“I will not condone a course of action that will lead us to war.” – Queen Amidala, Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace
On May 19, 1999, Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace ignited the “spark of fandom” in me! I had just graduated high school and was about to turn 18, so the movie came at a huge turning point in my life. Despite having very minimal access to the internet, I could feel the massive amount of energy and excitement surrounding the release of “The Phantom Menace.” It had been 16 YEARS since “Return of the Jedi.” I remember sitting in my hometown movie theatre, the excitement radiating from me, and watching as “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” displayed on the screen. I loved every second of it! And I still do today. So to celebrate 20 years of one of my favorite Star Wars movies, here is my Top 5 list of things I love the most.
Padmé Amidala: Padmé is who I connect to the most in “The Phantom Menace.” She is strong, wise, compassionate, and honorable. Padmé didn’t have to be a Jedi to be able to fight for what she believes in and what is right. She never once backed down and even if she doubted herself, she knew she had to keep moving forward. I am so thankful for this character that was created.
**And, let’s be honest, she also had the most amazing wardrobe! Each gown was truly a masterpiece!
Duel of the Fates – Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul: The music in Star Wars is brilliant. How John Williams can take these epic moments and make them so much grander is what makes him a master of music! And I think it especially shows during the epic battle scene between Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan and Darth Maul. It makes me feel on edge in the best of ways. I remember feeling like I had no idea how that fight was going to end and even to this day, even though I know now, I still get that “OMG WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN” feeling. The way that scene is cut with the music and the other action sequences going on is truly amazing.
Darth Maul: Darth Maul is one of the coolest looking characters. He just exudes evil and confidence, qualities all Sith Lords must have! This was the first time we really got to see a bad guy move in a more dynamic way, and he had a DOUBLE-BLADED LIGHTSABER! I was (still am) disappointment in his “demise” in the “The Phantom Menace.” However, I am glad he was revived, so to speak, in “The Clone Wars” and has been showing up in other things from time to time. I truly hope we get to see more of his time in between “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.”
The Jedi: “The Phantom Menace” gave us SO MUCH information about the Jedi during this time. We are introduced to the Jedi Council, we get to see how Yoda is doing pre-Dagobah, we get FEMALE JEDI, and we get a sense of what is great and not so great about the order.
The Merchandise: Admittedly, I’m not a big merchandise person. My biggest collections consist of books, but I was REALLY into it during “The Phantom Menace.” I especially wanted to get all the Queen Amidala merchandise I could get my hands on! So my bedroom was covered in “The Phantom Menace” stuff. I also was a frequent guest at Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (we didn’t have a KFC) so I could get the toys and those disc things where you could win other prizes. I even tried collecting all of the Pepsi cans with the characters but I sadly got rid of those a long time ago.
Naboo: If I could choose to live on a planet in the Star Wars Universe, it would definitely be Naboo! It is gloriously beautiful. I would love to revisit it again in a movie or animated series just so I could bask upon its beauty!
Jar Jar Binks: To me, Jar Jar is just fun! He may seem goofy and naive, but I never felt annoyed by him. He is a character that was just trying to find his place in the galaxy. He took many missteps along the way, and I connected to that. I had no idea the reaction everyone had to Jar Jar until many years later. I feel like the general reaction has gotten better and I really hope that keeps improving.
The Queen’s Handmaidens: Quiet and unassuming, you wouldn’t think much of this small group of girls. However, looks can clearly be deceiving! Like Padmé, they are smart, strong, and loyal. Their legacy lives on in the fandom, and I think it will for many years to come.
HAPPY 20th ANNIVERSARY, “THE PHANTOM MENACE!”