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The official poster
|Original Air Date:|
|Starring:|| Jake Lloyd|
Samuel L. Jackson
|Also Featuring:|| Frank Oz|
|Special Appearances by:|
|Directed by:||George Lucas|
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a 1999 space opera 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. The film follows two Jedi Knights, played by Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, who flee the planet Naboo with the queen (Natalie Portman) in the hope of finding a peaceful end to a trade dispute. Along the way, the ship must stop for repairs on the planet Tatooine, where the Jedi encounter Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), 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 Sith have returned.
The release of the film on May 19, 1999 came almost sixteen years after the previous film in the series, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Lucas began production when he felt special effects had advanced to the level of what he had envisioned for the film. Shooting took place during 1997 at various locations including Leavesden Film Studios and the Tunisian desert. The release was accompanied by extensive media coverage and great anticipation. Despite mixed reviews by critics, it grossed US$924.3 million worldwide,, and is the highest-grossing Star Wars film.
It is the year 32 BBY. The Galactic Republic, which has lasted for generations, is in a period of decline: its bureaucracy has become bloated and corrupt, and the economy has entered a decline as well. In response, the Republic begins to tax outlying star systems to try to raise funds, but this has led to a trade dispute with the greedy Trade Federation, a large corporation that can afford to field its own private armies, composed of robotic droid-soldiers. The crisis comes to a head when the Trade Federation organizes a blockade of the small planet of Naboo. Naboo is not a major trading planet, and it is noted as being odd that the Trade Federation would chose to make an example of it, rather than one of the relatively more important planets. Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum, leader of the Galactic Senate, secretly dispatches two Jedi, Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, as ambassadors to the Federation flagship in order to meet with Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray and resolve the dispute. Unknown to them, the Trade Federation is in league with the mysterious Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith, who secretly orders Gunray to invade Naboo and kill the two Jedi upon their arrival. Their ship is destroyed and the two Jedi escape the assassination attempt by stowing themselves aboard two separate Federation landing craft leaving for the surface of Naboo.
On the planet's surface, Qui-Gon saves a local native outcast, Jar Jar Binks, from being trampled by a Federation transport. Indebted to the Jedi, Jar Jar leads them to an underwater Gungan settlement, Otoh Gunga, escaping the Trade Federation army. Meanwhile, the Trade Federation invades Naboo and captures their leader, Queen Amidala. The Jedi meet the Gungan leader, Boss Nass, and ask him to help the people of Naboo. Nass refuses, but Qui-Gon uses a Jedi mind trick to convince him into sending them to the surface in a bongo submarine, navigating the treacherous core of the planet. The Jedi, with Jar Jar in tow, reach Theed, the capital city of Naboo, and rescue Queen Amidala from the Trade Defense Force. They depart for Coruscant, the Galactic Republic's capital planet, to ask for help from the Senate. An astromech droid named R2-D2 manages to repair the Queen's starship and they narrowly escape an attack from Federation battleships but, due to the damage the ship's hyperdrive sustained in the attack, the Queen's party is forced to land on the desert planet of Tatooine for repairs. Qui-Gon, Jar Jar, and R2-D2, along with Queen Padmé (disguised as a handmaiden), set out to search for a new hyperdrive generator. At Mos Espa Spaceport, they befriend young Anakin Skywalker, a slave boy, who takes an immediate liking to Padmé. In fact, when he first sees her, he wonders if she is an angel.
Anakin is gifted with piloting and mechanics, and has built an almost-complete droid named C-3PO. Qui-Gon 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.
Qui-Gon hears about a podrace and makes a gamble with Watto, a flying insect-like person who owns Anakin. He plans to free Anakin if he wins the race. He fails to free Anakin's mother though. The idea was that if he won he got the parts and Anakin, but the rest of the prize money went to the shop-owner. If he lost, he got nothing. Anakin wins the race (which was very good, as he hadn't even finished a race before). He joins the team as they head for Coruscant, where Qui-Gon plans to seek permission from the Jedi High Council to train Anakin 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 duels with Qui-Gon. The fight is cut short when Qui-Gon manages to escape his black-robed assailant by jumping aboard the Naboo Royal Starship as it takes off.
