Star Wars prequel trilogy

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Star Wars prequel trilogy
Star Wars Logo.svg
The Star Wars logo
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • George Lucas
Music byJohn Williams
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
CountryUnited States

The Star Wars prequel trilogy is a set of three prequel films in the Star Wars franchise, an American space opera created by George Lucas. Like the original trilogy, it was produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. and distributed by 20th Century Fox. The trilogy consists of The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005). The first two films received mixed reviews, while the third was somewhat more well received.


The central trio of the prequel trilogy was played by Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), and Natalie Portman (Padmé Amidala), respectively.

According to producer Gary Kurtz, loose plans for a prequel trilogy were developed during the outlining of the original two films.[1] In 1980, Lucas confirmed that he had the nine-film series plotted,[2] but due to the stress of producing the original trilogy and pressure from his wife to settle down, he had decided to cancel further sequels by 1981.[3]

Technical advances in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including the ability to create computer-generated imagery, inspired Lucas to consider that it might be possible to revisit his saga. In 1989, Lucas stated that the prequel trilogy would be "unbelievably expensive."[4] After viewing an early CGI test created by Industrial Light & Magic for Jurassic Park, Lucas said:

We did a test for Steven Spielberg; and when we put them up on the screen I had tears in my eyes. It was like one of those moments in history, like the invention of the lightbulb or the first telephone call. A major gap had been crossed and things were never going to be the same.[5]

In 1992, Lucas acknowledged that he had plans to create the prequel trilogy in the Lucasfilm Fan Club magazine, and announced this to Variety in late 1993.[6] Producer Rick McCallum reached out to Frank Darabont, who had had previously written The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and The Shawshank Redemption, for possible future writing duties.[7] He was considered until at least 1995, but as time went on, Lucas continued writing the screenplays himself.[8] The popularity of the franchise had been prolonged by the Star Wars Expanded Universe, so that it still had a large audience. A theatrical rerelease of the original trilogy in 1997 "updated" the 20-year-old films with the style of CGI envisioned for the new episodes.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released on May 19, 1999, and Episode II: Attack of the Clones on May 16, 2002, both to mixed reviews. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the first PG-13 film in the franchise, was released on May 19, 2005.[9] The plot of the trilogy focuses on the fall of the Galactic Republic, the formation of the Empire, and the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker's turn to the dark side.


Episode I: The Phantom Menace[edit]

32 years before the events of the original film, two Jedi, acting as negotiators of the Republic, discover that the corrupt Trade Federation has formed a blockade around the planet Naboo. Sith Lord Darth Sidious has secretly caused the blockade to give his alter ego, Senator Palpatine, a pretense to overthrow and replace the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, encounter a native of Naboo who helps them find the Queen of Naboo. With Queen Padmé Amidala, they escape the blockade, but not without their starship being damaged. Landing on Tatooine for repairs, they meet a nine-year-old slave named Anakin Skywalker. Qui-Gon helps liberate the boy by betting with his master in a podrace, believing him to be the "Chosen One" prophesied by the Jedi to bring balance to the Force. Sidious dispatches his Sith apprentice, Darth Maul, to attack the Queen's Jedi protectors. Arriving on Coruscant so the Queen can plead Naboo's crisis before the Republic Senate, Anakin is brought before the Jedi Council, where Yoda senses that he possesses too much fear.[10]

The prequels were originally planned to fill in history tangential to the original trilogy, but Lucas realized that they could form the first half of one long story focusing on Anakin.[11] This would shape the film series into a self-contained saga. In 1994, Lucas began writing the screenplay for the first prequel, initially titled Episode I: The Beginning. Following the film's release, Lucas announced that he would be directing the next two.[12]

Episode II: Attack of the Clones[edit]

Warwick Davis and Anthony Daniels have appeared in films across all three trilogies as well as in anthology films.

