Star Wars Episode One: The Balance of the Force
Star Wars Episode 1: The Balance of the Force opens on Tatooine, where an aged and worn Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) tends a small field. He sees a fiery escape pod falling to the planet’s surface. Sensing destiny, he goes inside his simple hut and begins a video journal detailing the events that led him to his exile on Tatooine, introducing a flashback to the Jedi Academy.
As the top student at the academy, Obi-Wan is cocky and brash. Jedi Master Yoda and Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) observe Obi-Wan’s reckless behavior, fearing it will lead to the Dark Side of the Force, especially since Obi-Wan’s mentor is Jedi Knight Cos Palpatine (Ian McDiarmond), who Yoda and Qui-Gon both suspect of conducting disturbing experiments with the Force. Yoda and Qui-Gon decide that Obi-Wan must travel to the Dagobah system to finish his training and confront the Dark Side in that planet’s “Domain of Evil.”
Before Obi-Wan departs, he seeks advice from Palpatine, who is also the political representative for the Jedi in the Republic Senate. Palpatine confirms what everyone at the academy has been whispering about Obi-Wan: that he is the “Chosen One” who will bring balance to the Force. He suggests that to travel to the Dagobah system, Obi-Wan should have a non-Jedi guide to accompany him. Palpatine assigns his top political assistant, Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) to the mission. When Obi-Wan sees Padme, he immediately falls in love despite his Jedi training in emotional restraint.
When Padme and Obi-Wan arrive at Dagobah, Obi-Wan ventures into the “Domain of Evil” and almost succumbs to the Dark Side. His love for Padme saves him and he barely escapes with his life. While Padme nurses him back to health, Obi-Wan has a vision of the “true” Chosen One: someone on Tatooine named Anakin Skywalker. Before leaving Dagobah, Obi-Wan and Padme stumble upon a remote outpost of Gungan marauders mining a dangerous energy source called Miti-chlorian. If harnessed correctly, its power “could shatter planets.” They defeat the smugglers and travel to Tatooine to find the Chosen One.
When they arrive, Obi-Wan and Padme encounter Durkin Solo (Sam Shepard), a famous and dangerous intergalactic smuggler, who informs them that an unknown organization is stock piling massive amounts of Miti-chlorian. Durkin is himself planning on traveling to Alderaan to deliver a large shipment. A native of Alderaan, Padme convinces Durkin to let her and Obi-Wan join his pirate crew.
As they outrun the Republic starships that patrol the planet as a police force, Obi-Wan discovers that the pilot of Durkin’s ship is a young Tatooine slave nicknamed Magi (Hayden Christensen), who demonstrates remarkable skill similar to the Force. According to Durkin, Magi is the best pilot in the galaxy: they have outrun or outmaneuvered every Republic patrol ship that has tried to capture him. Impressed, Padme is immediately attracted to Magi.
Obi-Wan decides to test Magi’s abilities in the Force and discovers an amazing Force-sensitivity, and that Magi’s real name is indeed Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan believes the young man is the Chosen One of his vision, and tries to convince Anakin – “the name my mother gave me, before she was killed” – to give up the pirate life and become a Jedi Knight. Anakin refuses, because Durkin and his gang are the only family he’s ever known. Anakin explains his family of Tattooine settlers was massacred by Tuskin Raiders when he was a little boy.
Upon arriving at Alderaan, Obi-Wan, Padme, Anakin, and Durkin find themselves in the middle of war between the people of Alderaan and the savage Gungun marauders. Padme pleads with Obi-Wan to summon the Jedi to support her people. Jedi Knights and Masters from throughout the sector respond at once, causing a massive battle. Anakin saves Padme from near death and realizes that he is attracted to her as well. He tries to convince her to run away with him, but she refuses. During the battle, Durkin tries to smuggle the Miti-chlorian out of Alderaan, but gets shot down by the Republic flotilla. Enraged, Anakin vows revenge, which Padme inadvertently overhears.
When the battle is over, the people of Alderaan are victorious. Obi-Wan introduces Anakin to the Jedi Council as the true Chosen One, but Yoda and Qui-Gon reject the claim. Obi-Wan decides to remain on Alderaan and train young Skywalker in the ways of the Force, and Palpatine agrees to assist Obi-Wan whenever he can. Padme agrees to stay with them as well, and help Anakin understand that the Republic, and the Jedi, fight for good.
- Court Ogilvie
Coming next week: Star Wars Episode 2: The Fall of the Old Republic