On Coruscant, Qui-Gon informs the Jedi Council of the mysterious attacker he encountered on Tatooine. Because of that being's obvious mastery of the Jedi arts, the Council becomes concerned that this development may indicate the reappearance of the Sith, a religious order who were followers of the dark side of the Force and thought to be long gone. 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 the Jedi Code. They are also concerned due to their sensing a seemingly clouded future and a strong presence of fear in the boy. Meanwhile, Senator Palpatine of Naboo, warning of the corruption in the Senate, advises Queen Amidala to call for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum. Seeing no alternative, the Queen takes this advice when she addresses the Senate. Palpatine is among the candidates to replace the Supreme Chancellor, and the Queen later announces to Palpatine that she herself will return to their home planet to repel the invasion of her people. Palpatine gains a strong sympathy vote in the contest for the chancellorship, because it is his planet of Naboo that has been invaded. Amidala is frustrated by the Senate's deliberation and lack of action, and feels that even if Palpatine is elected Chancellor, it will be too late. The Jedi Council send the two Jedi to accompany the Queen back to Naboo, hoping to shed light on any Sith involvement.
Back on Naboo, Padmé reveals that she is Queen Amidala — the "Queen" seen throughout the film was a decoy she used to protect herself. The real Queen forms an alliance with the Gungan people, uniting in battle against the Trade Federation. Nute Gunray is ordered by Darth Sidious to wipe out the Gungans and the Naboo as the Trade Federation prepares for battle. Jar-Jar leads the army and the giant shield they use protects them at first, but is destroyed afterward. The droids quickly ruin the army, therefore defeat for the alliance seems imminent. However, victory comes when young Anakin accidentally takes control of a starfighter, because as he's hiding in the cockpit he tries to activate the gun and destroy droids, he starts the ship. He turns on the auto-pilot which takes him and R2-D2 to the Federation's Droid Control Ship and goes on to destroy it, rendering the droid army useless. Meanwhile, Queen Amidala and her force fight their way back into the royal palace and capture Nute Gunray.
At the same time, in a Theed hangar bay, Darth Maul has been engaging in combat with the two Jedi, using a double-bladed lightsaber. The battle moves from the hangar, across a series of catwalks, to the Theed Generator Room. Obi-Wan falls behind and is divided from his master by several force fields, leaving Qui-Gon alone to fight the Sith, who mortally wounds him. Barely managing to contain his anger, Obi-Wan redoubles his assault upon Darth Maul. He falls down a melding pit and finds himself hanging on to a piece of metal. However, cleverly using the force, he grabs Qui-Gon's weapon and quickly slices Maul in half with his lightsaber, and the Sith's body falls into the melding pit. With his final breaths, Qui-Gon instructs Obi-Wan to train Anakin to become a Jedi. The newly-elected Chancellor Palpatine arrives to congratulate Queen Amidala on her victory, as Nute Gunray is sent to stand trial for his crimes.
After the battle, the Jedi Council names Obi-Wan a Jedi Knight. Obi-Wan conveys his Master's wish regarding Anakin Skywalker to Yoda, who reluctantly allows him to become Obi-Wan's apprentice. Qui-Gon's body is cremated, and Mace Windu and Yoda agree that the Sith are definitely to blame for the tragedy. Being that there are only ever two Sith at any given time (a Master and an apprentice), both Masters believe that one must still remain.
The Naboo and Gungans organize a great victory celebration on the streets of Theed, in front of the palace. Obi-Wan and Anakin are present, with Anakin the Padawan of Obi-Wan. Queen Amidala presents a gift of appreciation and friendship to Boss Nass and the Gungan people.
- Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn: A Jedi Master and mentor to Obi-Wan. When he discovers Anakin, he insists that the boy be trained as a Jedi, despite the protests of the council.
- Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi: Qui-Gon's young Jedi apprentice. He holds Qui-Gon in high regard, but questions his motives at times.
- Natalie Portman as Queen Padmé Amidala: The young queen of Naboo at 14 years of age, Amidala hopes to protect her planet from a blockade brought on by the Trade Federation. Keira Knightley plays Queen Amidala's decoy.
- Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker: A 9-year-old slave boy from Tatooine. He is discovered to have a higher midi-chlorian count than any Jedi, and is therefore exceptionally gifted in the Force.
- Ian McDiarmid as Senator Palpatine / Darth Sidious: The Senator of Naboo, who grows concerned about Naboo's blockade and defends his position in the Senate.
- Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks: A clumsy Gungan, exiled from his home but taken in by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. He accompanies them throughout the film.
- Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker: Anakin's mother. She is concerned for her son's future, and lets him leave with the Jedi.
- Anthony Daniels as C-3PO: A protocol droid built by Anakin, he lacks a metal covering in this film, which R2-D2 refers to as being "naked".
