Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
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A NOTE REGARDING SPOILERS

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace can be found here.

The Phantom Menace takes place roughly 32 years prior to Star Wars (A New Hope).

In a deleted scene, as Anakin and Qui-Gon exit Mos Espa, on the way to the Queen's ship, Qui-Gon senses he is being followed. Turning with his lightsaber ignited, he cuts down one of Darth Maul's probe droids which had been tracking him. It is here that Qui-Gon realises he may be in danger and therefore insists he and Anakin get to the ship as quickly as possible.

What is the Sith?

"Sith" pertains to elite practitioners of the extreme dark side of the Force, who are extreme rivals of Jedi. Like "Jedi," as a word, "Sith" is an invariant noun like "deer." Just as a Jedi is a member of the Jedi Order, a Sith is a member of the Sith Order. While the Jedi have Jedi Knights, the Sith have Sith Lords.

Upon introducing him, Lord Sidious refers to his apprentice, Darth Maul, as a Sith. Lord Sidious is himself also a Sith, but the only of one whom the Viceroy of the Trade Federation is aware, until Darth Maul is introduced.

Multiple times throughout the movie, Darth Maul is referred to as "Sith," "Lord Maul" or "a Sith Lord." One of the members of the Jedi council mentions "the Sith," treating it as plural when mentioning the extinct status of the subject, and another member conflates the Sith with "the dark side" (of the Force). Only at the end of movie is it revealed that there are two Sith Lords, one being a master and the other being being an apprentice. Being that Lord Sidious is a Sith Lord's master, Lord Sidious is also a Sith Lord.

In the sequel, Attack of the Clones, several mentions of "the dark lord of the Sith" are made, and Lord Sidious is unprecedently referred to as "Darth Sidious." No mention of Sith is made in the movies of original trilogy, but in auxiliary literature (The Star Wars Storybook) published within a year of the debut of Star Wars (1977), Darth Vader is described as "Dark Lord of the Sith."

The motivations for the Sith's revenge is never clearly stated in the movie or its sequels, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The audience can only assume that the Jedi were somehow responsible for the "extinction" of the Sith, a millennium before Darth Maul surfaces. Alternately maybe Darth Sidious has taken offense to something done specifically to him by the Jedi, before the events depicted in the movie. At the very least, the Sith behave as though they are victims of apartheid, and want to invert that very apartheid, once more ruling the galaxy.

Although the striking image of Darth Maul was often used in promoting the movie, leading to many people's assumption that the title was referring to him, "The Phantom Menace" is really referring to Senator Palpatine whose involvement as a menace, Darth Sidious, is "elusive" like a phantom to all other characters but Darth Maul. The Viceroy of the Trade Federation is unaware of the identity of his special acquaintance, Lord Sidious, who while communicating with the Viceroy only appears in the form of a teleconferencing hologram which is like a phantom. The heroes of the story are further unaware that the Viceroy even has such an acquaintance, as they question the motives of the Trade Federation.

As Palpatine is the puppetmaster of the whole movie (and the entire prequel trilogy, for that matter)—orchestrating the Naboo invasion whilst befriending the Queen, playing both sides against each other for his own political gain, and introducing Darth Maul from the shadows—it is he who should be considered the chief villain of the piece, the true phantom menace. Of special note, at the ending of the movie, while Yoda and Mace Windu discuss the Sith affiliation of "the mysterious warrior," the music ends on an unsolved chord while the camera films on the newly selected Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.

Simply by receiving the transmission from Naboo, the recipient's location is revealed. Most likely the location is identified when the signal is acknowledged as having been received on Tatooine, and this confirmation (along with location) is sent back to Naboo. The location would then have been passed on to Darth Maul.

Another possibility is that the (hyperdrive) engine of the Queen's ship leaves some kind of unique chemical trail that can be tracked. As the Trade Federation has blocked all other transport to and from Naboo, this trail should not be hard to follow. This is a less likely option, though, because if chemically tracking a ship was possible, then the Galactic Empire could have easily found the Millennium Falcon, in The Empire Strikes Back, by following its trail after it vanished from sight. However, it is feasible that: because the Queen's ship's hyperdrive was damaged and leaking, it was the leak that was traced, whereas the Falcon's hypedrive was not leaking but rather inoperable.

Also, Qui-gon contacted the Jedi council. It is quite possible that Senator Palpatine has spies in the Jedi temple or is monitoring the communications to and from the temple. He is after all a Sith and wants to keep his presence unknown to the Jedi. Spying on them makes sense, as he would want to know if they are aware of him before he is ready to strike.

In the comic book series Star Wars Tales, there is a story in which Darth Maul is ordered to kill a Jedi Master living in a forest but thwarted when facing the Jedi, as he can only hit the Jedi with the butt of his lightsaber. Furious, Maul returns to his master and modifies his saber by adding another blade to the end. He returns to the Jedi and with all the same moves is once again standing with the butt resting on the Jedi's chest, but to the Jedi's surprise, Maul presses another button and the Jedi is killed.

