Machete Theory: Review

I did it. I watched 7 Star Wars movies over 7 weekends. You may be thinking, “Really? That’s a feat?”

Yes. Why yes, it is.

I have a 19-month-old toddler. I run my own business and I’m up early in the morning working and late at night working. We bought a new house that we have been working on. It is the Christmas season.

Dammit, yes, 7 movies in 7 weekends is a lot!

If you remember, I decided to prep for The Last Jedi by watching every Star Wars saga movie in the Machete Theory order.

To recap, I watched them in this order: IV, V, I, II, III, VI, VII. This is not the original Machete Order, but my version because I love TPM and TFA is a new addition.

I also tried to pretend I was watching these movies for the first time and being introduced to Star Wars as a rookie. (This is important as many people suggest showing your children the movies in this order or to people who have not seen the movies.)

My verdict? I was not impressed. In fact, I’m not sure I liked this viewing sequence. I’m happy I did it, to finally get it out of the way because I’ve been obsessed with it for a while, but I won’t do it again.

There are few reasons here. (Excuse my lists lately on blog posts; they help me organize my thoughts cohesively)

  1. It doesn’t make sense.
  2. The flow is horrible.
  3. You can’t get strongly connected to the characters.

 

Before going more into detail on the above points, I do want to point out one tremendous pro to the Machete Order: You get more invested in Anakin as a character.

This is, after all, the point of the Machete viewing. You follow Anakin’s story much closer than you do if you split the trilogies up. I find the character fascinating but I’ve never had the connection I feel for, say, Luke or Rey. Yet over these past few weeks, I’ve understood more about Anakin than I ever have when I watched the movies as single one-offs.

For that reason alone, I do say every fan should try watching the movies in this specific order at least once in their life.

Now onto why I wouldn’t watch it in this order again.

 

It Doesn’t Make Sense

This was the biggest surprise for me. If you are watching the order in Machete style for the first time, you do not know who Anakin Skywalker is.

Think about it:

  1. ANH – Kenobi mentions a pupil named Darth Vader betrayed and murdered Luke’s father.
  2. ESB – It is revealed Vader is Luke’s father. We don’t know his first name. (***Please note, I am referring to the ORIGINAL THEATRICAL version of ESB. The scene when Vader speaks to the Emperor via hologram is later edited in the DVD versions to include Anakin’s name)
  3. TPM – Anakin’s full name is not mentioned until…get this…the podracing scene where they refer to him as a “late entry” to the race. He introduces himself as Anakin quickly to Padme in the angel scene and his name is mentioned when Padme says goodbye. It’s not until the podracing scene that they say his full name is Anakin Skywalker. There are a lot more mentions of his last name during the podracing scene, which helps, but right now, I would believe we were following Obi-Wan’s life, not Anakin’s.
  4. AOTC – Suppose I skip TPM and follow the original Machete order. We still run into the problem that Anakin’s last name is not mentioned in relation to him! It’s worse than TPM as the only time we run into his last name is when he is looking for his mother.
  5. ROTS – By this point, it evens out and we understand that Anakin’s last name is Skywalker.

As you can see, this is a big problem. If you are watching Star Wars for the first time, it is essential that you understand that Anakin is Luke’s father. The Leia surprise can wait, but it’s vital to the viewing of the Saga to understand who Anakin is. By watching the Machete Order, it would take a long time to understand that Anakin was the father to Luke. Like I mentioned, while watching it this way, I believed I was seeing the story of Obi-Wan’s life, not Anakin.

The Flow

There is a reason the audience should watch them I-III or IV-VI, and then VII separately. The most obvious reason are the special effects. The special effects make such a big difference on how we view the movies and I often forget that since I’m so entrenched in the mythology and story of Star Wars.

The Original Trilogy has more of a slow, plot-driven feel to it. Even though the special effects are good, it’s an older movie now and I find myself trying to follow along with figuring out who the Empire is versus the Rebellion. The redeeming part is that the basic plot is easy to understand and the characters are very relatable.

