Star wars 1 synopsis

Star wars 1 synopsis DEFAULT

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

American epic space-opera film directed by George Lucas

"Star Wars I" redirects here. For the first film released, see Star Wars (film). For the video game, see Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (video game).

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is a American epicspace-opera film written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm, distributed by 20th Century Fox and starring Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August, and Frank Oz. It is the first installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and begins both "the Tragedy of Darth Vader" and the "Skywalker saga," though it was the fourth film to be produced. Set 32 years before the original trilogy, during the era of the Galactic Republic, the plot follows Jedi MasterQui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as they try to protect Queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo in hopes of securing a peaceful end to an interplanetary trade dispute. Joined by Anakin Skywalker—a young slave with unusually strong natural powers of the Force—they simultaneously contend with the mysterious return of the Sith.

Following the release of Return of the Jedi, Lucas was unmotivated to return to the franchise and continue the story beyond Return of the Jedi, though the backstory he created on Anakin sparked interest in him to develop a prequel trilogy. After he determined that computer-generated imagery (CGI) had advanced to the level he wanted for the prequel trilogy's visual effects, Lucas began writing The Phantom Menace in and production began in Filming started on June 26, , at locations including Leavesden Film Studios and the Tunisian desert and ended on September 30th. The film was Lucas's first directorial effort after a year hiatus following the original Star Wars[b] in

The Phantom Menace was released in theaters on May 19, , almost 16 years after the premiere of Return of the Jedi. The film's premiere was extensively covered by media and was greatly anticipated because of the large cultural following the Star Wars saga had cultivated. Upon its release, The Phantom Menace received mixed reviews. While the visual effects, action sequences, musical score, and some performances (particularly Neeson and McGregor) were praised, criticism was largely focused on the screenplay, characterization, pacing, and the character of Jar Jar Binks. Despite the reception, The Phantom Menace was a box office success and broke numerous box office records during its debut. It grossed more than $ million worldwide during its initial theatrical run, becoming the highest-grossing film of , the second-highest-grossing film worldwide and in North America (behind Titanic), and the highest-grossing Star Wars film at the time. A 3D reissue, which earned an additional $ million and brought the film's overall worldwide takings to over $1 billion, was released in February Two sequels within the prequel trilogy were released: Attack of the Clones () and Revenge of the Sith ().


The Trade Federation creates turmoil in the Galactic Republic by blockading the planet Naboo in preparation for a full-scale invasion. The Republic's leader, Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum, dispatches Jedi KnightQui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to negotiate with Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray. Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord and the Trade Federation's secret benefactor, orders the Viceroy to kill the Jedi and begin their invasion with an army of battle droids. The Jedi escape and flee to Naboo. During the invasion, Qui-Gon rescues a Gungan outcast, Jar Jar Binks. Indebted to Qui-Gon, Jar Jar leads the Jedi to Otoh Gunga, the Gungans' underwater city. The Jedi fail to persuade the Gungan leader, Boss Nass, to help the planet's surface dwellers, but manage to obtain Jar Jar's guidance and underwater transport to Theed, the capital city of Naboo. After rescuing Queen Padmé Amidala, the group make their escape from Naboo aboard her Royal Starship, intending to reach the Republic capital planet of Coruscant.

Passing through the Federation blockade, the ship is damaged in the crossfire, and its hyperdrive malfunctions. The ship lands for repairs on the outlying desert planet of Tatooine, situated beyond the Republic's jurisdiction. Qui-Gon, Jar Jar, astromech droidR2-D2, and Padmé—disguised as one of her handmaidens—visit the settlement of Mos Espa to purchase a new part for their hyperdrive. They encounter a junk dealer, Watto, and his nine-year-old slave, Anakin Skywalker, a gifted pilot and engineer who has built a protocol droid, C-3PO.

Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force within Anakin, and is convinced that he is the prophesied "Chosen One," destined to restore balance to the Force. With Watto refusing to accept payment in Republic currency, Qui-Gon wagers both the required hyperdrive part and Anakin's freedom in a podrace. Anakin wins the race and joins the group to be trained as a Jedi, leaving behind his mother, Shmi. En route to their starship, Qui-Gon encounters Darth Maul, Sidious' apprentice, who was sent to capture Amidala. After a brief lightsaber duel, Qui-Gon escapes aboard the starship with the others.

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan escort Padmé to Coruscant so that she can plead her people's case to Valorum and the Galactic Senate. Qui-Gon asks the Jedi Council for permission to train Anakin as a Jedi, but the Council refuses, concerned that Anakin is vulnerable to the dark side of the Force. Undaunted, Qui-Gon vows to take up Anakin as his new apprentice. Meanwhile, Naboo's Senator Palpatine persuades Amidala to call for a vote of no confidence in Valorum to elect a more capable leader and to resolve the crisis. Though she is successful in pushing for the vote, Amidala grows frustrated with the corruption in the Senate, and decides to return to Naboo. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are ordered by the Jedi Council to accompany the queen and investigate the return of the Sith, whom they had thought to be extinct for over a millennium.

On Naboo, Padmé reveals herself as the queen before the Gungans to gain their trust, and persuades them to help against the Trade Federation. Jar Jar is promoted to general and joins his tribe in a battle against the droid army, while Padmé leads the search for Gunray in Theed. Qui-Gon tells Anakin to hide inside a starfighter in the palace hangar, but he accidentally triggers its autopilot, and flies into space, joining the Naboo pilots in their battle against the Federation droid control ship. With R2's help, Anakin pilots the fighter into the ship and causes its destruction from within, deactivating the droid army. Meanwhile, Maul, who has been dispatched by Sidious to assist Gunray, engages Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan in a lightsaber duel. He mortally wounds Qui-Gon, but is then cut in half by Obi-Wan, and his remains fall down a shaft. Qui-Gon asks Obi-Wan to train Anakin before dying in his arms.

Following the battle, Gunray is arrested by the Republic, and Palpatine is elected Chancellor. Master Yoda promotes Obi-Wan to the rank of Jedi Knight, and reluctantly accepts Anakin as Obi-Wan's apprentice. A funeral is held for Qui-Gon, attended by the other Jedi, who contemplate that there is still one Sith remaining since there are always two of them. During a celebratory parade on Naboo, Padmé presents a gift of thanks to the Gungans to establish peace.


Main articles: List of Star Wars characters and List of Star Wars cast members

  • Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn, a Jedi Master who discovers Anakin and under the belief that he is destined to bring balance to the force as the prophesied "Chosen One", insists that the boy be trained as a Jedi, despite the Jedi Council's refusal to do so. Lucas originally wanted to cast an American actor in the role, but cast Neeson (who is Northern Irish) 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."[3]
  • Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon's twenty-five-year-old Jedi Padawan, who holds his master in high regard but questions his motives at times, especially when it seems he is breaking the rules of the Jedi. 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's. He also studied several of Guinness's performances, from his early work and the original Star Wars films.[3]
  • Natalie Portman as Queen Padmé Amidala, the fourteen-year-old Queen of Naboo, who hopes to protect her planet from the Trade Federation's blockade invasion. Throughout most of the film, she uses her birth name Padmé Naberrie and poses as one of the queen's handmaidens for protection. Over actresses auditioned for the role.[5] The production notes stated that "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 () and Beautiful Girls (), which impressed Lucas.[3] He stated, "I was looking for someone who was young, strong, along the lines of Leia [and] Natalie embodied all those traits and more".[3] Portman was unfamiliar with Star Wars before being cast,[3] 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."[6]
  • 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 across the UK, Ireland, Canada, and the United States[3] 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."[7]
  • Ian McDiarmid as Senator Palpatine / Darth Sidious, a middle aged senator of Naboo and a secret Sith Lord who orchestrates the invasion of his home planet to get elected Supreme Chancellor. He is the Trade Federation's mysterious benefactor, and the titular "Phantom Menace". McDiarmid was surprised when Lucas approached him sixteen years after Return of the Jedi to reprise the role of Palpatine, having assumed that a younger actor would play the role in the prequel films.[8]
  • 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 casting director Robin Gurland saw him on a Stomp performance in San Francisco.[7] 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.[9] Best frequently improvised movements to make Jar Jar look as clumsy and comedic as possible.[7]
  • Anthony Daniels as the voice of C-3PO, a protocol droid built by Anakin. He lacks a metal covering in this film; R2-D2 humorously 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.[7][10]
  • Kenny Baker as R2-D2, an astromech droid from Naboo that saves Queen Amidala's ship when other astro 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 reprise the role. 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.[citation needed]
  • Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker, Anakin's mother, who is concerned for her son's future and allows him to 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.[9]
  • Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda, the centuries-old Jedi Grandmaster and head 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.[9] 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 (who played the part of the Ewok Wicket W. Warrick in Return of the Jedi in ) portrays him in the scene where Obi-Wan becomes a Jedi Knight.[12] Lucas said he originally wanted to use a full-time digital Yoda, but the attempts did not work well enough at the time. Beginning with the Blu-ray release of The Phantom Menace, which was also used for the 3D reissue, a CG Yoda replaced the puppet entirely.[13]
  • Oliver Ford Davies as Sio Bibble, the governor of Naboo.
  • Hugh Quarshie as Captain Quarsh Panaka, Queen Amidala's chief of security at the Theed Palace.
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, a Jedi Master and high-ranking member of the Jedi Council who opposes training Anakin.
  • Ray Park as Darth Maul, Darth Sidious' Zabrak Sith apprentice, who wields a double-bladed lightsaber.
  • Terence Stamp as Chancellor Finis Valorum, the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic 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".[14]
  • Keira Knightley as Sabé, one of Queen Amidala's handmaidens who serves as her decoy throughout the majority of the film.
  • Silas Carson as:
    • 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 their occupation of the planet.
    • Ki-Adi-Mundi, a wise and powerful Jedi Master who sits on the Council.
    • Lott Dod, a Trade Federation Senator.
    • An ill-fated pilot. This was the role for which Carson originally auditioned.[15]
  • Jerome St. John Blake as:
    • Rune Haako, Gunray's chief lieutenant and Settlement Officer in the Trade Federation.
      • James Taylor as the voice of Rune Haako.
    • Oppo Rancisis, a Jedi Master and member of the Council.
    • Orn Free Ta, a Twi-lek senator.
    • Mas Amedda, a Chagrian politician and Vice Chair of the galactic senate.

Additionally, Brian Blessed, Andy Secombe, and Lewis MacLeod voiced Boss Nass, the leader of the Gungan tribe who allies with the Naboo surface dwellers, Watto, a junk dealer on Tatooine who owns Anakin and his mother as slaves, and Sebulba, an aggressive, scheming podracer who is Anakin's main rival at the Boonta Eve podrace, respectively. Greg Proops and Scott Capurro voiced Fode and Beed, respectively, the two-headed announcer of the Boonta Eve Race. Alan Ruscoe appears as Jedi Master Plo Koon and Neimoidian Daultay Dofine, commander of the Trade Federation's droid control ships. Ralph Brown plays Ric Olie, commander of the Naboo Royal Space Fighter Corps and chief pilot aboard Queen Amidala's starship, Matthew Wood appears as the Twi'lek Bib Fortuna, alongside a CGI Jabba the Hutt who is voiced by an uncredited actor. Dominic West plays the role of an unnamed Naboo guard, and Sofia Coppola appears as Saché, one of Amidala's handmaidens. Christian Simpson appears as Lieutenant Gavyn Sykes.[16]Lindsay Duncan voices TC, a protocol droid on the Federation ship. Sally Hawkins made her screen debut as an uncredited villager.



