This is a long-standing question for Geekdads of all kinds: 1) WHEN do you introduce your children to the Star Wars movies and 2) In what sequence should you show the films?
Different generations have generally experienced the films differently, often with different judgments as to their value, as George Lucas explains in this interview:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon — Thurs 11p / 10c|
The dilemmas may seem obvious, but let me explain. There are two dominant schools of thought on the issue. In the first, you present the films in their strict production order, i.e., the original trilogy first and prequels I-III later. (Since most parents who love the Star Wars films experienced the films in this order, that’s the overwhelming favorite.)
The other, minority view, says that you should present the films in their narrative sequence, beginning with Episode I and continuing through to VI. This is often disregarded out of hand, but there are several arguments for it:
- This is the order of the story as Lucas conceived it, and which he’s generally endorsed;
- It’s easier for a child to understand a story told from beginning to end, rather than one with an extended flashback;
- The prequels, especially the first two, are targeted for small children. Do you really want to wait until your son or daughter ages out of the period where The Phantom Menace is totally awesome?
There’s a third position, which holds that the three prequels are apocryphal perversions of the original trilogy and best kept away from children at all costs.
Let me make the case for an alternate sequence. Tell the story according to the age-appropriateness of the films. Essentially, you make the trilogy a big parallel montage, matching archetypes across different times, generations, and places — kind of like LOST.
On this theory, you begin with Star Wars IV: A New Hope. It’s the best stand-alone movie in the series, and if your kid isn’t into it, it’ll probably take a while for them to be into the rest.
Then, jump to I: The Phantom Menace. You can explain that this is the story of Luke’s father Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and C-Threepio. No spoilers necessary!
From here you can go to either II or V, depending on your child’s relative interest in either story, or which of the two DVDs you have ready at hand. You can even wait one-to-three years (as we who saw the films theatrically had to) for your son or daughter to age into them.
Then you introduce them to the Indiana Jones movies, as is right and just.
Finally, you show them VI and III, terminating both trilogies simultaneously, showing how Luke and Anakin make different choices, and how Anakin/Vader is finally redeemed.
You can work in the Clone Wars cartoons, the Lego Star Wars games, as well as the novels, encyclopedias, etc., as appropriate, based on your child’s approximate level of interest.
Alternative solution: you watch the movies as I’ve done with my son, haphazardly depending on my mood, and letting them tag along (covering their eyes as needed), trusting that they’ll sort it out for themselves later. Easy, and has as much to recommend it as most other approaches.