- Kenny Baker as R2-D2: An astromech droid, notable for saving Queen Amidala's ship when all other droids fail.
- Ray Park as Darth Maul: A Zabrak Sith apprentice to Darth Sidious who uses a double-bladed lightsaber. He was voiced by Peter Serafinowicz.
- Silas Carson as Nute Gunray: The Viceroy of the Trade Federation who leads the invasion of Naboo and tries to force Queen Amidala to sign a treaty to legitimise the occupation. Carson also portrays three minor characters: Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi, Trade Federation Senator Lott Dod, and an ill-fated pilot.
- Hugh Quarshie as Captain Panaka: a bodyguard of Queen Amidala who is a security guard at Theed Palace.
- Andy Secombe as Watto: A junk dealer on Tatooine who owns Anakin and his mother as slaves.
- Lewis MacLeod as Sebulba: An aggressive, scheming Podracer and rival of Anakin.
- Frank Oz voices Yoda: The leader of the Jedi Council who is apprehensive about allowing Anakin to be trained.
- Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu: A member of the Jedi Council who also opposes the idea of training Anakin.
- Terence Stamp as Finis Valorum: The current Chancellor who commissions Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon to negotiate with the Trade Federation Viceroy.
- Brian Blessed voices Boss Nass: The leader of the Gungan tribe who allies with the Naboo and defeats the Trade Federation.
More than 3,000 young actors auditioned for the role of Anakin Skywalker through North America and the United Kingdom. They included child actors Michael Angarano, Justin Berfield, and Haley Joel Osment. The field narrowed to three actors, all of whom were interviewed by Lucas and then screen-tested with Natalie Portman.
George Lucas began writing the new Star Wars trilogy on November 1, 1994. The screenplay for Star Wars 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 nod to Senator Palpatine's true nature as seemingly good and just in public, but in private a manipulative Sith Lord.
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 on June 26, 1997 and ended on September 30 of that year, primarily taking place at Leavesden Film 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.
Nine R2-D2 models were created; seven could run in the sand or on the stage, one was for Kenny Baker to be dropped into, and one was a "pneumatic" R2 that was able to shift from two to three legs. During filming in Tunisia and on sets to replicate the environment, the standard model was prone to skidding off in strange directions and having its motors lock up from the sand. Having confronted similar problems before, Lucas allowed two companies, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and the production's British special effects department, to create their own versions of the perfect R2-D2. The finished product needed to navigate deep sand, light sand, and door jambs. ILM's R2-D2 featured two wheelchair motors capable of pushing 440 pounds (198 kilograms) of weight. The British effects company produced a new foot and motor drive system, allowing R2 to drive over sand. The ILM version was primarily used on stage sets, whereas the British version was used in Tunisia.
Up until the production of Star Wars, many special effects in the film industry were achieved by the use of miniature models, matte paintings, and on-set visual effects, although other films had made extensive use of computer-generated imagery (CGI). Visual effects supervisor John Knoll previewed 3,500 storyboards for the film, with Lucas accompanying him to explain what factors of the shots would be practical and what would be created through visual effects. Knoll later recounted that on hearing the explanations of the storyboards, he was unaware of any way to accomplish what he had seen. The result was to mix original techniques with the newest digital techniques to make it difficult for the viewer to guess which technique was being used. New computer software was written by Knoll and his visual effects team to create certain shots in the film. Another goal was to create computer-generated characters that could act seamlessly with live-action actors. While filming scenes with CGI characters, Lucas would block the characters using their corresponding voice actor on-set. The voice actors were then removed and the live-action actors would perform the same scene alone. A CGI character would later be added into the shot, completing the conversation.
As well as Lucasfilm's $20 million advertising campaign—with the distinctive artwork of Star Wars series artist Drew Struzan gracing the movie poster and other advertising—the release of the first new Star Wars film in 16 years was accompanied by a considerable amount of hype. Few film studios released films during the same week as the release of The Phantom Menace; among the more courageous were DreamWorks and Universal Studios, with the releases of The Love Letter and Notting Hill respectively. The Love Letter resulted in a box-office flop, whereas Notting Hill fared rather well and followed The Phantom Menace closely in second place. Challenger, Gray & Christmas of Chicago, a work-issues consulting firm, estimated that 2.2 million full-time employees did not appear for work to attend the film, resulting in $293 million in lost productivity. According to The Wall Street Journal, so many workers announced plans to view premiere screenings that many companies shut down on the opening day. Queue areas formed outside cinema theaters over a month in advance of ticket sales.
