A while ago, I read this post on the blog A Certain Point of View calling for the abandonment of the term “Original Trilogy” because of its polarizing nature, and replace it with the phrase “4-6 Trilogy.” While I disagreed at first, I slowly came around. The writer makes a strong case that “Original” automatically elevates the first set of movies and goes a long way to keep the newer films from being considered classics in their own right (I feel referring to the newer films as simply “The Prequels” does the same amount of damage). However, the more I think about it, saying “4-6 Trilogy” and “1-3 Trilogy” doesn’t go nearly far enough in bridging the gap between the two (soon to be three) sets of films.
We need to abandon the term “trilogy” entirely when talking about Star Wars.
The dictionary describes the word “Trilogy” thusly:
- 1. A series or group of three plays, novels, operas, etc., that, although individually complete, are closely related in theme, sequence, or the like.
- 2. (In ancient Greek drama) a series of three complete and usually related tragedies performed at the festival of Dionysus and forming a tetralogy with the satyr play.
- 3. A group of three related things.
Notice a pattern? They all have the number “3” in them. There are even three different entries. Three.
Star Wars stopped being three films the second The Phantom Menace went into production.
That’s why when I absolutely need to talk about the separate sets of movies, I use just the episode numbers (and incidentally, it’s one of the only times I use the episode numbers). Otherwise, I use “films”, “sets”, and Lucasfilm’s own “saga” when describing the six films.
I-III is still Star Wars, whether one likes it or not. Whatever one’s personal preference, for many people I-III are just as classic, just as quotable, and just as dear as IV-VI. Continued use of the word “trilogy” just gives false hope to those who like to pretend this isn’t so, and ammunition to throw at us who have accepted and embraced the newer films into our hearts and minds. It also sets VII-IX up for a hard time because the vocal minority will disavow it the second it does something they don’t particularly care for (which it should, if it’s going to be any good, since the detractors have shown time and again they get Star Wars the least).
IV-VI are classics. I-III are classics. VII-IX will, hopefully, be classics. We need to remember now and push now that this will in the end be a nine part Saga. Stop saying “original” unless you’re talking about A New Hope circa 1977. Stop saying “prequel movies” unless you’re explaining to someone for the first time why they were made later but chronologically happen before. Stop saying “sequel” since that word in itself drips with negative emotions and broken promises. And for the love of cake stop saying “trilogy” for a group of soon-to-be-nine movies.
If George Lucas is involved, it’s Star Wars for better or worse. Just enjoy the ride.
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