10 years after the Battle of Naboo, an assassination attempt is made on former Queen Padmé Amidala, who is serving as the Senator of Naboo. Obi-Wan and his apprentice Anakin are assigned to protect her; Obi-Wan tracks the killer, while Anakin and Padmé retreat to Naboo. They soon fall in love with each other, albeit secretly due to the Jedi Order's rule against attachment. Meanwhile, Chancellor Palpatine schemes to draw the entire galaxy into the "Clone War" between the Republic army led by the Jedi, and the Confederacy of Independent Systems led by Count Dooku (the former master of Obi-Wan's deceased master Qui-Gon, and Palpatine's new Sith apprentice).[13]

The first draft of Episode II was completed just weeks before principal photography, and Lucas hired Jonathan Hales, a writer from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, to polish it.[14] Unsure of a title, Lucas had jokingly called the film "Jar Jar's Great Adventure".[15] In writing The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas initially considered that Lando Calrissian was a clone from a planet of clones which caused the Clone Wars mentioned in A New Hope.[16][17] He later came up with the concept of an army of clone shock troopers from a remote planet which attacked the Republic and were resisted by the Jedi.[18]

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith[edit]

Three years into the Clone Wars, Anakin and Obi-Wan lead a rescue mission to save Chancellor Palpatine from Count Dooku and the droid commander General Grievous. Anakin begins to have prophetic visions of his secret wife Padmé dying in childbirth. Palpatine, who had been secretly engineering the Clone Wars to destroy the Jedi Order, convinces Anakin that the dark side of the Force holds the power to save Padmé's life. Desperate, Anakin submits to Palpatine and is renamed Darth Vader. Palpatine orders the clone army to fire on their Jedi generals, and declares the former Republic an Empire. Vader participates in the extermination of the Jedi, culminating in a lightsaber duel with Obi-Wan on the volcanic planet Mustafar.[19]

Work on Episode III began before Episode II was released, with one scene shot during the earlier film's production. Lucas originally told concept artists that the film would open with a montage of the Clone Wars,[20] and included a scene of Palpatine revealing to Anakin that he had willed his conception through the Force.[21] Lucas reviewed and radically reorganized the plot,[22] having Anakin execute Dooku in the first act to foreshadow his fall to the dark side.[23] After principal photography was completed in 2003, Lucas made more changes, rewriting Anakin's arc. He would now primarily turn to the dark side in a quest to save Padmé, rather than just believing that the Jedi are plotting to take over the Republic. The rewrite was accomplished both through editing principal footage, and filming new and revised scenes during pick-ups in 2004.[24]


Critical response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Main saga
The Phantom Menace 55% (6/10 average rating) (218 reviews)[25] 51 (36 reviews)[26] A−[27]
Attack of the Clones 66% (6.7/10 average rating) (245 reviews)[28] 54 (39 reviews)[29] A−[27]
Revenge of the Sith 79% (7.3/10 average rating) (290 reviews)[30] 68 (40 reviews)[31] A−[27]



  1. ^ "Gary Kurtz Reveals Original Plans for Episodes 1-9". May 26, 1999. Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  2. ^ Lucas, George (1980). "Interview: George Lucas" (PDF). Bantha Tracks (8).
  3. ^ Kaminski 2008, p. 494.
  4. ^ Kaminski 2008, p. 303.
  5. ^ Kaminski 2008, p. 311.
  6. ^ Kaminski 2008, p. 312.
  7. ^ Kaminski 2008, p. 315.
  8. ^ Kaminski 2008, pp. 338-39.
  9. ^ "Episode III Release Dates Announced". April 5, 2004. Archived from the original on April 15, 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2008.
  10. ^ Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 2001.
  11. ^ Kaminski 2008, pp. 299–300.
  12. ^ "Star Wars Insider". Star Wars Insider (45): 19.
  13. ^ Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 2002.
  14. ^ Kaminski 2008, p. 371.
  15. ^ Kaminski 2008, p. 374.
  16. ^ Bouzereau 1997, p. 196.
  17. ^ Kaminski 2008, p. 158.
  18. ^ Kaminski 2008, p. 162.
  19. ^ Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 2005.
  20. ^ Rinzler 2005, pp. 13–15.
  21. ^ Rinzler 2005, p. 42.
  22. ^ Rinzler 2005, p. 36.
  23. ^ Kaminski 2008, pp. 380–84.
  24. ^ Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith documentary "Within a Minute" (DVD documentary). 2005.
  25. ^ "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  26. ^ "Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace : Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  27. ^ a b c "CinemaScore". Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  28. ^ "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  29. ^ "Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones: Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  30. ^ "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  31. ^ "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith: Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 16, 2015.

Works cited

  • Bouzereau, Laurent (1997). The Annotated Screenplays. Del Rey. ISBN 978-0-345-40981-2.
  • Kaminski, Michael (2008) [2007]. The Secret History of Star Wars. Legacy Books Press. ISBN 978-0-9784652-3-0.
  • Rinzler, Jonathan W. (2005). The Making of Star Wars, Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Del Rey. ISBN 978-0-345-43139-4.