More theater lines appeared when it was announced that the film cinemas were not allowed to sell tickets in advance until two weeks into the release. This was done out of fear that family theater-goers would either be unable to receive tickets or would be forced to pay higher prices. Tickets were instead to be sold on a traditional first-come-first-serve basis. However, after meetings with the National Association of Theatre Owners, Lucasfilm agreed to allow advance ticket sales on May 12, 1999, provided that there be a 12-ticket limit per customer. As a result, however, some advance tickets were sold by "scalpers" as high as $100 apiece, which a distribution chief called "horrible", stating it was exactly what they wanted to avoid. Daily Variety reported that theater owners received strict instructions from Lucasfilm that the film could only play in the cinema's largest auditorium for the first 8–12 weeks; no honor passes were allowed for the first eight weeks, and they were obligated to send their payments to distributor 20th Century Fox within seven days. Servers at the film's official website became gridlocked soon after the release of the first teaser trailer, and there were even reports that people were paying full admission at theaters just to see the trailer. The theatrical trailer caused even more notable media hype, because it not only premiered in theaters, but screened at the ShoWest Convention in Las Vegas, and was aired on Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood. An unusual marketing scheme was pursued across the United Kingdom, where the teaser trailer was released on December 2, 1998 and then pulled from theaters six weeks later.
Despite worries about whether the film would be finished in time, two weeks before its theatrical release Lucasfilm pushed the release date up from May 21, 1999 to May 19, 1999. At the ShoWest Convention, Lucas stated that the change was to give the fans a "head start" by allowing them to view it over the week and allowing families the chance to view on the weekends. In a nod toward his future with digital technology, Lucas stated that the film would be released on four digital projectors on June 18, 1999. Eleven charity premieres were staged across the United States on May 16, 1999; receipts from the Los Angeles event were given to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation with corporate packages available for $5,000–$25,000. Other charity premieres included the Dallas premiere for Children's Medical Center, the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at the Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York, the Big Brother/Sister Assn. of the Philadelphia premiere, and the Children's National Medical Center in Washington D.C. A statement said that tickets were sold at $500 apiece and that certain sections were set aside for disadvantaged children.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released on VHS on April 4, 2000 and on DVD in November 2001. It was the first Star Wars film to be officially released on DVD. The DVD version of the film had certain scenes and other elements edited and inserted by George Lucas, making it slightly different from its theatrical release while retaining an identical plot. Some scenes were modified, and some that were unfinished by the date of release were added to the film. The DVD features a commentary track by Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, editor Ben Burtt, animation director Rob Coleman, and visual effects supervisors John Knoll, Dennis Muren, and Scott Squires. It includes seven deleted scenes completed specifically for the DVD, and The Beginning: Making Episode I, an hour-long documentary film drawn from more than 600 hours of footage, including an insider's look at Lucasfilm and ILM during the production. The Widescreen version of the DVD also bears the tagline; "Every Saga has a Beginning" on the top-front of the cover.
It was also released on LaserDisc in Japan, several months before it was available on DVD in the US. There has never been an American LaserDisc version of the film.
The DVD version was re-released in a prequel trilogy box set on November 4, 2008.
The Phantom Menace received mixed reviews from film critics and fans. It has a "fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes of 63 percent with an average rating of 6/10 (39 percent when filtered to include only professional critics). Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three and a half stars (out of four), praising its visual effects and calling it "exhilarating". Some aspects of the scripting were criticized. Much criticism was directed at the character of Jar Jar Binks, who was regarded by many members of the older fan community as purely a merchandising opportunity rather than a serious character in the film. In defense of the character, George Lucas stated that the Star Wars films are also for children and that the original trilogy also drew similar criticism from fans over the characters R2-D2, C-3PO, and Yoda. He also criticized the American media for using fan opinions from the Internet as a reliable source for their news stories. In 2002, with the release of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, McGregor said that the film slightly lacked in some of the "humor and color" of the forthcoming Episodes. He felt as a result of bearing the weight of setting up the entire saga, it seemed "kind of flat".
On the other hand, many fans and critics agree that the lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul — showcasing high-flying choreography and Ray Park's martial arts skills — is a high point, and one of the best lightsaber duels in the entire Star Wars saga. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was rated by Entertainment Weekly as one of the "The 25 Worst Sequels Ever Made". James Berardinelli was later to note "The Phantom Menace was probably the most overhyped motion picture of the last decade (if not longer), and its reputation suffered as a result of its inability to satisfy unreasonable expectations." 
