HomeChévere reports25 years ago, 'The Phantom Menace' ushered in a new era for 'Star Wars'

25 years ago, 'The Phantom Menace' ushered in a new era for 'Star Wars'

'The phantom menace' is one of the films that generated the most expectations in the world of Hollywood cinema. It came with the promise of telling how and why Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, the great villain of the galactic saga and one of the most iconic characters in film history.

“Every generation has a legend. Every journey requires a first step. Every saga has a beginning...", highlighted a message written at the beginning of the official trailer of the film, which hit theaters in the United States on May 19, 1999. In Venezuela it debuted on June 30 of that same year. .

Written and directed by George Lucas, creator of this space opera, the production featured Natalie Portman in her teens (she was 16 years old) as one of its protagonists. Along with her, who gave life to Queen Padmé Amidala (the future mother of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia), a plethora of established stars gave life to the rest of the leading characters. Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenbi) and Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu) were some of the prominent figures in the film.

Courtesy: LucasFilm

A blockbuster

Jake Lloyd, who was 10 years old when the film was released, was in charge of giving life to Anakin Skywalker, the future Darth Vader. Lloyd, who began acting when she was 8 years old, retired from acting in 2020 due to various mental health issues.

Although media such as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter described it as a “disappointment” due to its “linear and repetitive story,” this did not prevent it from becoming an absolute box office success. According to the specialized portal, Box Office Mojo, 'The Phantom Menace' broke the records of 'Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World' for the highest single-day income by earning more than $28 million on its first day in theaters. It was also the fastest to raise $100 million (it took five days). Additionally, it grossed $64.8 million in its opening weekend, the second-highest figure in that regard; and became the fastest film to reach $200 million and $300 million, surpassing Independence Day (1996) and Titanic (1997), respectively.

On billboard

To date, it has a global collection of more than 1000 billion dollars, ranking 45th among the highest-grossing films internationally in the history of cinema. 'Avatar' and 'Avengers: Endgame' dominate that list with more than $2.900 billion and $2.400 billion, respectively.

It should be noted that due to this anniversary, the film returned to theaters in various parts of the world. Venezuela is no exception and the production can currently be enjoyed in several theaters in the country.

Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala. Courtesy LucasFilms

What is the history?

'The Phantom Menace' is the fourth installment of the 'Star Wars' saga, also known as 'Star Wars'. It is also the first film in the prequel trilogy and the first chapter of the so-called Skywalker Saga, from a chronological point of view. For these reasons, after its premiere it was retitled 'Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace'.

Set 30 years before the original 'Star Wars' (1977), now retitled 'Episode IV: Star Wars – A New Hope', it begins with a world in which the Trade Federation has blockaded the small planet of Naboo, ruled by by the young Queen Amidala. The action is part of a plan devised by Sith Darth Sidious with dark purposes. The Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi convince Amidala to go to Coruscant, the capital of the Republic and headquarters of the Jedi Council, and try to neutralize this threat. But, while trying to avoid the blockade, the royal ship is damaged, forcing the crew to land on the remote desert planet of Tatooine. There they meet a slave boy of great potential named Anakin.

Qui-Gon Jinn discovers the Force within Anakin and frees him to train him to one day become a Jedi knight.

Jar Jar Binks. Courtesy LucasFilm

Some curiosities

Much of the negative criticism focused on the character Jar Jar Binks, a clumsy alien exiled from his home who receives help from Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. According to many specialists and fans, the character was too childish and was designed only to generate toy sales for the little ones.

British actress Keira Knightley, known for films such as 'Pirates of the Caribbean', 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'The Imitation Game', played Sabé here, one of the maids and double for Natalie Portman's Queen Amidala.

When they were both fully dressed and made up as Amidala they looked so similar that even Knightley's mother, Sharman Macdonald, who visited the set, had trouble identifying her own daughter.

Courtesy: LucasFilm

More details

In 1997, a fierce sandstorm destroyed several of the Tatooine sets in the desert outside Tozeur, Tunisia. Filming resumed two days later. For George Lucas, this, far from a problem, was a good omen, since the same thing had happened during the filming of 'Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope'.

The film was the first to use motion capture technology to create digital characters, such as Jar Jar Binks and Watto.

Courtesy: LucasFilm

In the plot, 'The Phantom Menace' refers to an ancient Jedi prophecy that speaks of a “chosen one” who will bring balance to the Force. This prophecy is a recurring theme in Anakin Skywalker's arc in the films.

The film marked the return of Yoda, R2-D2 and C-3PO to the big screen, connecting the prequel trilogy to the original trilogy. It was also the last installment of the saga to be filmed in 35 mm.

Courtesy: LucasFilm

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