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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

1999, Sci-fi/Adventure, 2h 13m

What to know

Critics Consensus

Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy -- albeit visually dazzling -- start. Read critic reviews

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Star wars: episode i - the phantom menace videos, star wars: episode i - the phantom menace   photos.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a young apprentice Jedi knight under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) ; Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who will later father Luke Skywalker and become known as Darth Vader, is just a 9-year-old boy. When the Trade Federation cuts off all routes to the planet Naboo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are assigned to settle the matter.

Rating: PG (Sci-Fi Violence|Sci-Fi Action)

Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure, Action, Fantasy

Original Language: English

Director: George Lucas

Producer: Rick McCallum

Writer: George Lucas

Release Date (Theaters): May 19, 1999  wide

Rerelease Date (Theaters): Dec 3, 1999

Release Date (Streaming): Apr 10, 2015

Box Office (Gross USA): $474.5M

Runtime: 2h 13m

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Production Co: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Sound Mix: Dolby SR, Dolby Stereo, Surround, SDDS, DTS, Dolby EX, Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio: Digital Projection, Scope (2.35:1)

View the collection: Star Wars Saga

Cast & Crew

Liam Neeson

Qui-Gon Jinn

Ewan McGregor

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Natalie Portman

Queen Amidala, Padmé Naberrie

Anakin Skywalker

Pernilla August

Shmi Skywalker

Master Yoda Voice

Ian McDiarmid

Senator Palpatine, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine

Oliver Ford Davies

Hugh Quarshie

Captain Panaka

Jar Jar Binks, Senator Voice

Samuel L. Jackson

Peter Serafinowicz

Darth Maul Voice

Ralph Brown

Terence Stamp

Chancellor Finis Valorum

Brian Blessed

Boss Nass Voice

Sofia Coppola

Kenny Baker

Silas Carson

Nute Gunray, Radiant VII Pilot, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Lott Dod

Dhruv Chanchani

George Lucas

Executive Producer

Rick McCallum

John Williams

Original Music

David Tattersall

Cinematographer

Film Editing

Paul Martin Smith

Robin Gurland

Gavin Bocquet

Production Design

Phil Harvey

Art Director

Peter Russell

Peter Walpole

Set Decoration

Trisha Biggar

Costume Design

Mark Coulier

Special Makeup Effects

Paul Engelen

Key Makeup Artist

Hair Stylist

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Critic Reviews for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Audience reviews for star wars: episode i - the phantom menace.

Watching this thing years later, I can finally say, this is not a good movie. I liked it well enough as a kid as a charming little adventure, but as an adult it's kind of a hard watch. I don't know that I was ever bored by anything, but it's wildly inconsistent and just not well put together. The writing is bad, the directing is awkward, and the CGI is about on par with a PlayStation 1 cutscene, if not worse. On top of that, it's really just not necessary. What do we learn from this movie for the overall Star Wars mythos? Basically how Sidious rose to the status of chancellor. Even that is more of a background thing for all the other weird crap happening, and probably could just have been put in the opening scroll of the next film. So it's a bad film, and at times it's pretty cringey. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't at times an entertaining film. Not always for the right reasons, but it's got some fun stuff. I still like the podracing scene, and that final fight is as good as it was back in the day with some stellar choreography. It's got it's moments, I'll defend it a little bit, but overall it's pretty cringey and pointless.

liam neeson phantom menace

This is a terrible, terrible movie. I'm amazed that A) Lucas made a film like this, knowing how beloved the franchise was, and B) that the franchise remained so beloved after this had come out... It introduced Maul though, who is my favourite Star Wars character. So points on that one.

Darth Maul, double bladed lightsaber, what could go wrong with this film?! Oh yeah, comic relief Jar Jar Binks and a Tatooine pod race that went about 7-10 minutes too long. It is unfortunate that they wasted arguably the 2nd best villain of the entire franchise in the first abysmal film. About 3 minutes into Jar Jar Binks' screen time you know that the script has a long way to go to dig itself out of that hole.

A technical achievement in visual effects, makeup, art direction and score that is muddled by a lackluster script and poor acting. The fight scenes, while impressive and tons of fun, lack depth and emotion, and the characters feel like the SparkNotes version of much better characters.

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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

  • Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their original glory.
  • When the Trade Federation organize a blockade around the planet Naboo, the Supreme Chancellor Valorum sends the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to negotiate the end of the blockade. However the evil Viceroy Nute Gunray is ordered to kill the Jedi and invade Naboo. However the Jedi escape and Qui-Gon saves the life of the clumsy Gungan Jar Jar Binks. The outcast native takes the Jedi to his submerged city and the Gungan leader gives transportation to them. The Jedi head to the capital to warn Queen Amidala about the invasion. However she has been captured by the Federation droids but the Jedi rescue the queen and her court and they flee in a spacecraft that is damaged when they cross the blockade. They land on a desert planet and Qui-Gon Jinn goes to the town with Jar Jar, the droid R2-D2 and the queen's assistant Padmé to seek the necessary part for the spacecraft. When they find the component, they do not have money to buy it. But the slave boy Anakin Skywalker offers to dispute a race with his pod to raise the necessary money. Qui-Gon feels the Force in the boy and accepts his offer. Will the boy win the race? What will happen to Naboo? Will Queen Amidala be capable to convince the politicians to release her planet from the Trade Federation? — Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • While the ruthless Trade Federation ravage the peaceful planet of Naboo, Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi Wan Kenobi are sent to rescue and protect the young Queen Amidala, who is determined to convince the Senate to help her restore peace to her home. Escaping to the planet Tatooine, the Jedi come across an eager slave boy named Anakin Skywalker who dreams of becoming a Jedi. What they don't know however is that they are being used in a sinister plot by the mysterious Sith, hiding deep in the shadows. — Blazer346
  • Jedi knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi find themselves embroiled in a galactic trade dispute that hides a more sinister agenda. During their mission, they encounter a young slave named Anakin Skywalker on the desert planet of Tatooine. Anakin shows an extraordinary affinity for the Force, the mystical energy that empowers Jedi, leading Qui-Gon to believe he might be the Chosen One, a figure destined to bring balance to the Force. As they try to navigate the political turmoil and dangers of the galaxy, they end up on the planet Naboo. There, they meet Queen Amidala, who seeks help to free her people from the oppressive Trade Federation. As they work together, young Anakin joins them on their quest, showcasing his extraordinary piloting skills and unbridled enthusiasm. But a dark shadow looms - the Sith, ancient enemies of the Jedi, have returned. Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord, manipulates events from the shadows, using his apprentice, Darth Maul, to sow chaos and discord. — Evan Almindo
  • When the evil Trade Federation plots to take over the peaceful planet of Naboo, Jedi warrior Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi embark on an amazing adventure to save the planet. With them on their journey is the young Queen Amidala, Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks, and the powerful Captain Panaka, who will all travel to the faraway planets of Tatooine and Coruscant in a futile attempt to save their world from Darth Sidious, leader of the Trade Federation, and Darth Maul, the strongest Dark Lord of the Sith to ever wield a lightsaber. — Anchorhead <[email protected]>
  • The opening crawl reveals that the Trade Federation, led by its viceroy, Nute Gunray, has blockaded the planet of Naboo in hope of resolving a galactic trade dispute. Chancellor Valorum (Terence Stamp) of the Galactic Republic, sends Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) on a secret mission 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. Following a failed attempt to force their way into Gunray's command center, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan escape and flee to the surface of Naboo, where they meet local Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best). As Jar Jar brings them to an underwater Gungan settlement, the Trade Federation captures Naboo's leader, Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). 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. The group departs 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 (Jake Lloyd), 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 in the Boonta Eve Podrace in a bid with Anakin's master, Watto, to gain the needed parts and 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 (Anthony Daniels), behind on Tatooine to go with the Jedi. As the group prepares to depart, they are attacked by the Sith apprentice Darth Maul (Ray Park), 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 and had long ago disappeared. 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 (Ian McDiarmid) 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. 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 engage Maul while the others take an alternate 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, Viceroy of the Trade Federation. Anakin - who inadvertently joined 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 re-engages 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 Supreme 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 (Samuel L. Jackson) and Yoda (Frank Oz) agree that the person who killed Qui-Gon must have been a Sith, but as the Sith are known to have only a master and an apprentice, they are unsure which was killed. A large celebration is held on Naboo to celebrate the world's liberation and the newborn alliance between the Naboo and the Gungans.