The introduction of midi-chlorians (microscopic organisms that allow communication with the Force) in the film has been controversial. Those against it have seen it as a concept that negates the spiritual quality of the Force. Film historian Daniel Dinello notes, "Anathema to Star Wars fanatics who thought they reduced the Force to a kind of viral infection, midi-chlorians provide a biological interface, the link between physical bodies and spiritual energy." Religion expert John D. Caputo adds, "In the 'Gospel according to Lucas' a world is conjured up in which the intractable oppositions that have tormented religious thinkers for centuries are reconciled. ... The gifts that the Jedi masters enjoy have a perfectly plausible scientific basis, even if its ways are mysterious: their bodily cells have a heavier than usual concentration of 'midi-chlorians.'"
After the release of the film, there was controversy over whether several alien characters reflected racial stereotypes, notably: the oafish, slow-witted Jar Jar Binks had long droopy ears reminiscent of dreadlocks and spoke with what many perceived as a Caribbean patois (particularly Jamaican Creole); the greedy and corrupt Neimoidians of the Trade Federation spoke with Asian accents; and the unprincipled desert trader Watto is interpreted by some as a Fagin-esque Jewish stereotype. Lucas has categorically denied all of these implications; however, animator Rob Coleman admitted that he viewed footage of Alec Guinness as Fagin in Oliver Twist to inspire his animators in creating Watto.
Box office performance Edit
The Phantom Menace was 1999's most successful film, earning more than $431 million in North America and $493 million elsewhere. The worldwide total was some $924 million, making it the ninth highest grossing film of all time.
The Phantom Menace also accumulated a number of box office records. It broke the record for the largest single-day gross for a single movie by earning more than $28 million opening-day. It was not until the 2001 film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released that these numbers were greatly exceeded. The Phantom Menace, in a record five days, passed the $100 million mark, breaking the record set by The Lost World: Jurassic Park by 24 hours (the record has since been reduced to just two days, by Spider-Man 3), and now the biggest opening weekend is The Dark Knight. However The Phantom Menace could not take the record for biggest opening weekend, grossing $64.8 million, compared to The Lost World's $72.1 million. Sales reached the $200 million mark in just 13 days, beating the previous record held by Independence Day by seven-and-a-half days. The film took only 28 days to earn $300 million, beating Titanic's record by a 16-day margin. However, the film did not generate enough repeat viewers to dethrone Titanic.
Among them, the prequels were nominated, but did not receive any Academy Awards. Episode I was nominated for three Academy Awards, more than Episodes II and III did: Ben Burtt and Tom Bellfort received the nomination for Best Sound Effects; John Knoll, Dennis Muren, Scott Squires, and Rob Coleman received the nomination for Best Visual Effects; Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Shawn Murphy, and John Midgley received the nomination for Best Sound. However, The Matrix captivated Academy voters, and became the first film to beat a Star Wars film for the visual effects Academy Award; also, Phantom Menace became the first film in the series to not receive nominations for Art Direction or Original Score. In contrast, the film received several pre-planned Golden Raspberry, or Razzie, nominations. These included Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actor (Jake Lloyd as Anakin), Worst Supporting Actress (Sofia Coppola as Saché), Worst Screen Couple (Jake Lloyd and Natalie Portman), and won the Worst Supporting Actor category with Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best.
Historical and cultural allusionsEdit
Template:Seealso Like previous Star Wars films, The Phantom Menace makes several references to both historical events and films that George Lucas viewed in his youth. The Star Wars movies typically mix several selected concepts from different mythologies and religions together.
The Jedi Knights practice Zen-like mind training and martial arts, as did the ancient Japanese Samurai warriors. The name "Qui-Gon" paraphrases the term Qigong, which refers to a Chinese discipline involving meditation and the cultivation of an unseen force "Chi" or "Qi" for healing, health and combat. The words ki (Japanese) and chi (Chinese) are translations of the Indian term, "Prana", referring to the energy thought to flow through all living things from the source of all chi (or power) which is "The Way" or "The Tao" in Chinese philosophy. The Tao can be seen in Star Wars as The Way of the Force or the Force itself. The Force itself is one, though it has both a light and dark side. In Taoist philosophy The Way is understood to have two sides, yin and yang. Unlike Chinese philosophy, where yin and yang are not moral qualities, the ancient Persian philosophy of Zurvanism taught that the dualism of dark and light forces are locked in eternal battle while at the same time being two sides (or evolutes) of the same "Force", the force of time itself (Zurvan): the prime mover. These elements derive primarily from Eastern and Iranian religions and myths.
