Study Guide

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Memory and the Past

Memory and the Past

George Lucas designed the prequels to be an "echo" of story of the original trilogy. And watching The Phantom Menace is like rereading the first stanzas of a familiar poem.

Like the rhythms in poetry, the film reflects on the way the present influences the future. We understand how Qui-Gon's decisions ultimately, if unintentionally, led to Anakin turning to the dark side, and we see Padmé's youthful ignorance bolster the rank of a man who we know will become a tyrant. And we're guessing Obi-Wan wouldn't have minded a few Force-sensitive spoiler warnings. The result is a film that is less about seeing how it will end and more about discovering why it ends as it does.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Lucas borrows a lot of plot points and imagery from the previous Star Wars films in The Phantom Menace. List some of the ones you see. What purpose do you think they serve given the theme of memory and the past?
  2. Why do you think it's important that we witness Obi-Wan and Anakin's youthful adventure, given their ultimate fates?
  3. How do Qui-Gon's decisions in the past influence the rest of the Star Wars saga?

Chew on This

In Star Wars, the mistakes of the previous generation always become the conflicts of the next one. Qui-Gon's belief in Anakin becomes Obi-Wan's task, who in turn pushes Luke to become a Jedi after his failure to properly teach Anakin.

The Star Wars saga offers no escape from the past. Every character is bound to it, and it is the force that drives them toward their ultimate fates.

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