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Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Anthony Daniels, Liam Neeson, Jake Lloyd, Kenny Baker, Ahmed Best, Keira Knightley, Ray Park, and Peter Serafinowicz in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

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Star Wars : Episode I The Phantom Menace

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This article details a subject that is considered canon.

Star Wars : Episode I The Phantom Menace is a 1999 film written and directed by George Lucas , produced by Rick McCallum and starring Liam Neeson , Ewan McGregor , Natalie Portman , Jake Lloyd , and Ian McDiarmid . It is the first chapter of the Star Wars prequel trilogy , the fourth theatrical Star Wars release overall, and chronologically the first film in the Star Wars saga .

The Phantom Menace was released in theaters on May 19 , 1999, becoming the first Star Wars film since Star Wars : Episode VI Return of the Jedi , which was released sixteen years earlier. The release was accompanied by extensive media coverage and great fan anticipation. Despite mixed reviews from critics and fans, the film grossed $924.3 million worldwide, making it the second-highest-grossing Star Wars film when unadjusted for inflation. It was re-released on Blu-ray in September 2011 , and was re-released in theaters in 3D on February 10 , 2012 .

The film was the catalyst for fifteen years of Star Wars storytelling that would primarily take place around the time of the prequel storyline. The success of the film allowed for the next two chapters of the prequel trilogy, as well as the Star Wars: The Clone Wars film and television series .

  • 1 Opening crawl
  • 2 Plot summary
  • 3 Development
  • 4.1.1 Soundtrack
  • 4.1.2 Novelization
  • 4.2 Home video
  • 4.3 3D re-release
  • 5 Reception
  • 6 Deleted scenes
  • 7.1 Minature Construction and Photography Unit
  • 7.2 Special Effects Pyrotechnics Crew
  • 7.3 Second Unit
  • 7.4 Tunisia Shoot
  • 7.5 Italy Shoot
  • 8 Appearances
  • 10 Notes and references
  • 11 External links

Opening crawl [ ]

Plot summary [ ].

(audio)

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan prepare to fight their way out of the Trade Federation flagship.

Thirty-two years before the events of Star Wars : Episode IV A New Hope (thirteen years before the formation of the Galactic Empire), there is a trade dispute between the Trade Federation and the outlying systems of the Galactic Republic , which has led to a blockade of the Mid-Rim planet of Naboo . Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum , leader of the Galactic Senate , has secretly dispatched two Jedi , Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan , Obi-Wan Kenobi , to serve as "the ambassadors" to the Federation flagship , in order to meet with 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. When Gunray asked if that would be legal, Sidious says that he would ensure that it was.

The Viceroy locks the Jedi in the meeting room and attempts to kill them with poison gas while having their ship, the Radiant VII , destroyed in the hangar, but they escape. After battling through squads of battle droids, Jinn and Kenobi make their way to the command deck where Gunray is located, shielding himself behind blast doors . The Jedi are forced to flee upon the arrival of two Destroyer Droids and stow away aboard two separate Federation landing craft leaving for the surface of Naboo to begin the invasion.

Back in the command deck, Queen Amidala contacts Gunray to express her disapproval of their blockade, with Gunray explaining that they wouldn't have done it without the approval of the Senate. When she asks about the ambassadors sent by the Chancellor, Gunray claims that they have received no such ambassadors, leaving Amidala startled and suspicious. Gunray ends communications with her and informs his aide that they should disable all communications on the planet.

Meanwhile, Amidala is conversing with Senator Sheev Palpatine regarding the recent attempt at negotiations and how Gunray claimed that they did not receive any ambassadors. Surprised, Palpatine states that he had assurances from the Chancellor that his ambassadors did arrive. However, Palpatine is unable to finish his sentence as his hologram flickers out. Naboo Governor Sio Bibble suspects that an interruption of communications is a sign that an invasion from the Trade Federation is imminent.

TPM Cast

The Jedi liberate the queen and her guards from the battle-droid invasion.

On the planet's surface, Qui-Gon saves native outcast Jar Jar Binks from being crushed by a Trade Federation MTT . Kenobi appears, pursued by STAPs , which are destroyed by Qui-Gon. Jar Jar Binks shows the two Jedi the way to an underwater Gungan settlement, Otoh Gunga . Meanwhile, the Trade Federation occupies Theed , the capital city of Naboo, and captures Queen Amidala along with the rest of the government. In Otoh Gunga, the Jedi meet the Gungan leader, Boss Nass , and ask him to help the people of Naboo, but Nass refuses due to hate of the people of Naboo and sends them off in a bongo submarine . They are attacked by an opee sea killer and a colo claw fish but both fish are eaten by a sando aqua monster . The Jedi, with Binks in tow, arrive in Theed and rescue Queen Amidala. They depart for Coruscant , the Galactic Republic's capital planet, to ask for help from the Senate. As they attempt to run the blockade, the queen's starship is damaged by Federation battleships , but an astromech droid named R2-D2 manages to repair it and they narrowly escape.

Due to the damage to the ship's hyperdrive sustained in the attack, the Jedi decide to land on the nearby planet Tatooine for repairs. While searching for a new hyperdrive generator, they befriend young Anakin Skywalker , a slave boy, whose master is Watto , a Toydarian junk dealer. Watto has the required parts in stock, but Qui-Gon is unable to purchase them, as Republic credits are worthless on Tatooine.

Anakin Pod

Anakin races ahead of Sebulba during the Boonta Eve Podrace.

Anakin is gifted with piloting and mechanical abilities, 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 —the one who will fulfill a prophecy by bringing balance to the Force. By entering Anakin into a podrace , Qui-Gon orchestrates a gamble with Watto's chance cube in which " fate " decided that the boy (alone, since Qui-Gon was unable to include the youth's mother in the bargain) will be released from slavery while also acquiring the parts needed for their ship. The night before the race, Qui-Gon does a blood test on Anakin and discovers that the boy's midi-chlorian reading is off the chart.

Anakin wins the race (defeating his rival, Sebulba ) and joins the team as they prepare to leave 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 escapes his black-robed assailant by jumping on board the Naboo Royal Starship as it takes off.

Amidalabeforesenate

Amidala and Palpatine plead before the Senate to intervene with Naboo's crisis.

On Coruscant, Qui-Gon informs the Jedi Council of the mysterious attacker he encountered on Tatooine, coming to the conclusion that his attacker is a Sith , the latter being a religious order who were followers of the dark side of the Force and thought to have been extinct for over a millennium, much to the shock of the Jedi Council. 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 that they sense much fear in the boy, and that he has a clouded future.

Meanwhile, Senator Palpatine meets with Queen Amidala to warn of corruption in the Senate and advises that she may have to call for a Vote of No Confidence in Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum. When their petition to the Senate is refused, Amidala sees no alternative but to do just that. Palpatine is among the candidates to become the new Supreme Chancellor. The queen later announces to Palpatine that she will return to their home planet to repel the invasion of her people by herself. She 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 sends the two Jedi to accompany the queen back to Naboo, hoping to shed light on any Sith involvement.

