To get things out of the way, if you're one of the frightening large number of people I've encountered who have never seen Star Wars, this entry is not for you. Instead, go find someone who has and tell them to read this, and then they will help you watch Star Wars.
Since Episode I made its way into our lives in 1999, a new issue has been raised in the land of Star Wars fandom - what is the right way to watch the movies? And furthermore, how would you show them to your kids/someone who has never seen them?
I have thus far been a staunch supporter of IV, V, VI, I, II, III. This is the way the movies were released. If you watch the prequels first, it ruins the surprise of just about everything in the original trilogy. You know Darth Vader is Luke's father, you know who that crazy-sounding Muppet is, you know all about Palpatine. So better to watch the originals first, be surprised by that, and then learn more about how things got to where they were through the prequels.
Others out there champion an order of I, II, III, IV, V, VI, since matches the movies' internal chronology. I can see some additional reasons behind that. If you watch the original trilogy first, you know where everything in the prequels is leading up to. You know Anakin will become Darth Vader, that Padme will die, and that Obi Wan will end up in Tatooine and Yoda on Dagobah. I argue, however, that from a cinematic perspective, the storytelling in the originals is much better and the revelations you see there are more startling than those in the prequels, which tend to be pretty heavily foreshadowed. (I mean, who didn't see that Palpatine was Darth Sidious?) Maybe my perspective is skewed though since I had seen the originals and read a lot of the books before the prequels were even announced.
I was contemplating these two points of view recently, and came upon a possible compromise. Perhaps it would be too confusing for someone who has never seen the movies, but if they were able to stick with it I think it could have a lot of potential: I, IV, II, V, III, VI.
Think about it.
You watch The Phantom Menace; you're introduced to this little boy and Obi Wan, silly adventures occur and then there's an amazing lightsaber duel.
You watch A New Hope - hey how did Obi Wan get so old all of the sudden, who is this Darth Vader character? Oh my goodness he kills that little boy from the first movie (obviously not while he's a boy, but still)?
You watch Attack of the Clones. Oh hey there's that Clone War Obi Wan was just talking about. Another crazy lightsaber duel.
You watch The Empire Strikes Back - WAIT! Anakin is Darth Vader? But he was just taking on the insurrectionists!?
You watch Revenge of the Sith; oh, so that's what happened. Man that was a ridiculously quick fall to the dark side (sorry, it was!). Palpatine is Sidious (okay so you probably already figured that one out). Ah, so that's how all those things from IV got set into motion.
Finally, you watch Return of the Jedi. Anakin redeems himself! Good wins! Teddy bears taking out trained military forces!
I think it could work.
Does anyone know someone we could test it on?