While writing the original Star Wars film,[b] Lucas decided the story was too vast to be covered in one film. He introduced a wider story arc that could be told in sequels if it became successful.[17][18] He negotiated a contract that allowed him to make two sequels, and over time created an elaborate backstory to aid his writing process.[19] While writing the second film, The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas considered directions in which to take the story. In the original trilogy, Darth Vader was revealed to have been Anakin Skywalker, a once-powerful Jedi Knight, and a traitor to the Jedi Order.[20] With this backstory in place, Lucas decided that the movies would work best as a trilogy.[21] In the trilogy's final episode, Return of the Jedi, Vader is redeemed through an act of sacrifice for Luke.[22]

Throughout the s, Lucas said he had no desire to return to Star Wars and had canceled his sequel trilogy by the time of Return of the Jedi. However, because Lucas had developed most of the backstory, the idea of prequels continued to fascinate him.[23] In the early s, Star Wars saw a resurgence in popularity in the wake of Dark Horse's comic line and Timothy Zahn's trilogy of novels. Lucas saw that there was still a large audience for his idea of a prequel trilogy, and with the development of special effects generated with computer-generated imagery (CGI), Lucas considered returning to his saga and directing the film.[24] In , it was announced in Variety and other sources that he would be making the prequels. Lucas began outlining the story; Anakin Skywalker rather than Obi-Wan Kenobi would be the protagonist, and the series would be a tragedy examining Darth Vader's origins. A relic of the original outline was that Anakin would, like his son, grow up on Tatooine.[25] Lucas also began to change the prequels' timeline relative to the original series; instead of filling in the tangential history, they would form the beginning of a long story that started with Anakin's childhood and ended with his death. This was the final step toward turning the franchise into a saga.[26]

Lucas began writing the Star Wars prequel trilogy on November 1, The screenplay of Star Wars was adapted from Lucas' page outline that was written in , which he designed to help him keep track of the characters' backstories and events that occurred before the original trilogy.[27] Anakin was first written as a twelve-year-old, but Lucas reduced his age to nine because he felt that the lower age would better fit the plot point of Anakin being affected by his mother's separation from him. Eventually, Anakin's younger age led Lucas to rewrite his participation in the movie's major scenes. The film's working title was The Beginning;[27] Lucas later revealed that its true title was The Phantom Menace; a reference to Palpatine hiding his true identity as an evil Sith Lord behind the facade of a well-intentioned public servant.[29]

The larger budget and possibilities opened up by the use of digital effects made Lucas "think about a much grander, more epic scale—"which is what I wanted Star Wars to be".[30] The story ended with five simultaneous, ongoing plots, one leading to another. The central plot is Palpatine's intent to become Chancellor, which leads to the Trade Federation's attack on Naboo, the Jedi being sent there, Anakin being met along the way, and the rise of the Sith Lords. As with the original trilogy, Lucas intended The Phantom Menace to illustrate several themes throughout the narrative. Duality is a frequent theme; Amidala is a queen who passes as a handmaiden, Palpatine plays on both sides of the war, among others. "Balance" is frequently suggested; Anakin is supposedly "the one" chosen to bring balance to the Force—Lucas said, "Anakin needed to have a mother, Obi-Wan needed a Master, Darth Sidious needed an apprentice" as without interaction and dialogue, "you wouldn't have drama".

In November , Ron Howard confirmed that he, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg were approached by Lucas to direct The Phantom Menace. All three approached directors told Lucas that he should direct the film, as they each found the project "too daunting."[32]

Pre-production and design[edit]

Before Lucas had started writing, his producing partner Rick McCallum was preparing for the film. McCallum stated that his experience with The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles led to many of his decisions on The Phantom Menace, such as long-term deals with actors and soundstages, the employment of recent graduates with no film experience, and the creation of sets and landscapes with digital technology. In April , McCallum started searching for artists in art, architecture and design schools, and in mid-year he began location scouting with production designer Gavin Bocquet. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) art director Doug Chiang impressed McCallum the most and was hired as the design director.[34] Art development on the film began in January [35]

Within three to four months of Lucas beginning the writing process, Chiang and his design team started a two-year process of reviewing thousands of designs for the film.[36] Chiang stated that Lucas intended Episode I to be stylistically different from the other Star Wars films; it would be "richer and more like a period piece, since it was the history leading up to A New Hope." The story takes place on three planets, some with varied environments such as the human and Gungan cities of Naboo and three buildings in Coruscant. With the exception of the Gungan city, which had an art nouveau-inspired visual, these locations would be given distinctive looks with some basis in the real world. The concept drawings of Ralph McQuarrie for the original trilogy served as the basis for Mos Espa—which was also inspired by old Tunisian hotels and buildings and had touches such as a market place to differentiate it from A New Hope's Mos Eisley—and Coruscant, in particular a metropolis design that became the basis for the Senate. Bocquet would later develop the work of Chiang's team and design the interiors, translating the concepts into construction blueprints with environments and architectural styles that had some basis in reality "to give the audience something to key into." Some elements were directly inspired by the original trilogy; Lucas described the battle droids as predecessors to the stormtroopers. Chiang uses that orientation to base the droids on the Imperial soldiers, only in the same style of stylized and elongated features seen in tribal African art.[30]

Terryl Whitlatch, who had a background on zoology and anatomy, was in charge of creature design. Many of the aliens are hybrids, combining features of real animals. At times, entire food chains were developed, even though only a small percentage of them would appear in the film. Whitlatch also designed detailed skeletons for the major characters and facial muscles on Jar Jar Binks as a reference for ILM's animators. Each creature would reflect its environment; those on Naboo were more beautiful because the planet is "lush and more animal-friendly", Tatooine has rough-looking creatures "with weather-beaten leathery skin to protect them from the harsh desert elements", and Coruscant has bipedal, human-looking aliens.

The film made extensive use of the new technique of digital pre-visualization, using computers to essentially create 3-D animated storyboards. This was done for dozens of scenes in the film but was first and primarily used in the pod race sequence. Animatic supervisor David Dozoretz, also an ILM alum, worked on this sequence for nearly three years, and at one point had a 25 minute version of the race, although the film only included a 9-minute version.

Three men fight with laser swords in an hangar.
Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi dueling Darth Maul. Lucas wanted the lightsaber battles to be fast and more intense than those of the original trilogy, depicting the Jedi in their prime. This scene was highly praised by critics and audiences.

Stunt coordinator Nick Gillard was recruited to create a new Jedi fighting style for the prequel trilogy. Gillard likened the lightsaber battles to a chess game "with every move being a check". Because of their short-range weapons, Gillard thought that the Jedi would have had to develop a fighting style that merged every swordfighting style, such as kendo and other kenjutsu styles, with other swinging techniques, such as tennis swings and tree-chopping. While training Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor, Gillard wrote a sequence that lasted around 60 seconds and intended to be around five or six sequences per fight.[40] Lucas later referred to the Jedi as "negotiators" rather than high-casualty soldiers. The preference of hand-to-hand combat was intended to give a spiritual and intellectual role to the Jedi.[40] Because Gillard thought that the stunt jumps with the actors and stuntmen dangling from wires did not look realistic, air rams were used to propel them into the air instead.[41]

Lucas decided to make elaborate costumes, because the film's society was more sophisticated than the one depicted in the original trilogy. Designer Trisha Biggar and her team created over 1, costumes that were inspired by various cultures.[42] Biggar worked closely with concept designer Iain McCaig to create a color palette for the inhabitants of each world: Tatooine followed A New Hope with sun-bleached sand colors, Coruscant had grays, browns, and blacks, and Naboo had green and gold for humans while Gungans wore "a leathery look, like their skin". The Jedi costumes followed the tradition from the original film; Obi-Wan's costume was inspired by the costume that was worn by Guinness. Lucas said he and Biggar would look at the conceptual art to "translat[e] all of these designs into cloth and fabric and materials that would actually work and not look silly". Biggar also consulted Gillard to ensure that the costumes would accommodate action scenes, and consulted the creature department to find which fabrics "wouldn't wear too heavily" on the alien skins. A huge wardrobe department was set up at Leavesden Film Studios to create over costumes for the main actors and 5, for the background ones.

Nute Gunray's Thai accent was chosen after Lucas and McCallum listened to various languages to decide how the Neimoidians would speak.[45] The character design of Watto was an amalgam of rejected ideas; his expressions were based on video footage of Secombe's voice acting, photographs of animation supervisor Rob Coleman imitating the character, and modeler Steve Alpin saying Watto's lines to a mirror.[46] Lucas described Sebulba's design as "a spider crossed with an orangutan crossed with a sloth",[47] with a camel-like face, and clothing inspired by medieval armor.[48]


After Samuel L. Jackson expressed interest in appearing in a Star Wars film, he was approached by casting director Robin Gurland to play Windu.[7]Tupac Shakur was also considered for the role of Mace Windu.[49]Ray Park, a martial arts champion with experience in gymnastics and sword fighting, was originally a member of the stunt crew.[7] Stunt coordinator Nick Gillard filmed Park to demonstrate his conception of the lightsaber battles. Lucas and McCallum were so impressed with the test tape that they gave Park the role of Maul. His voice was considered "too squeaky" and was dubbed over in post-production by Peter Serafinowicz.[9]Keira Knightley's parents tried to convince her not to audition, but the teenage actress still sought a role since she was a Star Wars fan.[50] The casting was influenced by Knightley's remarkable similarity to Natalie Portman, with the actress admitting their mothers could not tell each other apart.[51] Knightley was reported to have "cried every single day" due to finding the wardrobe uncomfortable.[50]

Vinette Robinson auditioned for the role of Padmé Amidala.[52]

Over 3, actors auditioned for the role of Anakin Skywalker including Cameron Finley, Justin Berfield and Michael Angarano.[53]

Benicio del Toro was originally cast as Darth Maul but later left the project when the character’s lines were cut.[54]

Michael Jackson expressed interest in playing Jar Jar Binks but he wanted to do it in prosthetic make ups while George Lucas wanted to do it in CGI.[55]

Joseph Fiennes auditioned for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi and nearly landed the part until George Lucas's young daughter rejected him upon meeting him during the second level of auditioning.[56]

Silas Carson was cast as Nute Gunray because another actor was uncomfortable with the costumes used by the Trade Federation characters, which were hot, exerted a lot of pressure on the bearer, and took about 15 minutes to apply. Hugh Quarshie considered the part of Panaka as "a good career move" and a production that would be fun to make.[57]Brian Blessed originally auditioned for the role of Sio Bibble, the Governor of Naboo,[58] for which he was considered "too loud".[59] Casting director Robin Gurland approached him to play Nass because it was a "bigger than life" character with "a kind of bravado". Blessed described Nass as a "reluctant hero".[59]Sofia Coppola, daughter of Lucas' long-time friend and creative partner Francis Ford Coppola, considers Lucas as "like an uncle to me". As she prepared the script for her directorial debut The Virgin Suicides, Coppola heard Lucas would make a new Star Wars film and asked him if she could accompany him during filming. Lucas offered Coppola a role in the royal entourage, which she accepted because it "seemed like a good vantage point to watch without getting in the way".[61]


See also: List of Star Wars filming locations

Rocky buildings and an antenna-like structure in a desert.
Remains of Mos Espa in the Tunisian desert, near Nafta.

Filming began on June 26, , and ended on September 30 of that year, primarily taking place at Leavesden Film Studios in England. Leavesden was leased for a two and a half year period so the production company could leave the sets intact and return after principal photography had been completed. The forest scenes on Naboo were filmed at Cassiobury Park in Watford, Hertfordshire.[63][64]Pick-ups were shot between August and February after Lucas screened a rough cut of the film for friends and colleagues in May Most of the action and stunts were filmed by Roger Christian's second unit, which worked alongside the main unit instead of afterwards because of the high number of shots to be completed daily.[41]

The Tunisian desert was again used for the Tatooine scenes;[66] Mos Espa was built outside the city of Tozeur. On the night following the third day of shooting in Tozeur, an unexpected sandstorm destroyed many of the sets and props. The production was quickly rescheduled to allow for repairs and was able to leave Tunisia on the date originally planned.[67] The Italian Caserta Palace was used as the interior of the Theed City Naboo Palace;[66] it was used as a location for four days after it had been closed to visitors. Scenes with explosions were filmed on replica sets in Leavesden.