After watching ANH and Empire, I jumped into TPM, AOTC and ROTS. It was very jarring and slightly absurd. With ANH and ESB, I felt like the plot was relatively easy to follow. When I went into TPM – I couldn’t understand a thing. It was much faster; the effects they used made the movie seem like BANG! KAPOW! ZOOM! It made the saga seem disjointed and there are so many new characters. Most of the characters we focus on from the OT are Luke, Leia, Han, Vader, Kenobi, the droids, and Yoda. In The PT we have bounty hunters, the Jedi Council, multiple senators, Jar Jar, and a new species in each movie.

The flow when watching in this order didn’t fit well together. Lucas created these pieces of art in two different times in his life and wanted them to represent two different times of the galaxy. When watching it as a newcomer, it is irritating and it was hard to get into the PT after coming from the OT.

 

Connecting to Characters

This relates to my above point about the flow. One of the greatest parts about Star Wars are the characters. It’s very hard to get a lasting connection to the characters when they are chopped up from their trilogies. There is a lot of character development in the OT, and by taking ROTJ out of its place following IV and V, you get disconnected from some of the greatest feelings you may have when watching the OT whole. By ESB, you are really rooting for the characters. When you turn heel, and move to the PT, you must rework your feelings and do a 180 to understand a completely new set of people.

As with the different flow, the variety of environments and new faces make it hard to really feel for anyone except Yoda and Obi-Wan in the PT. I would also argue that it’s harder to connect to characters in the PT than in the OT. I believe, again, this is because the OT feels a lot more plot and character driven than the PT, which relies more on events to drive the movies.

 

As for TFA, I did not feel strongly one way or another about it, as it followed in the correct sequential order. The one note I did have, however, was I believe it is more different from ANH than I sometimes think. Broadly, yes, it pulled from ANH often. But minutely, not so much. There are enough differences to make it feel like the start of a new trilogy, but still within the same universe.

 

All that aside, if you watch the Machete Order as a seasoned fan, I think it can be enjoyable. I gained new experiences and felt deeply for Anakin in a different way than I had before.

If anything, if you choose not to explore watching the movies this way, I do recommend at some point watching ROTS followed by ROTJ. It was refreshing to watch Anakin’s fall and then his redemption within those two movies.

 

And now ladies and gents…onto The Last Jedi.

Advertisements

Haiku Me Friday! Snoke and the Force

Twisted, deformed
But I am so much stronger
Should I use the Force?

I haven’t talked about Snoke in a while. But his theme music came on today when I pulled up my blog post to write so now is as good a time as any, especially with TLJ in less than a month.

***Please – I am trying to stay as spoiler-free as possible, so do not list any spoilers if you know them!

I’m interested to see what and who his character is. I have always stated strongly that I really, really hope he is not Palpatine. But at the same time – as we get closer to The Last Jedi, I find that I have more of an open mind. I’m not sure who he is, and some of me doesn’t really care.

Looking at the TV spot/trailer, it seems like he knows how to use the Force – or, it’s implied though it could be some fancy editing. I liked the theories out there that said Snoke is not a Force user, just a crazy manager of the Knights of Ren with extensive knowledge of, well, everything.

I think, in some ways, it would be weirdly delightful to have no explanation on him and he would be like Yoda – just enough info, but most of it is locked away. I know that won’t happen as Disney is going to try to exploit as much as possible – but I thought it would be an interesting turn to just accept a character for once, instead of knowing his entire back story.

I’m dreaming.

And if Snoke is Palpatine, I will be disappointed though I think not nearly as disappointed as when I was first speculating theories almost two years ago. I guess it could make sense, but I believe Disney is trying to lead us down the direction of thinking he is Palpatine (his disfigured face, looming presence, etc.) to throw the fans off.

In the end, does it matter?

Not that much. We’ll probably end up accepting the explanations they tell us.

 

What’s your favorite Snoke theory so far?

Breaking Bread in Star Wars

In Game of Thrones, the significance of meals, soups, and stews cannot be overlooked. I love that important events happen around the table and eating: Joffrey gets murdered/poisoned during feast, the Red Wedding takes place during another feast, many of Olenna Tyrell’s witty and strong speeches are given over food, and some of the secret meetings often involve wine and tea cakes.

