Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace is the fourth installment to the Star Wars franchise, though it was intended to be the beginning of the saga. It was released in 1999, sixteen years after Return of the Jedi, whose events were followed by this episode’s story.
The story followed the quest of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to protect Queen Padmé Amidala so that they could resolve an issue regarding planetary trade routes. Along the way, they encountered Anakin Skywalker, to whom Qui-Gon felt The Force within him.
The planetary blockade
The opening crawl began by telling the background of the story. Conflicts have arisen across the galaxy after the legislation of the taxation of the galactic trade routes. Because of this, planets began to protest, and instability was looming.
The Trade Federation decided to resolve the matter through brute force. They blockaded the planet Naboo, depriving it of all trading activity to power its economy. They thought that this would quell the conflicts and also have something to benefit them in return.
To help with the resolution of the conflict, the Republic’s leader, Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum, had sent out two Jedis, Qui-Gon Jinn, and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to discuss the matters with the Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray so that they could reach a compromise about the galactic disputes.
However, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious was among the ranks of the Trade Federation. He ordered the viceroy to kill the Jedis and ordered an invasion with battle droids. The Jedis, however, escaped to the planet Naboo.
Amid the invasion, Qui-Gon met Jar Jar Binks, who was banished by his Gungan race because of his clumsy behavior. To thank the Jedi for rescuing him, he led him to one of their major underwater cities. In there, they tried to negotiate with the Gungan leader, Boss Nass, to help the land inhabitants of the planet, but it did not work.
After rescuing Queen Padmé, they intended to use her Royal Starship to reach the Republic’s capital planet of Coruscant. However, during their passage through the Federation’s blockade, they went under intense firing, causing the ship to lose control. This forced them to crash land on the desert planet of Tattooine so that they could repair the ship. In there, they met a junk trader, Watto, with his nine-year-old slave, Anakin Skywalker.
Qui-Gon sensed a strong presence of the Force in the boy and bargained to buy the slave from his master. Watto declined any trade using Republic currency, so Qui-Gon challenged him by waging the part to fix the Starship (which they obtained somewhere earlier) and Anakin’s freedom in a battle called podracing. Anakin won the race and was taken by Qui-Gon to be trained as a Jedi. He left his mother, Shmi.
The team went to the Chancellor to talk about the dispute. Qui-Gon noticed that he was attacked by a Sith, which he promptly reported to the Jedi council. He used this as an opportunity to ask the Council to train Anakin in the ways of the Jedi. The council refused, citing Anakin’s age could be a deterrent in his absorption of the Force. Qui-Gon still vowed to take Anakin as his apprentice.
Back on Naboo, Padmé revealed to the Gungan race that she was the queen. This convinced them to rally their cause against the Federation. Jar Jar was promoted to general and led the battle against the droid invasion.
During the crossfire, Qui-Gon ordered Anakin to hide in a starfighter. However, he accidentally activated the autopilot, sending him off into space, where he joined up with Jar Jar’s army. Through the help of R2-D2, Anakin swerved the starfighter back to the Federation’s battleship and managed to destroy it from the inside.
In a lightsaber duel, Darth Maul, who was sent by Darth Sidious, brutally wounded Qui-Gon. The latter was saved by Obi-Wan, who managed to kill the Sith. For his dying wish, Qui-Gon asked Obi-Wan to train Anakin for him.
After the battle, Viceroy Gunray was arrested by the Republic. A new chancellor was elected in his place, Palpatine. Obi-Wan was promoted to the rank of a Jedi Knight. During Qui-Gon’s funeral, Obi-Wan was pondering upon “the other Sith” since they appear in twos.
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