In Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, Lucas takes us back to the beginning, in which
Darth Vader is a hopeful nine-year-old boy named Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi is a
determined young Jedi knight. This first chapter, which is rich in art, design, costumes,
architecture and technology, follows Anakin's journey as he pursues his dreams and
confronts his fears in the midst of a galaxy in turmoil.
Anakin Skywalker (played by Jake Lloyd) showed an early talent for the Force as a slave
boy on the backwater desert planet of Tatooine. Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon
Jinn trained him to use his powers for good. But the Dark Side beckoned Anakin
irresistibly, and he eventually became the twisted and evil Darth Vader. At the end of his
life, Vader was redeemed by the faith of his son Luke, who had himself become a Jedi
As queen of the planet Naboo, 14-year-old Queen Amidala (played by Natalie Portman)
engages in a desperate battle--aided by Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon
Jinn—to save her planet from the dangerous Trade Federation. She carries enormous
responsibility--more than she knows, since she is destined to marry Anakin Skywalker and
bear twin children, Luke and Leia Skywalker, all of whom will play pivotal roles in the
rise and fall of the Empire.
venerable Jedi Master and a respected teacher in the ways of the Force. He trains Obi-Wan
Kenobi and discovers and mentors Anakin Skywalker, thereby earning himself an integral
role in the rise and fall of the evil Empire, as well as--well, the future of the galaxy.
As a young man, Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan McGregor) trained the talented boy Anakin
Skywalker to wield the power of the Force. Decades later, after Anakin had turned to the
Dark Side and remade himself as Darth Vader, an older and wiser Kenobi influenced young
Luke Skywalker, Vader's son, to take up a lightsaber and join the Rebellion.
With red flame tattoos covering his face, black-hooded garments, and tiny horns poking out
of his skull, it's not too hard to tell that Darth Maul is evil incarnate. A Dark Lord of
the Sith, Maul is apprenticed to Darth Sidious and takes orders via holograph, including
the order to destroy Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. His weapons of choice are a
double-bladed light saber and an ocean of ferocity.
Jar Jar Binks
Jar Jar Binks is a Gungan, a species of intelligent amphibious creature inhabiting the
swamps of the planet Naboo. After Qui-Gon Jinn saves his life, the lanky amphibian becomes
Jinn's faithful sidekick. Although Jar Jar seems clumsy and dim at times, he bravely
pilots a submarine and wields his battle staff in the fight against greedy traders and the
evil Phantom Menace.
The Phantom Menace himself, Darth Sidious secretly controls the Trade Federation invasion
of peaceful Naboo. He is an evil Dark Lord of the Sith, corrupt to the core.
Senator Palpatine of Naboo (played by Ian McDiarmid) has an evil hidden agenda. His
attempts to manipulate galactic politics in his quest for power will ultimately lead him
to the dark side of the Force.
Under the command of the greedy Trade Federation, battle droids are the ultimate in lean,
mean fighting machines. Sleek, robotic, and armed with blasters, these droids also carry
out their war maneuvers using battle tanks and STAPs (which resemble no-frills jet-skis).
And unlike living soldiers, they require no food, no drink, and no sleep.
C3P0 & R2D2
The plucky, dome-headed R2-D2 and his protocol-anxious pal C-3PO help discover young
Anakin Skywalker's powerful Force talent. The boy's skill at building and repairing droids
brings him to the attention of Jedi Qui Gon Jinn.
The venerable Yoda--tiny, green-skinned, and pointy-eared--is one of the oldest and wisest
members of the Jedi Council. His mastery of the Force is legendary. After the evil Empire
orders all remaining Jedi eliminated, Yoda goes into hiding on the swamp planet Dagobah,
where he will later train young Luke Skywalker for the epic battle with Darth Vader. At
the time of Episode I, Yoda is 868 years old.
Senior Jedi Council member Mace Windu (played by Samuel L. Jackson) is one of the 12
beings whose wisdom and mastery of the Force allow them to govern the Jedi Knights and
lead them in the fight against the Dark Side. In Episode I, Windu and fellow Jedi Master
Yoda direct Qui Gon Jinn and the young Obi-Wan Kenobi to follow Queen Amidala of Naboo in
a quest to uncover the Phantom Menace.
Sebulba is a dug, from the planet Malastare. Strapped into jet-powered podracers, Sebulba and young Anakin Skywalker zoom
across the sand in a heart-stopping contest.
The Nemoidian Trade Federation
Neimoidians are raised from birth to be greedy and manipulative, so it's no surprise that
the Neimoidian Trade Federation is known for its self-serving procedural
maneuvers—notably blocking all shipping to Naboo via a fleet of deadly battleships.
The federation is behind the biggest commercial corporations in the galaxy. Rune Haako,
its settlement officer, is as ruthless and conniving as any Neimoidian comes. Nute Gunray
is another deceitful federation bigwig, who directs the secret army corps from the bridge
of the federation flagship.
The Jedi Council
A utopic governing body, the Jedi High Council convenes in complete trust and balance,
free of ego, jealousy, and greed. Members of the council include Yaddle, a 477-year-old
female of Yoda's species; Oppo Rancisis, a shaggy-haired serpentine; Even
Piell, whose scarred eye recalls his victory against Iridonian terrorists; the psychic Adi
Gallia; and Saesee Tinn, an Iktotchi pilot, whose telepathy and extreme focus at high
speeds add a unique perspective to the council.
Leader of the amphibious Gungan, the rotund Boss Nass helps Queen Amidala fight the
Neimoidian Trade Federation.
Watto, a pudgy, winged member of the Toydarian race, owns the slave Shmi Skywalker and her
son Anakin. Watto is a gambler and a junk dealer in Mos Espa, the rough-and-tumble
Tatooine frontier town.
Published May 28, 1999