Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Synopsis of Movie

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

If you haven’t already heard about this film, let us be the first to welcome you back from your extended vacation in a cave on the planet Neptune. By 1999, it had been sixteen years since the last Star Wars film and over twenty since the first. In those two decades, Star Wars became much, much more than a movie series. It was a genuine, world-spanning phenomenon, and for some it was a way of life. A re-release of the original trilogy as cleaned-up, effects-enhanced “Special Editions” in 1997 proved the frenzy wasn’t about to die down.

And so, it was with heart-pounding anticipation that the world greeted news of the long-awaited prequel, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Many moviegoers bought full-price tickets just to see the film’s trailer when it debuted in late 1998, often walking out without seeing the accompanying film. As the summer of 1999 drew closer, retailers unleashed gargantuan amounts of Episode I merchandise onto store shelves—from action figures to soundtracks to video games to novelizations. The mass media went gonzo, and theater lines began forming weeks in advance of the film’s release. And then, finally, on May 19, there was a movie:

The familiar opening crawl sets the scene for Episode I: The power-hungry Trade Federation has set up a blockade around the planet Naboo, and the Imperial Senate has sent Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi (yes, that Obi-Wan Kenobi) to negotiate a solution. Under orders from the mysterious Darth Sidious, the Trade Federation comes up with its own diabolical solution, and the Jedi are forced to defend themselves against a series of deadly attacks. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan escape and head for Naboo, pursued by droid troops from the Federation. Hooking up with a floppy-eared Gungan named Jar Jar Binks, the Jedi swim down to the undersea Gungan kingdom, where ruler Boss Nass arranges for their passage up to Naboo.

The Federation troops invade Naboo, and Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Jar Jar make a daring rescue of Queen Amidala, the planet’s headdress-wearing ruler. Their spacecraft is damaged in mid-escape, forcing an emergency landing on the desert planet Tatooine (yes, that Tatooine) to find new equipment. It’s here that the two Jedi meet young Anakin Skywalker, a slave boy with potential to become the greatest Jedi of all. With Qui-Gon’s shrewd negotiations, the boy wins his freedom in a thrilling “pod race,” and the ship sets off for Coruscant, home of the Imperial Senate and the Jedi Council.

With a little politicking, Naboo’s Senator Palpatine is elected chancellor of the Imperial Senate, and the group returns to Naboo for a battle on four fronts: the Gungans fight off the droid troops, Amidala and her soldiers try to retake the palace, Anakin accidentally joins a space battle, and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan face off against Darth Sidious’ frightening and deadly Sith apprentice, Darth Maul.

Special effects had come a long way since 1977, and Episode I took full advantage of those advances, filling the screen with one unbelievable image after another. The classic space swashbuckling formula hadn’t aged any, and a new generation of Star Wars fans became converted to the faith.

Despite the grumblings of long-time devotees who hoped for the cinematic equivalent of a Second Coming, and despite the inevitable Jar Jar backlash (Whysa yousa never like-a da comic relief?), Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was another galactic triumph, becoming the second biggest worldwide hit in movie history (trailing only 1997’s Titanic). Around the time of the film’s release, George Lucas announced it would be three years before the next installment, and the cycle of mania and rampant speculation began anew.

“And you, young Skywalker; we shall watch your career with great interest.”

Movie Release History

1977 - Star Wars
1980 - The Empire Strikes Back
1983 - Return of the Jedi
1999 - Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Movie Sub Categories


Movie Studio

Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox


Qui-Gon Jinn  Liam Neeson
Obi-Wan Kenobi  Ewan McGregor
Queen Amidala Natalie Portman
Padme Naberrie  Natalie Portman
Anakin Skywalker  Jake Lloyd
Senator Cos Palpatine Ian McDiarmid
Darth Sidious  Ian McDiarmid
Shmi Skywalker  Pernilla August
Sio Bibble  Oliver Ford Davies
Captain Panaka  Hugh Quarshie
Jar Jar Binks  Ahmed Best
C-3PO  Anthony Daniels
R2-D2  Kenny Baker
Yoda  Frank Oz
Chancellor Finis Valorum  Terence Stamp
Boss Nass  Brian Blessed
Watto  Andrew Secombe
Darth Maul  Ray Park
Sebulba  Lewis Macleod
Wald Warwick Davis
Weazel Warwick Davis
Grimy Warwick Davis
Yoda stand-in  Warwick Davis
Captain Tarpals  Steven Speirs
Nute Gunray Silas Carson
Republic Cruiser Pilot Silas Carson
Ki-Adi-Mundi Silas Carson
Lott Dod Silas Carson
Rune Haako Jerome Blake
Mas Amedda Jerome Blake
Oppo Rancisis  Jerome Blake
Daultay Dofine Alan Ruscoe
Plo Koon  Alan Ruscoe
Ric Olie  Ralph Brown
Fighter Pilot Bravo 5   Celia Imrie
Fighter Pilot Bravo 2   Benedict Taylor
Fighter Pilot Bravo 3   Clarence Smith
Mace Windu   Samuel L. Jackson
Senate Guard   Dominic West
Rabe   Karol Cristina da Silva
Eirtae Friday 'Liz' Wilson
Yane  Candice Orwell
Sache  Sofia Coppola
Sabe   Kiera Knightley
Republic Cruiser Captain  Bronagh Gallagher
TC-14   John Fensom
Fode Annodue  Greg Proops
Beed Annodue  Scott Capurro
Jira   Margaret Towner
Kitster  Dhruv Chanchani
Seek   Oliver Walpole
Amee  Jenna Green
Melee  Megan Udall
Eeth Koth  Hassani Shapi
Saesee Tiin  Khan Bonfils
Adi Gallia  Gin Clarke
Yarael Poof   Michelle Taylor
Even Piell  Michaela Cottrell
Depa Billaba  Dipika O'Neill Joti
Yaddle  Phil Eason
Aks Moe  Mark Coulier
Yoda Puppeteer  Katherine Smee
Yoda Puppeteer  Donald Austen
Yoda Puppeteer  David Greenaway
TC-14 (voice)  Lindsay Duncan
Darth Maul (voice)  Peter Serafinowicz
Rune Haako (voice)  James Taylor
Lott Dod (voice)  Toby Longworth
Daultay Dofine (voice)  Chris Sanders
Aks Moe (voice)  Marc Silk
Tey How (voice)  Tyger

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