Two Entirely Different Ways To Watch The Original Star Wars

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:

  1. Episode IV: A New Hope
  2. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  3. Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
  4. Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
  5. 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!

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    Harmy’s Ep IV & V, call it quits right there. No muppets, and for sure no crappy CGI bonaza and mind blowingly bad script.direction.........

    Harmy's stuff would be OK if you own the physical media would it not? It's just that but cut up a bit.

      It's just that but cut up a bit.


        You have the physical media. The movies. This version USES what you already have, but it's cut up a bit - edited.

          Have a look at the links supplied, they are the original versions in the best possible quality available, after a fuck tonne of work.

            What @darren is saying I believe, is that he doesn't feel that watching the despecialised editions is morally wrong if you already have purchased the legit copies as physical media. Otherwise watching the despecialised editions is copyright violation.

              I did mean it in a legal sense but I know see that I am wrong.

              I still totally stand by it in as a moral stance though.

      Legally, no. You own the copy you purchased, not any other copies or variations of it. If you have a DVD you aren't entitled to the Blu Ray releases for example and the film companies would argue you should purchase another copy if you want it in a different format. In fact I don't believe you could legally argue you are entitled to download a copy that is 1:1 the same as what you have, say a DVD rip if you own the DVD. It's still obtained illegally.

      That said, it's up to you whether you'd lose any sleep over it if you were to obtain them.

      Last edited 15/12/15 9:32 pm

        In fact I don't believe you could legally argue you are entitled to download a copy that is 1:1 the same as what you have, say a DVD rip if you own the DVD. It's still obtained illegally.

        Not sure about movies, but I seem to remember game ROM's were only legal if you yourself ripped them from the copy you had for backup purposes only. Course, that was something I read when I was in high school, so who knows if that was true or not.

      My problem with this is I refuse to pay good money for the crappy special editions at all. I'll happily pay for an original re-release, but Lucas/Disney can shove the special editions where the sun doesn't shine.

        most dvd/brd releases have the original unaltered films included.

          Paying extra for a magenta tinged remaster with dodgy 90's dated CGI inserted HD edition just so I can legally own a non widescreen crappy old DVD version (which is not in most releases) isn't really high on my list of moral purchasing decisions.

            It sounds like you're thinking about it the wrong way around. There are two versions in the Bluray releases according to zeitxgeist - the remastered and the original. Rather than think of it as 'buy the remastered just so you can own the original', why not think of it as 'buy the original and get the remastered with it as well'? The net result is the same, the only difference is what order things are on the discs.

              Care to link? Because the despecialised editions exist due to there being no HD version of the originals, at all.

                I don't own any of them, I'm just going on what zeitxgeist said. You'd have to check with him, sorry.

              I'm pretty sure he's wrong. There is no version of the unaltered original trilogy on Blu-Ray.

              Reasons why I believe this:
              (1) I just checked my own Blu-Ray copy and it contains only the special edition - Hans shoots second, Jabba meets Han at the Millennium Falcon, and so on. (The CGI in the Jabba/Falcon scene really is terrible.)
              (2) If you check the descriptions of the BR versions currently being sold on a site that's selling them, they talk about including documentaries about making the special edition, but say nothing about including the actual original. I'm guessing that these documentaries are one of the sources of original footage.
              (3) I didn't check my DVD copy but I recall it also only had a single version.
              (4) There is a Forbes article from September 2015 discussing whether there will ever be a release of the original trilogy on Blu-Ray; apparently there are right issues involved:
              even if Lucas were willing to give the go ahead on remastering and re-releasing the unaltered Original Star Wars Trilogy, Fox owns the theatrical, non-theatrical, and home video rights through 2020, and outright owns A New Hope until the end of time.

              Somewhere I have the original trilogy on VHS. As far as I know that's the only form in which it's ever been released to the public. (Well, probably also on Betamax.)

              I think I currently have four versions of Star Wars - the original VHS release, the Special Edition, a DVD copy and the Blu-Ray. I wonder if the VHS original is worth anything? It's probably deteriorated to unwatchability by now.

              I was mildly tempted to also buy a digital streaming version but there's no real reason to do so when I have the blu-ray release.

    Talk about a bunch of divas, nothing wrong with watching them in chronological order.
    First three are over CGi'd but nowhere near as bad as some would like to have you to think.

      They're worse than their reputation suggests and boring as fuck.

        that's the root of it. Its not the overuse of CGI or the lazy dialog and shoehorned plotlines - they are simply just boring movies.

