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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a 1999 science fantasy film written and directed by George Lucas. It was the fourth film to be released in the Star Wars saga, and the first in terms of internal chronology. Among fans, the title is commonly abbreviated as "TPM".
The film begins as two Jedi Knights are assigned as ambassadors to a trade dispute that is threatening the planet Naboo. When the situation turns violent, the Jedi, along with Padmé Amidala, the planet's queen, flee Naboo in an attempt to reach the capital world Coruscant in the hope of finding a peaceful end to the dispute. Along the way, the ship must stop for repairs on the planet Tatooine. It is there that the Jedi encounter Anakin Skywalker, a young slave boy who is unusually strong with the Force. When the group returns to Naboo, they realize that the situation is much worse than they thought—the evil Sith have returned.
The release of the film on May 19, 1999 came almost 16 years after the previous film in the series, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The release was accompanied by extensive media coverage and great anticipation. Despite mixed reviews by critics, it grossed US$924.3 million worldwide.
George Lucas began writing the new Star Wars trilogy on November 1, 1994. The screenplay for The Phantom Menace was adapted from Lucas' 15-page outline that was written in 1976. The early outline was originally designed to help Lucas track the character backstories and what events had taken place before the original trilogy. While the working title for the film was The Beginning, Lucas later revealed the true title to be The Phantom Menace; a title which, in contrast to the more self-explanatory titles of the other films, is ambiguous.
Within three to four months of Lucas beginning the writing process, Doug Chiang 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 new trilogy. Gillard referred to the lightsaber battles as akin 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 kenjutsu styles, with other swinging techniques, such as tennis swings and tree-chopping. While training Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, Gillard would write a sequence to be an estimated 60 seconds in length, 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 implemented to give a more spiritual and intellectual role to the Jedi.
Filming began June 26, 1997 and ended on September 30 of that year, primarily taking place at Leavesden Studios in England, with additional location shooting in the Tunisian desert for the Tatooine scenes and the Italian Caserta Palace for the Theed City Naboo Palace interior. The city of Mos Espa was built in the desert outside Tozeur. On the night following the third day of shooting in Tozeur, an unexpected sandstorm destroyed many sets and props. With a quick rescheduling to allow for repairs, production was able to leave Tunisia on the exact day originally planned.
Phantom Menace plot
The opening crawl reveals that the Trade Federation has blockaded the planet of Naboo in hope of resolving a galactic trade dispute. Chancellor Valorum of the Galactic Republic secretly sends two Jedi Knights — Qui-Gon Jinn and his padawan learner Obi-Wan Kenobi — to meet with the Trade Federation to settle the crisis. Unknown to them, the Trade Federation is in league with the mysterious Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who orders them to invade Naboo with their immense droid army and also to kill the two Jedi. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan escape and flee to the surface of Naboo, where they meet local Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks. As Jar Jar brings them to an underwater Gungan settlement, the Trade Federation captures Naboo's leader, Queen Amidala. Through a Jedi mind trick, Qui-Gon secures a submarine, which he, Obi-Wan, and Jar Jar use to reach the capital of Naboo and rescue Queen Amidala and her escort. Afterwards, they all depart for Coruscant, the Galactic Republic's capital planet, to seek help from the Senate.
During the escape, the ship is attacked by the Federation blockade, forcing R2-D2, one of the ship's droids, to fix the shields. The attack damages the ship's hyperdrive, forcing the party to land on the desert planet of Tatooine for repairs. While searching for needed parts, Qui-Gon and a handmaiden named Padmé befriend young Anakin Skywalker, a nine-year-old human slave gifted in piloting and mechanics. Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force in Anakin, and feels that he may be the "Chosen One"—an individual the Jedi believe will fulfill a prophecy by bringing balance to the Force. At Anakin's insistence, Qui-Gon enters Anakin into the Boonta Eve Podrace in a bid with Anakin's master, Watto, to gain the needed parts as well as Anakin's freedom. Anakin eludes several obstacles — including rival racer Sebulba — to win the race, gaining his freedom and bankrupting Watto. After hesitation, Anakin leaves his mother and his droid (C-3PO) behind on Tatooine to go with the Jedi. As the group prepares to depart, they are attacked by the Sith apprentice Darth Maul, who battles Qui-Gon until the heroes escape. On Coruscant, Qui-Gon informs the Jedi Council of the mysterious, well-trained attacker. The Council becomes concerned that this may indicate the reappearance of the Sith, an opposing order that followed the dark side of the Force. Qui-Gon informs the Council about Anakin, hoping that he can be trained as a Jedi. After testing the boy, the Council refuses, worried that he is too old for training and that the fear and anger that he harbors will cloud his future. Meanwhile, Senator Palpatine of Naboo persuades Amidala to call a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum. The vote removes Valorum from power and leads to Palpatine's nomination for the position, which Amidala considers too late to be effective. To stop the Federation invasion by herself, the Queen decides to return to Naboo with her security team, the two Jedi, R2-D2, Anakin, and Jar Jar.
On Naboo, Padmé reveals herself as Queen Amidala and forms an alliance with the Gungans for the battle against the Trade Federation. The Gungans march into battle to divert the Federation army away from the capital, allowing the others to infiltrate the palace and capture Nute Gunray, the Viceroy of the Trade Federation. Once inside the palace hangar, the Jedi free several Naboo pilots, who regain their starfighters and assault the Federation droid ship. As they make their way to the throne room, the infiltration team is confronted by Darth Maul. Qui-Gon and Obi Wan fight Maul, while the others take an alternative route. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan duel with the Sith Lord amongst the catwalks of a massive power-generating reactor core. Obi-Wan is briefly delayed, separating him from Qui-Gon and Maul. Meanwhile, Queen Amidala and her forces fight their way into the palace and capture Nute Gunray. Anakin—inadvertently joining the dogfight in space—destroys the droid-control ship's reactor with proton torpedoes, which deactivates the droid army in the midst of taking Gungan prisoners. In the reactor core, Qui-Gon reengages Darth Maul singlehandedly, but is mortally wounded. Obi-Wan catches up with and defeats Maul in another intense lightsaber battle. With his final breath, Qui-Gon instructs Obi-Wan to train Anakin to become a Jedi.
In the aftermath, the newly elected Chancellor Palpatine congratulates Queen Amidala on her victory and promises to watch Anakin's career with great interest. Meanwhile, the Jedi Council promotes Obi-Wan to the level of Jedi Knight, and Yoda reluctantly accepts Obi-Wan's request to train Anakin as his padawan. During Qui-Gon's funeral, Mace Windu and Yoda agree that Qui-Gon was killed by the Sith. However, because there are always two Sith at any given time (a master and an apprentice), they believe that another Sith still exists, although which one is uncertain. A large celebration is held on Naboo to celebrate the world's liberation and the newborn alliance between the Naboo and the Gungans.
Directed by George Lucas
Produced by Rick McCallum, George Lucas
Written by George Lucas Starring
* Liam Neeson
* Ewan McGregor
* Natalie Portman
* Jake Lloyd
* Ian McDiarmid
* Ray Park
Music by John Williams
Cinematography David Tattersall
Editing by Ben Burtt
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) May 19, 1999 (USA)
Running time 133 min. (original) 136 min. (DVD)
Country United States
Followed by Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones