Ever since George Lucas carpet-bombed the world with the Star Wars prequel trilogy, there has been a conundrum about what order the movies should be viewed. Should you watch the original trilogy first and then the prequels, like the order they were made? Or the prequel trilogy then the originals as the episodes are numbered? Machete order says neither.
The brain child of programmer and geek Rod Hilton, Machete order is explained in depth on Rod’s blog, Absolutely no Machete Juggling and it actually makes a lot of sense. Rod proposes that the episodes are viewed in the following order: A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, Return of the Jedi (or IV, V, II, III, VI).
The most obvious thing about Machete order is that it does away with The Phantom Menace completely, and yet hardly suffers from the exclusion. As Hilton explains:
Episode I is a failure on every possible level. The acting, writing, directing, and special effects are all atrocious, and the movie is just plain boring. Luckily, George Lucas has done everyone a favor by making the content of Episode I completely irrelevant to the rest of the series. Seriously, think about it for a minute. Name as many things as you can that happen in Episode I and actually help flesh out the story in any subsequent episode. I can only think of one thing, which I’ll mention later.
Every character established in Episode I is either killed or removed before it ends (Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, Chancellor Valorum), unimportant (Nute Gunray, Watto), or established better in a later episode (Mace Windu, Darth Sidious). Does it ever matter that Palpatine had an apprentice before Count Dooku? Nope, Darth Maul is killed by the end of Episode I and never referenced again. You may as well just start with the assumption that Dooku was the only apprentice. Does it ever matter that Obi-Wan was being trained by Qui-Gon? Nope, Obi-Wan is well into training Anakin at the start of Episode II, Qui-Gon is completely irrelevant.
By removing many of the characters of Episode I, the Machete Order makes the prequels much more of a flashback sequence after the revelation that Vader is Luke’s father, explaining backstory and making the entire sequence flow a lot better. By watching Return of the Jedi directly after Revenge of the Sith, it also heightens parallels between Anakin and Luke’s path to the dark side, one that Luke eventually avoids.
It makes a lot of sense, but if you need further convincing, it’s worth reading Hilton’s post for all the pros and cons of the Machete order.