          They are boring movies partially because of lazy dialogue, shoehorned plot-lines and reliance on CGI.

            And Count Dooku appeared out of nowhere to appease the Jar Jar haters.

    Harmys Despecialised IV and V.
    The Empire Begins (Ep I-II-III)
    Star Wars - Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – A Q2 Fanedit

    And done.

    You can watch the movies in any order you want, but if you skip one or cut bits out of the others, guess what?

    You're not a Star Wars fan.

      How do you justify that? I'm a Tim Tam fan but I don't like the weird banana ones.

        Confirmed: Banana Tim Tams are the Phantom Menace of biscuits.

        There are banana Time Tams? Oh no no no, that can't exist. Next thing you'll tell me is that they're shaped like Jar Jar Binks.

        Good! Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you! Banana Tim Tams are no match for the power of the Classic Dark (Side)!

      I have basically every released edition of all of the movies in multiple formats, a room full of memorabilia, $4000 of custom sabers on my wall, and tailormade Sith robes, and I still think Episode I is shit, and the cgi additions in rereleases are crap.

        Episode I is shit, eh?

        So what about Darth Maul?

        How about Palpatine pulling strings and only the viewers know what's happening?

        Pre-war artisan ships unaffected by the requirement of society at war (which looked crap, but gave a great idea of the galactic stability).

        Actual acting in the Senate scenes, which are great if you like political thrillers.

        I could go, as there are many points to address, but the gist of it is that it was a good movie. It didn't exactly fit the standard mold of Star Wars, but that's because it was working into the trilogy we know.

        I still hate Jar Jar, but crap characters and wonky dialogue is present in all of the movies, and is prevalent in the trailers for TFA. Also, I don't agree with the CGI additions to the original trilogy, which is why I don't watch them (easy solution - watch the originals).

        You might hate the Banana ones, but no one, NO ONE likes the Christmas Special. But in the end it's not canon, and the movies are. If you don't watch it things aren't explained properly.

        Ultimately who are you to tell someone else they won't enjoy the experience?

          I didn't tell anyone they wouldn't enjoy anything as it happens. I just said I thought Ep 1 and the CGI stuff that was readded were crap. I don't plan on watching Ep 1 tomorrow when I do a marathon before the premiere, but according to you, that means I'm not a fan, when in all likelihood, were we to compare devotion to Star Wars, I could say you're not really a fan.

          TL:DR Ep 1 sucks, readded CGI sucks, skipping it doesn't affect peoples love of Star Wars

          Ultimately who are you to tell someone else they won't enjoy the experience?

          Coming from someone that said:

          if you skip one or cut bits out of the others, guess what? You're not a Star Wars fan.

          Cmon. It's a franchise thats spanned decades, spawned countless books, tv series, toy franchise, video game franchises and out of all of that, if someone decides they dislike one of six films they're suddenly not fans?

          Who are you to say they must enjoy each and every film if they associate with being a fan of the series?

          Actual acting in the Senate scenes, which are great if you like political thrillers.

          Last I checked, people didn't watch Star Wars to watch a political thriller.

      I'm going to need to see the certificate you have making you king of Star Wars fans before you start telling people they are or aren't fans.

        Trying, but it won't let me attach images...

    The ONLY order to watch them in is Episode IV, Episode V and Episode VI (forget the prequels - they were utter excrement)!

      Having never seen them before, I did this last week. Was very disappointed, I was honestly expecting more. Just such a hollow empty story stretched out over 6 hours, last 45 minutes was good. I don't understand why it is so popular.

        because rose tinted glasses.

        they were groundbreaking for the time. and rose tinted glasses. it's just a save the princess / take out the evil emperor story.

        Last edited 16/12/15 9:12 am

    I helped Harmy out with some of the replacement footage while working on my own restoration from the original 35mm prints of the Original Trilogy. If anyone needs help watching the OT before they go to see TFA, just drop me a line.

    My partner had never seen Star Wars until we watched them all recently. I decided to show her using the machete order which seemed like a good way to watch it. The only problem is that you find out Leia is Luke's sister before Return of the Jedi.

      Another way around that is cut the movie short just before Padme gives birth...pretty much chop Revenge of the Sith off at just after Anakin get picked up by Sidious on mustafa after the Kenobi V. Anakin duel. or around that area...

    Only way to watch it:

    Episode IV
    Episode V
    Episode VI

    The End

    Machete order is good, but i enjoy putting phantom menace in there.

    i'm going to the midnight launch tonight. kinda not keen but also kinda keen.