There are many Christian and Biblical references in the film, such as the appearance of Darth Maul, whose design draws heavily from traditional depictions of the Christian Devil, complete with red skin and horns. The Star Wars film cycle features a similar religious narrative involving Anakin Skywalker, a "chosen one" conceived of a virgin birth, who is tempted to join the Sith — his sworn enemy — in order to save the life of Padmé Amidala, his secret wife. This action seemingly prevents him from fulfilling his duty as the "Chosen One" — the individual prophesied to destroy the Sith. The inspiration behind the story of the "virgin birth" parallels a concept developed by Joseph Campbell and his work on The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the same work that heavily influenced Lucas in his writing of the original Star Wars trilogy.
Japanese film such as Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress was a source of inspiration for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and scholars point out that The Phantom Menace was likewise influenced by Japanese culture. Film historians Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska assert, "The costume and make-up designs ... favour a mixture of the gothic and the oriental over anything very futuristic. The gothic is most strongly apparent in Darth Maul's demonic horns and the red and black make-up mask that borrows from the facial designs found in depictions of Japanese demons." King and Krzywinska note that "Qui-Gon's pony tail and Obi-Wan's position of apprentice further encourage a reading in terms of the Samurai tradition." Finally, "Amidala, in keeping with her status and character, has a number of highly formal outfits ... to go with hair sculpted into a curve that frames make-up of a Japanese cast."
References to the original trilogyEdit
The films of the prequel trilogy feature events, dialogue and brief references that echo the original trilogy. Lucas has referred to the Star Wars saga as a poem that rhymes. The most well-known of these references is the phrase "I have a bad feeling about this"; the phrase is stated by at least one character in each film. It is one of the first lines in the film and is chronologically the first line spoken by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the films.
- Main article: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (soundtrack)
The soundtrack for the film was released by Sony Classical on May 4, 1999. As with previous Star Wars installments, the score was composed and conducted by John Williams. He began recording the score with the London Voices and London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios on February 10, 1999. This album featured the score restructured by the composer as a listening experience, it is therefore not in film order and omits many notable cues from the film due to space restrictions of a compact disc. A two-disc "Ultimate Edition" was released on November 14, 2000. The set features the entire score as it is heard in the film, including all of the edits and loops that were made for the sound mix. This is particularly apparent at the conclusion of the second disc, where extensive re-editing of the film meant a lot of cuts in the music that would have been hidden under sound effects, as well as extensive tracking of "Duel of the Fates", which was originally recorded for the album. The original soundtrack CD has full takes of many cues that appear truncated on the "Ultimate Edition."
The popular track "Duel of the Fates" is one of the few choral pieces in Star Wars music. The chorus was introduced to give a religious, temple-like feel to the epic lightsaber duel. The theme was later put to a music video that is available on the DVD. The film score received a 2000 Grammy Award nomination.
- Main article: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (novel)
A novelization of the film was written by Terry Brooks. Brooks met with Lucas before writing the book and received his approval and guidance, including information about impending developments in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. This is evident in the passage on Tusken Raiders (which foreshadows the death of Anakin's mother in Attack of the Clones), and in the events leading up to Anakin's fight with the Rodian child Greedo; these events indicate that Anakin's anger derives from his anguish at Padmé's impending departure (foreshadowing the plot of Revenge of the Sith).
The novel includes three chapters of material created by Brooks solely for the novel. The first two chapters of the book concern Anakin's next-to-last Podrace and its aftermath; a later chapter describes an encounter between Anakin and a wounded Tusken Raider in the desert. The novelization features one of the first descriptions of the history of the Sith; it is the first Star Wars novel to mention the ancient Sith Lord Darth Bane, who would later become an important character in the franchise's "Expanded Universe" of novels and comic books. According to Terry Brooks' memoir, Sometimes the Magic Works, Lucas spent an hour on the telephone with him discussing the history of the Jedi and the Sith. Therefore, the information on this subject provided in Brooks' novelization can be presumed to derive from Lucas. Brooks devotes an entire chapter of Sometimes the Magic Works to the writing of The Phantom Menace's novelization.
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace at StarWars.com
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- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Name Origins at FilmSmarts.com
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