How To Watch Star Wars

by Randy Murray on March 15, 2012

I noticed the other day a discussion about “Star Wars viewing order.” Frankly, I hadn’t thought about it that much, but upon reflection, I do find that I have an opinion on the subject.

Therefore, here is my recommended viewing order:

  1. Watch Star Wars
  2. Watch The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Don’t watch anything else

You can simplify this further by just watching the 1977 Star Wars and stopping there. Watch the original, unaltered version, if you can get your hands on it.


  • It’s not “Episode IV-A New Hope,” it’s just Star Wars. That’s how it was released in theaters and the original film did not include an episode number or a subtitle. That’s Lucas revisionism.
  • Normally I’d urge you to not watch a sequel, but in many ways, The Empire Strikes Back is a superior film.
  • “If I stop there, I don’t even complete the trilogy or learn how Darth Vader became who he is.” Correct. It’s better that way.

Why this much-shortened and incomplete viewing? Because if you watch only the original movie and the immediate sequel, you’ve seen all the best of the movies and don’t see all of the outright awful.

Furthermore, if you watch the movies this way, you are closer to the original intent and influences: the golden age movie serials. By themselves, Star Wars and Raiders Of The Lost Ark are almost ideal, truly perfect movies. The sequels take away most of the excitement, energy, and fun of the original experiences. Don’t seek to learn everything about the Star Wars universe and all of the back stories. The back stories suck. Simply enjoy the popcorn.

I had the pleasure of seeing the original releases of these movies and I know that for myself and the others in the theaters, it was wonderful being there, seeing it for the first time. After The Empire Strikes Back, every other movie was less and less satisfying, then more and more disappointing. I watched the final movie just wanting it to be over.

What about the other movies? Once seen, they cannot be unseen, but they don’t have to be re-seen. Why torture yourself? Enjoy the movies as they were originally seen and leave all the bad stuff on the cutting room floor, where Lucas should have.


The How To Watch Star Wars by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Courtney James March 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Yep. 100% agree.

I wish George Lucas would bite the dust or at least license out his franchise to somebody who could do it justice again.

I would love a gritty reboot of Star Wars…

But it will never happen.

That’s why fan fiction will never die.

I like to imagine that the real story hasn’t been told yet….


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