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Viewing guide for Star Wars newbies who want to watch the older movies

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With the highly-anticipated The Force Awakens about to open in cinemas there will be a lot of newcomers to the Star Wars universe who will want to catch up on the older movies to get ready.

But with six episodes to get through which movies should people watch and what order should they watch them?

As a die-hard (some say tragic) Star Wars fans ever since I saw the original Star Wars film as a wide-eyed 9-year old in 1977 – I think I’m qualified to advise newbies about what they need to do to be prepared for Episode VII.

WHAT ORDER DO I WATCH THE MOVIES?

If you’re going to do the movie marathon of all six movies – Episode 1 all the way to Episode 6 – my advice is to watch the films in the order they were made.

The Star Wars steenbok editions
The six Star Wars Episodes

In other words, watch the original trilogy – Episode VI A New Hope (1977) then Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and then Episode VI Return of the Jedi (1983) – first.

These films were made years before creator George Lucas decided to go back and tell the back story of the major characters in the prequels.

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Yoda in the Empire Strikes Back (Episode V)

The reason you should watch the original trilogy first is to avoid spoilers.

Some of the biggest surprises in A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are won’t be surprises if you watch the prequels first.

DO YOU NEED TO WATCH THE PREQUELS?

Not really. You could get away with not even watching the prequel trilogy – Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999), Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002) and Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005) – before watching Episode VII The Force Awakens.

This latest film picks up 30 years from the events of Episode VI Return of the Jedi.

The prequel trilogy is much maligned even among true Star Wars fans.

The much maligned all-digital character Jar Jar Binks in Episode I The Phantom Menace
The much maligned all-digital character Jar Jar Binks in Episode I The Phantom Menace

While they are well made, have jaw-dropping special effects and shed some light on the events before Darth Vader’s rise to power, they also have some wince-inducing dialogue and wooden performances.

If you wanted to watch the prequels – they can probably wait until a rainy Saturday afternoon.

WHY HAVEN’T YOU EVER WATCHED STAR WARS?

It always fascinates me that there are people who, despite seeing how much Star Wars has seeped into our popular culture, still didn’t get around to seeing the movies.

A lot of these people dismiss the films as being a pure sci-fi laser fight spaceship movies but they would be surprised to learn the movies are actually about a family – the Skywalker family and is a classic struggle of good versus evil.

Han Solo and Chewbacca back onboard the Millennium Falcon in Episode VII The Force Awakens
Han Solo and Chewbacca back onboard the Millennium Falcon in Episode VII The Force Awakens

The fact the backdrop is a galaxy far, far away shouldn’t detract form the amazing story you’ll discover.