In the movie, during their confrontation, Obi-Wan cut through the Maul's double saber hilt, possibly closer to one end than the other, damaging the mechanism for one blade but not the other. It is also possible that Obi-Wan cut the hilt directly in the center (as it appears to be in the movie), and since it has two ends that can be activated separately, there is probably some divider in between the two parts. Maul simply held onto one end and lost the other half which automatically deactivated upon releasing. The fight was so fierce that he could not pick up the dropped half of the double saber to use it in the battle.

Anakin's mother, Shmi, tells Qui-Gon that there was no father and that she raised her son all by herself. She means this literally: at one point she got pregnant and really did not know how it was possible.

In the second sequel, Revenge of the Sith, it is revealed by Chancellor Palpatine that a legendary Sith Lord had the power to create life. It is hinted that Anakin was created by this Sith Lord. It is also possible that Palpatine, who is hinted as being the apprentice of the aforementioned Sith Lord, caused the pregnancy himself. An early version of the screenplay makes this clear, in an exchange wherein Palpatine tells Anakin, "I arranged for your conception... You could almost think of me as your father." This more specific declaration was eventually dropped, possibly to avoid feeling like a retread of the famous reveal of Luke's parentage in The Empire Strikes Back.

This movie makes a stronger allusion to the fact that Anakin was conceived by the the Force itself (as spoken out by Qui-Gon), as a way to defeat the Sith and bring balance to the Force. This sort of "divine" conception in order to create a redeemer is a popular theme seen in many cultures, like Christian religion (Jesus was said to be conceived this way) and Roman mythology (Romulus, founder of Rome, and his brother Remus, were supposedly fathered by Mars, the God of War).

The answer is yes. Darth Maul faces Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi on the planet of Naboo towards the end of the movie. Darth Maul and Qui-Gon have a duel when Obi-Wan is unable to assist and Maul catches Qui-Gon by surprise, thrusting the lightsaber into Qui-Gon's chest.

However, much like how Obi-Wan is able to communicate with Luke in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (and also after his death in A New Hope) Qui-Gon communicates with other Jedi. His voice is heard while Anakin massacres the Sand People in the sequel, Attack of the Clones, and Yoda reveals that Obi-Wan can talk with Qui-Gon at the end of the second sequel, Revenge of the Sith. In fact, plans were made for Qui-Gon to appear as a ghost in Revenge of the Sith (much like Obi-Wan, Yoda and Anakin do at end of Return of the Jedi) but this plan never came to be.

Although it was never completely explained in the prequel movies, basically the Force is the energy that gives life to all living things and binds everything together. So when a person dies, his or her essence or soul is released, and this energy is absorbed into the Force. The same happens to Qui-Gon, but later in the saga, he is able to "return from the netherworld of the Force", as Yoda says. Apparently, during life, Qui-Gon mastered the Force enough to not completely dissolve into it after his death and was able to partially hold onto his own identity. He was able to communicate to Yoda and Obi-Wan, who he could teach how to retain their own individual Jedi essences. How and why this entails complete disappearance of the body was never mentioned, however. It could be theorised that only Obi-Wan and Yoda learned this power. When Darth Vader strikes down Obi-Wan, in A New Hope, he seems baffled that Obi-Wan's body vanished completely.

For its home video release, several scenes have been added by George Lucas, particularly during the podrace. There is also an extended scene following the landing on Coruscant. A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.

In The Phantom Menace, Palpatine begins his ploy to gain control of the galaxy as follows:

Step 1: Under the guise of Darth Sidious, he manipulates Viceroy Nute Gunray of the Trade Federation into creating a trade boycott on the planet Naboo.

Step 2: When the Jedi get involved, Sidious orders the Viceroy to begin invading Naboo. In order to make the invasion legal, the Viceroy needed to force Queen Amidala of Naboo to sign a treaty, however the Jedi had helped her escape the planet.

Step 3: When the Queen arrives on Coruscant, Senator Palpatine convinces her that Supreme Chancellor Valorum is powerless against the bureaucrats, who are on the Trade Federation's payroll, and to start a vote of no confidence in the Galactic Senate against Valorum.

Step 4: After the vote of no confidence passes, Palpatine informs the Queen that he was among the three candidates nominated to replace Valorum. Instigating the invasion of Naboo was to help generate sympathy in the Senate to garner his nomination and election as Supreme Chancellor.

Step 5: The Queen insists on heading back to Naboo, and Palpatine pleads for her to stay, presumably hoping that the conflict will escalate and create a schism within the Senate itself. However, she refuses to abandon her people. So as Sidious, he informs the Viceroy to wipe out all the resistance and to capture the Queen.

