This year marks two decades since the release of the first chapter in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and fans have finally forgiven George Lucas for not meeting their sky-high expectations. If Disney’s sequel trilogy has taught us anything, it’s that it’s hard to make Star Wars movies.
Lucas could’ve easily rehashed his older stories or recycled ideas like J.J. Abrams would eventually do, but he didn’t. Say what you will about the prequels, but at the very least, they’re original. Here are ten of the very best quotes from The Phantom Menace.
10 “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate...”
A lot of elements in the Star Wars prequels are pure fan service, like the fact that Yoda appears a lot more in the prequel trilogy than he did in the original trilogy. But fans didn’t mind that, because you’d have to be very hard to please to be a fan and complain about fan service. What else could you ask for? Movies that don’t pander to your every want and desire?
Thanks to his more regular appearances, we get more Yoda wisdom in the prequels, like this: “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate... I sense much fear in you.”
9 “Remember, your focus determines your reality.”
Qui-Gon tells us a lot of things we have to “remember” in The Phantom Menace. One has to wonder how Obi-Wan keeps all of his old master’s sage advice rattling around his mind at all times. At one point, Qui-Gon says, “Remember, concentrate on the moment. Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts.” At another point, he says, “Remember, your focus determines your reality.”
Obi-Wan has a lot to keep in mind. Ultimately, when the movie is over, we just remember Qui-Gon himself. He’s a great character, Liam Neeson was terrific in the role, and he had one of the most heartbreaking death scenes in the whole saga.
8 “Now, this is podracing!”
The podracing sequence in The Phantom Menace gave the merchandising people a very lucrative opportunity for toys, LEGO sets, and video games. It also introduced us to an element of the Star Wars universe that we hadn’t yet seen: sports. Until we saw Anakin take part in a podracing event called the Boonta Eve Classic, we didn’t realize that there were spectator sports in this universe.
Aside from the fact that the pods can float and the races take place on a distant desert planet, the podracing in Star Wars is a lot like the racing sports in our world, complete with snappily dressed commentators.
7 “At last, we will have revenge.”
Although he looks really cool and instantly became a Star Wars icon, Darth Maul doesn’t have many lines in The Phantom Menace. In fact, it’s the reason that Benicio del Toro turned down the role. But the lines that he does have make a huge impact on the movie.
Before we know that Darth Sidious and Senator Palpatine are one and the same, Maul meets with his Sith master and Sidious instructs him, “Move against the Jedi first. You will then have no difficulty taking the Queen back to Naboo to sign the treaty.” Maul replies, “At last, we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last, we will have revenge.”
6 “Obi-Wan, promise me you will train the boy.”
In an early draft of Revenge of the Sith, Qui-Gon reappeared to Anakin as a Force ghost to try to talk him out of turning to the Dark Side. It would’ve been a great scene that followed up on Qui-Gon’s fatal mistake of believing in Anakin.
With Qui-Gon’s dying breath, he tells Obi-Wan, who is at his side, “Obi-Wan, promise me you will train the boy.” Obi-Wan says, “Yes, Master.” Qui-Gon’s final words are: “He...is the Chosen One. He...will bring balance. Train him.” This scene plays pretty awkwardly, because we know that once trained, Anakin will bring the exact opposite of balance.
5 “There’s always a bigger fish.”
George Lucas has a way of putting lines into his dialogue that sound silly on their own, but have a deeper meaning. When Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Jar Jar are sailing through the lakes of Naboo, they’re attacked by a giant sea creature, which, in turn, gets attacked by another, even larger sea creature. Qui-Gon says, “There’s always a bigger fish.”
What this means is that no matter how big or scary or intimidating a fish is – or a person or an alien or whatever – there’s always one that’s even bigger, even scarier, and even more intimidating out there. Of course, there isn’t a bigger fish than the biggest fish, but the sentiment is what’s important.
4 “You will be a Jedi. I promise.”
The dramatic advantage that George Lucas had in writing the Star Wars prequel trilogy was that the audience knew the ending. They knew that Anakin would become the evil overlord Darth Vader by the end of the trilogy, so Lucas could plant tragic little moments like Obi-Wan promising Anakin that he would one day be a Jedi.
At Qui-Gon’s funeral, Anakin watches the corpse of the guy who was supposed to train him burn and asks Obi-Wan, “What will happen to me now?” Obi-Wan tells him, “The council have granted me permission to train you. You will be a Jedi. I promise.”
3 “You were right about one thing, Master. The negotiations were short.”
Everyone hates Obi-Wan’s corny little joke from the opening scene of The Phantom Menace, but it has become iconic in the years since the movie first came out. He says it when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan have been sent by the Republic to negotiate the Trade Federation’s impending invasion of Naboo.
Qui-Gon doesn’t believe the negotiations will take too long. Then they get there and find that the Trade Federation guys plan to kill them as soon as they arrive. The Jedi Knights have to fight off droids that have been ordered to take them out, and then Obi-Wan says, “You were right about one thing, Master. The negotiations were short.”
2 “Are you an angel?”
This isn’t everyone’s favorite quote, but it does add an intriguing element to the Star Wars canon (and since it’s in a movie, Disney does still consider it to be canon); the idea that there are angels out there in this quirky galaxy, luring in deep space pilots like intergalactic sirens.
Padme is confused when Anakin asks if she’s an angel, so he explains, “An angel. I’ve heard the deep space pilots talk about them. They live on the moons of Iego, I think. They’re the most beautiful creatures in the universe.” And then Padme tells the young child who will eventually become her husband, “You’re a funny little boy.”
1 “Your apprentice, Skywalker will be.”
The CGI to create Yoda hadn’t been perfected by the time The Phantom Menace went into production, so the crew had to use a puppet like the original trilogy before finally nailing the CGI in time for Attack of the Clones. When Yoda is initially reluctant to let Obi-Wan train Anakin in the ways of the Jedi, Obi-Wan says, “Master Yoda, I gave Qui-Gon my word. I will train Anakin. Without the approval of the Council, if I must.”
Yoda relents: “Qui-Gon’s defiance, I sense in you. Need that, you do not. Agree with you, the Council does. Your apprentice, Skywalker will be.”