Nass on Sacred Place

Boss Nass at the Gungan Sacred Place

Amidala, back on Naboo, attempts to locate the Gungans at Otoh Gunga, but Jar-Jar, after searching the city, informs them that it has been abandoned. He then leads them to the Gungan Sacred Place , where he is certain the Gungans will be . The Gungans are initially distrustful, until the "handmaiden" Padmé reveals herself as the true queen and humbly begs for their help. She negotiates with Boss Nass to form an alliance and unite their peoples in battle against the Trade Federation. Captain Panaka and several other security forces were also dispatched to rescue anyone imprisoned in the Trade Federation's prison camps, although they were only able to successfully extract a handful.

Next, Amidala informs Qui-Gon and Nass of her battle strategy: with the Grand Gungan Army acting as a distraction to the bulk of the main Trade Federation forces, the Naboo resistance led by herself, Captain Panaka and the Jedi will infiltrate Theed via a secret entrance located inside one of the waterfalls. Nute Gunray, hearing reports of the Grand Army's assembly, informs Darth Sidious; Sidious orders Gunray to wipe out both the Gungans and the Naboo as the Trade Federation prepares for battle.

Captain Roos Tarpals orders the Gungan Grand Army to activate their shield , which protects them from ranged attack. OOM-9 has his tanks fire first, but seeing them fail to penetrate the powerful shield, orders them to cease fire. Daultay Dofine gives the command to activate the battle droids. These droids march through the shield and open fire on the Grand Army, soon destroying the shield generator. As the tanks cause heavy casualties among the Gungans, defeat for the alliance seems imminent.

However, victory comes when young Anakin Skywalker accidentally takes control of an N-1 starfighter and goes on to destroy the Federation's Droid Control Ship from the inside, killing Daultay Dofine and rendering the droid army useless. Meanwhile, Amidala and her force fight their way back into the royal palace and capture Nute Gunray.

DotF TPM

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan fight Darth Maul during the Battle of Naboo.

At the same time, in a Theed hangar bay , Darth Maul engages in combat with the two Jedi, using his double-bladed lightsaber . The battle moves from the hangar, across a series of catwalks, to the Theed Generator Complex. During the fight, Obi-Wan is separated from his master by being kicked off of a catwalk. He grabs the edge of another catwalk below and jumps back up to where Qui-Gon and Maul continue to fight. By this time, Qui-Gon and Maul have become separated by a force field in the entrance to the Generator Room. Obi-Wan catches up to them, but is divided from his master by four force fields. When the force fields deactivate, Jinn and Maul continue their battle while Kenobi remains divided from the battle by one force field when they all reactivate.

After a lengthy duel, Maul suddenly stuns Qui-Gon by hitting him on the chin with his lightsaber handle, then rams his blade straight into Qui-Gon's torso, mortally wounding him. Devastated and angered, Obi-Wan redoubles his assault upon Maul and chops the Sith's lightsaber in half, but Maul eventually overpowers and nearly kills Kenobi by Force pushing him over the edge of a seemingly bottomless reactor shaft. Obi-Wan saves himself from falling when he manages to grab onto a pipe protruding from the wall of the shaft. Maul kicks the Jedi's lightsaber into the pit and prepares to finish him off. After Obi-Wan calms himself, he uses the Force to leap out of the shaft and over Maul's head while summoning his fallen master's lightsaber to his hand. He lands behind the surprised Maul and cuts him in half; Maul's upper and lower body fall into the shaft.

Obi-Wan reaches Qui-Gon moments before he dies, as Qui-Gon instructs Obi-Wan to train Anakin to become a Jedi, reiterating that Anakin is the Chosen One. Obi-Wan gives his word that he will. Qui-Gon dies, leading to Obi-Wan to grieve for his deceased master. The newly elected Chancellor Palpatine arrives to congratulate Queen Amidala on her victory, as Nute Gunray is sent to stand trial for his crimes.

Naboo celebration

The Gungans and the Naboo celebrate their victory.

Later, in a room in the queen's palace, Yoda confers upon Obi-Wan the rank of Jedi Knight. Kenobi argues with Yoda about his promise to Qui-Gon regarding Anakin's training. Yoda is convinced it is dangerous to train the boy, but tells Kenobi the Jedi Council has allowed Skywalker to become Kenobi's apprentice. Later that evening, in a temple in Theed, Qui-Gon's body is cremated , and Mace Windu and Yoda agree that the Sith are definitely to blame for the tragedy. As 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 on the palace. Obi-Wan and Anakin are present, the younger now wearing formal Jedi attire, and in his hair is a special braid : the mark of a Jedi Padawan. The film ends with Queen Amidala presenting a gift of appreciation and friendship to Boss Nass and the Gungan people.

Development [ ]

Along the lines of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles , all three prequel films were originally intended to be written and shot as one large production, and released back to back. [4] The first draft of the script was begun November 1994 . [5]

The role of director was offered to Steven Spielberg , Ron Howard , and Robert Zemeckis. According to Howard, Lucas didn't necessarily want to direct Episode I. He further commented that all three directors turned down the position as the film was Lucas's "baby." [6] The budget of Menace was estimated $115 million. Shooting took place from June 26 to September 30 , 1997 . As with Star Wars : Episode IV A New Hope , Episode I's main exterior filming locations were in Tunisia . The podrace was filmed in a canyon near Sidi Bouhlel and Oung Jmel . A set was built near Oung Jmel to represent Mos Espa on Tatooine. The Slave Quarters Row were filmed in ksour's near Tataouine and Ksar Medenine . Small parts were filmed in Royal Caserta Palace in Italy and Whippendell Woods in the United Kingdom , but Hever Castle was later cut. Studio work was mainly done at Leavesden Studios in the United Kingdom. [7]

Unlike the latter two films in the series which were shot on digital video , most of this film was shot in 35 mm, with a few scenes shot in digital video. [5]

This episode was also the first of the saga to be referred to primarily by its number ( Episode One ) by media and fans, in contrast to the original trilogy the public already knew. [ source? ]

Release [ ]

EpIVaderShadowPoster-SWE

One of the most popular marketing posters for the film

The Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film in 16 years. As a result, there was almost unprecedented interest amongst both fans and the wider public in the revival of the franchise. The film received enormous media-created hype, which made Lucasfilm's $20 million advertising campaign—with the distinctive artwork of Star Wars series artist Drew Struzan gracing the movie poster and other advertising—seem modest and almost unnecessary. 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 was a box-office flop, whereas Notting Hill fared rather well and followed The Phantom Menace closely in second place. [8] Challenger, Grey & 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. The Wall Street Journal reported that such a large number of workers announced plans to view premiere screenings that many companies shut down on the premiere day. [9] Many fans began waiting outside cinema theaters as early as a month in advance of ticket sales. [10]

More theatre lines appeared when it was announced that cinemas were not allowed to sell tickets in advance until two weeks into the release. This was done out of fear that family theatre-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. [11] 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. [12] 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. [13] Daily Variety reported that theatre 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. [14] Servers at the film's official website became gridlocked soon after the release of the first teaser trailer , [15] and many fans of the series paid full admission to see Meet Joe Black only to leave after the trailer had run. The same tradition followed months later when the theatrical trailer was featured in front of Wing Commander . [16] 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 television on Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood . [17] 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. [18]

Despite worries about whether the film would be finished in time, two weeks prior to its debut Lucasfilm pushed the release date up from May 21 to May 19 of 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. [19] Eleven charity premieres were staged across the United States on May 16 , 1999; proceeds from the Los Angeles event were given to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation with corporate packages available for $5,000–$25,000. [20] 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 Centre in Washington D.C. A statement said that tickets were sold at $500 apiece and that certain sections were set aside for disadvantaged children. [21]

Merchandise [ ]

Soundtrack [ ].