Step 6: After the Trade Federation unexpectedly loses the battle, the Viceroy and his staff are sent to stand trial in the Senate. With the power of the Trade Federation temporarily broken, the balance of power within the galaxy has been restored for the moment. This is a setback for Palpatine, now Chancellor: with his apprentice, Darth Maul, dead as well, the political instability he was hoping to exploit is averted, and he needs to bide his time for when another opportunity arises. However, he befriends Anakin, seeing potential in him as a future assistant in his scheme.

For the next steps, see the FAQ for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones.

No. It was another Rodian named Wald and not the same one as Greedo, who later became a bounty hunter who threatens Han Solo to pay back Jabba the Hutt. Greedo appears in a deleted scene where he has a fight with Anakin. Wald addresses Greedo by name, thus clarifying the identity of the other Rodian.

There is only one change that is noticeable. The puppet of Yoda has been replaced by a CGI counterpart that looks much closer to how Yoda looks in the sequels. This was likely to address the wide-spread fan complaints that Yoda was made to look too young in this film and the puppet did not look like Yoda at all. A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.

There are different stages in the training of a Jedi. As we find out in the sequel, Attack Of The Clones, Yoda teaches Younglings (very young children and underdeveloped aliens, training to become Jedi), so it is likely Yoda taught Obi-Wan when Obi-Was was a child. Later, Younglings become "Padawan" learners and are assigned to a Jedi Knight as a form of internship. Obi-Wan was assigned to Qui-Gon when he was old enough. Just like today's students have several teachers, Jedi are trained by several masters, and Yoda was simply one of them. We also find out, in the end of the second sequel, Revenge Of The Sith, that Yoda is about to teach Obi-Wan how to communicate with Obi-Wan's "old master" (Qui-Gon) through the "netherworld of the Force", so even beginning Jedi Masters can still receive training and instructions from their more experienced colleagues.

Aside from the 3D effects themselves, no. If you have seen the Blu-ray version of the movie, then you have seen the 3D theatrical version of the movie.

Introduction.

The Galactic Republic is the government of a nearly galaxy-wide union of the various autonomous societies throughout the solar systems of the galaxy. The Republic, however, functions like a commonwealth, a confederation or even a mere international organization (analogous the UN, the EU or NATO). Among the thousands of societies joined to the Republic are the Trade Federation and the Naboo, the latter being the inhabitants of a planet named Naboo.

The various societies do not always agree on the meaning of law set forth by the congress of the Republic, and they do not always bother to try settling disputes through the services of the Republic, since resolution process is too slow amidst resolutions that cannot admit of delay. Hence there is galactic "turmoil". (Throughout the movie series, no explanation is given as to whether the Republic's law is like civil law or like common law, but no impression is ever given that the Republic's law arises out of judicial precedent.)

Explanation.

As the opening crawl explains, the Trade Federation is violently obstructing all shipping to Naboo, over dispute surrounding the general idea that a government shall take money from the use of trade routes to outlying star systems. Naboo is located in one such outlying star system, and is also home to the particular system's capitol.

Whether the disputed taxation is being imposed by the Republic, the Trade Federation or the Naboo, or is going unpaid by one of these parties, does not matter (though it is later revealed to be, as anybody would guess, levied by the Galactic Senate). There is a dispute, and unbeknown to the parties involved two "guardians of peace and justice" are on their way to settle it.

In the opening scene, the Viceroy of the Trade Federation is under the impression that he is being paid a visit by diplomats as ambassadors (of the Supreme Chancellor, the leader of the Republic), not potentially violent "guardians of peace and justice" (who also work with the Chancellor). He has no intention whatsoever of murdering them even when he finds out "the ambassadors are Jedi Knights", until contacting his mysterious acquaintance, Darth Sidious, over a hologram teleconferencing link, for advice in the matter after having panicked. Meanwhile, the Queen of Naboo is waiting for the ambassadors.

Furthermore, according to Star Wars: Episode I - The Visual Dictionary:


The shadowy figure of Darth Sidious has incited key individuals within the Neimoidian Inner Circle to take drastic measures in the pursuit of profit. When the Galactic Senate imposes taxation on the former Free Trade Zones of the outlying systems, Sidious goads the Trade Federation into aggressively blockading the planet of Naboo in retaliation—a measure by which he intends to force and end to the new regulations.
All of this is just the calm before the storm.

Why do banks have armed security guards? In the Star Wars saga, many organizations and societies are on their own as far as protecting assets (transmittable or receivable) from space pirates or other interstellar bandits goes. The Trade Federation, which is led by a viceroy of all things, likely exists for that very purpose while securing assets of astronomical scale. This Federation is run and staffed by members of a migrant species known as Neimoidians, who are too ambitious—perhaps too greedy—to inhabit the unsavory Neimoidian homeworld or consider themselves above doing so. To that end, the Trade Federation is a sovereign nation, therefore it having a military is a given, but the moniker by which is goes is not all too different from the general style of names like "Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries".

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