The Star Wars franchise has expanded to include novels, video games, and now apparently soap featuring the images of characters like Darth Maul, Yoda, and Obi-Wan -- because who wouldn’t want to take personal hygiene tips from ol’ Ben “lives alone in a filthy hut with no bathroom in sight” Kenobi. Ultimately, though, Star Wars is all about the movies. The only problem is, no one knows exactly how we’re supposed to watch them anymore. 

A few years ago, a guy called Rod Hilton came up with what’s known as the “Machete Order,” a new viewing order for the films that goes like this: A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Attack Of The Clones, Revenge Of The Sith, and finally, Return Of The Jedi. Yeah, it scraps The Phantom Menace and those terrifying Ewok movies (not to mention the Holiday Special).

Hilton’s plan solved a few problems; watching movies in the order of episodes blows the Darth Vader reveal at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, arguably one of the greatest twists in movie history. But if you watch the films in release order, the versions available today are crammed full of added content that makes little sense if you haven’t seen the prequels, namely Hayden Christensen showing up at the end of Return of the Jedi. The Machete Order fixes these issues by wedging two of the three prequels into the middle of the original trilogy, making it kind of an extended flashback.

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But in 2021, we obviously have a lot more Star Wars movies to work with -- and we’ll soon have even more once that multimillion-dollar, 100% totally real Last Jedi remake hits theaters. So how do we watch the series now? Here’s a suggestion for what might work going forward: first, start with the original movies. Of course, this will be even better if you can track down a copy of the theatrical versions, of which there are many copies circulating the internet, including the “despecialized” fan restorations and the 4K77 project. Neither of which seems totally legal, so obtaining them might be a crime, but so is that goddamn “Jedi Rocks” song

Still, we’re definitely not telling you to seek out these unsanctioned edits, especially not if you already own multiple copies of the movies on home video, subscribe to Disney+ and have poured a small fortune into tiny plastic replicas of ridiculous aliens named after gibberish George Lucas’ kids once said. 

Once you have the original trilogy under your belt, head straight into the sequel trilogy. After all, when we were kids, who wouldn’t have preferred to continue the story of Return of the Jedi rather than a flashback to Space Hitler’s awkward pre-pubescent years? Now The Rise of Skywalker no longer has the burden of functioning as an epic conclusion to the Skywalker Saga because before we have time to think much about Palpatine’s sex life, we circle back to The Phantom Menace. And while the prequels may be flawed, the final moments of Revenge of the Sith are a pretty solid way to wrap up the saga.

But wait, we’re still not done because there are two spin-off movies, which you can watch in chronological order following Episode III starting with Solo and then Rogue One, the ending of which leads right into A New Hope; at which point you can just repeat this entire cycle! Star Wars no longer makes sense as a straightforward series; it’s an infinite, Groundhog Day-like timeloop. Maybe we could name this order after a different Danny Trejo character? Like the “Razor Charlie Order” or the “That Creepy Guy From Con Air Order.”

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Lucasfilm

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