Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is a 1999 American epic space-opera film 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. It is the first film in the nine-part "Skywalker saga", though it was the fourth to be released.
Lucas began production of this film after he determined that computer-generated imagery (CGI) had advanced to the level he wanted for the prequel trilogy's visual effects. Filming started on June 26, 1997, at locations including Leavesden Film Studios and the Tunisian desert. The film was Lucas' first directorial effort after a 22-year hiatus following Star Wars in 1977. The Phantom Menace is set 32 years before the original film and follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as they protect Queen Amidala 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.
The Phantom Menace was released in theaters on May 19, 1999, almost 16 years after the premiere of the previous Star Wars film, 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. It received mixed reviews; critics praised the visuals, action sequences, John Williams' musical score, and some of the performances (notably Neeson and McGregor), but criticized the screenplay, characterization, and the respective performances of Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks and Lloyd as Anakin. It grossed more than $924.3 million worldwide during its initial theatrical run, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1999, 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 $102.7 million at the box office and brought the film's overall worldwide takings to over $1 billion, was released in February 2012. The film was followed by two sequels, Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005.
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.
Sound Effects Used
Other Audio Used
- 20th Century Fox Fanfare (1980 John Williams Version) (1999 orchestration.)
The low-pitched variant of SKYWALKER, ELECTRICITY - THE FORCE WHINE as heard in the movie.