Two separate soundtracks were released for The Phantom Menace . One, a traditional soundtrack, contained seventeen tracks of selections from the score. The second, an Ultimate Collector's Edition Soundtrack, compiled the score as it was presented in the film (with several minor alterations) in sixty-eight tracks.

Major musical themes and leitmotifs were introduced in the film, including the droid march , " Duel of the Fates ," Qui-Gon's Theme , " The Adventures of Jar Jar ," Darth Maul's Motif , Anakin's Theme , Shmi's motif , " The Flag Parade ," " Escape from Naboo ," and the " Symponik Nabooalla ."

During the credits at the end of the film, young Anakin's theme is heard playing, but during the last moments of the film, this theme morphs into the first few notes of the Darth Vader theme during the Imperial March , and, as the last logos of THX are scrolling by, three rasping breaths from Vader's respirator can be heard, referencing Anakin's eventual change into Darth Vader.

Novelization [ ]

A novelization of the movie was written by Terry Brooks . It includes three entire chapters of material created by Brooks and unique to the novel. The first two chapters of the book concern Anakin's next-to-last podrace and its aftermath, while a later chapter describes an encounter between Anakin and a wounded Tusken Raider in the desert.

Brooks met with Lucas before writing the book and received his approval and guidance, including information about developments to come in Episodes II and III. This can be seen in such passages as the Tusken Raider scene, which ironically foreshadows the death of Anakin's mother in Episode II, and the passage leading up to Anakin's fight with the Rodian child Greedo , indicating that Anakin's anger derives from his anguish at Padmé's impending departure (foreshadowing the plot of Episode III).

The novelization is especially well known for a passage describing the history of the Sith, including Darth Bane . 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 might derive from Lucas himself. The novelization is also the first mention of the Stark Hyperspace War .

Brooks devotes an entire chapter of Sometimes the Magic Works to the writing of the Episode I novelization, which he claims to have been an extremely happy and fulfilling experience.

Home video [ ]

Ep1DVD

The Phantom Menace on DVD

The film was first released on VHS on April 4, 2000. There was a normal fullscreen release, and a widescreen collector's box set . The widescreen VHS contains an exclusive documentary titled "Filmmaking Has Turned A Corner." In addition the collector's set contains an excerpted version of The Art of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and a set of film cells from a scene in the film.

Star Wars : Episode I The Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars film to be officially released on DVD . This two-disc DVD was released on October 16, 2001.

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 viewer can access a multi-angle storyboard-to-animatic-to-film segment featuring the submarine and podrace lap 1 sequences. The DVD includes two documentary sources, five featurettes exploring the storyline, design, costumes, visual effects, and fight sequences in the film, and an award-winning twelve-part web documentary series chronicling the production. The Duel of the Fates music video featuring John Williams was included on the DVD as well. The final special features included are a never-before-seen production photo gallery with a special caption feature, theatrical posters and print campaigns from around the world, a theatrical teaser and launch trailers, seven TV spots, Star Wars: Starfighter - The Making of a Game featurette from LucasArts , and a DVD-ROM weblink to exclusive Star Wars content.

The DVD became the fastest-selling DVD ever in the US, after 2.2 million copies were sold in its first week after release. [22] However, some reviewers criticized the DVD for the excessive use of edge enhancement that degraded the DVD's picture quality. [23]

At the DVD press conference for Revenge of the Sith , prequel trilogy animation director Rob Coleman confirmed that the animation department at Lucasfilm had replaced the Yoda puppet from the original version of the film with a digital Yoda. This was done to better match up the look of the Yoda from The Phantom Menace with that of the other two films of the prequel trilogy, as well as with the Yoda from the original trilogy. This change has been, for the most part, welcomed by fans, in contrast to the original puppet Yoda as seen in The Phantom Menace .

A preview of these changes can be viewed on the Revenge of the Sith DVD that was released on November 1, 2005. The clip is included as part of "The Chosen One" featurette. However, when Coleman announced the change, he didn't specify when the revised version of The Phantom Menace would be released. [24]

The Phantom Menace was re-released along with Episodes II–VI on Blu-ray in September 2011 . [25] For this release, the film went through a restoration process which restored the picture to its full frame (offering around 8% more picture than its DVD release). The Blu-ray release was also marked by the replacement of the puppet for the CGI model of Yoda used in Star Wars : Episode III Revenge of the Sith , as well as a few corrections of visual effects and technical errors.

On April 7 , 2015 , the Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm jointly announced the digital releases of the six released Star Wars films. As Lucasfilm had retained digital distribution rights to Episodes I thru III and V thru VI, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released The Phantom Menace for digital download on April 10 , 2015. [26]

Despite the Walt Disney Company's 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. and the release rights to all future Star Wars films, Fox was to retain original distribution rights to Star Wars : Episode IV A New Hope , which they co-produced and co-financed, in perpetuity in all media worldwide. Fox was also to retain theatrical, nontheatrical, and home video rights worldwide for the franchise's five subsequent films, which Lucasfilm produced and financed independently, through May 2020 , at which time ownership was to transfer to Disney. This complex relationship between Fox and Disney, particularly in regards to Fox's perpetual rights to Episode IV, was to create an obstacle for any future boxed set comprising all nine films. [27] On December 14 , 2017 , The Walt Disney Company announced that it was acquiring most of Fox's parent company, 21st Century Fox , including the film studio and all distribution rights to A New Hope . [28] On March 20 , 2019 , the deal was officially completed. [29] On April 12 , 2019, a Blu-ray box set containing the nine main instalments of the Star Wars saga remastered in 4K was reportedly announced to be in development for a 2020 release. [30]

3D re-release [ ]

Episode I 3D poster

Official poster for The Phantom Menace 3D release

On September 28 , 2010 , StarWars.com and Lucasfilm announced that the entire Star Wars saga would be converted to stereoscopic 3D and re-released in theaters and IMAX 3D, beginning with Episode I . John Knoll and Industrial Light & Magic are supervising the conversion. [31] The stereo conversion process has been in the works for several years, however, with George Lucas showing tests of the Episode II speeder chase scene and a reel from Episode IV in 3D during 2005's ShoWest in Las Vegas, and the speeder chase scene was demoed again by Texas Instruments as an emerging technology at SIGGRAPH 2007 in San Diego.

Episode I's 3D release date, as announced by Lucasfilm on March 3 , 2011 , was February 10 , 2012 . [32]

On January 28 , 2013 , Lucasfilm announced that the 3D releases of Star Wars : Episode II Attack of the Clones and Star Wars : Episode III Revenge of the Sith were postponed. [33]

Reception [ ]

Critical and fan reaction ranged from high 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 that year over The Phantom Menace . It was the first time a Star Wars film lost in that Oscar competition category. Many critics heavily criticized the acting of Natalie Portman and especially Jake Lloyd as the young Anakin Skywalker. Some aspects of the scripting and direction were also criticized. Extra venom was directed at the character of Jar Jar Binks , who was regarded by some fans as purely a merchandising opportunity rather than a serious character in the film. Fan reaction was mixed too, with some fans praising the film while others having a negative opinion of it.

