Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace was not the movie we all hoped it would be. However, it has gotten a bad wrap by most fanboys. I still saw it three times in the theater. It is the only movie I have yet to watch start to finish since. So maybe that is a little telling.
I loved the pod race, the battle scenes on Nabu and Space and of course the epic light saber battle. This is a big movie that takes us to multiple worlds, dives deep into politics and social order and introduces the characters that will eventually
The writing was a bit week. Jar Jar became the biggest epic franchise joke of all time. Darth Maul, possibly the best villain of Star Wars History is killed off. And of course the WORST POSSIBLY EXPLANATION EVER of the force’s existence – MIDICHLORIANS.
FROM WOOKIEEPEDIA Midi-chlorians were intelligent microscopic life forms that lived symbiotically inside the cells of all living things. When present in sufficient numbers, they could allow their host to detect the pervasive energy field known as the Force.
The Beginning is a documentary on the making of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, originally produced for the film’s DVD release. It covers the entire production of The Phantom Menace, from preproduction to casting to visual effects, editing, and theatrical release. The Beginning starts with early production work on the film, as George Lucas (returning to the director’s chair for the first time since Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope) and Lucasfilm plan how they will bring his vision to the screen. Jake Lloyd auditions for the part of Anakin Skywalker and is eventually cast in the role, joining Natalie Portman (Padmé), Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn). Lucas leads several meetings with ILM, including visual effects supervisor John Knoll, in an effort to figure out how Episode I’s many CGI effects would be accomplished — Jar Jar Binks, in particular, was a challenge, as digital characters were still new at the time. Other highlights from The Beginning include Steven Spielberg, a longtime friend of Lucas’, visiting the set and getting a first look at a battle droid prop; McGregor choosing his lightsaber hilt; stunt rehearsals offering a glimpse at how The Phantom Menace’s thrilling lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Darth Maul came together; footage of the first scene shot (Darth Sidious and Darth Maul’s meeting on Coruscant); a look at the editing of the film featuring early effects and the splicing together of different takes; Frank Oz operating the Yoda puppet and working out his performance; and finally, the opening night release of The Phantom Menace in theaters.
Stranded on the desert planet Tatooine after rescuing young Queen Amidala from the impending invasion of Naboo, Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn discover nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker, a young slave unusually strong in the Force. Anakin wins a thrilling Podrace and with it his freedom as he leaves his home to be trained as a Jedi. The heroes return to Naboo where Anakin and the Queen face massive invasion forces while the two Jedi contend with a deadly foe named Darth Maul. Only then do they realize the invasion is merely the first step in a sinister scheme by the re-emergent forces of darkness known as the Sith. Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace was the fourth movie released in theaters.
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace CAST
- 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 Jedi Council’s protests. Lucas originally wanted to cast an American actor in the role, but cast Irishman Neeson because he considered that Neeson had great skills and presence. Lucas said Neeson was a “master actor, who the other actors will look up to, who has got the qualities of strength that the character demands”.
- 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. McGregor was cast from a shortlist of fifty actors, all of whom had to be compared to pictures of young Alec Guinness, who portrayed the elderly Obi-Wan, to make a believable younger version. McGregor had a vocal coach to help his voice sound closer to Guinness’. He also studied several of Guinness’ performances, from his early work and the Star Wars movies.
- Natalie Portman as Queen Padmé Amidala: Amidala, the 14-year-old Queen of Naboo, hopes to protect her planet from a blockade by the Trade Federation. Over 200 actors auditioned for the role. The Production notes stated; “The role required a young woman who could be believable as the ruler of that planet, but at the same time be vulnerable and open”. Portman was chosen especially for her performances in Léon: The Professional (1994) and Beautiful Girls(1996), which impressed Lucas. He stated, “I was looking for someone who was young, strong, along the lines of Leia [and] Natalie embodied all those traits and more”. Portman was unfamiliar with Star Wars before being cast, but was enthusiastic about being cast as a character she expected to become a role model. Portman said, “It was wonderful playing a young queen with so much power. I think it will be good for young women to see a strong woman of action who is also smart and a leader.”
- Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker, a nine-year-old slave boy and a skilled pilot who dreams of becoming a Jedi. Hundreds of actors were tested before the producers settled on Lloyd, who Lucas considered met his requirements of “a good actor, enthusiastic and very energetic”. Producer Rick McCallum said that Lloyd was “smart, mischievous and loves anything mechanical—just like Anakin”.
