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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Movie Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a 1999 film by George Lucas starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, and Jake Lloyd. It is the first in a trilogy of films that function as a prequel to the original trilogy of Star Wars films and, in chronological story order, the first in a six-part saga.

Contents

Opening crawl

Episode I
THE PHANTOM MENACE
Turmoil has engulfed the
Galactic Republic. The taxation
of trade routes to outlying star
systems is in dispute.
Hoping to resolve the matter
with a blockade of deadly
battleships, the greedy Trade
Federation has stopped all
shipping to the small planet
of Naboo.
While the Congress of the
Republic endlessly debates
this alarming chain of events,
the Supreme Chancellor has
secretly dispatched two Jedi
Knights, the guardians of
peace and justice in the
galaxy, to settle the conflict....

Cast


Plot summary

Missing image
Jinn_and_Kenobi.jpg
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn

It is the year 32 BBY (or, 32 years prior to Episode IV), and a trade dispute between the Trade Federation and the planet of Naboo has led to a blockade of the planet. Chancellor Valorum of the Galactic Republic secretly sends two Jedi Knights, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, to resolve the dispute. Unbeknownst to them, the Trade Federation is in league with the mysterious Darth Sidious, who secretly orders an invasion of Naboo and the killing of the two Jedi upon their arrival. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan escape the assassination attempt by the Federation and flee to the surface of Naboo.

On the planet's surface, the Jedi meet local native outcast Jar Jar Binks, who brings them to an underwater Gungan settlement to escape the Trade Federation army. Meanwhile, the Trade Federation invades Naboo and captures their leader, Queen Padmé Amidala. The Jedi meet the Gungan leader, Boss Nass, and ask him to help the people of Naboo, but Nass refuses and sends them off in a submarine. The Jedi, with Jar Jar Binks in tow, reach the capital of Naboo and rescue Queen Amidala from the Trade Federation droid army. They depart for Coruscant, the Galactic Republic’s capital planet, to ask for help from the Senate. A droid named R2-D2 heroically repairs the Queen's starship as they narrowly escape an attack from the Federation base ship.

Due to the attack, however, the ship is forced to land on the desert planet of Tatooine for repairs. While searching for needed parts, they befriend young Anakin Skywalker, a slave boy, whose master is Watto, an alien junk dealer. Anakin is gifted with piloting and mechanics (he has built an almost-complete droid named C-3PO). Qui-Gon Jinn senses a strong presence of the Force in Anakin, and feels that he may be the Chosen One who will fulfill a prophecy by bringing balance to the Force. By entering Anakin into a podrace, Qui-Gon orchestrates a gamble in which the boy (alone, since he was unable to include the youth's mother in the bargain) will be released from slavery and they will win the needed parts for their ship. Anakin wins the race and joins the team as they head for Coruscant, where Qui-Gon plans to seek permission from the Jedi Council to train him to be a Jedi. Meanwhile, Darth Sidious sends his apprentice, Darth Maul, to kill the two Jedi and capture the Queen. Maul appears just as the group is leaving the planet, and fights Qui-Gon, who then manages to escape on the ship.

On Coruscant, Qui-Gon Jinn informs the Jedi Council of the mysterious attacker he encountered on Tatooine. Because of his mastery of the Jedi arts, the Council becomes concerned that this may indicate the reappearance of the Sith, a long-gone religious order who followed the Dark Side of the Force. Qui-Gon also informs the Council about Anakin, hoping that he can be trained as a Jedi. After testing the boy and deliberating with one another, the Council refuses, deeming him too old for training according to Jedi Code. They are also concerned due to their sense of what seems to be a cloudy future and a strong presence of fear in the boy. Meanwhile, Senator Palpatine (of Naboo) uses Queen Amidala's situation to his advantage by persuading her to call a motion of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum so that he can get himself nominated as the new Chancellor. After doing so, the Queen decides to return to her home planet to repel the invasion of her people. She is frustrated by the Senate's deliberation and lack of action, and feels that by the time Palpatine is elected Chancellor it will be too late. The two Jedi accompany the Queen back to Naboo.

Queen Amidala, back in Naboo, forms an alliance with the Gungan people, uniting in battle against the Trade Federation. After much fighting against the Federation's droid army, defeat for the alliance seems imminent. However, victory is won when young Anakin Skywalker commandeers a fighter plane and destroys the Federation's droid command ship, rendering the droid army useless. Meanwhile, Queen Amidala and her force fight their way back into the palace and capture the leader of the Trade Federation. At the same time, Darth Maul has been engaging in combat with the two Jedi. He kills Qui-Gon Jinn, but Obi-Wan Kenobi in turn slays Darth Maul. Just before passing away, Qui-Gon instructs Obi-Wan to train Anakin to become a Jedi. Obi-Wan gives his word that he will train the boy.

