. Dialogue is nothing short of horrible, the story is ludicrous, with many contradictions with the original movies/canon, beginning with Obi-Wan not remembering the famous-to-infamous R2-D2 to Leia remembering images of her mother (she stated that her mother..her real mother…had died when Leia was very young…not at birth, as the *new/crappy* films told). The acting in the original was way better than the new films. The only actor that did well was Ewen McGregor. His portrayal of Obi-Wan was right-on. Hayden Christensen sucked it up as Skywalker/Vader, more of a whinny baby, than the supreme bad guy of the universe. But, you can’t solely blame these actors. The script(s) was/were horrible. Lucas should have produced these movies and that’s it. He should *never* write scripts. He ruined Return of the Jedi with introducing Ewoks (he states that technology wouldn’t allow wookies, but that is bull…technology was advanced enough to have several wookies running around. He only used about 30 total shorties, so not enough tall people with shoe-lifts? Whatever…) Gawd, everytime I get excited and start watching Star Wars, I’m blown away at how utterly bad the new films are. Attack of the Clones was the best out of those 3 due to the amount of time we see Obi-Wan in action. I keep seeing petitions for a remake of the original 3. What we need is a remake of the *NEW* films, stay true to canon, leave Lucas’ paws off the scripting, and bring back the *great* dialogue (proper-old english) of the original/excellent films…ewoks excluded.
P.S. No way the Empire could be brought town by a bunch of dang Teddy Grahams. Lucas should be ashamed.

d

July 2nd, 2009
3:42 pm

EDIT: A correction, Temuera Morrison did excellent as Jango Fett. He didn’t have much to show in the way of *acting*, but his performance was good.

sc

July 15th, 2009
3:21 pm

Watch them in the order of time. The old ones are dumb compared to the new ones anyway.

3333

July 15th, 2009
3:23 pm

Whatch them in order of release. Episode six doesn’t make that good an ending. It’s not climatcic enough.

2

July 15th, 2009
3:26 pm

watch the new ones and forget about a new hope. empire and Jedi. The prequel trilogy would make a good story on its own, even though it has a sad ending. It could make a good, dark series.