Happy Anniversary to Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Every nerd of a certain age today commemorates the release of a film that led to one of the deepest rifts in any fandom, and in the nerd sub-culture as a whole. I’m not going to spend a lot of time writing about it because I’ve written about it before.

Most people will say “happy birthday,” but I consider May 19 more of an anniversary. I think a film’s birthday is more akin to when the picture is locked, not when it’s released. That’s just the first day that you got to celebrate it – if celebrate it, you did.

And I’m one of the ones that does celebrate The Phantom Menace. I always have been. I enjoyed that first screening at 12:01 a.m. and have loved it more with each passing year.

There’s no sense of irony here. There’s no “because of when it was released in my life” or “nostalgic” aspect to this. If anything, The Phantom Menace was released at a time in my life I’m not in too much of a rush to remember. (An important qualifier is that I’m not one to dwell on the past at any rate, even when it was a good point.)

I simply love Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace because it is an amazing and important work from a tremendous filmmaker. George Lucas is one of the greatest filmmakers in history, and The Phantom Menace is a testament to what he is willing to achieve. I wish he was still making films – any films –  because I’m bereft at the thought of what I could see him produce.

I’ve written about Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace a lot. A good sampling of my writing about The Phantom Menace can be found all throughout this blog. A select sampling is below.

Trust me, that’s just a sampling. There’s even more if you want to use the site search and find it. I think it’s worth a read, but I’m a little biased.

The Jedi Council Star Wars Episode IThe Phantom Menace.
Anakin before the Council.


The Fact of The Phantom Menace

The point is that I’m no stranger to trumpeting what I see as the under-appreciated genius of George Lucas’ re-entry to directing in 1999. I’ve been doing it for 20 years.

I’m also no stranger to being maligned, insulted, and dismissed for loving it.

I’ve been called a “fanboy” for defending it, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I’ve been told that I’m lying (to myself and/or others) and only claim to like it, that I’ve “committed” to the opinion and won’t back down out of pride. I’ve had a friend directly say that “only an idiot” could like The Phantom Menace, then failing to understand why I took that as a personal insult.

In short, the people who think that the fight over The Last Jedi was the worst it got for Star Wars fans, are either too young to remember the fight(s) over The Phantom Menace, or it’s so long ago that their memories have faded.

It was pitched, it was ugly, and it was personal. It went on for years.

I still don’t care.

I love Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I’ve always loved it. I will always love it. I will always be grateful for its place in cinema history, in Star Wars history, and in my personal history.

Just like the lauded “Original Trilogy,” it will always transport me to a different time and a different state of mind.

So happy anniversary, Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The world is a vastly different place than it was when you debuted, and somehow you’ve only become more relevant. Sadly, strangely, and beautifully relevant.

Thank you, George Lucas, for a work of art disguised as mass media.

Ian McDiarmid Senator Palpatine Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace.
Yes, the point of the shot is that he’s in focus. I said good day, sir!