However, despite some of the negative criticisms leveled at the film, many others gave praise to The Phantom Menace . William Arnold, of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer , commented that the massive of hype of the film may have caused much of the negative reaction to the film, saying "it built expectations that can't possibly be matched and scuttled element of storytelling surprise." He also felt "it's well made and entertaining" and believed it was much better than similar box-office fare released around that time period, such as The Mummy and The Matrix . [35] David Cornelius of efilmcritic.com remarked that the better moments of the film "don't merely balance out the weaker ones- they topple them." [36] Roger Ebert gave the film three and half out of four stars, calling it "an astonishing achievement in imaginative filmmaking," and stating that "Lucas tells a good story." Ebert comments that it was perfectly fine for the characters to be a bit less compelling, seeing that they were just being introduced, and stating to "give me transparent underwater cities and vast hollow senatorial spheres any day." [37] Mark Dinning labels The Phantom Menace "A great work from a great director, and a blockbuster of quite the most swashbuckling kind." Many fans and critics also agree that the lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul—showcasing astounding choreography and Ray Park 's martial arts skills—is a high point, and one of the best lightsaber duels in the Star Wars saga. [38]

The film was nominated for three Academy Awards —Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects; however, it lost to The Matrix in all three categories. The film won Best Motion Picture at the People's Choice Awards. It was also nominated for the Saturn Awards on the categories of Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director (George Lucas), Best Actor (Liam Neeson), Best Supporting Actor (Ewan McGregor), Best Young Actor (Jake Lloyd), Best Young Actress (Natalie Portman), Best Supporting Actress (Pernilla August), Best Screenplay (George Lucas), Best Music (John Williams), Best Special Effects and Best Makeup. It won on the categories of Best Costume Design (Trisha Biggar) and Best Special Effects. [39]

Deleted scenes [ ]

  • The Waterfall Sequence —As Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Jar Jar arrive in the waterways of Theed, in the bongo, they surface just in front of a huge waterfall and have to vacate the vehicle in a hurry.
  • Dawn Before the Podrace —Anakin gets up early to prepare the pod for the race and has a brief chat with Padmé.
  • Complete Podrace Grid Sequence —This scene shows more of the participating racers and creatures in the crowd, later added on DVD.
  • Extended Podrace Lap Two —This lap shows some more of Sebulba's "creative interpretation of the rules" and further proof of just how special Anakin is, later added on DVD.
  • Anakin's Scuffle With Greedo —This was due to follow the podrace, to show Anakin's potential for aggression, but George Lucas cut it because he wanted Anakin to be shown as a genuinely good character who turns evil later in adulthood.
  • Farewell to Jira —This occurs as Qui-Gon and Anakin are leaving Mos Espa and Anakin stops briefly to say goodbye to Jira. One of Darth Maul's probe droids follows them for some time until Qui-Gon finally notices and destroys it before passing by the Dusty Duck .
  • The Air Taxi Sequence —The taxi ride shows us about ten more seconds of Coruscant, later added on DVD.

The Waterfall Sequence

Credits [ ]

Appearances [ ].

Canon characters

Legends characters

Canon organisms

Legends organisms

Droid models

Canon droids

Legends droids

Canon events

Legends events

Canon locations

Legends locations

Organizations and titles

Canon organizations and titles

Legends organizations and titles

Sentient species

Canon species

Legends species

Vehicles and vessels

Canon vehicles

Legends vehicles

Weapons and technology

Canon technology

Legends technology

Miscellanea

Canon miscellanea

Legends miscellanea

Sources [ ]

Notes and references [ ], external links [ ].

Wikiquote logo

  • Star Wars : Episode I The Phantom Menace on Box Office Mojo (archived from the original on June 30 , 2020 )
  • Star Wars : Episode I The Phantom Menace on Rotten Tomatoes (archived from the original on August 10 , 2020 )

Aurebesh

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  • 1 Darth Sidious
  • 2 Anakin Skywalker
  • 3 Darth Plagueis

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preview for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker unanswered questions RESOLVED - what did the Skywalker Saga forget?

Star Wars' Liam Neeson defends The Phantom Menace and Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best

"I'm very proud of the film... it was terrific."

Headshot of Susannah Alexander

Neeson starred as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in the 1999 movie, which attracted criticism from many Star Wars fans when it was released.

Speaking to Andy Cohen on SiriusXM's Radio Andy , he said: "I know a lot of fans and critics didn't like it. Ahmed Best, who played Jar Jar Binks, came in for a lot of criticism. I mean to the point where it really hurt his career.

liam neeson as qui gon jinn in star wars the phantom menace

"I have to say when I was making that film... [Best] was probably one of the funniest guys and talented guys I have ever worked with."

He revealed that after working with Best, he called his agent to tell them that he felt like he had been working with "the new Eddie Murphy" and added: "I still believe that."

Neeson went on to recall a story about Best attending a recent fan convention and receiving a standing ovation, saying that it was "a beautiful thing to hear".

"I'm very proud of the film," he said. "I got to be a Jedi, I got to play with those wonderful lightsabers and stuff, and it was terrific, Andy, it really was. Ahmed Best truly is one of the funniest guys... and then wham bam, the film comes out and he's attacked, personally attacked, by fans and critics for whatever reasons. But I liked the movie! I'm proud of it."

the phantom menace

Related: Star Wars ' Ewan McGregor provides major update on Obi-Wan series

Neeson's co-star Ewan McGregor, who played Qui-Gon Jinn's Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels, recently admitted that he can't believe that some fans prefer watching the prequels to the original Star Wars trilogy.

"All these years later, I'm really aware of what our films meant to the generation they were made for, the children of that time," he said. "They really like them. I've met people who, they mean a lot to them, those films, more so than the original three, and I'm like, 'Are you kidding?'"

McGregor will soon be reprising his role as Obi-Wan in his very own series , which will premiere on Disney+.

The Mandalorian , Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and the entire Skywalker Saga are available on DVD , Blu-ray and 4K now, as well as on Disney+ , while Rise of Skywalker is also on Sky Cinema Premiere and NOW TV .

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Reporter & Sub-Editor, Digital Spy Susannah is a freelance writer and sub-editor, specialising in the entertainment industry. She graduated in 2014, with a BA in English and American Literature and Creative Writing, and an MA in Creative Producing.  She’s been writing for Digital Spy ever since, after first getting involved through work experience, and has written hundreds of stories for the site on a range of topics, from The Sims to Doctor Who .  Susannah has also written for Reveal Magazine.  Her special interests are soaps (her Mastermind subject would be 2000s Coronation Street ), Marvel and Star Wars . She can also quote far too many lines from Friends and Brooklyn Nine-Nine .  

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Liam Neeson on the Liam Neeson Voice, from Phantom Menace to The Prophet

The Taken actor speaks out about his very particular set of vocal skills.

Headshot of Matt Patches

The Prophet emphasizes your voice more than most animated films because Gibran's words carry so much weight. Is that hard to find in film? Have you worked on a movie where every word felt heavy?

Maybe Star Wars ?  The Phantom Menace . It's portentous! Absolutely. I was involved as a Jedi Master and everything I said I had to ask, "George, tell me, what do you mean by this?" You know, I had to give a little speech to this kid because he's going to turn out to be Darth Vader. And I say to George, "What are midi-chlorians?" And he says, "Human bodies have millions of types of bacteria. So what if one strain of that bacteria has intelligence?" That's what he told me. 

And then you kind of got it.

I kind of got it. That worked for me.

Is voice a big part of how you shape roles? I think about your deeper register in Taken …

I think you can work on  a certain gravitas with a voice . I haven't consciously decided on it. In Taken , he's a man of few words, lots of action. He never struck me as someone with a high-pitched voice. 

Have you worked with directors who've obsessed over your voice? 

Maybe Neil Jordan? On Michael Collins . He is a terrific writer. Writers will talk about the pace of what you're saying. 

Maybe Steven Spielberg is more of a visualist, but I'd imagine tremendous care went into speaking Schindler's List 's words.

I remember Steven wanted a rich cigarette, cognac voice. I never drank cognac. I used to be a smoker, so maybe I had a residue left. But it was a beautiful script by Steve Zaillian. There was maybe one comma changed in that.

What about The Prophet 's poetic quality? Had you encountered that in screen roles before?