- Ian McDiarmid as Senator Palpatine / Darth Sidious, a Senator of Naboo who is eventually elected Chancellor of the Republic. McDiarmid was surprised when Lucas approached him 16 years after Return of the Jedi to reprise the role of Palpatine because he had assumed that a younger actor would play the part in the prequel films.
- Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker, Anakin’s mother who is concerned for her son’s future and allows him leave with the Jedi. August, a veteran of Swedish cinema, was chosen after auditioning with Liam Neeson. She was afraid of being rejected because of her accent.
- Frank Oz voices Yoda, the centuries-old leader of the Jedi Council who is apprehensive about allowing Anakin to be trained. Yoda was mostly portrayed as a puppet designed by Nick Dudman based on Stuart Freeborn‘s original design. Oz controlled the puppet’s mouth and other parts were controlled by puppeteers using remote controls. Lucas fitted Yoda’s filming around Oz’s schedule as he finished and promoted In & Out. A computer-generated Yoda is featured in two distant shots. Warwick Davis portrays him in the scene in which Obi-Wan becomes a Jedi Knight. Lucas said he originally wanted to use a full-time digital Yoda, but the attempts did not work well enough. On the Blu-ray release of The Phantom Menace, which was also used for the 3D reissue, a CG Yoda similar to the one from the other prequels is used instead.
- Oliver Ford Davies as Sio Bibble, the governor of Naboo.
- Hugh Quarshie as Captain Panaka, Queen Amidala’s chief of security at Theed Palace.
- Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks, a clumsy Gungan exiled from his home and taken in by Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. Best was hired after Gurland saw him on a Stompperformance in San Francisco. Best was originally intended to provide motion capture data but his offer to voice the character was accepted. On the set, to provide references for the actors, Best was clothed in a suit made of foam and latex and a headpiece. Best’s filmed performance was later replaced with the computer-generated character. Best frequently improvised movements to make Jar Jar look as clumsy and comedic as possible.
- Anthony Daniels voices C-3PO, a protocol droid built by Anakin. He lacks a metal covering in this film; R2-D2 refers to it as being “naked”. A puppeteer dressed in a color closely matching the background—in a manner similar to the Japanese puppet theater Bunraku—manipulated a skeletal C-3PO figure attached to his front while Daniels read his lines off-camera. The puppeteer was erased from the film during post-production.
- Kenny Baker as R2-D2, an astromech droid that saves Queen Amidala’s ship when other droids fail. Before the film’s production started, fans campaigned on the Internet to retain Baker as R2-D2; Lucas replied that the actor would remain. Baker is used for scenes where R2-D2 bends forwards and backwards and wobbles from side to side. Robots and a digital model were used in other shots.
- Terence Stamp as Supreme Chancellor Valorum, the current Chancellor who commissions Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon to negotiate with the Trade Federation Viceroy. Lucas described the character as a “good man but he’s beleaguered—a bit like [Bill] Clinton“.
Additionally, Samuel L. Jackson appears as Mace Windu, a high-ranking member of the Jedi Council who also opposes the training of Anakin. Ray Park portraysDarth Maul, a Zabrak warrior and Darth Sidious’ Sith apprentice who uses a double-bladed lightsaber, while Peter Serafinowicz provides Maul’s voice. Keira Knightley plays Sabé, one of Queen Amidala’s handmaidens who serves as her decoy throughout the majority of the film. Silas Carson portrays Nute Gunray, the Viceroy of the Trade Federation who leads Naboo’s invasion and tries to force Queen Amidala to sign a treaty to legitimize the occupation. Carson also portrays three minor characters: Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi, Trade Federation Senator Lott Dod, and an ill-fated pilot (the role for which Carson originally auditioned). Brian Blessed, Andy Secombe, and Lewis MacLeod voice, respectively, Boss Nass, the leader of the Gungan tribe who allies with the Naboo, Watto, a junk dealer on Tatooine who owns Anakin and his mother as slaves, and Sebulba, an aggressive, scheming podracer who is Anakin’s rival. In addition, Greg Proops and Scott Capurro voice Fode and Beed, the two-headed announcer of the Boonta Eve Race. Also, Sofia Coppola appears as Saché, one of Amidala’s handmaidens, andRalph Brown appears as Ric Olié, the Queen’s starship pilot.