10 Things You May Not Know About STAR WARS: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

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1. Have you noticed something a bit different about Yoda in The Phantom Menace? I'm not talking about the CGI but the fact that the little green dude has a different number of toes in this Star Wars movie. In every other film he has four, in Phantom he only has three. Maybe he grew one before Episode II?

2. Back in the early 1970s when George Lucas was planning the Star Wars saga, his very first draft of what would become Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope opened with the line...
"This is the story of Mace Windu, a revered Jedi-bendu of Opuchi who was related to Usby C.J. Thape, a padawan learner of the famed Jedi."
We didn't meet Mace Windu or discover the concept of padawan learners until The Phantom Menace.

3. All of the sets for The Phantom Menace had been built prior to the casting of Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn. At 6'4" Neeson was taller than the door frames meaning he'd either have to duck whilst moving between rooms or the door frames would have to be rebuilt. Lucas petitioned for the latter, and an additional $150,000 was spent on rebuilding the sets.


4. Sticking with Qui-Gon, that personal communicator he uses is actually a resin mold cast of a Gillette Ladies Sensor Excell razor! "Better not get it too close to your beard, Master", Obi-Wan may have said!

5. That wasn't the only everyday object that was used in The Phantom Menace. On the ship Qui-Gon and the others use to travel to and from Tatooine are several Hewlett-Packard Inkjet cartridges, disguised as part of the control panel.

6. Benicio Del Toro was originally chosen as Darth Maul, but he dropped out when the majority of his lines were cut and so Ray Park was then cast. Maul only ended up speaking three lines in the movie, and just like David Prowse/Darth Vader before him, Park's voice was overdubbed. In this case by British actor/comedian Peter Serafinowicz.


7. After Steven Spielberg included a character in a Yoda mask in E.T., George Lucas promised that one day he'd pay him back in a Star Wars movie. So three members of E.T.'s species were placed in The Phantom Menace in a shot of the Galactic Senate. They are only visible for a second, in the bottom corner of the screen.

8. During filming Ewan McGregor would often get so over excited when shooting with his lightsaber that he would make 'lightsaber sounds' himself. His noises had to be removed in post-production.

9. Only one shot in the entire movie does not feature any kind of visual effect or post-production tinkering. It's the shot of the dioxis gas pouring out of the vent in the meeting room, when Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are on board the Saak'ak over Naboo.



10. On the 25th November 1998 the first trailer for The Phantom Menace premiered before the Disney Pixar movie A Bug's Life. That weekend theatres across America reported that up to 75% of the paying audience would leave after the trailer had played! Madness.

Me? I remember spending an hour or more downloading the trailer from the Apple Quicktime website on the old 56k dial-up internet connection. Even today, that trailer still excites me. Shame the finished movie didn't deliver in quite the same way.

Next time it's the turn of Episode II Attack Of The Clones.

Previously
10 things you might not know about A New Hope
10 things you might not know about The Empire Strikes Back
10 things you might not know about Return Of The Jedi

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