In some documentary film work. I did a film a number of years ago about the First World War. I read some poetry and stuff. [Siegfried] Sassoon and some of those guys who died in the trenches. But nothing compared to this. I did read Gibran's The Prophet when I was 17 or 18. I thought it was beautiful, but it bounced off me—I didn't have life experience. Now that I'm 63, I'm the father of two boys, reading it again, it's a richer experience.

Did wisdom change how you recited the poem?

It did. I worked very closely with [ Prophet  director] Roger Allers on that. More on the interpretation. I think they speak for themselves, but more on the pace of them. He would show me the unfinished animation work, to show me the pace of their artwork. That would inform the tempo.

Is there a live-action movie you've done where you've been keenly aware of how you're speaking?

Maybe The Chronicles of Narnia ? There are similarities. Though [Aslan] was the Christ-like figure in those films. In Gibran's Prophet , Almustafa is very much a man. That comes to the foreground when we see him in prison. He's at his lowest ebb. He seems to have forgotten everything he's preached about. And he has a young girl who helps give him voice, recharges him. And when he dies, he's going to join the great consciousness in the universe. I love that. It's about empowering girls, women. We're reading all the time and seeing horrible images about how women are being treated as third-rate citizens across the world. You know, one of the reasons I did want to do The Prophet was I'm a spokesperson for an organization called Journeys in Film . It's basically using the storytelling power of film to educate our kids in schools, to have a richer understanding of the complex world in which we live. It's using foreign language films and documentaries to help our kids learn about the world. The Prophet would be ideal for this curriculum. 

And now you're about to star in Martin Scorsese's Silence , about Italian missionaries in 17 century Japan. Worldly.

Oh very much so. We just wrapped Silence a couple months ago. It was a powerful experience. 

After a string of action movies, did it feel like shifting gears?

It did and it didn't. I had worked with Martin on  Gangs of New York and I'd played a Jesuit before in a film called The Mission . I had to reacquaint myself with the Jesuit literature. It's minded stuff. The Jesuits in Japan in the 1600s … I was living it. We dropped a lot of weight. It's spiritual. God knows that there are reverberations nowadays when we're reading about ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and fundamentalist religions that are trying to hoist themselves on to peoples' lives. [ Silence ] is an extraordinary story—and a testament to faith. The power of faith.

The Prophet  arrives to theaters on August 7. For more on its star , read our March 2011 profile, "The Hard Luck and Beautiful Life of Liam Neeson."  

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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace turns 25. Did you known these 10 facts about the sci-fi prequel?

Posted: January 5, 2024 | Last updated: January 5, 2024

The Force is certainly strong with this movie! ‘Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace’ turns 25 this year and George Lucas' prequel still divides fan opinion to this day. What do you know about the film that is the beginning of the Anakin Skywalker story?

May The Force be with you...

Liam Neeson in ‘The Phantom Menace’

Qui-Gon Jin didn’t exist

From planning the movie to its cinematic release, ‘The Phantom Menace’ was six years in the making. Lucas began to piece together a story for the movie, and what he wanted to achieve across his prequel trilogy, that being the tale of how Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker became the dreaded Darth Vader, in 1993, and began to write a script the following year.  The 'Star Wars' creator then commissioned concept art from Doug Chiang, with his work ranging from new aliens, spaceships and planets, many of which would be directly translated into the final movie.  It was only in 1997 that principal photography on ‘The Phantom Menace’ began, meaning there had been four years of pre-production, one of the longest in Hollywood.

It had a very long pre-production

Lucas initially wanted someone else to help bring his vision to life. The 79-year-old filmmaker initially offered the job to his good friend Steven Spielberg, with whom he had worked with on the ‘Indiana Jones’ movies, though he turned it down.  George also asked ‘Back to the Future’ director Robert Zemeckis and Willow’s Ron Howard to helm the picture, though they too insisted that he was the only man for the job.

George Lucas didn’t want to direct

From the very beginning of the saga, George Lucas took inspiration from real world conflicts and religions to create the basis of ‘Star Wars’, with a particular focus on American politics. That was no different for the fourth movie which depicted the beginning of the fall of a democracy into a totalitarian dictatorship. In fact, Senator Palpatine - played by Ian McDiarmid, who would later become the tyrannical Emperor - was based on former US President Richard Nixon. In the ‘Star Wars Archives Episodes I-III: 1999-2005’, George wrote: “He was a politician. Richard M. Nixon was his name. He subverted the senate and finally took over and became an imperial guy and he was really evil. But he pretended to be a really nice guy."

Chancellor Palpatine is based on Richard Nixon

At the time of shooting, 14-minute video masterpiece ‘Thriller’ was the most expensive promo ever made.  The video went over budget and eventually cost $900,000 to make.

Michael Jackson wanted to play Jar Jar Binks

Terance Stamp signed on to play Chancellor Valorum in the movie, but only agreed to do so because he wanted to work with Natalie Portman, who played Queen Amidala. Reflecting on the film, the actor - who was 60 at the time - said: “I must admit, I had a terrible crush on Natalie Portman."

Terance Stamp only wanted to work with Natalie Portman

As one of the most terrifying Sith Lords in the galaxy, Darth Maul took the fandom by storm when he debuted in ‘The Phantom Menace’, and its clear to see why. Everything about his design screams ‘evil’, but unfortunately, his voice didn’t match his ominous appearance.  Ray Park, who played the character, had a high, rural English accent that George Lucas decided wasn’t intimidating enough, so the director instead dubbed him with the voice of comedian Peter Serafinowicz.

Darth Maul dubbed

Every big blockbuster today has ‘The Phantom Menace’ to thank for revolutionising technology in Hollywood. George Lucas had the foresight to push the boundaries of what was possible in filmmaking in order to put what he could see in his mind’s eye onto the screen, and so researched and implemented as much CGI (computer-generated images) into his picture as possible. Reflecting on the technology, he said: “With CGI at my disposal, I knew I could do whatever I wanted.” Amazingly, around 1,950 shots in the movie have computer-generated effects, and contained the first wholly computer-generated live action characters and environments in cinematic history, such as Jar Jar Binks, Boss Nass and Watto.

A technological revolution

When the first trailer for ‘The Phantom Menace’ released in 1998, fans over the world were overcome with excitement. Within 24 hours, the two-minute clip had been downloaded over a million times on Apple iTunes, making it one of the most sought-after trailers at the time. Fans couldn’t get enough, and when the trailer began playing before screenings of ‘Meet Joe Black’, many would buy tickets to the movie just to watch the clip, and left before the movie even started.

Trailer excitement

Although it was mauled by critics and divided audiences, ‘The Phantom Menace’ is still regarded as one of the most successful movies of all time. On a budget of $115 million, the film banked $924.3 million on its first release in 1999, second only to James Cameron’s ‘Titanic’, before making a further $102.7 billion for its 3D re-run in 2012. The movie also received three Oscar nominations at the Academy Awards, though lost all of them to ‘The Matrix’.

A colossal box office success

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liam neeson phantom menace

The last few years have been embroiled with controversy surrounding Disney and Lucasfilm's Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. Discourse regarding the films has the potential to turn ugly very quickly, as people seem to either love or loath the movies. Recent comments from the actors have stoked the flames of divide , leaving the fandom in a rough place.

With all of this going on, it's become easy to lose sight of the fact that the Prequel Trilogy received similar treatment, though for drastically different reasons. George Lucas was blasted for the execution of the trilogy as a whole, and particularly for some of the choices he made for The Phantom Menace . A Star Wars veteran has recently offered his thoughts on how Episode I went, as well as his feelings regarding a co-star who took the brunt of the fan backlash ...

