Essay on “The Importance Of The Phantom Menace”

The Tatooine Talk blog posted an essay called The Importance Of The Phantom Menace, which dispels the idea that TPM was unnecessary:

Some think the film is irrelevant, and that by skipping over it the viewer misses nothing. Thanks to the assumed authority of certain “reviews” and the incessant diatribe of the dreggs (typo intentional) of society, it is an idea which has pervaded the internet movie discussion scene to a near-toxic degree.

It is also an idea with which I strongly disagree. Aside from it being the episode from which I receive the most pure, kiddish glee, The Phantom Menace adds an enormous depth to the story, characters, moral questions and mythology which continue on through the subsequent episodes. In this post I’ll be giving four (plus a few more) reasons why I think those who skip The Phantom Menace are missing out.

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12 Responses to “Essay on “The Importance Of The Phantom Menace””

  1. Jim Raynor Says:

    I hate this new idea that TPM is skippable, irrelevant, and objectively meaningless to the larger saga. It reeks of oversimplification:

    “Anakin was happy as a kid! He was therefore a COMPLETELY different character and inconsistent with angsty teenage Anakin!”

    I wrote about this in my essay as well as in numerous forum and comment thread posts. Anakin is both consistent throughout the saga and the SW character with the most psychological depth.

    The point of the saga is that the road to hell can be paved with good intentions. That a desire to be great, which TPM Anakin definitely had, can lead to later dissatisfaction when you fall short of those dreams. This mirrors Luke’s angst and desires but takes it much further than the Original Trilogy did.

    And of course Anakin was happier as a kid. He had his mom as well as Anakin. The kind, supportive parental figures. And in TPM, he lost them BOTH, putting him in the care of unsuitable (the Jedi Council) or downright evil (Palpatine) mentors. This sets up his darker personality, attachment issues, and fear of loss.

    Watch how the Jedi Council treated Anakin upon first meeting him, and how it contrasted with his originally naive impression of them as perfect and selfless heroes. The Council is portrayed as stern, lacking compassion, and afraid of outsiders and change.

    Take out TPM and you lose a lot of this. Anakin’s touching and tragic relationship with his mother is reduced to one scene in AOTC when he finds her shortly before her death. All that stuff about the Council being stagnant and dogmatic and gets weakened.

    I’ve seen and heard of multiple accounts about female viewers, especially mothers, appreciating the Anakin/Shmi relationship. As a man who’s now in his thirties, I can appreciate Qui-Gon’s self-assured but reserved and compassionate strength.

    But angry internet fanboys who refuse to grow up and refuse to reconsider old beliefs? Who unquestioningly worshipped the older Jedi like Obi-Wan and Yoda, or worse, “badass” macho wish fulfillment characters like Boba Fett?

    OF COURSE they wouldn’t appreciate those things!

    • KyleKartanMG Says:

      My girlfriend always sheeds a tear when Anakin is leaving his mother and he she dies in his arms in Ep II. She adores Little Ani and does not like him further in the saga because of what he becomes. Mission accomblished Mr. Lucas!

    • Michael Says:

      Jim, so well said. Eps. I and II are SUPPOSED to be insanely different from one another. That contrast between the galaxy at its prime and how it looks in AOTC–muddled, confused, bleak and on the verge of war is precisely the point. And Anakin serves as the living personification of the galaxy’s descent into darkness–innocent and selfless in Ep. I, angsty and frustrated in Ep. II and homicidal and selfish in Ep. III.

      Qui-Gon’s absence from the galaxy is so deeply felt because there is no one to replace him, to represent his moral certitude.

  2. timontatooine Says:

    Wow, didn’t I get the (most welcome) shock of my life when I logged onto Facebook and saw you’d shared my post! Thank you so much, LP!

  3. Mike Jones Says:

    MakingStarWars.net spoke about TPM back in August 2013 and how it is important to the saga as a whole (particularly from a “Padme’s character development on display” standpoint). Skip it and one misses out on a big chunk of her character (more so than what some haters already complain about due to them misunderstanding her role).

    http://makingstarwars.net/2013/08/padme-is-the-hero-of-star-wars-episode-i-the-phantom-menace/

    Jason from MSW also makes an argument on how, subconsciously, it can also come off as sexist when one suggests skipping TPM. I wont get into a discussion on that viewpoint here, as there can be a myriad of opinions on that, even on a PT-positive site like this one (plus, that’s a separate discussion in and of itself and for another place and another time), but I will just refer to the article on TPM and one can come up with their own thoughts on the matter as to TPM’s importance and what it means when one suggests to skip it.

  4. Jacobesico Says:

    Anyone who dismisses The Phantom Menace doesn’t get what Star Wars is about.

  5. Spino Says:

    Duel of The Fates alone makes TPM a must watch.

  6. Hoggle Says:

    I see TPM as being one fifth away from, as a whole, the best Star Wars momentous movie. The tatooine segment is the best example of star wars world building story telling in any of the films.

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