A binder with the film's storyboards served as a reference for live-action filming, shots that would be filmed in front of a chroma key blue screen, and shots that would be composed using CGI. The sets were often built with the parts that would be required on screen; often they were built only up to the heights of the actors. Chroma key was extensively used for digital set extensions, backgrounds, or scenes that required cinematographer David Tattersall to seek powerful lamps to light the sets and visual effects supervisor John Knoll to develop software that would remove the blue reflection from shiny floors. Knoll, who remained on set through most of the production, worked closely with Tatterstall to ensure that the shots were suitable to add effects later. The cameras were fitted with data capture models to provide technical data for the CGI artists.

The Phantom Menace was the final Star Wars film to be shot on 35mm film until Episode VII (Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Some scenes, mostly of elements filmed by the special effects team, were shot on high definition, digital video tapes to test the performance of digital recordings, which Lucas and McCallum considered the next logical step because of the amount of digitizing—an expensive process compared to recording directly on digital media—for the compositing of computer-generated effects. All future films would be shot using SonyCineAlta high-definition video cameras.[71]Greg Proops and Scott Capurro were filmed wearing makeup and blue bodysuits so their heads could be joined in a computer-generated body. The visual effects crew did not like the original results and crafted Fode and Beed as an entirely computer generated alien.[72]

Editing took two years; Paul Martin Smith started the process in England and focused on dialogue-heavy scenes. Ben Burtt—who was also the film's sound editor—was responsible for action sequences under Lucas' supervision. Non-linear editing systems played a large part in translating Lucas' vision; he constantly tweaked, revised, and reworked shots and scenes. The final sound mix was added in March , and the following month, the film was completed after the delivery of the remaining visual effects shots.


"Writing the script was much more enjoyable this time around because I wasn't constrained by anything. You can't write one of these movies without knowing how you're going to accomplish it. With CG at my disposal, I knew I could do whatever I wanted".

&#;—George Lucas

The film saw breakthrough in computer generated effects. About 1, of the shots in The Phantom Menace have visual effects. The scene in which toxic gas is released on the Jedi is the only sequence with no digital alteration.[47] The work was so extensive that three visual effects supervisors divided the workload among themselves—John Knoll supervised the on-set production and the podrace and space battle sequences, Dennis Muren supervised the underwater sequence and the ground battle, and Scott Squires, alongside teams assigned for miniature effects and character animation, worked on the lightsaber effects.

Until the film's production, many special effects in the film industry were achieved using miniature models, matte paintings, and on-set visual effects—although other films had made extensive use of CGI. Knoll previewed 3, storyboards for the film; Lucas accompanied him to explain factors of the shots that would be practical and those that would be created through visual effects. Knoll later said that on hearing the explanations of the storyboards, he did not know how to accomplish what he had seen. The result was a mixture of original techniques and the newest digital techniques to make it difficult for the viewer to guess which technique was being used. Knoll and his visual effects team wrote new computer software, including cloth simulators to allow a realistic depiction of the digital characters' clothing, to create certain shots. Another goal was to create computer-generated characters that could act seamlessly with live-action actors. While filming scenes with CGI characters, Lucas would block the characters using their corresponding voice actors on-set. The voice actors were then removed and the live-action actors would perform the same scene alone. A CGI character would later be added into the shot to complete the conversation.[76] Lucas also used CGI to correct the physical presence of actors in certain scenes.[47] Practical models were used when their visuals helped with miniature sceneries for backgrounds, set extensions, and model vehicles that would be scanned to create the digital models or filmed to represent spaceships and podraces.

Lucas, who had previously confronted problems with the props used to depict R2-D2, allowed ILM and the production's British special effects department to create their own versions of the robot. Nine R2-D2 models were created; one was for actor Kenny Baker to be dropped into, seven were built by ILM and featured two wheelchair motors capable of moving pounds (&#;kg), enabling it to run and be mostly used in stage sets, and the British studio produced a pneumatic R2-D2 that could shift from two to three legs and was mostly used in Tunisia because its motor drive system allowed it to drive over sand.[78]

Lucas originally planned to create many of the aliens with computer graphics, but those that would be more cost-effectively realized with masks and animatronics were created by Nick Dudman's creature effects team. These included the Neimodians, background characters in Mos Espa, the Jedi Council, and the Galactic Senate. Dudman's team was told where the creatures would be required six months before principal photography begun, and they rushed the production. The Neimodian suits, which were originally intended as digital characters, were delivered one day before they would be required on set. Dudman traveled to Skywalker Ranch to see the original creatures that could be reused, and read the script for a breakdown of scenes with practical creatures, leaving only the more outlandish designs to be created using CGI.

To research for the podrace vehicles, the visual effects crew visited a jet aircraft junkyard outside Phoenix, Arizona and scavenged four Boeing engines.[47] Life-sized replicas of the engines were built and sent to Tunisia to provide reference in the film. Except for Jake Lloyd inside a hydraulically controlled cockpit and a few practical podracer models, the entire podracing scene—which the effects crew designed to be as "out of this world" as possible—is computer-generated.[66]


See also: Star Wars sources and analogues

Like previous Star Wars films, The Phantom Menace makes several references to historical events and films that George Lucas watched in his youth. The Star Wars films typically mix several concepts from different mythologies together, drawing heavily from the hero's journey, an archetypical template developed by comparative mythologistJoseph Campbell.[81] This film also notably borrows from Ben Hur, including the podrace sequence, which mirrors the chariot race scene; additionally, the end celebration scene closely resembles a Roman parade in Ben Hur.[82]

The face of Darth Maul drew upon depictions of the devil.

There are many references to Christianity in the film, such as the appearance of Darth Maul, whose design draws heavily from traditional depictions of the devil, complete with red skin and horns.[81] The Star Wars film cycle features a similar Christian narrative involving Anakin Skywalker; he is the "Chosen One"—the individual prophesied to bring balance to the Force—who was conceived of a virgin birth. However, unlike Jesus, Anakin will eventually fall from grace and seemingly fail to fulfill his destiny (until the prophecy comes true in Return of the Jedi).[83]

Japanese films such as Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress influenced the original Star Wars film; scholars say that The Phantom Menace was likewise influenced by Korean and Japanese culture. Film historians Geoff King and Tanya Krzywinska write, "The costume and make-up designs&#;&#;favour a mixture of the gothic and the oriental over anything very futuristic. The gothic is most strongly apparent in Darth Maul's demonic horns and the red and black make-up mask that borrows from the facial designs found in depictions of Japanese demons". King and Krzywinska say that "Qui-Gon's pony tail and Obi-Wan's position of apprentice further encourage a reading in terms of the Samurai tradition". They also say "Amidala, in keeping with her status and character, has a number of highly formal outfits&#;&#;to go with hair sculpted into a curve that frames make-up of a Japanese cast".[84]

The Jedi practice Zen-like meditation and martial arts, as did the ancient Japanese Samurai warriors. The name "Qui-Gon" adapts the term qigong, which refers to a Chinese discipline involving meditation and cultivation of the flow of the vital energy called "Chi" or "Qi" for healing, health, and combat. The words Ch'i (Chinese), gi (Korean), ki (Japanese), and the Indian term "Prana" all refer to the energy that is thought to flow through all living things, from the source of all chi (or power), which is "The Way" or "The Tao" in Chinese philosophy. In Taoist philosophy, from The Way, yin and yang—the opposing but complementary aspects of reality or nature—are born. Unlike Chinese philosophy, in which yin and yang are not moral qualities, the ancient Persian philosophy of Zurvanism taught that the dualism of dark and light forces are locked in an eternal battle while being two sides (or evolutes) of the same "Force", the force of time itself (Zurvan)—the prime mover. These elements derive primarily from Eastern and Iranian religions and myths.[81]

As with other Star Wars films, the themes about family and hope are featured prominently. In the episode "Legacy" of Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian, Dave Filoni explains that the use of "Duel of the Fates" during the lightsaber duel between Darth Maul against Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi represents the fight for the fate of Anakin Skywalker. According to Filoni, Qui-Gon Jinn acts like a father figure towards Anakin because he feels he needs one after taking him from his mother, having realized that the Jedi shouldn't be opposed to love and care. In the end, Qui-Gon dies, and thus Anakin loses his father figure; Obi-Wan Kenobi ultimately becomes his master to honor Jinn's dying wish despite his initial contempt for him, and while he comes to eventually see him like a brother as shown in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, he doesn't act like a father, which coupled with the Jedi's indifference, seals Anakin's fate.[85]


Main article: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (soundtrack)

As with previous Star Wars films, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace's score was composed and conducted by John Williams. He started composing the score in October and began recording the music with the London Voices and London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios on February 10, Williams decided to use electronic instruments such as synthesizers to enhance the sound and choral pieces to "capture the magical, mystical force that a regular orchestra might not have been able to provide", and create an atmosphere that was "more mysterious and mystical and less military" than those of the original trilogy.[86] One of the most notable tracks is "Duel of the Fates", which uses the chorus to give a religious, temple-like feel to the epic lightsaber duel. The track was made into a music video.[87] While composing Anakin's theme, Williams tried to reflect the innocence of his childhood and to foreshadow his transformation into Darth Vader by using slight suggestions of "The Imperial March" in the melody.[86]

The film's soundtrack was released by Sony Classical Records on May 4, This album featured the score, which Williams restructured as a listening experience; it is not presented in film order and omits many notable cues from the film because of the space restriction of the compact disc.[88] A two-disc "Ultimate Edition" was released on November 14, The set features the entire score as it is heard in the film, including all of the edits and loops that were made for the sound mix.[89]



Lucasfilm spent US$20 million on the film's advertising campaign and made promotional licensing deals with Hasbro, Lego, Tricon Global Restaurants, and PepsiCo.[90] Lucasfilm also helped the Star Wars fan club to organize an event called Star Wars Celebration, which was held in Denver, Colorado between April 30 and May 2, [91]

The teaser trailer was released on selected screens accompanying Meet Joe Black on November 13, , and media reported that people were paying full admission at theaters to see the trailer.[92] To keep fans from leaving before the movie was over, some theaters played the teaser an additional time after the film finished.[93] A second trailer was released on March 12, , with the film Wing Commander. Again, many fans paid full theater admission to watch the new trailer.[94] A bootlegged version of the preview was leaked to the Internet the same day.[95] The next morning, the trailer was released on the film's official website and shortly afterwards the servers became overloaded.[96] The theatrical trailer caused even more media attention because it was premiered in theaters and screened at the ShoWest Convention in Las Vegas,[97] and was aired on Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.[95]

The teaser poster, featuring Anakin with his shadow forming Darth Vader's silhouette, was released on November 10, After Lucas opted for a drawn theatrical poster, Drew Struzan, the artist responsible for the Special Edition posters, was commissioned to illustrate, and the poster was unveiled on March 11, Lucasfilm dictated that, contractually, Struzan's illustration was the only art the foreign distributors could use, and other than the text, it could not be modified in any way.[98]


A novelization was written by Terry Brooks, who met with Lucas before writing the book and received his approval and guidance. It includes some scenes that are not in the film and foreshadows pending developments in the following two installments of the series.[99] Additionally, a Scholastic junior novelization was written by Patricia C. Wrede.[] A four-issue comic book adaptation was written by Henry Gilroy and published by Dark Horse Comics.[]

A LucasArtsvideo game adaptation was released for the PlayStation and PC.[] The podracing tie-in Star Wars Episode I: Racer was released for Nintendo 64, PC, and other platforms. A pinball machine was created by WMS Industries.[]



The release on May 19, of the first new Star Wars film in 16 years was accompanied by a considerable amount of attention.[] Few film studios released films during the same week: DreamWorks and Universal Studios released The Love Letter on May 21 and Notting Hill on May 28, respectively.[]The Love Letter was a commercial failure but Notting Hill fared better and followed The Phantom Menace closely in second place.[] Employment consultant firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimated that million full-time employees missed work to attend the film, resulting in a US$ million loss of productivity. According to The Wall Street Journal, so many workers announced plans to view the premiere that many companies closed on the opening day.[] Queue areas formed outside cinema theaters over a month before ticket sales began.[]