Missing image
Senator_Palpatine.jpg
Senator Palpatine

After the battle, the Jedi Council names Obi-Wan a Jedi Knight. Kenobi conveys his master’s wish regarding Anakin Skywalker to Yoda, who reluctantly allows him to become Obi-Wan’s apprentice. Qui-Gon is cremated, and Mace Windu and Yoda agree that his death was caused by the Sith. Because there are only two Sith ever at any given time (a master and an apprentice), they believe that there is still another one out there.

The film closes with a large celebration of liberation from the Trade Federation on the planet of Naboo. Queen Amidala presents a gift of appreciation and friendship to Boss Nass.

Filming

The budget of Menace was US$115 million. Filming was primarily done at Leavesden Studios in England, with additional location shooting in the Tunisian desert and the Italian palace Palazzo Reale, Caserta.

Reaction

After an enormous marketing campaign, with the distinctive artwork of Star Wars series artist Drew Struzan gracing the movie poster and other advertising, there was almost unprecedented interest amongst both fans and the wider community in the return of one of the most successful movie series of all time. However, critical and fan reaction ranged from guarded praise to outright derision.

The much-hyped special effects, while generally viewed as groundbreaking in their sheer scope, were perhaps less impressive than anticipated simply because of high expectations. This attitude was confirmed with the rival film, The Matrix, winning the visual effects Academy Award for 1999 over the Star Wars film. It was the first time a Star Wars film did not win that Oscar competition category. Many critics heavily criticized the direction and the acting of Portman and especially Jake Lloyd as the young Anakin Skywalker. Some aspects of the scripting were also criticised. Special venom was directed at the character of Jar Jar Binks, who was regarded by most of the older fan community as purely a merchandising opportunity rather than a serious character in the film. Fan reaction was mixed.

Another source of dissatisfaction comes from the decision to explain the Force in terms of hard science, hence the introduction of midi-chlorians. Many fans felt this was unnecessary and ruins an aspect of the saga which sets it apart from other popular sci-fi titles in which religion and spirituality are of little importance or totally absent.

A number of people anonymously re-edited the film and released their edited versions over the Internet. One, known as The Phantom Edit, is regarded as a superior version by many who have seen both.

Title

There is a great deal of speculation as to what the title, "The Phantom Menace", refers to; the titles of the other films seem to generally be self-explanatory. It is usually suggested that the title refers to Darth Sidious, Darth Maul, or the Sith in general.

The title could also refer to the origin of Darth Sidious' name, which is the adjective 'insidious'. The Oxford English Dictionary gives following definition:

Full of wiles or plots; lying in wait or seeking to entrap or ensnare; proceeding or operating secretly or subtly so as not to excite suspicion; sly, treacherous, deceitful, underhand, artful, cunning, crafty, wily. (Of persons and things.)

So the 'phantom' in the title of Episode I could be referring to the Dark Lord of the Sith and ‘menace’ to the meaning of the name 'Sidious.' Another possible meaning of the title is a subtle indication at the ultimate outcome of the Saga--Anakin becomes Darth Vader.

A further theory is based upon the understanding that the central menace of the movie, the Neimoidian dominated Trade Federation's blockade and invasion of Naboo, is itself nothing more than a phantom, a piece of political misdirection wrought by Darth Sidious as part of the machinations designed to bring about the ultimate victory of the Sith. In this sense, the key outcome of this movie is the elevation of Palpatine to the office of Chancellor - an outcome that would have resulted had the Trade Federation's gambit succeeded or failed. The keystone of the plot is the plight of the Naboo arousing a sympathy vote in the Senate. Whilst the heroes are focused on combating the threat to Naboo, they are unwitting pawns in a connivance of far greater scope.

Given Lucas' penchant for layered meanings in these movies, it is arguable that all these interpretations contain a grain of truth.

Sources and inspirations

While Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress has often been seen as a source of inspiration for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, The Phantom Menace's middle section on Tatooine , with its series of non-violent bargaining and twists of chance, demonstrates the strongest correspondence to Japanese film in the saga.

The pod race sequence on Tatooine appears heavily influenced, if not lifted wholesale, from the chariot race in Ben-Hur.

Trivia

External links


Star Wars

Episodes
I: The Phantom Menace | II: Attack of the Clones | III: Revenge of the Sith
IV: A New Hope | V: The Empire Strikes Back | VI: Return of the Jedi

Spinoffs
The Star Wars Holiday Special | The Ewok Adventure | Ewoks: Battle for Endor | Star Wars: Clone Wars | Droids | Ewoks

de:Star Wars: Episode I - Die dunkle Bedrohung

ro:Războiul Stelelor - Episodul I - Ameninţarea Fantomei sk:Star Wars:Epizóda I - Skrytá hrozba

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