Food, in general, plays an important role in literature. Think about Alice in Wonderland with the Mad Hatter’s tea party or Chocolat where chocolate drives village folk to break their Lenten vows. How about Macbeth when he comes newly to the crown and has a feast (complete with scary visions)? And let’s not forget how Harry Potter was denied the ability to sit with his family to eat; often food was shoved into his broom cupboard, or later, his upstairs room, representing a denial of familial blood/bonds.

This of course got me thinking…what about Star Wars? Does Lucas put the same emphasis on meals as our literary friends? I’m going to take a look at the most important scenes involving food.

Let’s analyze!

 

Episode I – The Phantom Menace

The most important meal scene here would be when Qui-Gon, Padmé, and Jar Jar take refuge with Anakin and Shmi on Tatooine due to the sandstorm. This scene is very essential as it ties together some speculations, as we see Qui-Gon revealing to Anakin that he is a Jedi and Qui-Gon’s speculation that Anaking has Jedi reflexes due to the fact that he can drive (fly?) a podracer.

In one sense, it’s a meeting of the past and future. We see the old way of life and the Jedi Order with Qui-Gon Jinn. We see the future and the change in the galaxy with the meeting of this boy.

It’s also a moment where rich and poor come together. We see this clearly with Padmé who doesn’t understand slavery still exists, juxtaposed against Shmi who probably views her as a little naïve for not understanding the Outer Rim.

 

Episode II – Attack of the Clones

There are two specific meal scenes I want to focus on (sadly, I’d like to focus on when Anakin meets Padmé’s family, but since that was a deleted scene, I will keep it out of the picture (pun!)).

Meal 1: Anakin and Padmé on the Coruscant Freighter to Naboo

This is the first time we see Anakin and Padmé have a real, adult conversation that digs a little deeper into the Jedi life. Padmé teases the surface to see if Anakin’s flirtation could ever turn into something more substantial. We see them connect more as adults on an even playing field, versus what was happening earlier when Padmé was still trying to distance herself as the older and “wiser” of the two.

Here, too, there’s a connection of two different worlds and lifestyles meeting each other. There is the secular, political world which Padmé is a part of and the reclusive, temperate world that Anakin has sworn his life to.

Meal 2: Anakin and Padmé on Naboo

This meal is almost as if our characters were leveling up in a video game. They’ve approached each other with caution in Meal 1 and now they’re sparring flirtatiously (or should I say they’re having aggressive negotiations?) in Meal 2. The walls separating their worlds between them both have melted away a bit. Anakin now teases the Jedi and his master, Obi-Wan, slowly pushing aside their world. We see Padmé begin to pull Anakin into her world: not only are they literally on Naboo, her home planet, but also figuratively as he begins to grow more in love with her as a person.

Instead of two worlds meeting, we have two lives overlapping. This scene reminds me of a Venn diagram: Padmé, politics, wealth on one side with Anakin, Jedi, and isolation on another.

 

Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Nothing to note.

 

Rogue One

Nothing to note.

 

Episode IV – A New Hope

The only scene in this movie with a meal involves Luke conversing with Uncle Owen while Aunt Beru silently watches the exchange. It’s here where we find out that Luke has a father, who for some reason, is mysterious and not much is known about him. Luke also vents frustration about staying on Tatooine for another harvest.

The meal itself seems normal enough if you’ve ever had a meal with a teenager, but the difference with this meal is the emphasis on Luke’s father. Luke is clearly interested in knowing more and is intrigued by the detail that Old Ben knew him, but Uncle Owen squashes that conversation quickly.

The main difference in this meal is that while the meals in the Prequels are pulling people together, this meal seems to be pushing people apart.

 

Episode V – Empire Strikes Back

Meal 1 – Luke eats a meal in Yoda’s hut

Again, similar to ANH, this meal is one of discord and tension as opposed to harmony. Luke is impatient and wants to find a Jedi Master. This little green being has invited Luke into his home and is trying to be hospitable, to bring warmth and friendliness to the meal, but all Luke wants to do is leave. How horrible! It reflects so poorly on him. Yoda also seems to be gauging Luke to see if he will open up to becoming more patient and is testing him.