In an interview with Andy Cohen on Radio Andy , via The Hollywood Reporter , actor Liam Neeson shared his thoughts on The Phantom Menace and the opportunity to play Qui-Gon Jinn:

"I like the film. I'm proud of it and proud to have been a part of it. I got to be a Jedi. I got to play with those wonderful lightsabers and stuff. It was terrific, Andy, it really was."

Neeson also addressed the criticism his co-star Ahmed Best faced in the wake of his performance as Jar Jar Binks:

"He came into a lot of criticism, I mean to the point where it really hurt his career. And I have to say when I was making that film ... he was probably one of the funniest guys and talented guys I have ever worked with."

The actor even said he once told his manager he believed Best would be the next Eddie Murphy, which he still believes can be the case.

WHAT THIS MEANS

This was a nice interview from Neeson. Nothing Earth-shattering, no groundbreaking reveals, but a nice a take on a film once despised by many that fans are seemingly coming around to. Perhaps the reception of the latest trilogy helped alter the legacy of the prequels, but it's more than fair to say that there was always a great story beneath some of the rougher execution.

One of the aspects of The Phantom Menace that hasn't received a lick of criticism is Neeson's portrayal of Qui-Gon Jinn, and rightfully so. For all intents and purposes, Jinn is essentially the perfect Jedi, and Neeson brilliantly captured the essence of how a compassionate and wise member of the ancient religion was supposed to be. While it was sad to see Qui-Gon go so soon, the demise of the character plays a pivotal role in the fate of the galaxy at large, and without Neeson's performance, the importance of the character could have gone unappreciated.

Neeson's evaluation of Ahmed Best seems to go in line with what the rest of his co-stars have said about the actor, and the impression that the man behind Jar Jar Binks has left on fans publicly. Best has always come across as funny and an all-around decent guy, and it's a shame that his career took such a hit from the backlash to his character.

The Phantom Menace isn't perfect, but it has heart. That's why we love it, and why it's so representative of George Lucas' Star Wars. The kids of the Prequel Trilogy generation have all grown up, and with them the legacy of that story has risen. It's hard to imagine anyone other than Liam Neeson playing Qui-Gon Jinn, and the actor has a great deal to be proud of.

STAR WARS Writer

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‘obi-wan kenobi’ delivers on that season-long tease.

The Disney+ 'Star Wars' miniseries concluded with its sixth episode on Wednesday.

By Ryan Parker

Ryan Parker

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Ewan McGregor in 'Obi-Wan Kenobi'

[This story contains spoilers for the series finale of Obi-Wan Kenobi .] 

It took a lot of patience on the part of viewers, but Obi-Wan Kenobi delivered on a season-long tease fans hoped would come to fruition.

Qui-Gon Jinn, played by Liam Neeson , returned to the franchise for the first time since 1999’s Star Wars : Episode I — The Phantom Menace . The moment was shorter than most would have liked, given how much time has passed since the audience last saw Obi-Wan’s (Ewan McGregor) master, but all the emotions over seeing him once more were there.

Since the premiere episode of the six-part Disney+ Star Wars miniseries, there were teases that Qui-Gon might make an appearance, as Obi-Wan tried to connect with him a number of times throughout the adventure, but without any luck.

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It was only in the very last moments of the series that Obi-Wan was finally able to see Qui-Gon’s Force ghost. Neeson only has a couple of lines, but he assures Obi-Wan he was there the whole time, his padawan was just not ready to see him. Qui-Gon was killed by Darth Maul ( Ray Park ) in The Phantom Menace. Yoda (Frank Oz) told Obi-Wan in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith that he would teach him how to connect with his late master once more through the Force.

Neeson had said in recent years that he was “ proud ” of Phantom Menace, despite the initial criticisms from fans over the prequels. “I like the film. I am proud of it and proud to have been a part of it,” Neeson said in one interview. “I got to be a Jedi. I got to play with those wonderful lightsabers and stuff. It was terrific … it really was.”

The once over-the-top criticisms over the prequels have vastly subsided, and the films are now largely enjoyed by fans. Obi-Wan Kenobi star Hayden Christensen said in a recent THR interview that the tide had turned for him, meaning he feels far more appreciated and liked by fans now than he did when the prequels were released.

Qui-Gon was not the only cameo in the series finale. Fans also got to see Ian McDiarmid reprise his role as Emperor Palpatine. Just as Neeson’s was, the cameo is brief, but it is fulfilling and served a purpose.

The entire season of Obi-Wan Kenobi is streaming now on Disney+.

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Liam neeson recalls his son hugging r2-d2 during the phantom menace.

Exclusive: Liam Neeson, star of the upcoming thriller Memory, reveals a funny story about his young son hugging R2-D2 on set of The Phantom Menace.

Liam Neeson remembers his young son arriving on the set of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace   and immediately running over to R2-D2 and wrapping the metallic droid in a hug. Neeson's role as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn introduced him to the world of  Star Wars ,  but since his role as an ex-CIA agent on a mission to save his daughter with 2008's action film,  Taken ,  he's become more well known for his roles as a gruff action heroes. Fans of Neeson's work have created several jokes around the fact that, inevitably, everything will rest on the shoulders of Neeson's character, and he'll have to single-handedly take down the terrorists, gangsters, or whoever dares to stand in his path. However,  Neeson recently clarified that as he's gotten older , his time starring as the hero in thrilling action flicks is likely to come to a close, seeing as he's approaching his 70s. But that still hasn't stopped the actor from starring in two action films this year,  Blacklight ,  which came out in February, and  Memory,  which hits theaters on April 29.

Star Wars  fans have always celebrated Neeson's role as Qui-Gon Jinn in Phantom Menace  and highlight his witty back-and-forth banter with his Jedi apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), as a saving grace of a film marred by negative reviews. After the death of his character at the end of the film,   Neeson returned briefly to the role via voice cameos in two other  Star Wars  films. It was speculated that he would return to play Qui-Gon in the new live action  Obi-Wan Kenobi   series on Disney+, but Neeson shot the  Kenobi  rumors down , saying that he hadn't been approached to return in the show. From a timeline perspective, it would make sense for Qui-Gon to reappear as a force-ghost since Obi-Wan was told by Yoda that he could learn how to communicate with his former Jedi Master via the force after the events of  Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith . 

Related:  What If Qui-Gon Beat Darth Maul (& Trained Anakin) In The Star Wars Prequels

In an exclusive interview with  Screen Rant,  Neeson brought up a sweet memory about his son finding a friend on the set of  Phantom Menace  when asked if McGregor's return to the  Star Wars  universe   brought up any memories for Neeson about that time in his life. He immediately recalled a funny story from set about holding his two-year-old son Michael in his arms and Michael reaching out toward R2-D2 until Neeson relented and put him down. Next thing he knew, his son was waddling over and hugging R2-D2, which Neeson thought was " just so cute."  Afterwards, he told director George Lucas the heartwarming story, who responded that " R2-D2 has that effect on kids. "   Read his full comment below:

Yes. Oh, it does. And I know Ewan's doing the series. Yeah, I cannot believe it was 24 years ago that we shot the film in London. My gosh. I remember my son. I'll tell you a funny story. My son, Michael, was two. His nanny brought him out to visit me on set and it was lunchtime. I held him in my arms and took him around the set and there was R2-D2, just sitting parked. My son looked at this strange piece of metal, in my arms, and just went, "[stretches arms out]" So I had to let him down and he waddled over and started hugging R2-D2. I thought it was very interesting. He was two. He knows nothing about Star Wars, saw any of the movies. It was just so cute. I remember telling George Lucas after lunch, I said, "I brought my son on. He had to go down and hug R2-D2 and it was really touching." And George said, "Yeah. R2-D2 has that effect on kids." And I just thought it was very, very sweet, so it reminded me of that.

