Visual Encyclopedia

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is a 1999 American epic space opera written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the first installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Pernilla August, and Frank Oz. The film is set 32 years before the original film, and follows Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as they protect Queen Amidala, in hopes of securing a peaceful end to a large-scale 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.

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Samuel L Jackson delivered a cold performance in Episode I, unfortunately not able to utilize his Pulp Fiction-style charisma.

Contributed by Indiana Winston Jones

Mace Windu originally had a blue lightsaber, until for Episode II actor SLJ requested a special purple blade.

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Yoda was a puppet in Episode I, with weak results. He was replaced digitally a decade later for the bluray releases.

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Natalie Portman's icy Padme did not match the iconic fiery wit of Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia.

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Jake Lloyd was demonized at his school as backlash for his youthful portrayal of Anakin Skywalker, and has distanced himself from the Star Wars franchise.

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Many critics feels Jar Jar Binks is a racist stereotype not far removed from blackface minstrels. George Lucas denies this vehemently, but the evidence is there.

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Buffoonish Gungan Jar Jar Binks was universally reviled by critics.

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Young, rash Obi-wan Kenobi remained relatively stoic throughout Episode I.

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Qui-gon Jinn's green lightsaber recalled the coolly calm persona of ROTJ Luke.

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Liam Neeson's Qui-gon Jinn was sorely missed in Episodes II and III.

Contributed by Indiana Winston Jones

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