Instead, the meal falls apart to the point that when Yoda is revealed to Luke, Yoda almost refuses to train him. The two Force-sensitive beings are pushing apart at this meal instead of coming together as they should be to save the galaxy.

Meal 2 – Lando’s betrayal

There’s not much to this meal time, but damn is it memorable. This is the Star Wars version of the Red Wedding. Han and Leia think they are going to a friendly meal with Lando, only to find that he betrayed them all.

Interestingly though, this is the first and only time we really see formal dining in the Star Wars movies. If anyone is wondering how the meal turned out, you should watch this version.

Out of all the meals in the Star Wars movies, this has to be the biggest antithesis of what meal times should be. Meals should be about coming together, letting bygones be bygones (temporarily) and as we saw in the Prequels, worlds meeting in a friendly manner.

We definitely have different worlds meeting together in this meal, but it is the opposite of opening your mind, sharing warm conversations, and attempting to be friendly.

The Empire and the Rebellion stirred together with some betrayal left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. (That was the greatest line I’ve ever typed)

 

Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

Though not necessarily a meal, I wanted to include the scene of Leia handing Wicket the rice cake because it speaks back to my theme of bringing different worlds together. In this instance, which is different from the Prequels, Leia’s act of sharing a meal with someone completely different is what saves her life and topples the Empire.

It is often mentioned that food is a great way to bring together different cultures, even if they cannot speak the same language. We see this with Wicket and Leia on Endor. Despite their differences, the food helps Wicket overcome his hesitation to befriend Leia. In turn, he helps her take down a scout trooper and she goes with Wicket to his village. This helps her save her friends (who were also going to actually become the meal), disable the shield around the Death Star and bring down the Empire. And this all became possible because of a rice cake, imagine that.

 

Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Meal 1 – Rey’s solitary meal

For obvious reasons, this meal was shown to emphasize that Rey was alone. She was a girl on a lonely, desolate planet. I think this meal, though it could have been cut from the movie, was important to show us how isolated she was on Jakku.

In some ways, eating meals by ourselves is sometimes viewed by others with pity. Not many people go to restaurants alone, and even eating at your desk sometimes feels a little shameful. As human beings, we were meant to eat as part of a community. Though, in some ways, I think the American culture has forgotten (or ignored this as we prefer to place an emphasis on being busy), we still put an importance on eating together on holidays.  At our root, our cultures like to take coffee breaks, tea breaks, water cooler breaks,  so that we have a chance to connect with other beings.

Rey’s act of eating alone in a desert (another place that often symbolizes lack of life) forces us to acknowledge how secluded she is.

Meal 2 – Maz Kanata’s castle

This meal mirrors the meal from TPM slightly. We have four people from greatly different worlds, pulled together around a table for a meal. Whereas TPM was a happen chance, this meal was forced by Han Solo. Finn is an ex-First Order Stormtrooper, Rey is a loner from Jakku, Han is a smuggler, and Maz is…a Force-sensitive being (and totally also a hoarder – say what you want, but if you read any description of her, she belongs on TLC).

This meal is a meeting of the worlds, but not an overlap. Everyone still has their boundaries firmly in place once they leave. Yet here at this meal, they learn a little bit more about themselves. Instead of learning about others as we saw in most of the meals in Star Wars, they each understand a bit more about who they are and what they may have to do.

 

I was hoping to come away from this analysis feeling like there was a deliberate reason for each meal scene in Star Wars. I think that’s the case for some, but not all.

What I enjoyed observing the most was that the meals in the Prequels were focused on bringing together people from very different ways of life, into an open discussion and understanding of each other.

With the Original Trilogy, meal times were focused more on strife, discord, and a sense of unbalance. The meals highlighted tension for our characters and the larger political scene at large. Leia’s sharing of the rice cake with Wicket is the only instance in the OT where we see something closer to what we saw in the PT.

With TFA, I think the meal scenes were much more deliberate and placed within the movie for a reason: to help us understand the characters better.

 

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaching, food plays an important part in our lives. Though we love to gather around our tables and eat during the holiday season, do we also keep an open mind and realize that at any meal, we have a meeting of the worlds? Do we try to keep ourselves from discord and tension (and hopefully betrayal)?

