A friend of mine has, though a bizarre series of events far too complicated to attempt to explain here, has never seen any of the Star Wars films. She is roughly half my age, and wasn’t alive when the first trilogy was released.
Whatever one thinks of the series, they are undeniably a vital part of the American cultural zeitgeist. So she asked, in what order should she watch them? The release order as my wife and I did starting with Episode IV? Or in the new order starting with Episode I?
I probably should have made a more complicated poll offering two sets of options, one from old farts, another for young punks. I suspect your choice may be influenced by the order in which you originally saw them.
She should start with Eps. IV, V, and VI. If she starts with the Phantom Menace, she may be too disappointed with that one to continue with the rest. Watch the good ones first. Then it’s no great loss if she watches Ep. I and then gives up.
You know what? I agree. If you don’t know the how the whole thing ends, it makes the prequels better. Palatine is more menacing, and Vader still feels mostly irredeemable. But if you start with the prequels, it ruins IV, and possibly V, as you know way too much about the mysterious Darth Vader.
Of course, the discussion is academic since nearly everyone knows the basic plot points of all six.
I’m not that old, and didn’t see the old Start Wars movies until my 20s.
But (at least two of) the three original Star Wars movies are great. The prequels are not just sub par, they are extremely bad. The story is muddled, large parts of it doesn’t make sense, little of it feels right due to the CGI reliance.
If you are geeky about it, there are three great reviews at redlettermedia.com that delve into this in devastating detail.
I had no hesitation about voting for IV, V, VI, I, II, III: in general, works of fiction should be experienced in release order rather than internal chronological order (see: the Narnia books). But now that you mention it, your idea makes a certain amount of sense.
The flashiness of the prequels makes the action sequences in the OT look lame. It’s hard to watch Anakin kick ass and take names for 3 whole movies, then have the slowest sword fight ever with Obi Wan in episode IV. Makes you want to scream at them.