Most people of my generation were brought up with the Prequels and most (but not all) find them perfectly okay. Maybe not as great as the OT, but still worthy of watching. However, I think the general consensus is that the Prequels should be held off for a while and you should have your children watch the OT for the first few rounds of Star Wars.
I have mentioned before that while I love and enjoy The Phantom Menace, it’s hard for children to watch because of the amount of talking and politics that are involved. This came from an experience I had watching it with a 5 year old Star Wars fan. He enjoyed the movie but got insanely distracted and bored during any of the senate scenes, or really…any scene that had a lot of talking which is quite a lot in TPM.
Yet I was thinking about TPM a few weeks ago and realized something that has been so obvious from the beginning: TPM is the only Star Wars movie that has a child in a leading role. Not only does it have a child in a leading role, it also has a cast of much younger characters than any of the other movies.
TPM boasts a cast of children that we see in multiple scenes, namely Anakin Skywalker. On top of that, we have all of Anakin’s friends who show up when he is working on his podracer and his best friend Kitster also appears in many scenes, showing us that Anakin is quite a normal young child, despite his abilities.
One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Timothy 4:12,
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
Though this was in reference to an early (“young”) church, many people use it when teaching children in Sunday School. It shows children that they too can be an example to others, even though they are so young.
The importance of children in TPM cannot be overlooked. It is similar to the Bible verse in that when you show TPM to a child, you are showing that this galaxy far, far away has children who went on to do an extraordinary things. Not teenagers, not adults, but children. Of course, I’m talking about TPM only and not the rest of the Prequels/OT because I’m not sure little Ani’s Jedi wipeout is considered “extraordinary”.
Though I would not label Padmé as a child, I think she is still an important figure for children to see in the movie because she is the next step up. We see such broad age ranges of people in TPM that it doesn’t take much for children to make a leap from Anakin, to Padmé, and then to Obi-Wan.
With Anakin, we see a young boy who can create and repair giant podracers. He then makes the hard decision to leave his mother, whom he may never see again, to go on a different life path. At the end of the movie, he saves the day by blowing up the Trade Federation Battleship.
Padmé is fourteen in TPM, a young teenager, and we see that she rules an entire planet as its queen. She also disguises herself and goes along with the Jedi on Tatootine so that she can know exactly what is going on with the mission. Towards the end of the movie, she makes the brave decision to return home to her planet against advice and enlist the help of an alienated race.
Obi-Wan is in his twenties in TPM and you get to see how even though he’s in his 20s, he’s not quite old enough to be independent. He still needs to follow the rules set out for him by older Jedi until he passes his training. This shows younger children that there are still limits that you have to work around even when you are older.
Realizing this made me rethink my decision on waiting until ARM is older for her to watch the Prequels. Perhaps it would be smarter to introduce TPM when she is younger, maybe as soon as she can understand plot flows and larger concepts. I don’t think the ages of characters is something that will be obvious to her, but perhaps subliminally it will be a good message.