 

Did I miss any meals that you think should be part of this list?

 

Haiku Me Friday! Can the Force awaken?

It’s stunning, but yet…
This keen sense of foreboding
Erases beauty

The end of ESB is a pivotal moment in Leia’s life. As they arrive at Cloud City, Leia begins to really feel the Force. I think it begins with her ill feelings towards Lando. She doesn’t trust him, and it’s not the normal this-guy-is-kinda-too-forward-and-possibly-sleazy feelings. It’s a sense of something not being right.

She tries to tell Han a few times about her misgivings, but he does not do a good job of assuaging her fears, amiright?  I’m not sure if this is a woman-only thing but while watching this movie as I’ve gotten older, I think, “What is he doing? He’s reassuring her in the worst way possible!”

Yet in a way, perhaps his lame reassurances only helps heighten her Force sensitivity even more.

As I’ve thought about the Cloud City scenes more in depth, and Leia’s role, I see how often she was in tune to the Force. Not only did she sense something wrong with Lando and how he was “too friendly”, but she sensed when Luke had arrived too. How would she have known he was right around the corner and risk telling him that he was walking into a trap? I think the Force guided her.

Perhaps there is something to be said about an “awakening” of the Force. I know that fans have argued about this since TFA came out…some fans think it’s ridiculous that Rey could magically use the Force right when she needed it, and others think it had been slowly growing in her since leaving Jakku.

We can see this with Leia in Cloud City as well. Her awakening begins when she arrives and slowly blossoms to the point where she is able to turn around and find Luke after his confrontation with Darth Vader. The baby steps with the Force are taken until she can confidently know and follow the Force without hesitation.

So can the Force awaken within someone? Is that possible? Can it lie dormant and be woken up?

Or do you believe it is always there; the person is using it without being aware, and then realizes they can use it?

There’s a fine difference. If you go with an “awakening” theory – then the person has no access to the Force until for some reason or another, it is woken within them. Now they have complete access to it, almost like unlocking a special level in a video game.

If you go with the other theory, then the Force is always present within you and you were always using it, but once you realized it, you were able to harness it more. It’s like Harry Potter – he used magic quite often without realizing it, but once he found out he was a wizard, he was able to harness it and use it.

I think both theories still line up with Lucas’ explanation of the midi-chlorians, in a certain way (though I realize that post-Disney takeover is trying to stay away from midi-chlorians…they are still canon). Perhaps midi-chlorians can lay dormant or they are always working within you.

This post would advocate for the Awakening theory – based on Leia and her Cloud City experience.

 

Discuss with me!

Starting this weekend – join me :)

Starting this weekend we have exactly 7 weekends left until The Last Jedi arrives in our lives.

I decided to use this time to watch one Star Wars episode each weekend. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve had a bit of a fascination with the machete theory. I have always wanted to try watching the movies in this order to see what kind of response it generated from me, but I never had the time or motivation. However, since I’ve been super organized this year, I will use these weekends to watch the Star Wars movies in my own modified version of the machete order: IV, V, (I), II, III, VI, (VII). Parentheses indicate that these episodes were not in the original machete theory order. The inventor of this order believed that:

  • The Phantom Menace was lousy and there was nothing in it that greatly contributed to the saga as a whole, and
  • The Force Awakens was not part of the original machete order as it had not been released.

I’m sorry, but I love TPM so there’s no way I can cut that out of the viewing order. Seeing Anakin when he was so innocent and young lends a lot to the Saga. You see where his main fear of losing people comes from: Shmi, his mother. It frustrates me when people easily wave aside TPM when I think it’s one of the strongest movies of the Prequels. But, alas, a discussion to rehash at another time.

Created by mintmovi3, deviantart

I’d love for any of you to join me in this! You don’t have to watch the movies in the machete order, but I do think it will be a good way for all us fans to get ready for TLJ and gain new insight into the saga. I think one movie a week is pretty doable. I hope to reflect and write out some thoughts here if anything inspires a full post.

I kind of wanted to create a hashtag for this experiment as well, but felt like that was a little too much. But I’m open to suggestions if you have any!

7 weekends left until TLJ! MTFBWY.