I’ve cooked up a new feature, Great Scenes Of The Prequel Trilogy. It’s similar to the Daily Awesome feature I did for a month in 2008, but I’ll talk in more detail about why I think the scene or sequence is great.
First up, the opening scene of TPM:
The opening crawl establishes a trade/taxation dispute in some B-list system that results in the Trade Federation preparing to invade the planet. To fans already familiar with Star Wars, this is a far cry from the large scale galactic conflict described in ANH’s opening crawl. Further emphasizing the contrast is instead of a huge Star Destroyer passing overhead in pursuit of a smaller ship, the first ship we see after the crawl is a small, rather insignificant-looking ship. The idea is that it’s in this time of relative peace that this seemingly small dispute is the catalyst for everything that comes afterward. The Sith takeover of the galaxy and the fall of the Republic arrives like a lamb. It’s a subtle, genius use of imagery. After all, the movie is called “The Phantom Menace.”
After the craft lands and the two Jedi prepare to meet the Trade Federation, Obi-Wan utters, “I have a bad feeling about this.” What a great way to open the tragic cycle of the saga. It’s the Star Wars equivalent of, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” We all know Obi-Wan is right but no one else at this point can see it. The scene is acted with subtlety but the beats are hit perfectly.