Recently I checked out Star Wars I – VI from my friendly neighborhood library. I thought I’d brush up as preparation for the December release of The Force Awakens. Since it’s been awhile since I watched the movies, I noticed things that I’m almost ashamed to admit I’d never noticed before. So, in the interest of pointing out what others have already picked up on, I give you my observations from rewatching Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace.
- Hmmm, all those menacing machines in the hangar just waiting for the ambassadors to arrive. Not at all suspicious.
- TC-14 looks awfully familiar and far less annoying than a certain protocol droid we’re familiar with.
- “Don’t center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.”
Sound advice for anyone, but reminiscent of Yoda admonishing a certain young apprentice on Dagobah.
- What I love about this setup is that it shows how incredibly tough Jedis are. The two bad guys are worried that two Jedis are going to get past their entire arsenal and kill them. How badass is that?
- And now we begin to see Amidala’s hat and wig collection…
- Distorted holograms again. Sheesh. I know I’ve said this before, but as technologically advanced as they are, you would think their communication technology would be better. As it is, the audio and video are both screwed up, even when they are communicating for military purposes.
- Oh dear Thor, Jar Jar. Why, Lucas? Why???
- I really want one of those underwater breathers. I wonder how they are supposed to work? Would they deploy a force-field when they reach a certain depth?
- Such a beautiful, soap-bubble city for such an annoying species. And the leader can’t seem to speak without spitting. How charming.
- The notion of the symbiont circle. What effects one, effects the other. Isn’t that called life?
- Is Qui-Gon using the “Jedi mind trick” on the spitter to get transport? Good for him.
- What the hell is Jar-Jar saying?
- The “always a bigger fish” scene reminds me a bit of the Falcon almost getting eaten when they land on the asteroid.
- Thank you, Qui-Gon, for “relaxing” Jar-Jar so he would shut up. A momentary respite, I know, but still.
- “Viceroy, we have captured the Queen.”
Or have they?
- Wait a minute, she was wearing a completely different outfit a minute ago! And in the black, hooded thing she has gold things over her ears. Were they trying to hearken back/ahead to Princess Leia?
- Wait a minute, Qui-Gon asks the Queen’s guard for transport, after “asking” the Gungan leader for transport. And I seem to recall Qui-Gon trying desperately to get transport later in the movie. Is that his schtick?
- Hey, is that R2? I love R2!
- Out of all the robots onboard, R2 is the only one that bumps into Jar-Jar. “How wude!” I knew there was a reason I loved him.
- Sooo… I’m wondering if the holographic distortion is a plot device to help disguise the Sith Lord’s identity.
- Tatooine: “Moisture farms, for the most part.”
So what do they eat? I don’t see any way to get food other than space-imports, which doesn’t seem practical.
- Aw, little Ani’s so cuuuuute.
- “You’re a funny little boy.”
And thus starts the infamous future/past romance. What is it with Lucas and weird love affairs? I know they aren’t supposed to be that far apart age-wise, but she’s a young adult and he’s still a kid!
- I love that the Toydarian doesn’t fall for the Jedi mind trick.
- And now we meet the big bad Dug podracer. He’s still not as annoying as Jar-Jar.
- So Ani starts out as this sweet little kid, offering shelter from the sandstorm, risking himself to help others with “no thought of reward.” It’s just so sad.
- So Ani built C-3PO.
You know, at a certain point, it just seems like they’re just piling on the who’s who, trying to shock you. It seems like Lucas is always trying to recapture that moment when Vader reveals himself as Luke’s father. Somehow, finding out that Vader built C-3PO as a little kid doesn’t have the same effect.
- Darth Maul: “At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have our revenge.”
For what? For the Dark Side being forbidden knowledge?
- “Have you come to free us?”
“No, I’m afraid not.”
“I think you have. Why else would you be here?”
Because they have their own agenda that has nothing to do with freeing the slaves on Tatooine. Very shortsighted of them. If only they had taken an interest in the poor and downtrodden of the outer rim.