More theater lines appeared when it was announced that cinemas were not allowed to sell tickets in advance until two weeks into the release. This was because of a fear that family theater-goers would be either unable to receive tickets or would be forced to pay higher prices for them. Instead, tickets were to be sold on a first-come-first-served basis.[] However, after meetings with the National Association of Theatre Owners, Lucasfilm agreed to allow advance ticket sales on May 12, , provided there was a limit of 12 tickets per customer.[] As a result, some advance tickets were sold by scalpers at prices as high as US$ apiece, which a distribution chief called "horrible" and said was exactly what they wanted to avoid.[]Daily Variety reported that theater owners received strict instructions from Lucasfilm that the film could only play in the cinema's largest auditorium for the first 8–12 weeks, no honor passes were allowed for the first eight weeks, and they were obliged to send their payments to distributor 20th Century Fox within seven days.[]

Despite worries about the film being finished on time, two weeks before its theatrical release Lucasfilm moved the release date from May 21 to 19, At the ShoWest Convention, Lucas said the change was intended to give the fans a "head start" by allowing them to view it during the week and allowing families to view it during weekends. Foreshadowing his future conversion to digital cinematography, Lucas said the film would be released on four digital projectors on June 18, [] Eleven charity premieres were staged across the United States on May 16, ; receipts from the Los Angeles event, where corporate packages were available for between US$5, and US$25,; proceeds were donated to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.[] Other charity premieres included the Dallas premiere for the Children's Medical Center, the Aubrey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Research at the Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York, the Big Brother/Sister Association of the Philadelphia premiere, and the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. A statement said that tickets were sold at US$ apiece and that certain sections of the theaters were set aside for disadvantaged children.[]

Home media[edit]

Comparison between the puppet of Yoda, present in the theatrical and DVD releases, and the computer-generated model, present in the Blu-ray Disc and 3D releases.

The film was released worldwide on VHS between April 3 and 8, Two versions were released in North America on April 4—a standard pan and scan version and a widescreen Collector's Edition version. In its first two days of availability, the regular version sold million copies and the limited edition sold ,[] It was the first Star Wars film to be officially released on DVD, on October 16, , in a slightly extended cut from the theatrical release.[] The special features included seven deleted scenes completed specifically for the DVD, a commentary track featuring Lucas and producer Rick McCallum, and several documentaries—including a full-length documentary entitled The Beginning: Making Episode I. The Phantom Menace became the fastest selling DVD ever in the U.S.; million copies were sold in its first week after release.[]

The DVD version was re-released in a prequel trilogy box set on November 4, [] A LaserDisc version of The Phantom Menace was released in Japan on April 7, , one year and six months before it was available on DVD in the U.S.[] The Star Wars films were released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on Blu-ray Disc on September 16, ;[]The Phantom Menace was restored to improve the picture quality and remove the magnification present on the previous DVD release, restoring approximately 8 percent of the picture to the frame.[] In the Blu-ray release of The Phantom Menace, the Yoda puppet was replaced with a CGI model, making it consistent with the other films of the prequel trilogy.[]

On April 7, , Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm jointly announced the digital releases of the six released Star Wars films. The Phantom Menace was released through the iTunes Store, Amazon Video, Vudu, Google Play, and Disney Movies Anywhere on April 10, []

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment reissued The Phantom Menace on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download on September 22, [] Additionally, all six films were available for 4KHDR and Dolby Atmos streaming on Disney+ upon the service's launch on November 12, [] This version of the film was released by Disney on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray box set on March 31, []

3D re-release[edit]

On September 28, , it was announced that all six films in the series would be stereo-converted to 3D. These would be re-released in episode order, beginning with The Phantom Menace, which was released to cinemas on February 10, [] Prime Focus Limited did the conversion under the supervision of ILM.[] However, the 3D re-releases of Episodes II–VI were postponed or canceled after Lucasfilm was bought by The Walt Disney Company, who decided to focus on the development of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.[]

Lucas stated the 3D re-release was "just a conversion" of the film's Blu-ray release and no additional changes were made.[] Only a change to Anakin's magnetic wand during the podrace scene—its tip was sharpened to more accurately fit the original 2D photography to the new 3D image—was confirmed.[]

General Mills and Brisk were promotional partners in North America for the 3D re-release but promotion was limited.[][] The film was extensively promoted in Japan; promotional products were sold by 7-Eleven, Domino's Pizza, Pepsi and Gari-Gari Kun.[]Kellogg's promoted the film internationally,[][] and French restaurant Quick launched three Star Wars-themed burgers. Lucasfilm also partnered with Variety, the Children's Charity to raise funds for children through the sale of a special edition badge.[]


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 53% based on reviews, with an average rating of / The site's critical consensus reads, "Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy – albeit visually dazzling – start."[] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 51 out of , based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale.[]

Many aspects of the scripting and characters were criticized, especially that of Jar Jar Binks, who was regarded by many members of the older fan community as toyetic—a merchandising opportunity rather than a serious character.[][] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times described Binks as "a major miscue, a comic-relief character who's frankly not funny".[] Drew Grant of Salon wrote, "Perhaps the absolute creative freedom director George Lucas enjoyed while dreaming up the flick's 'comic' relief—with no studio execs and not many an independently minded actor involved—is a path to the dark side."[]

Despite the mixed reception of the film, Liam Neeson's performance as Qui-Gon Jinnwas praised.

Conversely, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three-and-a-half stars out of four and called it "an astonishing achievement in imaginative filmmaking" and said, "Lucas tells a good story." Ebert also wrote that, "If some of the characters are less than compelling, perhaps that's inevitable" because it is the opening film in the new trilogy. He concluded his review by saying that rather than Star Trek films, filmmakers could "[g]ive me transparent underwater cities and vast hollow senatorial spheres any day".[]Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B" grade and complimented Liam Neeson's performance and the action scenes.[] In an Entertainment Weekly review for the DVD release, Marc Bernardin gave the film a "C–", calling it "haplessly plotted, horribly written, and juvenile".[] ReelViews' James Berardinelli wrote, "Looking at the big picture, in spite of all its flaws, The Phantom Menace is still among the best 'bang for a buck' fun that can be had in a movie theater," and said the film was a "distinct improvement" over Return of the Jedi.[]

Andrew Johnston of Time Out New York wrote, "Let's face it: no film could ever match the expectations some have for Episode I&#;&#; The Phantom Menace. Which isn't to say it's a disappointment: on the contrary, it's awesomely entertaining, provided you accept it on its own terms&#;&#;Like the original film, it's a Boy's Own adventure yarn with a corny but irresistible spiritual subtext. The effects and production design are stunning, but they always serve the story, not the other way around."[] Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today said that the film did "plenty right" and praised the characters Darth Maul and Watto.[] David Cornelius of said that the film's better moments "don't merely balance out the weaker ones—they topple them".[] Colin Kennedy of Empire magazine said that despite problems with pacing and writing, "there is still much pleasure to be had watching our full-blown Jedi guides in action". He praised the visuals and Liam Neeson's performance, and said that the duel between Darth Maul and the Jedi was "the saga's very best lightsaber battle".[]

Empire magazine ranked The Phantom Menace on its list of " Greatest Movies of All Time",[] while Entertainment Weekly and Comcast included the film on their lists of the worst movie sequels.[][] James Berardinelli wrote, "The Phantom Menace was probably the most overhyped motion picture of the last decade (if not longer), and its reputation suffered as a result of its inability to satisfy unreasonable expectations."[] William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer agreed that the film's massive hype caused many of the negative reactions, saying, "it built expectations that can't possibly be matched and scuttled [the] element of storytelling surprise". He also said that the film was "well made and entertaining" and was much better than similar box office fare released around that year, such as The Mummy and The Matrix.[] Ewan McGregor said in that he was "slightly disappointed" that the film was "kind of flat" and believed the next film in the franchise would have "much more humor andcolor."[]

The introduction of midi-chlorians—microscopic organisms that mediate use of the Force—has been regarded as controversial.[] Some viewed it as a concept that negates the Force's spiritual quality. Film historian Daniel Dinello says, "Anathema to Star Wars fanatics who thought they reduced the Force to a kind of viral infection, midi-chlorians provide a biological interface, the link between physical bodies and spiritual energy."[] Religion expert John D. Caputo writes, "In the 'Gospel according to Lucas', a world is conjured up in which the intractable oppositions that have tormented religious thinkers for centuries are reconciled&#;&#;The gifts that the Jedi masters enjoy have a perfectly plausible scientific basis, even if its ways are mysterious: their bodily cells have a heavier than usual concentration of 'midi-chlorians'."[]

There has been some controversy over whether several alien characters reflect racial stereotypes. For example, the oafish, slow-witted Jar Jar Binks has long droopy ears reminiscent of dreadlocks and spoke with what many perceived as a Caribbean patois reminiscent of Jamaican Creole.[] Drew Grant describes the character as "[s]ervile and cowardly&#;&#;a black minstrel-ish stereotype on par with Stepin Fetchit."[]Georgetown University professor of African-American studiesMichael Eric Dyson says that the entire Gungan species seems suggestive of a primitive African tribe, with Boss Nass portrayed as "a fat, bumbling caricature of a stereotypical African tribal chieftain."[] The greedy and corrupt Neimoidians of the Trade Federation speak with East Asian accents, and the unprincipled trader Watto has been interpreted as a Jewish stereotype reminiscent of Charles Dickens' character Fagin. Lucas has denied all of these implications,[] instead criticizing the American media for using opinions from the Internet as a reliable source for news stories. Lucas added that it reflects more the racism of the commenters than it does the movie;[] however, animator Rob Coleman said that he viewed footage of Alec Guinness as Fagin in Oliver Twist to inspire his animators in the creation of Watto.[]

Box office[edit]

Despite its mixed critical reception, The Phantom Menace was a financial success, breaking many box office records in its debut, and beating out The Mummy by taking number 1. It broke The Lost World: Jurassic Park's records for the largest single-day gross for taking more than $28 million in the opening day and fastest to gross $ million in five days. It grossed $ million in its opening weekend, the second-ever highest at the time.[] It also became the quickest film to reach the $ million and $ million marks, surpassing Independence Day () and Titanic () respectively.[]The Phantom Menace was 's most successful film, staying in the Top 10 until August 5 (11 weeks total), earning $ million in the United States and Canada.[]Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over million tickets in the US in its initial theatrical run.[]

The film set an opening record in Japan, grossing $ million in its first two days from screens.[] In the UK, the film also set an opening record with £ million in its opening weekend (including previews).[][] It also grossed a record $11 million in its opening weekend in Germany.[] Outside the United States and Canada, the film grossed over $10 million in Australia ($ million), Brazil ($ million), France and Algeria ($43 million), Germany ($ million), Italy ($ million), Japan ($ million), Mexico ($12 million), Spain ($25 million), and the United Kingdom and Ireland ($ million).[] Its overseas total was $ million, taking its worldwide total to $ million.[] At that time, the film was the third highest-grossing film in North America behind Titanic and Star Wars (), and the second highest-grossing film worldwide behind Titanic without adjusting for inflation of ticket prices. When adjusted for ticket price inflation, it ranked as the 19th-highest-grossing film domestically, making it the fourth Star Wars film to be in the Inflation-Adjusted Top

After its 3D re-release in , the worldwide box office gross exceeded $1 billion.[] Although in the intervening years, the film had lost some of its rankings in the lists of highest-grossing films, the 3D re-release returned it to the worldwide all-time Top 10 for several months.[] In North America, its revenues overtook those of the original Star Wars as the saga's highest-grossing film when not adjusting for inflation of ticket prices, and is the tenth highest-grossing film in North America as of August&#;[update].[] In North America, its ranking on the Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation list climbed to 16th place—one place behind Return of the Jedi.[] The 3D re-release, which premiered in February , earned $43 million—$ million of which was in North America—worldwide.[] The 3D re-release earned US$,, worldwide—including $ million in North America—and has increased the film's overall box office takings to $ million domestically, and $ million in other territories.[] The film's earnings exceeded $1 billion worldwide on February 22, , making it the first Star Wars film and the 11th film in history—excluding inflation—to do so.[][]


The Phantom Menace was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound (Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson, Shawn Murphy and John Midgley); all of which went to The Matrix.[][] The film won Saturn Awards for Best Costumes and Best Special Effects,[] the MTV Movie Award for Best Action Scene,[] and a Young Artist Award for Jake Lloyd's performance.[] It was also nominated for—among others—the BAFTAs for Visual Effects and Sound,[] and the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.[] The film did however receive seven Golden Raspberry Award (Razzie) nominations for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actor (Jake Lloyd as Anakin), Worst Supporting Actress (Sofia Coppola as Saché), Worst Screen Couple (Jake Lloyd and Natalie Portman), and Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best won the Worst Supporting Actor category.[]

The film was nominated Choice Drama Movie, Choice Movie Villain and Choice Summer Movie at Teen Choice Awards, but both lost to Cruel Intentions and Big Daddy, respectively.


