Some human beings still haven’t seen any of the Star Wars films. Many others saw one or more of those films — probably even dedicating the necessary 12-plus hours to watching the full six-movie saga — and then let it devolve into a mass of tangled memories. Space battles. A killer trash compactor. Clones. CGI animals. Han Solo quips. Chewbacca yeti-howls. Lightsabers. Pod racing. Ewoks. Tons of rad Vader stuff completely undercut by the word “midichlorians.”
Even casual fans need a primer as the seventh Star Wars film comes barreling into theaters as perhaps an unprecedented commercial event. Time, as they say, is of the essence. And you should go refreshed into what’s likely to wind up as one of the most popular movies of all time. We present to you the abridged version of the Star Wars saga, 100 words or less for each installment.
The Phantom Menace
A political dispute on a planet called Naboo covertly set by a shadowy villain forces two magical space priests called Jedi sent to resolve the conflict to flee with the planet’s queen. They land on a remote desert planet called Tatooine, where they encounter a boy, Anakin Skywalker, they think will fulfill a prophecy that will bring balance to the galaxy. They attempt to teach the boy their wizardry, but the villain’s apprentice tries to stop them, killing one. After defeating the villain’s apprentice, the other Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, agrees to teach the boy.
Attack of the Clones
Ten years later, Anakin continues his Jedi training while the former queen (Padme) votes in a Galactic Senate to create an army to defeat the villain. Padme and Anakin flee after an assassination attempt. They fall in love. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan discovers a plot to create a clone army by a separatist movement led by a former Jedi, Count Dooku. Emergency powers are granted to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, who it turns out is the shadowy villain working in cahoots with Dooku, to defeat Dooku. Padme and Anakin get married and the Clone Wars begin.
Revenge of the Sith
War rages on. Palpatine influences Anakin to discredit the Jedi after he kills Dooku and has premonitions of pregnant Padme dying. Anakin takes the name Darth Vader after joining Palpatine as a bad-guy Jedi called a Sith. Palpatine declares himself Emperor and orders all Jedis to be executed; however, Obi-Wan and a powerful Jedi named Yoda survive. Obi-Wan attempts to kill Anakin, leaving him maimed and near death. Padme dies while giving birth to twins, who are split up for safety reasons. Obi-Wan and the Jedi go into hiding.
A New Hope
Nineteen years later, a rebellion springs up against the new Empire. Two droids carrying plans to the Death Star — the Empire’s superweapon — crash-land on Tatooine, where Vader’s son, Luke, lives. Luke, thinking his father was a hero who died in the Clone Wars, joins up with Obi-Wan and two space mercenaries named Han Solo and Chewbacca to return the plans to a princess, Leia, leading the Rebellion. Obi-Wan teaches Luke the ways of the Jedi, then dies fighting Vader. Luke joins the Rebellion and destroys the Death Star with Han’s help.
The Empire Strikes Back
Luke continues his training with Yoda, who was in hiding, at the request of Obi-Wan’s ghost. After a climactic fight that sees Han captured and possibly killed, Luke learns Vader is his father and Leia is actually his sister.
Return of the Jedi
Luke returns to Tatooine to retrieve Han’s frozen body. Han and Leia join back up with the Rebellion while Luke confronts his father and Palpatine after ostensibly becoming an autodidact Jedi following Yoda’s death. The Rebellion destroys a second Death Star while Luke and Vader duel. Rather than kill Luke, Vader double-crosses the Emperor, killing him and getting mortally wounded in the process. Luke cremates his father’s body on a pyre during a celebration of the Empire’s defeat. Freedom is restored to the galaxy, or is it?