    Watching the entire saga this week to prepare. Watched the Adywan ANH on Monday, watched Empire Strikes Back last night and tonight I'm dusting off the old Return of the Jedi VHS which I loved so much a kid and chucking it in to see all the Yub Yub, Sebastian Shaw glory.

    Skipping the prequels. Think I have a DVD copy of TPM somewhere. Haven't seen ATOC or ROTS since they were in theatres.

    I can't get over the hate for the prequels...Phantom Menace had podracers = cool as fuck. Darth Maul = Awesome as fuck. Qui Gon Jinn = Mastery as fuck. One of the best lightsaber battles I've seen (Maul v. Kenobi & Qui Gon) = Entertaining as fuck. Not to mention character depth, relationships forming and breaking. The very start in one of the greatest villains journey. Clone Wars had further shaped the relationships and seeded the greed and fear Anakin had from within. Also having it pushed further by the death of his mother. Revenge of the Sith just had shit hit the fan emotionally for anyone following the Star Wars story.

    The Prequels were great, they made the original trilogy better. I am not jumping on the bandwagon of hate like everyone does for the prequels...the only thing that may be slightly wrong is Jar Jar...and that's only because he's a childish character that most people would cringe over (who actually had a pretty major turning point for the entire storyline). So go on internet, keep hating prequels while I enjoy them. Along with my Nickelback CD and my copy of Halo 4, considering everybody hates those two for no real reason.

    If you genuinely dislike them for real reasons and not just because they're 'boring' or 'crappy' then disregard my comment.

    TL;DR: Get real reasons for hating things if your gonna spew your hate at it. Enjoy Star Wars in it's entirety, regardless of whichever order you choose to watch them in.

      Pod race was only there to sell video was a lame Nascar race designed to be watched by 5 yr olds.
      Darth Maul was there to attract gay guys to the cinema.
      The light sabre battle was over choreographed.
      There was no character depth - all the characters were monotone with boring dialogue.
      There rest of what you state does not even make sense.

      Prequels were crap and only damaged the original trilogy. For example...why put Yoda in the prequels. It totally destroys the fact the Luke does not even know he is talking to the "great Jedi warrior" when he first meets him.
      Jar Jar is one of many things wrong - how can anyone justify midichlorians.

      There are many more reasons to dislike the prequels other than just because they are 'boring' and 'crappy' (which they are).

      I cannot even start to explain why they are so bad...where does one start...just about everything with the movies is crap, the dialogue, the wooden acting (Natalie blamed the prequels for not being able to get further roles for a period of time), the incoherent storyline and lame plot, the pace of the movie where at times it is too fast (eg. one minute Jedi on the trade mother ship and few minutes later they are being chased by a large groper in their bongo') and times it is too long did that pod race go one for....2 laps too many, the stupid sterotyping, stupid characters....on and on and on.

        Really? I thought it was an awesome concept of how sports looked in another galaxy, giving the universe a bit of depth. Not to mention it helped showcase Anakins power with the force. But no, you're right, the hovering, extreme speed death race is exactly the same as going around in an oval on four wheels. Or maybe I like it because I was actually 5 years old when it came out, which helped me get into Star Wars.
        Sorry, I must have also missed how Darth Maul attracts gay guys...why does he attract gay guys?
        Not gonna lie...the saber battle in TPM was long...but it was fun to watch. The rest of what I stated does make sense, you just refuse to let go of your hate ;)
        How was the dialogue boring? The only character without any real depth was Maul...but that's because it was never explained in the movie why he was on the Dark Side and where Sidious picked him up. Speaking of Sidious (oh look, more character depth), totally didn't think he was Palpatine until Attack of the clones, that could've been because I was young and silly.

        How does putting Yoda in the prequels destroy Luke not knowing he's talking to the great Jedi Master? It may destroy it for the viewer...but you'd be pretty stupid not to assume that the first thing Luke meets on a deserted, overgrown forest world is Yoda. Midichlorians are a total misunderstanding. From my understanding they are a reading of ones potential (tapped or untapped) connection with the force that surround everything and binds the galaxy together. That's what makes sense to me...but I don't like that idea...I personally would rather the force be un-measurable. Hooray, we've reached an agreement about something in the prequels. They defs could've been left out without any real consequence to the Primary storyline.

        I have a feeling that some people just don't like the prequels because they're OT purists and are convinced everything else is trash, when in reality, it's not. The prequels, to me, were entertaining. It seems like I'm the only one that genuinely loves them.

        Side Note: The Force Awakens is fucking awesome and needs to be seen in cinemas ASAP

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