Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Inciting Event: Darth Sidious, a Dark Lord of the Sith, orders an invasion of the planet Naboo and the assassination of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.

First Plot Point: The Jedi Knights survive the murder attempt, and flee to Tatooine with the Queen to replace her hyperdrive, which was damaged in the escape.

There, they encounter Anakin Skywalker, a nine-year-old human slave, who Qui-Gon believes is the Chosen One prophesied to vanquish the Sith and bring balance to the Force.

First Pinch Point: Anakin fights for his freedom from his master in a dangerous pod race and wins. As he is leaving with the Queen and her Jedi escorts, the group is attacked by Darth Maul, Sidious’s apprentice. Maul almost kills Qui-Gon, who duels him until his allies’ ship gets airborne. It seems the evil Sith are already returning from obscurity.

Midpoint: On Coruscant, Anakin is rejected for training, by the Jedi Council. Qui-Gon decides to train him anyway.

Amidala negotiates for the release of her homeworld in the political arena, even acquiescing to put Senator Palpatine in a position of unbalanced power to do so, but to no avail. She returns to Naboo, sick of the ineffectuality of all her negotiation efforts, and strikes up an alliance with the Gungans of Naboo to help her capture the Viceroy, who holding her planet hostage, and free her citizens.

Second Pinch Point: Huge battle between both races of Naboo and the droid army invasion. The Queen and her security force fight their way into the capital while the Gungans draw the droid army away.

Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon fight off Darth Maul when he shows up to stop the Queen, and are soon separated. Qui-Gon must fight Maul alone.

Anakin accidentally/on-purpose joins the battle against the droid control ships above the planet.

Third Plot Point: Darth Maul kills Qui-Gon and corners Obi-Wan in an extremely disadvantageous position.

The droids break through the Gungans’ defensive lines and force a retreat.

The Naboo space force is losing ships, unable to penetrate the droid control ship’s defenses.

Climax: Obi-Wan resumes the fight with Maul.

Anakin loses control of his starfighter and crash-lands inside the droid control ship, then accidentally torpedoes its main reactor core. He gets the ship started again and tries to outrun the explosion.

Climactic Moment: Obi-Wan kills Darth Maul.

Anakin escapes just before the droid control ship explodes.

Amidala captures the Viceroy.

The droid army falls to pieces, its command center on the droid control ship destroyed.

Resolution: Qui-Gon makes Obi-Wan promise to train Anakin, then dies.

The Gungans and the Naboo celebrate the liberation of their planet and the new friendship between their races.

Anakin is made a Jedi Padawan.

Comments: The structure of this movie is hard for me to pinpoint. I am not sure who the main character is. It may be that this is a more event-driven story than a character-driven one. In that case I choose the invasion of Naboo as the main conflict, and Anakin’s Jedi arc, the mystery of the Sith, and all other plot arcs to be subplots. All those subplots become much more crucial in the following episodes.

In terms of the prequel trilogy, Episode I is fitting as Act One in a Three-Act Structure for the trilogy, in that it sets up all the important characters and plots that will form the main conflict of Episodes II and III—with the idea of Anakin’s bringing balance to the Force extending all the way through the entire series of movies.

Standing on its own, however, it’s difficult for me know which plot to invest emotionally.

I place Obi-Wan as the MC here, but Amidala could just as easily be the main character from a structural point of view. Maybe there is no main character, and the story (at least for this episode) is only about the events that transpire within it.

(Submitted by Aaron McCausland.)

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