See also: Cultural impact of Star Wars

A month after the film's release, "Weird Al" Yankovic released the parody song and music video "The Saga Begins", in which he interprets the film's plot from Obi-Wan's point of view to the tune of "American Pie"; this was included as a bonus feature on a Star Wars Blu-ray. In a Saturday Night Livecomedy rap video, Natalie Portman reprised her appearance as Queen Amidala from The Phantom Menace and defended the prequel trilogy.[]

Darth Maul's lightsaber-fighting style served as the inspiration for the viral videoStar Wars Kid. Maul, who appears to die in The Phantom Menace, was resurrected for the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and also appears in Star Wars Rebels and Solo: A Star Wars Story. In , IGN named Maul the 16th greatest Star Wars character.[] A similar weapon to his dual-bladed lightsaber appears in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.[]


A sequel, Attack of the Clones, was released in [] The story continues a decade later with Anakin grown to adulthood, played by Hayden Christensen.[][] A second sequel, Revenge of the Sith, was released in []



  1. ^The DVD released in extends the film by about three minutes, giving it a run time of minutes.
  2. ^ abLater titledStar Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope


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  • 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.


  • The evil Trade Federation, led by Nute Gunray is planning to take over the peaceful world of Naboo. Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent to confront the leaders. But not everything goes to plan. The two Jedi escape, and along with their new Gungan friend, Jar Jar Binks head to Naboo to warn Queen Amidala, but droids have already started to capture Naboo and the Queen is not safe there. Eventually, they land on Tatooine, where they become friends with a young boy known as Anakin Skywalker. Qui-Gon is curious about the boy, and sees a bright future for him. The group must now find a way of getting to Coruscant and to finally solve this trade dispute, but there is someone else hiding in the shadows. Are the Sith really extinct? Is the Queen really who she says she is? And what's so special about this young boy?


  • 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

  • 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]>

  • As imminent conflict brews between the powerful Trade Federation and the peaceful planet of Naboo, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi travel to Naboo to warn the Queen of the galactic fallout which is to follow. Eventually, Naboo is invaded forcing the Jedi to evacuate the planet with the Queen and her court. They travel to the desert planet of Tatooine where they meet a slave boy named Anakin Skywalker who is evidently one with the Force. They enlist his help in fighting the war, while the Jedi confront one of the Dark Jedi behind the invasion, Darth Maul, while his master Darth Sidious continues to lead the invasion as a "phantom" behind the scenes.

    —Matthew McQuillan <[email protected]>

  • It is a distant galaxy eons before the gestation of the planet Earth. Advancements in technology and science have allowed the evolution of millions of worlds that are otherwise in many respects still primitive. These worlds are somewhat loosely allied into a galactic Republic, whose capital world is the planet Coruscant, a planetary city. Upholding order for the Republic are the Jedi, an order of warriors endowed with near-super power derived from self-generated fields of energy known collectively as the Force. Within the Republic, dissident worlds have banded into an alliance known as the Trade Federation, and the Trade Federation is locked in a dispute with the peaceful world of Naboo. Two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and his youthful apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, have been sent to Naboo to help mediate an end to the dispute, but Nute Gunray, an alien viceroy, orders them to be killed, and the two Jedi discover upon their escape that the Trade Federation will launch an invasion of Naboo. With the help of a well-meaning but hopelessly subliterate alien native of Naboo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan land on Naboo to rescue her ruler, Queen Amidala, a ruler whose rule is a mixture of monarchy and republican democracy. Escaping Naboo, they are attacked by a Federation baseship and are forced to land on the distant planet Tatooine, where in seeking parts to complete their journey to Coruscant they encounter a young boy, Anakin Skywalker, a slave who possesses a gift for the savagely dangerous sport of podracing - a gift that Qui-Gon deduces is part of a genetic makeup perfect for the Jedi Order. Anakin eventually joins with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, and in the process attracts the attention of one of Queen Amidala's handmaidens with a dramatic secret, and all reach Coruscant, but endless and pointless debate within the Republic's Senate leave them no choice but to strike out on their own to liberate Naboo, a task made all the more difficult because a traitor within Coruscant has at his command a dissident Jedi warrior who seeks the death of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • 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 into the Boonta Eve Podrace in a bid with Anakin's master, Watto, to gain the needed parts as well as Anakin's freedom. Anakin eludes several obstacles including rival racer Sebulba to win the race, gaining his freedom and bankrupting Watto. After hesitation, Anakin leaves his mother and his droid, C-3PO (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 had to have been a Sith, but as the Soth 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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Everything You Need to Know about "Star Wars: Episode I" in under 3 Minutes

By Collider Staff


We just saved you from minutes of trade negotiations, bad child acting, and Jar Jar Binks. You're welcome.

In case you've never seen Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, or have no desire to revisit the most disappointing  minutes of cinema, we've put together a brief recap video of George Lucas' prequel movie. We totally understand that you might need a bit of a refresher on the six movies that precede Star Wars: The Force Awakens before the film opens on December 18th, so rest assured that we'll have the complete recap collection ready for you before then.

Well before Luke Skywalker was ever in the picture, there was a Jedi Master named Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), and a young boy named Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). But who cares about heroes when there are trade negotiations and political machinations to enjoy! This movie introduces the franchise's most irritating character, bores audiences with legislative dialogue in vaguely racist alien accents, and drops Scientology-level madness disguised as "biology", but since it's technically where this story begins, we'll have to grin and bear it.

Watch our recap of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in under three minutes below:

Here's the official synopsis for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace:

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.


Let’s Talk about That ‘No Time to Die’ Ending

Spoilers ahead, obviously.

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The Entire Star Wars Story Finally Explained

By Matthew Jackson/Aug. 15, pm EDT/Updated: Jan. 2, pm EDT

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a farm boy on a desert planet dreamed of joining a rebellion and saving a princess from a dark lord, and thus, one of the most successful cinematic sagas of all time was born. What began with one space opera in quickly grew into a media empire that included toys, comic books, video games, TV series, and memorabilia in every possible form. Today, more than 40 years after it first arrived, Star Wars remains a global pop culture phenomenon, and the story still isn't over. 

Because of its vast reach, wide web of characters, and ongoing story with multiple threads and subplots, the Star Wars saga as we know it has become a sprawling epic, spanning numerous planets, alien races, and massive cosmic battles. In fact, there's so much stuff happening that sometimes it's hard to keep it all straight in your head. Well, we're here to help. Whether you're new to this whole Star Wars thing or you just want a refresher on one plot point or another, we're here to explain the entire Star Wars story. 

The story starts with a dark lord rising

The Star Wars story all began, ironically enough, during a period of relative peace in the galaxy. A thousand years before the events of the Skywalker Saga, the Jedi Order defeated the Dark Side Force users in the Sith Order, and for a little bit, it seemed the Sith were gone for good. "Seemed" is the key word here.

While the Jedi became the keepers of peace in the Galactic Republic, the surviving Sith secretly began plotting to overthrow them, working with only two members at a time in the shadows of Republican prosperity. It was near the end of this millennium of peace that Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord who was also secretly Senator Sheev Palpatine of Naboo, set in motion his plan to eradicate the Jedi and simultaneously seize control of the Republic's government. 

But just few years before Palpatine's plan began to gain steam, a seemingly inconsequential event occurred that would eventually affect the whole galaxy. A boy was born to a slave woman named Shmi Skywalker, and she claimed her son hadn't been conceived with a father. She named the kid Anakin, and by the time he was a toddler, he and his mother were both owned by a Toydarian named Watto, and the trio lived on the desert planet called Tatooine. Of course, this Jesus figure wouldn't be stuck on a sand planet for very long.

A special boy and a new threat

As part of his plan for galactic domination, Sidious acted as a secret advisor to the greedy Trade Federation, and he ordered them to blockade and ultimately invade the peaceful planet of Naboo. Once the Trade Federation arrived on the planet, Sidious slipped back into his Senator Palpatine disguise and advised Naboo's queen, Padme Amidala, that the current chancellor of the Republic wasn't acting in their best interests when it came to fending off this invading army of droids.  

Working with his his Sith apprentice, Darth Maul, Sidious was able to manipulate and manufacture tensions in the Republic from both sides. Palpatine was elected chancellor at Amidala's urging, granting him a place of unprecedented power to further his plans. The Trade Federation was ultimately defeated on Naboo, but the underlying damage was done.

Meanwhile, on a mission to protect Amidala, two Jedi Knights — Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi — happened upon a young Anakin Skywalker while repairing their starship on Tatooine. Qui-Gon discovered potentially unprecedented levels of Force sensitivity in the boy, who was already an accomplished podracer and mechanic despite his young age. Qui-Gon urged the Jedi Council to train Anakin, but the Jedi were reluctant. But after Qui-Gon's death at the hands of Darth Maul (whose short-lived arrival revealed the return of the Sith), the Council accepted Anakin as Obi-Wan's new apprentice, setting the stage for Skywalker's rise.

The Jedi discover a clone conspiracy

Three key things happened in the ten years between the events of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. First off, tensions within the Republic continued to rise under Palpatine's leadership. Secondly, Anakin Skywalker grew into a young Jedi Knight of considerable Force talents. And finally, Darth Sidious took on a new apprentice — former Jedi Count Dooku, who adopted the Sith name "Darth Tyranus." 

Dooku, at Sidious' urging, created some serious tension in the Republic by forming the Separatists, a movement that rapidly gained support. As numerous star systems threatened secession, now-Senator Padme Amidala fought to keep the Republic together, and was nearly assassinated for her trouble. Obi-Wan was dispatched by the Jedi Council to find out who was behind the attempt on her life, while Anakin stayed behind as her bodyguard. 

Obi-Wan's investigation uncovered an army of clones, seemingly ordered for the Republic by a dead Jedi Knight and all created from the DNA of a bounty hunter named Jango Fett. This discovery led Obi-Wan to discover a Separatist gathering on the planet Geonosis, while back on the Republic capital of Coruscant, Chancellor Palpatine was granted emergency powers to use the newly discovered clones in the fight against the Separatists, launching the Clone Wars which Palpatine was secretly controlling from both sides.

Meanwhile, Anakin and Padme fell in love, and Anakin's own internal anger grew as he discovered the death of his mother on Tatooine. As a result, he vowed he'd never let a loved one die again, and that's not a creepy thing to say at all.

The Clone Wars rock the Star Wars universe

The Clone Wars raged for three years, with Dooku as the figurehead of the Separatist movement and Palpatine as the increasingly powerful chancellor of the Republic. But of course, Sidious was really the secret master of both sides, bossing around Dooku and pulling strings in the Senate.

The war raged across the galaxy, consuming system after system as everyone picked sides. The Jedi Order, who considered themselves peacekeepers rather than soldiers, were tasked with joining the conflict as generals of the clone armies discovered during Attack of the Clones. Jedi Council leaders including Yoda, Mace Windu, and Ki-Adi-Mundi were drawn out of Coruscant to fight on the front lines, hampering their already-clouded vision and judgement as Sidious continued to scheme behind the scenes. 

