Let’s face it, when George Lucas first wrote and directed Star Wars (A New Hope) he had no idea what he had tapped into! And the five movies that followed were more luck than actual storytelling skill.
First of all there’s very little mention of Anakin Skywalker in the first film, and absolutely NO indication of the two twists relating to Luke’s family – he was clearly making it up as he goes along! Nevertheless, there’s no denying he’s come up with a brilliant story, as long as you don’t watch it the way it’s meant to be! (1-2-3-4-5-6 or 4-5-6-1-2-3) Both of which are bloody awful!
Fortunately, there are options available! The Machete Order for example, which suggests watching 4, 5, 1, 2, 3 then finally 6, although I've come up with my own little take on the order.
These two films complement each other well; showing two young men both leaving their homes on Tatooine, both getting entangled in a massive space-fight and both blowing up huge death stars/droid control ships before being whisked off to train to become Jedi. Of course Luke has the added pressure of saving Princess Leia – and dealing with the annoyance of the better looking, more manly, Han Solo!
Leading us nicely into the next film to see! Now, we turn our attention to Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. This time we watch Darth Vader find out (from the creepy guy in the hood that we saw in The Phantom Menace) that Luke is Anakin’s son. Allowing the audience to go, “And Vader killed him?! Oh boy!” Then, of course, Luke is whisked off to find the only surviving Jedi master Yoda. This time, the audience are in on the joke because we know that the little green guy IS Yoda and can laugh along at interstellar trolling!
Heads still spinning we flash backwards in time, racing through Episodes II – Attack of the Clones, and III – Revenge of the Sith, watching as Anakin finds himself in the throws of a forbidden romance, disobeying his orders and secretly marrying and, big no-no for the Jedi, getting his wife pregnant. We watch as Anakin, desperate to save his secret wife from his visions of her death, falls prey to the cunning mastermind that is Chancellor Palpatine – watching in horror as he turns into the shrivelled creature we’ve seen before – and becoming a Sith Lord in turn.
The audience stands witness to the fall of the Jedi, the destruction of lives, of homes and of a friendship – plus the amazing fight between Obi Wan and Anakin – ending with Anakin being mortally wounded and in desperate need of help.
While Darth Vader is getting his equipment re-attached, we’re present at the birth of Luke Skywalker. And a twin baby girl! Reeling the audience watch wide-eyed as Padme names her daughter in a single breath... Leia!
The final moments of this two-part story close with Luke being whisked off to his family on Tatooine, and Leia being adopted and raised separately by the Organas. The two broken Jedi slink off into hiding, while Vader reborn takes his first breath and finding out he, in his rage, killed his wife and unborn child. That all the suffering he went through to protect them was for nothing.
Finally we arrive at Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, knowing everything that has happened across the entire saga. Knowing the entirety of the struggle and corruption of Darth Vader.
We watch as Luke, now a fully-fledged Jedi Knight saves his friends – yet again – before meeting up with Yoda and Obi Wan (in ghost form) who send him off to face down his deadly dad. With a little help from his friends, and a tribe of teddy bears, Luke manages to get onto the ship and faces off against his father, trying everything in his power to return him to the good side.
Vader’s having none of it. He’s certain Anakin Skywalker holds no meaning to him, that is until Emperor Palpatine breaks out the force lightning on his baby boy… then Vader snaps! Lifting the Emperor overhead and tossing him to his death – destroying his own life support machines in the process. A dying Vader begs Luke to remove his mask so he can look on his son with his own eyes. A tender moment passes between them and Vader, restoring his humanity, destroying the Sith and righting all the wrongs he committed, passes away in his son’s arms.
Watching the story in this order becomes much more rewarding. It turns from a rambling mess without any real twists, into a story about humanity, corruption and redemption. An epic tale of love, death and betrayal and one man’s mission to do right, losing himself in the process, and being helped out of the darkness by his child.
It’s the story George Lucas never meant to tell.