If you're a particularly rabid fan of Star Wars, you'll know about Machete Order, the best way to watch the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy so as to best preserve the impact of one of the biggest plot twists of all time. If you've tried it, you'll know just how good it is.
If you're not a fan, for some reason, or if you despise the prequels, then watching the original trilogy in high definition through the tireless work of a man named Petr Harmy is just about the best experience yet. Either way, make sure you do one of these two things before you watch The Force Awakens.
This post was originally published on December 15, at 12:45PM.
1. Machete Order
In late 2011, after the world had realised just how mediocre Star Wars' three prequel films were against the longstanding brilliance of the original saga, Absolutely No Machete Juggling writer Rod Hilton shared his thoughts on the best way to watch the first six Star Wars films, in line with his view that the saga is not the story of Anakin Skywalker, but of Luke Skywalker.
Machete Order is this:
- Episode IV: A New Hope
- Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
- Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
- Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
- Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
Machete cuts out Episode I: The Phantom Menace entirely, because it's utterly pointless in establishing the world of Star Wars, and cuts to the prequel series just as the massive plot twist of Episode V is revealed — giving enough backstory to give the original trilogy's characters more life and purpose. Then, you're dumped in Episode VI, the pièce de résistance, for the climax and the resolution of the conflict. Then, you're perfectly set up for tomorrow's Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
We've written about the best order in which to watch Star Wars before, and you had a lot of feels about it. Let us know whether you've changed your mind, whether you've actually re-watched the series and had your mind blown, or whether you'd prefer to leave your treasured memories alone.
2. Harmy's Despecialised Editions
If you don't think the prequel series ever happened, you're in luck: it's looking increasingly likely that the seventh episode, The Force Awakens, will only give them a cursory nod — from everything we've seen so far at least. But if you're living in the 21st century like the rest of us, you still want to watch the original saga in high quality, right? Preferably before 12:01AM on Thursday, too. Because the original series was never released properly on Blu-ray (or even HD-DVD) — only the Special Editions, which George Lucas notoriously messed with and ruined in many fans' eyes — this has been impossible.
Enter Petr Harmy's Despecialised Editions, coincidentally created in 2011 just before Machete Order was proposed as a thing. The ABC has a beautiful, detailed look at the Despecialised Editions today, that explains the ethos behind them: the best and highest-quality parts from dozens of different film and digital sources —including DVD, HD broadcasts, Blu-ray and the original 35mm film scans — all spliced together to produce a HD copy of the original trilogy, untainted by Lucas' Special Edition meddling.
To get the Despecialised Editions, you'll need to acquire them illegally. Star Wars is still copyrighted content the world over, and Disney is notoriously heavy-handed with depictions of its owned characters and content — to the point that the entire Expanded Universe is no longer canon. We can't tell you where to get them, but we can tell you that they're very, very good, and the tireless work of an incredibly adoring Star Wars fan. And that they're not too hard to find.
Happy viewing, whichever method you choose!