- So Qui-Gon wanted to use his ship as the entry fee for the race. I wonder if that’s how Obi-Wan thought of selling the shuttle to pay for transport on the Falcon all those years later.
- “There was no father.”
A virgin birth.
They even cast the actress that played Mary in Mary, Mother of Jesus as Ani’s mother. So, basically, Darth Vader was a virgin birth like Jesus. How’s that for mixed signals?
- “What are you doing?”
“Checking your blood for infections.”
Wow, for good guys, the Jedi seem to have a long history of lying to the Skywalkers, don’t they? No wonder Obi-Wan was advocating the “certain point of view” hypothesis. Did Qui-Gon qualify his statement by thinking of the midichlorians as “infections”?
I know, I know. Everyone hates the midichlorian thing, but I actually think that’s something Lucas got right. I like the way he tied to mysticism of the Jedi religion to something concrete. I’m always intrigued about the intersection of religious belief and science. Why couldn’t some religious beliefs be explainable with scientific inquiry? Doesn’t religion deal with things in the natural world? Why would a deity create rules for the universe just to break them? Or is it like the Babblefish proof of the non-existence of God (via Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy); God thrives on mystery, so if you dispel the mystery He (or She or They) ceases to exist?
- You’ve got to admit, the Sith do have killer fashion sense. Accidental pun intended. Do you hear the rimshots?
- And Qui-Gon cheats at “chance cubes” too? So much for the Jedi not dabbling in the Dark Side.
- Hey, a floaty-ball thing! Vader must import them from Tatooine special for torturific occassions.
- I know it’s important to the plot, but I despise podracing. The sequence is boring. There. I said it.
- Ah, Jabba. Back when he was looking young and trim. Ugh.
- Hey, is that Warwick Davis in the audience of the podrace?
Yes, yes it is.
- “Skywalker’s (podracer) spinning out of control!”
Foreshadowing of Vader’s tie-fighter spinning in the later movie?
- “Why do I sense we’ve picked up another pathetic lifeform?”
Oh, Obi-Wan. You cynic, you.
- “But I wanna go. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of doing.”
Ah, like son, like father I guess.
- “I don’t want things to change.”
“But you can’t stop the change, any more than you can stop the suns from setting.”
And there’s the seeds of Vader. His mother shows a very Buddhist viewpoint about accepting the fact that things change, while Ani wants to prevent it even while embracing the opportunity to train to become a Jedi.
The misery of leaving his mother behind in bondage is at the heart of his fear of change, fear of losing the ones he loves. I mean, why couldn’t the Jedi council at least free her? He might have turned out a bit more stable. I’m sure he asked to go back or to send for her or something. I’ll bet Qui-Gon would have gone back, given the chance.
This reminds me of something that happened with my son when he was very small, maybe five or six. We were in the toy section of a store playing with lightsabers, because that’s what you do, and I made a comment about how Ani became Vader. I honestly didn’t mean to spoil it. We’d watched the movies many times and I was just used to it being common knowledge. My son looks at me with those big, blue, little-boy eyes with the long lashes and goes, “Ani’s DARTH VADER???” He was so upset! I think I ended up buying him a toy to make up for it because, I know it was an accident, but GUILT!
- And Ani leaves behind poor, naked C-3PO without even parts to cover his wires. That explains a lot about his character. His creator left him before he was even finished!
- “I will come back and free you, Mom. I promise.”
- “Coruscant, the entire planet is one big city.”
Again, I have to ask, what do they do for food? I’m really curious. Do they have rooftop gardens, terrariums, replicators?
- Meeting Palpatine for the first time, it’s obvious he’s the future Emperor, even with all the crappy holograms and the low-hanging hoods.
- “I do not believe the Sith could have returned without us knowing.”
- Wow, the Jedi council are full of themselves, aren’t they? How dare Qui-Gon tell them something they don’t already know and then ask for an apprentice! The nerve.
- I know she’s appealing to the Senate to save the lives of her people, but in that hat?
- “Do not defy the council, Master. Not again.”
- “Afraid to lose her, I think.”