As the conflict raged, Padme remained a force in the Senate, working for unity while believing she could trust Palpatine and his use of emergency powers to end the conflict. As for Obi-Wan and Anakin, they fought on the front lines, and Anakin even took on a Jedi apprentice named Ahsoka Tano. Of course, this whole time, he and Padme fell deeper in love, and they married in secret due to Jedi restrictions on romantic attachments. But as the war went on, Skywalker's darker tendencies grew, particularly when it came to protecting his loved ones, including Tano, who went into exile after growing weary of the Jedi.

The Sith Lord revealed

Ready for the final stage of his plan, Sidious (acting as Chancellor Palpatine) allowed himself to be taken prisoner by Separatist General Grievous. This kickstarted a major rescue mission, and in the following space battle over Coruscant, Obi-Wan and Anakin infiltrated Grievous' ship to rescue Palpatine. Once inside, they found Dooku, and in the battle with the Sith — who took Anakin's hand the last time they fought — Skywalker killed the Separatist leader at Palpatine's behest. Even though he didn't know it yet, Anakin had basically just made himself Sidious' new apprentice.

With Palpatine rescued, the Republic pressed their advantage in the war, and Yoda and Obi-Wan were both sent to the front lines in an effort to finish the conflict once and for all. Back on Coruscant, Padme informed Anakin that she was pregnant, and his dreams became troubled by visions of his wife dying in childbirth. Meanwhile, Anakin was also drawn into a game of espionage between Palpatine and the Jedi. The chancellor appointed him as his liaison on the Jedi Council, a group that requested Anakin spy on the chancellor, who they distrusted. This didn't sit well with Anakin, who grew even closer to Palpatine, especially after the chancellor hinted he might have knowledge that could prevent Padme from dying during childbirth or ever.

To push his plan into its final stages, Sidious revealed himself as a Sith Lord to Anakin, while also promising him knowledge. Anakin reported Sidious to Mace Windu, who attempted to arrest the Sith Lord. But naturally, Sidious fought back, and during the battle, Anakin chose to save the Sith and murder Mace Windu, all in the hopes that Sidious could save Padme's life.

The fall of the Jedi

With Mace Windu dead, Anakin pledged himself to the service of Darth Sidious in the hope he could prevent Amidala's death, the one he'd seen in his dreams. Sidious dubbed his new enforcer "Darth Vader," and then ordered him to slaughter everybody inside the Jedi Temple.

This began the Great Jedi Purge under Sidious' Order 66, which required all clone troopers to terminate their Jedi generals on sight. Only a handful of Jedi, like Obi-Wan and Yoda, were able to fend off their attackers. Meanwhile in the Senate, Palpatine used his power to declare the Jedi outlaws, and making matters even worse, he turned the Republic into the Galactic Empire. 

To end his self-orchestrated war, Sidious sent Vader to the planet Mustafar to kill all remaining Separatist leaders and shut down the clone army. And that's when Obi-Wan and Yoda made their move, with Kenobi going to fight Vader on Mustafar and Yoda confronting Sidious on Coruscant. Unfortunately, Padme reached Vader first, and when she tried to convince him to see the error of his ways, he nearly choked her to death. In a pair of Force duels, Sidious fought Yoda to a stalemate, while Obi-Wan gained the high ground and defeated Vader by severing his legs and leaving him to die near a lava flow. Big mistake, Obi-Wan, big mistake.

The Star Wars heroes are forced into exile

After facing the Sith, Obi-Wan and Yoda regrouped with Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan, after Kenobi returned from Mustafar with an unconscious Padme. Clinging to life after her husband nearly killed her, Padme gave birth to twins named Luke and Leia before passing away, leaving the children effectively orphaned. Yoda suggested splitting the twins up and placing them in hiding. Leia was adopted by Organa and his wife, while Luke was sent to Tatooine to live with Schmi Skywalker's relatives, the Lars family.

Obi-Wan and Yoda were, as far as they knew, the last remaining Jedi in the galaxy, and both were shaken by how quickly and effectively Sidious had been able to seize power from under their noses. Both went into exile to reflect on this and to plan for an eventual resurgence of the Jedi. Obi-Wan moved to Tatooine to keep watch over Luke, while Yoda moved to the swamps of Dagobah to live in solitude and reflect on a defeat he never saw coming. 

In the absence of the Jedi, Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine quickly consolidated his vast power with Vader (now wearing a black, armored life-support suit) by his side, eliminating political opponents as necessary and turning the Empire into a military dictatorship. Even as he celebrated, though, a small group of leaders — among them Bail Organa and Mon Mothma — were already sowing the seeds of rebellion.

Meet Han Solo, a rebel without a cause

Though much of the main thrust of the Star Wars story so far has revolved around the exploits of the Skywalker family, one key player got involved in the struggle to come through a decidedly different path. Han Solo was a Corellian orphan living on the streets and working for a local crime lord when a failed attempt to escape the planet with his girlfriend, Qi'ra, led him to enlist in the Imperial Navy. After three years of service to the Empire, during which time he was expelled from the flight academy and was made an infantryman, Solo deserted and joined up with an outlaw named Beckett in an effort to earn a new life for himself as a pilot. 

His path through the underworld of the Outer Rim led him to reunite with Qi'ra, now a trusted lieutenant in the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. Together they embarked on a journey to steal a valuable shipment of coaxium fuel for Crimson Dawn boss, Dryden Vos. Along the way, Solo met his best friend, Chewbacca, and he obtained his trademark ship, the Millennium Falcon. Plus, he saw the first traces of the Rebellion taking root. At the end of the job, Qi'ra chose to betray and leave Han, leaving him disillusioned and prepared to trust only himself. He would remain a smuggler for the next decade.

Rise of the rebels

In the years after the Great Jedi Purge, Palpatine continued to obsessively pursue any potential leads on former Jedi who were in hiding, and he created an order of elite warriors known as Inquisitors to further this goal, dispatching them throughout the galaxy. Vader also continued this pursuit and remained one of Palpatine's chief enforcers. Even worse, Palpatine also began constructing a massive battle station with the power to wipe out a whole planet. 

Meanwhile, a small band of resistance leaders grew more and more organized, and the Rebel Alliance began to take root. The movement was initially a small guerrilla affair with very little chance against the Empire in an open fight, but nearly two decades after the fall of the Jedi, there was a breakthrough thanks to Galen Erso, a Rebel sympathizer who'd been forced to work on the battle station now known as the Death Star. Erso planted a key flaw in the design of the Death Star that would allow the Rebels to destroy it, and he got a message through to his daughter Jyn to let her know about the weak spot. During an all-out battle at Scarif, Jyn Erso and Captain Cassian Andor gave their lives to steal the Death Star plans, giving the struggling Alliance hope.

The Star Wars story gets a bit more hopeful

Nearly 20 years passed between the end of the Clone Wars and the Battle of Scarif, and during that time, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker had both grown up on their adoptive homeworlds with no knowledge of their true parentage. Leia, now princess of Alderaan, was a key member of the Alliance and managed to flee Scarif with the Death Star plans. When Vader, who had no idea he was dealing with his own daughter, showed up to capture her, she hid the plans in a droid named R2-D2, who escaped to Tatooine in a pod with his counterpart, C-3PO.

On Tatooine the plans fell into the hands of Luke, now a farm boy with dreams of being a Rebel pilot and only a vague awareness of who his father was. After viewing a message from Leia directed at Obi-Wan Kenobi, he sought out the old man, and when the two met up, Obi-Wan revealed he was once a Jedi Knight although he kept Vader's identity a secret.

Determined to get the plans to Alderaan, Luke and Obi-Wan booked passage aboard the Millennium Falcon, the ship piloted by Han Solo, only to find the planet had been obliterated, courtesy of the Death Star's commander, Grand Moff Tarkin. And unfortunately for our heroes, the moon-sized battle station was way too close for comfort.

Taking out the Death Star

After our heroes found Alderaan destroyed, the Millennium Falcon was pulled into the Death Star's tractor beam, giving Obi-Wan, Luke, Han, and Han's co-pilot, Chewbacca, the opportunity to sneak aboard and infiltrate the station in search of Leia. While they searched for the princess, Obi-Wan went to disable the station's tractor beam, and Vader sensed his presence. A battle ensued as Luke, Han, Chewie, and Leia shot their way out of the station, and Obi-Wan dueled Vader in a long-awaited rematch. Sadly, the Sith Lord took his revenge on his former master, killing him in front of Luke. 

Back at the Rebel base on Yavin IV, the Alliance formed a plan to assault the Death Star and exploit its fatal flaw given to them by Galen Erso. Luke volunteered to join the fight, while Han left with the reward money he earned rescuing the princess. The assault commenced even as Tarkin sent the Death Star toward Yavin to destroy the Alliance once and for all, while Vader joined the counterattack in his own fighter. At the last moment, Han returned to help in the battle, shooting Vader out of the sky and leaving Luke free to destroy the Death Star. With the help of the Force, Luke saved the Rebel base and handed the Empire its biggest defeat yet in the Galactic Civil War.

The story takes a turn with a major revelation

Three years passed and the Galactic Civil War raged on while Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie became a more cohesive unit of freedom fighters, carrying out missions on behalf of the Alliance, which moved its base to the remote ice planet of Hoth. After thoroughly searching the galaxy, Vader finally located the base and launched a full-scale assault, prompting a Rebel evacuation. Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO fled in the Falcon, while Luke left with R2-D2 in his X-Wing after receiving a message from Obi-Wan's ghost, telling him to seek Jedi training from Yoda on Dagobah. 

While Luke trained and grew stronger in the Force, Palpatine sensed his potential as an ally, while Vader realized who Luke truly was and decided to convert him to the Dark Side. Vader also obsessed over finding the Millennium Falcon, and he dispatched a gang of bounty hunters to do just that. As romantic tension simmered between Han and Leia, the Falcon made its way to the gas planet of Bespin, where Solo met his old friend, Lando Calrissian who unwillingly gave the Falcon and her crew up to Vader. Luke, sensing his friends were in danger, went to Bespin against Yoda's wishes to save them. 

While the bounty hunter Boba Fett froze Han Solo in carbonite to take him to Jabba the Hutt (a gangster Han owed money to), Vader and Luke threw down in an epic lightsaber duel. During the fight, Vader cut off Luke's hand and revealed that he was his father. Devastated and heartbroken, Luke attempted suicide rather than join the Dark Side, but fortunately, he was rescued by Leia, Lando, and Chewie. And soon after, the heroes started plotting to rescue Han.

Rescuing Han Solo

Months passed as Leia, Luke, Chewie, the droids, and Lando developed a plot to rescue Han. (Plus, Luke was busy refining his skills as a Jedi.) Both Leia and Lando infiltrated Jabba the Hutt's palace while in disguise, but Leia was captured after defrosting her boyfriend. Luke then began his phase of the plan, sending C-3PO and R2-D2 ahead as "gifts" for Jabba, then entering himself. Jabba managed to capture Luke, as well, and tried to have both Luke and Han executed by throwing them into a Sarlacc pit. But that's when Luke revealed that he'd hidden his new lightsaber in R2-D2's body, and with the help of Han, Chewie, and Lando, Luke absolutely annihilated Jabba's bodyguards. As for Leia — who'd been turned into Jabba's slave — she strangled the giant worm with her own chains.

After rescuing Han, Luke returned to Dagobah to find Yoda dying. Before his death, Yoda confirmed that Vader was indeed Luke's father, and after Yoda's passing, Obi-Wan's Force ghost informed Luke that Leia was his sister. Determined to complete his training and restore the Jedi, Luke returned to his friends. But in the midst of the war, the Empire had constructed a second Death Star, and Palpatine himself had arrived to oversee its completion and prevent another catastrophe. Seeing a time to strike, the Rebels decided it was time to launch a major attack.