Even at the incredibly young age of two, Neeson's son was so drawn to the shiny blue and silver hull of R2-D2's body that he just had to run over and give him a hug. Michael wasn't aware of any  Star Wars  lore, he just wanted to befriend the droid, and in turn, highlighted the inherent charm that the character design gives off to children. Some say that children are the best judge of character, and seeing as R2-D2 has been a heroic companion in all nine Star Wars  films, Michael's intuition was no exception. The story Neeson told alongside Lucas' reaction is very touching, and it's apparent why it would be the first thing to come to Neeson's mind when thinking about his time on the set of  The Phantom Menace. 

The fact that 24 years after filming, Neeson still has fond memories from the set of Phantom Menace  speaks to how impactful a film can be for an actor, regardless of the film's reception by audiences. Neeson has never said that he doesn't want to return to the  Star Wars  universe, and it's still possible that he found himself with a role in the new  Kenobi  series and is just sworn to secrecy. It wouldn't be the first time that an actor has had to keep their part under wraps to create a bigger reveal, as Mark Hamill did with his Mandalorian  cameo . Only time will tell what roles  Liam Neeson  finds himself in next as he steps away from the physical demand of action films, but memories like those with his son on the set of  Phantom Menace   will likely last a lifetime.

More:  Book Of Boba Fett's Finale Secretly Proved Qui-Gon Jinn Right

Star Wars: What Happened To Yaddle After Phantom Menace? (Prepare To Cry)

Yaddle sad

Though Yoda (Frank Oz) and Grogu are the most well-known of their species — whatever it's called — they're not the only ones in the "Star Wars" canon. Yaddle (Bryce Dallas Howard) serves on the Jedi Council for a time alongside Yoda, training such Jedi as Oppo Rancisis and Jaro Tapal. She can be spotted in "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace," though she doesn't get much of anything to do in the story. Eagle-eyed fans will notice that she's absent from the "Star Wars" film franchise beyond this installment, but why?

The answer is revealed on the Disney+ animated series "Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi."  Just after the events of "The Phantom Menace," she grows suspicious of her fellow Jedi, Count Dooku (Corey Burton) after he declines to attend his former Padawan Qui Gon-Jinn's (Liam Neeson) funeral. This leads her to conduct an off-the-books espionage mission; she follows Dooku to an unknown building on Coruscant, where she witnesses his meeting with the Sith Lord Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid). Upon learning of her presence, Dooku engages her in a lightsaber duel and kills her, thus embracing the dark side of the Force and ending Yaddle's canon story.

The Jedi Master's clash with Dooku is emotional, to say the least, seeing as the two had been colleagues for some time and Dooku had recently lost his former student. However, some feel that the fight and Yaddle's subsequent death could've easily been prevented.

Some Star Wars fans have little sympathy for Yaddle

Despite the emotion surrounding Yaddle's death, some "Star Wars" fans can't help but feel she brought her downfall on herself. One such fan is u/Kevy96 on Reddit, who made a thread about how her and Dooku's duel and her demise were avoidable. "She legitimately made the 1 billion IQ move to start fighting Dooku and Sidious, instead of running back to her ship for a minute, and getting every single Jedi master in the galaxy for backup in like 5 minutes," they wrote, positing that she could've easily gotten reinforcements, saved her life, and potentially stopped the two Sith.

In the comments, several folks agreed with u/Kevy96, writing that Yaddle made a huge mistake in handling the situation the way she did. At the same time, some felt they could understand why Yaddle didn't make the right call. For instance, a now-deleted Redditor posited, "Perhaps her relationship with Dooku blinded her. She thought she could bring him back from the dark side and turn on Sidious." Meanwhile,  u/Backpack78  also brought up the point that like so many other Jedi, Yaddle likely underestimated Sidious and the pull of the dark side, much to her detriment.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding her death, the fact remains that Yaddle's time in the "Star Wars" spotlight was cut short by Count Dooku, whose killing of her took him from a disillusioned Jedi to a full-on Sith.

liam neeson phantom menace

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Stranded on the planet Tatooine after rescuing Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) of Naboo, Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) discover nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker, a young slave. Gifted with the power of the Force, Anakin wins his freedom and leaves home to be trained as a Jedi. Back on Naboo, Anakin and the Queen face a massive invasion while the two Jedi confront a lethal foe named Darth Maul. They soon realize the invasion is part of a sinister scheme by forces of darkness known as the Sith.

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  • Is Discontinued By Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ No
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ Unrated (Not Rated)
  • Package Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 7.1 x 5.42 x 0.58 inches; 2.93 Ounces
  • Director ‏ : ‎ George Lucas
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Blu-ray
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B017OB8W7U
  • #2,041 in Science Fiction Blu-ray Discs

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  1. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Wallpaper and Background Image

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  2. Liam Neeson defends Star Wars Episode I and Jar Jar Binks

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  3. "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" promo still, 1997. L to R: Ewan

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  4. Liam Neeson in Star Wars: Episode I

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  5. Liam Neeson Star Wars The Phantom Menace (Episode I) / Star Wars

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  6. Liam Neeson / Star Wars-Episode I The Phantom Menace / 1999, directed

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VIDEO

  1. Episode thoughts and retrospective (reupload)

  2. Movies Reimagined Podcast 101

  3. Liam Neeson Kept His Lightsaber

  4. LIAM NEESON AT STAR WARS CELEBRATION 2017!

  5. Star Wars: Episode 1

  6. Star Wars Episode I: Assistant Directors Webisode

COMMENTS

  1. Star Wars: Episode I

    99+ Photos Action Adventure Fantasy Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their original glory. Director George Lucas Writer George Lucas Stars Ewan McGregor Liam Neeson Natalie Portman See production info at IMDbPro RENT/BUY

  2. Star Wars: Episode I

    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is a 1999 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ahmed Best, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August and Frank Oz.

  3. Star Wars: Episode I

    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) - Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn - IMDb Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) Liam Neeson: Qui-Gon Jinn Showing all 94 items Jump to: Photos (34) Quotes (60) Photos 11 more photos Quotes Obi-Wan : But Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future.

  4. Star Wars: Episode I

    Directed by George Lucas Writing Credits George Lucas ... (written by) Cast (in credits order) verified as complete Produced by Music by John Williams ... (music by) Cinematography by David Tattersall ... director of photography Editing by Casting By Robin Gurland ... (casting by) Production Design by Gavin Bocquet Art Direction by

  5. Star Wars The Phantom Menace: Liam Neeson Interview

    Check out Movie Behind the Scenes, Interviews, Movie Red Carpet Premieres, Broll and more from ScreenSlam.comPart of the Maker StudiosSUBSCRIBE: http://goo.g...

  6. Star Wars: Episode I

    Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) is a young apprentice Jedi knight under the tutelage of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) ; Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who will later father Luke Skywalker and...

  7. Watch Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

    Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn rescue Queen Amidala, ruler of a peaceful planet invaded by dark forces. On their escape, they discover nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker, a child prodigy who is unusually strong in the Force. Purchase also includes bonus features, available to watch in Your Video Library.

  8. Star Wars: Episode I

    Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Jump to Edit Summaries Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their original glory.

  9. Qui-Gon Jinn

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  16. Liam Neeson Shares His Honest Thoughts About Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

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  18. Star Wars: Episode I

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  20. Star Wars: Episode I

    During the planning phase of 'The Phantom Menace', Obi-Wan Kenobi was meant to be the main protagonist of the movie. George had written the story around the Jedi master finding the young slave boy Anakin Skywalker on the desert planet of Tatooine, though eventually decided Obi-Wan was not right for that role. ... (Liam Neeson). ©BANG ...

  21. Star Wars: Liam Neeson Defends The Phantom Menace Prequel

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  25. Star Wars: Episode I

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  26. Star Wars : The Phantom Menace

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