Wow, great insight there, Yoda.
- “Fear is the path to the dark side.
Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.
I sense much fear in you.”
This makes perfect sense.
- “Your majesty, if I am elected, I promise to put an end to corruption.”
Ha! Such a politician.
- “No, he will not be trained.”
Oh, so that’s why they didn’t help him. I had forgot. They still should have, for simple decency, rescued his mother.
- Old Yoda is wise and adorable, but younger Yoda looks creepy.
- “It’s not disrespect, Master. It’s the truth.”
“From your point of view.”
Oh, so that’s where Obi-Wan got that from!
- “Your focus determines your reality.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
Or, as it’s put in the Dhammapada:
“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.”
But Qui-Gon’s quote is snappier.
- Midichlorians are symbionts with all lifeforms. I’m sensing a symbiont-theme in this movie…
- Is Amidala’s fake voice the inspiration for Batman’s? I know she doesn’t speak hoarsely, but maybe it’s the idea of the voice being part of the disguise.
- Now Padme’s reveal as Queen Amidala? That was a surprise!
- “Maybe weesa bein friends.”
And then he spreads saliva all over the place. Way to seal a friendship, Boss.
- Another impossible battle, impossible odds, by an indigenous and annoying people against a technologically superior foe. Why does that seem so familiar?
- Darth Maul knows how to enter a room.
And TWO Jedis against ONE Sith? Maybe that’s why his lightsaber had two beams instead of one, because he knew they’d gang up on him.
- OK, I know the room where they fight looks cool and everything, columns of light, multiple platforms… but what is it for? Or is it just an abstract thing to add a level of danger, like a giant spinning fan for the heroes to fall into?
- And Ani’s spinning again. And again.
- I love how the waiting part of the fight scene reveals so much about the characters. Darth Maul paces, Obi-Wan looks anxious but readies his lightsaber, while Qui-Gon kneels weaponless and closes his eyes.
I’m right with you there, Obi-Wan. Qui-Gon was my favorite character in this. Obi-Wan looks a little “dark” right there too, like he’s ready to draw on his anger. I don’t really blame him, but isn’t that the path to the Dark Side?
- “Now this is podracing!”
So much like Luke shooting those womp rats back home, another instance of a poor boy using skills perfected on Tatooine, the backwater dirthole of the galaxy.
- “He is the chosen one. He will bring balance.”
Sorry, Qui-Gon, but not yet.
I’ve actually seen online people debating that Anakin brought balance to the Force, and I confess I don’t get it. I guess in the sense that he’s Luke’s father, but Anakin was Jedi first, then went Sith, Light and then Dark. He didn’t walk a balance between the two extremes. He experienced both extremes. Luke learned how to call on both the Light and Dark sides without being overwhelmed by them. Luke, not Anakin, brought balance to the Force.
And Han shot first. Just sayin’.
- “And you, young Skywalker, we will watch your career with great interest.”
Dum DUM Dummmmmmmmmm.
- “The chosen one the boy may be. Nevertheless, grave danger I fear in his training.”
I think it’s interesting that Yoda is more interested in the practicalities than in fulfilling the prophecy. I wonder what is the Jedi view of prophecy, since “always in motion is the future.”
- So they burned Qui-Gon’s body like Luke later burns Vader’s. Does that mean Vader was given a Jedi funeral?
- “A master and an apprentice.”
“But which was destroyed?”
And slow cam on Palpatine. Nice setup for the next episode.
- Amidala and little padawan Ani smile at each other, hinting at their later romance- which we already know because it’s a prequel. Otherwise no one in their right mind would think “future romance” between a ten year old and the Queen. I know they aren’t technically that far apart, but at this point, she’s five years older than him, which is half his life. It’s icky.
I hope you enjoyed this. I will try to space out my postings on a weekly basis for the other movies. May you come visit my blog again, and May the Force be with you.
*My thanks to D Paul Angel for suggesting I create this post.
**Though I had originally thought I’d watch the series beginning with Episode I, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So my observations may change as I remember or misremember things from the prequels.