domingo, 12 de mayo de 2013

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is an excellent film. Perhaps the best of the prequel trilogy. No really, it is. No apologies to the hateboys.
George Lucas decided to start writing the new Star Wars trilogy on November 1, 1994. The screenplay was adapted from a 15-page outline written in 1976. Ultimately he was aiming for a story set in the same universe as Episodes IV, V and VI, but he obviously needed to tell it from a different point of view. The same thing that inspired him to make the previous films helped make this one. 

We are introduced to the source of evil that manages to manipulate the events of the entire saga. Although explained in greater detail in Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, We learn that Palpatine secretly the evil Sith Lord Darth Sidious is instigating an evil, very evil plan that has been in the making for a millenia: To crown himself as ruler of the galaxy, and destroy democracy and the Jedi Order from within. This film makes it much more clear that the ''Wars'' in the ''Star Wars'' title is far more than simply droids vs Gungans, droids vs clone troopers and stormtroopers vs rebels: The real fight is between the cosmic forces of the dark side and light side of the force, more specifically, the most powerful users of each, the Jedi and the Sith.

The Jedi are at their height, but at the same time, they have little understanding of who or what is behind the Trade Federations motivation to invade Naboo. After a short, but intense confrontation between Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul, Qui-Gon comes to the unequivocal conclusion that the mysterious tattooed zabrak warrior is indeed a Sith Lord. The Jedi Council at that moment, realizes that this trade blockade, is much more serious than they had first thought. Ultimately, they know it's a Sith who was behind everything, they just don't know which Sith.

That's when we turn to Palpatine. He has only one goal in the entire film: to go from being Senator of Naboo to Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. Queen Amidala, as said by Sidious himself is ''young and naive'' and will do what it takes to save her people. Sadly, saving her people ended up making possible a scenario beyond the worst fears of any of the heroes.

Despite the mysterious dark forces that are conspiring against our heroes, hence the title ''The Phantom Menace'', the galaxy still has hope of being saved, by none other than the hands of a 9-year old slave  named Anakin Skywalker, whom lives with his mother in the backwater and hostile desert world of Tatooine.

Qui-Gon is the Jedi who realizes not only that the Sith are behind the entire blockade, but that this boy is the prophecied ''Chosen One''- an ancient Jedi prophecy that spoke of a being that would bring balance to the Force and destroy the Sith. The rest of the Jedi Council is nevertheless skeptical of Qui-Gon's claims, fearing instead the clouded future that is in store, and not realizing that they could have stopped this menace if their minds had been on the ''here and now''. It does bring to question what would have happened had Qui-Gon not died at the hands of Darth Maul. Would he have stopped young Anakin from becoming the fearsome Darth Vader? Would he have seen that Palpatine was a soul of irreparable evil that really didn't have the best interest of the people? The only thing that we know for sure is that Qui-Gon knew the outcome of the entire thing before it had even begun.

The beauty of Phantom Menace lies on the fact that it deals with an incredibly evil plot from the side of the villain, yet it tells a relatively straightforward and fun adventure. That is perhaps one of Lucas's greatest gifts: despite the fact that Star Wars deals with complex and dark themes, it ultimately is a story that is engulfed with a hopeful and positive message. Few other franchises manage to have that chemistry and in fact, most tend to slip towards the side of darkness too far in.

The story introduces us to great villains, Sidious and Maul, a wise and powerful mentor, Qui-Gon, a arrogant yet far more mature for his age Obi-Wan Kenobi, a beautiful and strong willed Queen Amidala, a young and nice Anakin and the stooge that is Jar Jar Binks. I do have to admit however, that Obi-Wan became my favorite Star Wars character when I first watched this film in 1999, primarily at that point because he defeated Darth Maul. Nowadays, my reasoning is more complex.

Ultimately, we all knew that Phantom Menace was going to be huge from the day it got announced, even if today a portion of Star Wars ''fans'' (hateboys), apparently have nothing better to do and continue to bash a film they should have moved on from a long time ago.

For the fans who actually liked this film, and to the new generation that was introduced to Star Wars by this film (including myself), Phantom Menace stands as proof that Star Wars is a multi-generational film saga, something that can't be said for other franchises.

Finest Moments of the Film:

1. The beginning of the film: When Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon talk about the Living Force, and Nute Gunray, petrified, talks to Sidious about the Jedi who have come as ambassadors. The action that follows sets the film to a great start.

2. The introduction to the underwater city of Otoh Gunga. Truly one of those Star Wars moments when you ''experience the wonder''.

3. The Podrace. One of the most memorable moments of the saga.

4. Anakin's farewell to his mother Shmi. It stands out as one of the saddest moments of the film, and also one of the most tragic in retrospect, if we know what happens later.

5. The Duel with Darth Maul, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan. Probably the best lightsaber fight of all six films.

Rating: 10/10

1 comentario:

  1. This was my favorite Star Wars film from the second I saw it. Can't wait to write it up for my May the 4th series.