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The Beginning: Making 'Episode I' (2001)

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The entire process of making Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) are shown here in this documentary. From pre-production through post-production we get to see visual effects ... See full summary »

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Storyline

The entire process of making Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) are shown here in this documentary. From pre-production through post-production we get to see visual effects meetings, John Williams music sessions and even the storm that wiped out the pod-racers & props. Written by Rhyl Donnelly

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The Beginning: Making Star Wars Episode I  »

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Trivia

This documentary is featured on the 2-Disc DVD for Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). See more »

Quotes

Rick McCallum: [at the first audience screening, he walks in front of the theatre and says] This is fucking awesome!
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Connections

References Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Star Wars: Main Title
(uncredited)
Composed by John Williams
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User Reviews

 
the 'Auteur' at work
4 December 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's funny how life works sometimes - with this documentary I watched it with the Phantom Menace DVD when the movie was released in 2000, and I found I got genuine insight into the filmmaking process, from storyboarding to release and all the troubles that can come with it (at one point during the production the filmmakers lost their sets in a bad storm that swept through Tunisia where they were filming - an incident that oddly repeated what happened to Lucas 20 years earlier on his first Star Wars movie). But then some years later, when Jay and Mike at Red Letter Media made their Phantom Menace review (still, whatever you think of the movie, a triumphant piece of R-rated film criticism), they used many clips from this documentary to highlight points ("It's like poetry, it rhymes" and "everything shot is so dense" two of the most memorable).

Watching it again today, I could see why it's funny to sort of mock Lucas and the hubris he had to pull off this film when the script wasn't completely solid - and to do so much in CGI when he could've used practical effect and sets, not all the time but certainly much of the time - and no one really questioning any of his decisions. But there is still a lot here that is just genuinely interesting documentary stuff. I have to wonder if the director put together the footage to make a point about Lucas and his sort of self-contained empire of filmmaking (the prequels are actually independent films in a sense, despite their gargantuan budgets they were made outside of the studio system in a special deal with Fox). Or was he just a fly-on-the-wall and allowed all this access to simply chart from start to finish what happened? Needless to say, there's plenty of insight into the process, and whether it went right or wrong for you I think the director Jon Schenk got things honestly as far as seeing that what Lucas, Rick McCullum and company did shows up on the screen.

And it must say something that the documentary in full is on the official Star Wars Youtube page; in other words, it doesn't show Lucas as being necessarily evil or greedy, or being particularly courageous or super-visionary with what he was doing. He was just... George Lucas in the late 90's, ready to try and wow audiences and with some ideas that were just not altogether great. It's a fair depiction of what it must've been like to make something this gargantuan.


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