Star Wars: Episode 1
The Phantom Menace
Developed by: Lucas Films Ltd.
Directed by: George Lucas
Produced by: Rick McCallum
Written by: George Lucas
A long time ago…in a galaxy, far, far away…..
The Galactic Republic is in a period of decline. In response to a taxation on trade routes, the Trade Federation organizes a blockade of battleships around the planet of Naboo. Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum dispatches two Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and his Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to negotiate with Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray, in hopes of resolving the issue. However, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious orders the army to kill the Jedi and invade Naboo with an army of battle droids. The two Jedi escape: by climbing aboard a ship and escaping to Naboo. There, Qui-Gon saves a Gungan named Jar Jar Binks from being crushed by a Federation tank. Indebted to the Jedi, Jar Jar leads them to the underwater Gungan city; there, the Jedi unsuccessfully attempt to persuade the Gungans to help the people of Naboo, though they are able to obtain a transport to reach the Capital city of Theed on the surface.
Meanwhile, the Federation has invaded the capital city Theed, and nearly taken over the rest of the planet. Queen Amidala is captured by the Federation army, but is rescued by the Jedi. The Queen escapes Naboo with the Jedi on her starship, which is damaged on its way through the blockade surrounding the planet, forcing them to land onTatooine, a nearby desert planet, for repairs. Qui-Gon ventures into the settlement of Mos Eisley with Jar Jar and the droid R2D2 to a junk shop to purchase a new hyperdrive generator. The queen allows Padmé, supposedly a handmaid, to journey along with them. There, they meet a slave child named Anakin Skywalker, a pilot and engineer who has created his own protocol droid, C-3PO. After spending time with Anakin, Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force within him, and suspects he may be the “Chosen One” of Jedi prophecy who will bring balance to the Force. Qui-Gon makes a bet with Anakin’s owner, Watto, to enter him in a podracing tournament; if Anakin wins, he will be freed. If Watto wins, Qui-Gon forfeits his ship. Anakin manages to win the race and beats the doug, Sabolba, and then joins the group to be trained as a Jedi. They are then attacked by Darth Sidious’ apprentice, Darth Maul, who was dispatched to find, and eliminate the jedi. Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn battle each other on the sands of Tatooine, Qui-Gon, meeting his match, retreats, to his ship and disembarks the desert planet.
Having escaped the attack, the Jedi escort the Queen to the Republic capital planet of Corusant so she can plead her people’s case to Chancellor Valorum. Qui-Gon asks the Jedi Councel to train Anakin as a Jedi, but is rejected. Meanwhile, Senator Palpatine of Naboo convinces the Queen to make a motion of no confidence in Valorum in attempt to vote for a stronger Chancellor who will help end the conflict. She pushes such a vote, but grows frustrated with the lack of action by the Galactic Senate, eventually deciding to return to Naboo with the Jedi.
Back on Naboo, Padmé reveals herself to be Queen Amidala, the other “Queen” having been a decoy. Padmé convinces the Gungans to form an alliance against the Trade Federation. While Jar Jar leads his people in a battle against the droid army and the Queen comes in to capture by Gunray in Theed, Anakin pilots a vacant starfighter and joins the fight against the Federation droid control ship in space, and—using the Force—destroys the ship, deactivating the droid army. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon encounter Darth Maul once more and engage him in a lightsaber fight. Maul mortally wounds Qui-Gon, but is defeated by Obi-Wan; who cleaves Maul in two. Qui-Gon’s dying request is for Obi-Wan to train Anakin. Palpatine is elected as the new Supreme Chancellor, the Federation Viceroy is sent to stand trial for his crimes, Obi-Wan is bestowed the rank of Jedi Knight, and the Jedi Council accepts Anakin to become Obi-Wan’s apprentice.
The movie itself was created over a decade after Return of the Jedi. Lucas realized during the making of A New Hope that the world he created was too vast in scope to cover in one stand-alone film. He began writing a basic draft for his prequel trilogy that he planned on creating after the first three films. After Return of the Jedi, certain events occurred and Lucas lost over half his fortune. This made him drop the entire idea of starting a prequel trilogy. However, in the 1990’s Star Wars was still popular. Dark Horse comics began creating Star Wars comic books with back stories for Lucas’s different characters. This inspired Lucas to finally take up the task of creating another three Star Wars movies.
Within three to four months of Lucas beginning the writing process, Doug Chian and his design team started a two-year process of reviewing thousands of designs for the film. Stunt coordinator Nick Gillard was recruited to create a new Jedi fighting style for the prequel trilogy. Gillard likened the lightsaber battles to a chess game “with every move being a check.” Because of their short-range weapons, Gillard theorized that the Jedi would have had to develop a fighting style that merged every swordfighting style, such as kendo and other styles, with other swinging techniques. While training Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, Gillard would write a sequence to be an estimated 60 seconds long, meant to be among five to six sequences per fight. Lucas later referred to Jedi as being “negotiators”, rather than high-casualty soldiers. The preference of hand-to-hand combat was intended to give a more spiritual and intellectual role to the Jedi.
When the movie premiered in 1999, the respond was outstanding! Thousands of companies had to shut down on the opening day, for thousands of employees reported they could not attend work for they were going to see Star Wars. The movie won back Lucas’s fortune and helped urge him to start on the other two.
At the time, CGI was a big thing, but Lucas balanced the CGI enough with other camera tricks he used in the first three films that the movie still held the same charm as the others, EXCEPT for a few scenes. (i.e. Darth Mauls death)
When all is said and done, “The Phantom Menace” is still considered a great accomplishment in the modern day movie industry.
Star Wars Episode 1: 10.0