The redemption of Anakin Skywalker

The Death Star II was fitted with a shield around its entire exterior, generated by a satellite dish located on the forest moon of Endor. So the Rebel strike included a covert attack to destroy this shield generator, along with a full-scale fleet assault to destroy the Death Star itself once the shield was down. Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie led the Endor team, while Lando, Admiral Ackbar, and Wedge Antilles led the fleet strike. Of course, Luke had bigger fish to try, and early in the mission, after revealing to Leia that they were siblings, he turned himself in to Vader so he could face his father alone.

As the battle commenced on the ground and in space, Vader brought Luke before the Emperor, who began attempting to convert the young Jedi. Luke resisted until he reached for his lightsaber, launching a duel with Vader. The two fought until Luke overpowered his father with anger, but after realizing he was becoming just like his dad, Luke refused to kill Vader. 

Enraged by this, the Emperor began torturing Luke with Force lightning, which led Vader to pick up his master and throw him into the station's reactor core, apparently killing him and redeeming Anakin Skywalker in the process. On Endor, Han and Leia destroyed the shield generator with help from the native Ewoks, and the Rebel fleet completed its mission, destroying the Death Star and effectively ending the Galactic Empire. During the celebration, Luke quietly burned his father's body, and then witnessed Anakin's Force ghost joining Obi-Wan and Yoda on the Light Side again at last.

New villains arise in the Star Wars story

The deaths of Palpatine and Vader caused celebrations to break out across the galaxy, sending the remnants of the Empire into what ultimately became a semi-organized retreat. There were a few battles left to fight in the Civil War, but the Battle of Jakku a year after the Battle of Endor marked the last major conflict, as the Imperial loyalists were defeated and their military prowess crippled. 

As the New Galactic Republic began to form with help from major Rebel Alliance figures like Leia and Mon Mothma, the remains of the Empire retreated to the Outer Rim as part of a contingency plan developed by Palpatine. There, they ultimately fell under the command of a mysterious Force user named Snoke, who had a passion for the Dark Side and key knowledge of both the Empire and the Skywalker bloodline. The ashes of the Empire then gave birth to the First Order.

Meanwhile, Han and Leia had a son, Ben Solo, who showed the Force prowess of the Skywalker bloodline. Luke made good on his promise to rebuild the Jedi and started a temple where Ben was a student. Unfortunately, Snoke began to influence Ben's darker tendencies from afar, and the young Jedi turned on Luke, converting some students and slaughtering others. Heartbroken, Luke went into exile. Sensing the threat of Snoke and the First Order, Leia formed an underground movement separate from the Republic, a group known as the Resistance.

Where is Luke Skywalker?

Snoke ultimately brought the First Order out of the shadows three decades after the defeat of the Empire, with the goal of taking over the galaxy and exterminating the last remaining Jedi, Luke Skywalker. With his military commander, General Armitage Hux, Snoke developed a massive system-killing weapon known as Starkiller Base. Meanwhile, through Ben Solo — now a powerful Dark Side warrior known as Kylo Ren — he sought to find Luke Skywalker. 

Skywalker's location was secreted away on a piece of starmap obtained by Resistance pilot Poe Dameron and hidden in his droid BB The droid was ultimately found by a Jakku scavenger named Rey, who realized its importance when the First Order came looking for it. Teaming with a First Order deserter (though she didn't know it at the time) named Finn, Rey stole the long-dormant Millennium Falcon and left Jakku, only to run into Han Solo and Chewbacca. 

With Han and Chewie's help, Rey and Finn were able to return Luke's map to Leia and the Resistance, but not before Starkiller Base was activated, wiping out the capital of the New Republic and sending the galaxy into a new wave of political chaos. Meanwhile, Rey came across Anakin Skywalker's original lightsaber, which was lost when Darth Vader cut Luke Skywalker's hand off during their duel on Bespin, and that discovery changed the young woman's life forever.

The next hope

With little time to mourn the Republic, General Leia Organa, Han Solo, Finn, and the Resistance launched a desperate attack to destroy Starkiller Base. While there, Han confronted his son, Ben, but this didn't end well. Hoping to prove to Snoke that he'd truly turned to the Dark Side, Kylo Ren murdered his dad. Yeah, the Rebels were able to destroy Starkiller Base but at a tremendous cost. 

Up on the surface of the base's planet, Rey took up Anakin's lightsaber and dueled Kylo, fulfilling her own suspicion that she could wield the Force after discovering her gifts while in First Order captivity. She defeated Kylo Ren but didn't kill him, and Hux and Kylo evacuated the base to return to Snoke.

After the battle, R2-D2 — who'd been powered down ever since Luke disappeared — revealed that he could complete the partial map which had been hidden in BB Armed with her fledgling Force knowledge, Rey journeyed with R2-D2 and Chewbacca to a remote island on the planet Ahch-To, prepared to ask Luke for help in teaching her the ways of the Force and in destroying the First Order.

Luke is a reluctant master

The First Order wasted no time in attempting to wipe out the Resistance after the destruction of Starkiller Base, sending a fleet to their base on D'Qar as the Resistance attempted to evacuate. Poe Dameron led a massive attack on the First Order fleet against Organa's wishes, and while the Resistance did evacuate, they lost a great many ships and pilots in the process. 

While the Resistance fled the First Order fleet, Rey found Luke was unwilling to offer her any assistance, and that he was determined to simply stay on Ahch-To in solitude until he died, believing the hubris of the Jedi is what doomed the galaxy to darkness in the first place. Rey was ultimately able to convince Luke to help her, but even as he taught her the ways of the Force, Rey began sharing secret, Force-connected conversations with Kylo that were secretly engineered by Snoke.

Luke and Rey ultimately had a falling out when she tried to convince him that Kylo, who he'd almost killed years earlier, was capable of redemption. Rey fled the island while Force Ghost Yoda used Force lightning to burn down the first Jedi Temple, signaling an end to the old ways of the Jedi Order.

The last Jedi?

While Rey struggled to learn from Luke, the First Order continued its pursuit of the Resistance, which rapidly ran out of ships and nearly lost Leia during a fighter attack. Amid a number of struggles, including a mutiny by Poe Dameron, Leia and Vice Admiral Holdo staged a last-ditch effort to preserve the Resistance as the remaining fighters made for a hidden base on the planet Crait. 

On Snoke's flagship, Rey allowed herself to be captured so she could try to convert Kylo, who initially seemed to be on her side. He even killed Snoke rather than watch Rey die. But after fighting Snoke's guards together, Kylo asked Rey to join him in ruling the galaxy. Rey, heartbroken, declined and fled to the Resistance on Crait. 

After Vice Admiral Holdo flew the Resistance flagship into the First Order fleet, crippling their starships, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren led a ground assault on the last of the Resistance on Crait, only to be confronted by Luke Skywalker. Luke faced down the First Order assault and bought the Resistance time to escape on the Millennium Falcon. Luke even declared, "I will not be the last Jedi," suggesting Rey would rise further in the Force. And that's when Luke revealed himself to be a Force projection, with the real Skywalker back on Ahch-To. The strain of projecting his consciousness across the galaxy was too much, and while the Resistance lived to fight on, Luke died peacefully, becoming one with the Force after years of closing himself off from it.

"The dead speak!"

After the Battle of Crait saved the last remnants of the Resistance, the situation was still dire. As Rey trained with Leia to develop her Jedi abilities, other Resistance operatives searched for new allies — and they found one via a secret First Order spy who confirmed the rumors that gripped much of the galaxy: Emperor Palpatine had returned, announcing his intentions to exact vengeance on the galaxy via a mysterious broadcast. This broadcast infuriated Kylo Ren, who sought to hunt Palpatine down on the hidden Sith world of Exegol. The Supreme Leader found the old Emperor, where Palpatine made him an offer: Kylo could rule the galaxy as a new Emperor with the help of a long-hidden fleet of planet killers, if he agreed to kill Rey.

Meanwhile the Resistance went in search of a Sith Wayfinder which could point the way to Palpatine and stop his "Final Order" fleet before it launched in a matter of hours. This journey led them across several planets, where they fought everyone from Ren himself to the Knights of Ren, and along the way Rey grew increasingly wary of her place in the world. This wariness only increased when the group's search led them to a Sith dagger which caused Rey to have horrifying visions. As her anxiety built, Rey discovered a new layer of darkness in her, while Finn and Poe struggled to hold the mission together. 

All of the Sith vs. All of the Jedi

Rey's anxieties over who she was built to a peak when Kylo Ren told her that he knew her true heritage: She was the granddaughter of Palpatine himself, which explained both her darkness and her strength in the Force. After learning the truth Rey nearly killed Kylo in battle, but healed him after Leia Organa intervened to save her son with her dying breath. After this, Rey considered going into exile, but was talked into returning to the fight by the spirit of Luke Skywalker, and journeyed to Exegol to confront Palpatine. There, the revived Emperor revealed his true plan: To convert her to become the new Empress and leader of the Sith. Rey refused his offer and fought Palpatine with the help of a redeemed Kylo Ren. When all seemed lost, Rey drew on the power of the spirits of all the Jedi who came before, and helped her to counter the strength of Palpatine, who represented the spirits of all Sith. Outside the Emperor's fortress, a Resistance fleet composed of thousands of random ships fought as one to save the galaxy from the Final Order fleet. In the end, both the Emperor and the fleet were defeated, and the galaxy was saved. 

In the aftermath of the battle, Rey forged her own lightsaber and buried those of her teachers in the Tatooine desert. Finally, she revealed that she had taken a new name: Rey Skywalker. 


1 synopsis wars star

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Summary

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Summary

We begin, as always, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Except this time, we're an even longer time ago&#x; although the galaxy is just as far away.

We're meeting Darth Vader as a wee little lad, and Obi Wan when he was an (hunky) apprentice Jedi.

Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, are sent as ambassadors to begin negotiations to end to the Trade Federation's blockade of the planet of Naboo. We know that sounds like the beginning of Mr. Jedi Goes to Washington, but it isn't long before the action kicks into gear.

Viceroy Gunray of the Trade Federation contacts his master, Darth Sidious (who is bad: how can he be good with a name like that?) and the dark lord tells him to begin his invasion of the planet and kill the Jedi. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan fight their way through the droid battle station and make their way to Naboo. On the surface, they meet that unholy genetic combination of rabbit and amphibian: Jar Jar Binks. Jar Jar leads them to Gunga City, where the Jedi are fortunate enough to secure a transport and, less fortunately, Jar Jar as a traveling companion.

Important cultural side note: The Phantom Menace has been called out for portraying uber-offensive racial stereotypes. Jar Jar is one of 'em. We'll get into this in detail; don't you worry.

While the trio travels to the capital, the droid army occupies the city, which apparently has an open door policy for invaders. Viceroy Gunray captures the Queen and plans to have her sign a treaty to make the invasion legal&#x;right after she's sent to Camp 4 to be "processed."

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan rescue the queen and her court and steal a Nubian cruiser from the hangar. The ship runs the blockade, but its hyperdrive is badly damaged from the assault. Man, even though the Star Wars universe is extremely high-tech, hyperdrives always seem to be malfunctioning.

Qui-Gon orders the captain to land on a remote planet called Tatooine. He, Jar Jar, R2-D2, and the queen's handmaiden Padmé go to the spaceport to buy the parts they need but find their currency is no good. They meet a young slave boy named Anakin Skywalker and devise a plan where Anakin will compete in the Boonta Eve podrace to win a new hyperdrive from his owner, Watto. (Yup: that was a sentence with the words "Boonta Eve," "podrace," "hyperdrive," and "Watto." Welcome to Star Wars.) While spending time with the boy, Qui-Gon discovers he is immensely Force sensitive.

Anakin wins the race and&#x;thanks to Qui-Gon enabling Watto's gambling addiction&#x;his freedom as well. After the ship is repaired, Qui-Gon is attacked by a Sith warrior named Darth Maul, and he barely escapes with his life.

The group flies to Coruscant, capital of the Galactic Republic. Queen Amidala prepares to plead her case before the Galactic Senate, and Senator Palpatine of Naboo counsels her that Supreme Chancellor Valorum has no real power and the only way to secure help for her people is to displace him with a stronger chancellor. Gee, wonder who he has in mind?


During the Galactic Senate session, the Queen states her allegations against the Trade Federation, but the other delegates request that a committee be formed to investigate the allegations. Realizing that the committee will waste time while her people die, she motions for a vote of no confidence against Valorum.

Taking a break from Coruscant C-SPAN, we check in on Qui-Gon. The Jedi knight reports to the Jedi Council that he was attacked by a Sith warrior. While he has their attention, he also requests that Anakin be trained as a Jedi, believing him to be the one a prophecy foretold would bring balance to the Force. The Jedi Council tests Anakin but sense much fear in the boy. It seems test anxiety is a path to the dark side, so the council refuses to let Anakin be trained.

Senator Palpatine is announced as a candidate to replace Valorum, but Queen Amidala decides time is running out and returns to Naboo to solve the matter herself. On Naboo, Padmé reveals herself to be the true queen and brokers a peace with the Gungan leader, Boss Nass. She devises a strategy where the Gungans will distract the droid army while the Nubians capture the viceroy and destroy the droid control station. The Gungans are surprisingly amenable to being literal cannon fodder.

More surprising, Viceroy Gunray actually falls for the diversion tactic and sends his entire army to meet the Gungans. While the two armies fight, Padmé and her forces enter the city and assault the castle. There, they encounter Darth Maul, and the Jedi engage him in a lightsaber fight. Even Anakin gets in on the action when he activates the Naboo fighter he was hiding in to join the space fight for the droid control station.

Padmé manages to capture Viceroy Gunray, but the Gungans are captured by the droid army. Lucky for them, Anakin crash-lands inside the droid control station and destroys it from within, flying to safety as the station excitingly explodes around him.

Darth Maul kills Qui-Gon, but Obi-Wan manages to outsmart and kill the Sith. Of course, it's kind of difficult to learn the identity of your attacker when he's cut in two and thrown down an endless pit, but we guess the Jedi Council gave Obi-Wan a pass on account of the fact that he had a rough day.

Viceroy Gunray is sent to the Galactic Senate to answer for his crimes, and Palpatine is elected the Supreme Chancellor. Obi-Wan convinces the council to let him train Anakin as a Jedi despite the grave danger in doing so. Padmé and Boss Nass officially make peace between the Gungans and the Naboo. Happy endings all around!

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Star Wars complete Recap: up to The Rise of Skywalker

Here are plot summaries for the entire big screen 'Star Wars' saga — including 'Rogue One'

In “Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace,” Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor play Jedis trying to end a trade dispute — and more!

Even if you can make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs, you'll still likely need this handy primer on the basic chronology of the "Star Wars" saga now that "Rogue One" is about to hit theaters.

'Episode 1: The Phantom Menace'

The seeds for the eventual rise of the evil Empire are sown in a seemingly routine place: a trade dispute between the Republic and the Trade Federation. Two Jedi, the keepers of peace and justice, are dispatched to negotiate the dispute, but (wait for it) it's a trap! They end up barely escaping with their lives, though they do meet R2-D2, who saves their lives. They end up on remote Tatooine, where they meet slave boy Anakin Skywalker and his protocol droid C3PO. Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn senses the Force in Anakin - and believes he's the "Chosen One" who will bring balance to the Force. There's a podrace and Anakin is freed. Qui-Gon wants to train Anakin, but the Jedi Council knows something is up with this boy and rejects it. But he helps the Republic win a battle against the Trade Federation so the Council lets Obi-Wan Kenobi take him as his apprentice.

'Episode 2: Attack of the Clones'

In “Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones,” Hayden Christensen plays Anakin Skywalker, who falls in love and war with Natalie Portman’s Sen. Padme Amidala.

Anakin is older now, but just as bad an actor. The weird trade dispute has grown to a full-scale revolt against the Republic. Anakin is assigned to protect Republic loyalist Sen. Padme Amidala, and they fall in love. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan discovers that a Jedi master has ordered the creation of an army of clones based on a single bounty hunter, Jango Fett, whom Obi-Wan determines is the assassin trying to kill Padme - though he does not know why. He also has no idea why the Jedi have ordered up a clone army. Meanwhile, Anakin's mom is murdered and he freaks out, channeling the dark side that everyone knows he has in him. The full-scale revolt against the Republic is being led by Count Dooku, a former Jedi, who has built his own droid army. Under pressure, the Galactic Senate votes the Chancellor emergency powers, which (wait for it!) is also a trap! The two armies battle and the Jedi and the Clones barely win. The movie ends with the revelation that Dooku, the revolt, the clones and the droids are all being controlled by an evil Sith Lord - who is actually the Chancellor!

'Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith'

In “"Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith,” Hayden Christensen turns into Darth Vader.

The Chancellor has been captured by a revolt leader General Grievous, but Obi-Wan and Anakin rescue him heroically. The Chancellor, seeking to draw out Anakin's dark side, demands that Anakin assassinate Dooku, which he does. Anakin is dealing with his demons, including visions of Padme dying in childbirth. The Council declines to elevate him to Master status, so the Chancellor puts him on the Jedi Council as his representative (spy). He also brags to Anakin that he knows how to harness the dark side to cheat death — though you can't learn that from any (dismissively) Jedi. But (wait for it!), it's a trap. Anakin eventually figures out that the Chancellor is a Sith Lord, but when the Jedi try to arrest him, Anakin comes to his aid because he still wants to save Padme from the visions of death. The Chancellor makes Anakin his apprentice and dubs him Darth Vader. He also orders him to kill everyone, including younglings, though a few Jedi, including Yoda, escape. Obi-Wan tries to stop him with an epic lightsaber battle on the molten planet Mustafar, leaving Anakin next to a lava river as little more than a burnt up torso. The Chancellor saves him, puts him in Darth Vader's famous black suit and they start the Death Star. Padme dies in childbirth and her twins, Luke and Leia are separated and hidden from the now-Empire, with Leia going to Alderaan and Luke ending up on Tatooine, with Obi-Wan going into exile there to watch over the boy.

Disney wants us to call it a "standalone" film, but it is not — it is by all definitions, a prequel. That Death Star from Episode III is basically done, but needs one more last push. So the Empire tracks down its missing weapons expert, Galen Erso, and forces him to finish it. But he embeds a secret flaw inside the planet-killing machine. His daughter Jyn doesn't know what it is, but she and a band of rebels steal the plans and get them to other rebels under the command of the now Princess Leia. The movie ends with Vader trying to steal back the plans in hopes of preventing everything happens in the following episode. Standalone my foot! This is a prequel. Call it "Episode Rogue One."

“Star Wars IV: A New Hope” is the original movie, featuring heroes (from left) Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford.

Now older, Luke is just a moisture farmer's boy with no idea of his backstory. But Leia is a major figure in a new rebellion against the Empire. Her ship is attacked by Vader, who makes no mention of the fact that he's her dad. She sneaks the stolen plans for the Death Star into R2-D2, who ends up escaping to Tatooine with C3PO, who is as shrill as ever. The droids end up in service to Luke and his family, but R2 escapes to find Obi-Wan. Few have seen such loyalty in a droid! Obi-Wan tells Luke about his father - but leaves out all the part about him turning evil. They hook up with roguish Han Solo for a flight on the Millennium Falcon so they can get to Alderaan and join the rebellion. First, Solo shoots first and kills Greedo. Then they take off. En route, the Death Star proves that it's the ultimate power in the universe by destroying Alderaan in one shot. The Falcon comes out of hyperspace into the rubble and (wait for it!) it's a trap! The ship is captured by the Empire. Obi-Wan sneaks around and shuts down the forcefield so the Falcon and passengers can escape, but he's struck down by Vader as he flees. The rebels still have the plans for the Death Star and plot a suicide mission that involves dropping a laser bomb into a tiny vent shaft. Solo declines to participate because, hey, he has to pay off Jabba the Hutt anyway. Luke is disappointed, but Solo shows up just in time to save his life and allow him to finish his mission, using the Force and his experience bulls-eyeing womp rats in his T Much celebrations ensue.

'Episode 5: Empire Strikes Back'

In “Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back,” Han (Harrison Ford) and Luke (Mark Hamill) are rebels on the ice planet Hoth.

Vader pursues the rebels to a new hideout on the ice planet of Hoth. Luke is visited by the spirit of Obi-Wan and told to go to Dagobah to study the ways of the Force with Yoda. Han and Leia barely escape and head to the Cloud City run by Han's scoundrel friend Lando Calrissian. But (wait for it!) it's a trap as the Falcon was tracked by Boba Fett - Jango's revenge-seeking son - who alerts Vader what's going on. He shows up and captures Leia and freezes Han in carbonite so Boba Fett can take him to Jabba. Vader has little interest in Solo because he doesn't have the Force. Lando helps Leia escape, but then Luke bails on his training and shows up (it's another trap!), where Vader reveals that he's Luke's father ("Noooooooooooo!"). Luke barely escapes. Lando and Chewbacca head to Tatooine to free Han and Luke and Leia wait for the next movie.

Episode 6: Return of the Jedi

In “Star Wars VI: The Return of the Jedi,” Leia (Carrie Fisher) wears Jabba the Hutt’s iconic bikini.

Luke and Leia head to Tatooine to save Han, but Leia is taken as a slave and given a super-hot metal bikini that changed every teenage boy's life. Using super-Jedi powers, Luke infiltrates Jabba's palace and gives Jabba one last warning. The crime boss ignores it and captures Luke. He takes him, Lando, Chewy and Han to a Sarlacc pit intending to drop them in to be digested over many years, but they turn the tables on him, which reminds us all why it's important to heed a Jedi's warning. Luke goes for more training and Yoda reveals that Darth Vader really is his father. Meanwhile, Han and Leia try to stop the completion of a second Death Star by knocking out an energy field that is protecting the construction site. But (wait for it!) it's a trap. Vader brings Luke to the Death Star to meet the Emperor, who tempts Luke to give into his dark side. At one point, the Emperor even asks Luke to kill Vader to take his place, but Luke won't do it - he's a Jedi, he says, "like my father!" That redeems Vader, who kills the Emperor, but dies in the process - but not before revealing to Luke that he still has good in him. The forcefield down, the rebels destroy the second Death Star and there is much rejoicing. Leia tells Han she loves him - and he knows!

'Episode 7: The Force Awakens'

In Episode VII, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," the bad guy has a really cool light saber.

OK, so 30 years have passed. Luke has disappeared. Han and Leia have split up. He's reverted to his old ways and gone to seed as a freighter captain still holding a grudge, mourning his failed marriage and, most important, missing his first love, the Millennium Falcon. Leia remains a big wig with the rebels — who are now called The Resistence (though it is not clear what they are actually resisting). Meanwhile, there's a new evil group in the galaxy far far away called The First Order. It's leader, Kylo Ren, is a Darth Vader fanboy (right down to the Force and the melted Vader helmet he carries around like a trophy) bent on destroying what's left of the Republic. Oh, and (spoiler alert) he's Leia and Han's son. This wouldn't be a "Star Wars" film without a hero emerging from a desert planet so remote that even the bad guys don't know about it. This time, the hero is a woman, Rey, who slowly begins to feel the Force inside her and uses it to help locate the missing Skywalker, who (spoiler alert) handled Han and Leia's son's Jedi training so badly that he became Kylo Ren. Han helps the Resistence destroy The First Order's planet-munching machine (isn't there always one of those in a "Star Wars" movie?), but (spoiler alert) dies in the effort. It's all very sad. But it sets up a great few sequels.

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In fifteen minutes, having finished with especially urgent matters, I postponed everything else for later and rushed to my uncle. The door was opened by my aunt, with one hand wrapping her unbuttoned robe over her chest. - Come in quickly. Uncle was not at home.

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