AN ART CRITIQUE OF Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

by: Mattias Pilhede

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The Phantom Menace this movie has been scrutinized in every conceivable way except for something I personally find very interesting the art direction first time I saw Star Wars The Phantom Menace I was around 10 years old and even though I loved the movie at the time there was one thought in the back of my mind this looks really weird I'd seen the original trilogy a lot and this was Star Wars but everything looked completely different I didn't hate it but it just wasn't the Star Wars that I knew as a kid I couldn't put it into words but now as a grown man child I can look at things a bit more differently but before we start I should probably make two things clear firstly I am NOT going to go through the history of how this movie was made or be chaotic production behind it this is because so far there's nothing that suggests this movie would have looked very different or better or worse and in the end what is actually important here is what ended up as the final product second this video is not a class in design and art direction because I'm not gonna pretend that I know better than a team of professional artists who have worked in the movie industry for decades this is all purely based on my own personal taste in art you could break this all down objectively but that would be very bland and boring so instead I'm going to do my best to discuss what I like and dislike about this film and why so the Phantom Menace although people tend to lump in Star Wars with science fiction fundamentally Star Wars is a fantasy story with spaceships you can see this in the structure of the story farm boy rises up to defeat the great evil using his own strength and magic powers rather than scientist goes to Planet and things that could happen in a near future come true the original trilogy is a space opera with a heavy emphasis on the ongoing war so most of what we see in the films is just that the machinery of war ravaged worlds that are affected by oppression and rebellion the only alien civilizations that we see are Tatooine and the Ewoks and I think that was something George Lucas wanted to show with Episode one a world before war when civilization flourished and aliens lived together in peace and the biggest worry was who ever someone was being a bit rude [Music] the purpose of a droid is to show just how cheap the trade federation is they will produce cheapest droids possible with the cheapest guns and AI because no matter what they will still be able to subjugate people by the sheer amount of numbers of them the droids work in numbers see them in a group you'd run see one guy alone you'd probably wouldn't be that bothered I'm pretty sure George was entirely intentional with this and when did these things to be very comedic but that's all they are for the butt of a joke over and over again given time biggest having stuck as a great design especially compared to the stormtrooper stormtroopers are intimidating but they can be silly too however if the droids are nothing but silly and there isn't really much of a lasting appeal to it but I also understand not just wanting to make something that would be a robot stormtrooper but maybe give him a different silhouette a different head shape actually there was another droid that looked like this it was a repair droid these things look pretty neat make this bigger and it would have still seemed sheep or maybe they could have looked more pristine in the first movie and menus deteriorated into cheaper and cheaper looking rusty things and my upcoming films hey you've enjoyed a kiss look pretty cool they form into a ball and then in Attack Position they take on these jagged shapes to show aggression but he also once again become a ball by being swept up in a shield bubble whoever designed this should be applauded these things look extremely expensive used only in the most severe situations possible and it shows I do wish there was more of an emphasis on the shield though something that very strongly suggested this controls of a shield because it kind of looks like it comes out of nowhere still these things look cool if they were sold in a store the tagline would have been good enough to kill a Jedi and then they would have been sued for false advertising we'll give you ships with a rounder friendlier shapes round shapes are friendly and it shows just how diplomatic they are and they are arriving with good intentions it's a movie about diplomacy except this doesn't really work for the enemy I'm not saying they have to look dastardly evil but at least some things about it we can think oh it's those goddamn Nimoy Dean's that even if we were to use evil looking ships ven yes sure why not this story still is a fantasy epic so why not make use of that it's even used later in menacing shots and it doesn't work because we look so silly I quite like the ships used on land and underwater the underwater ship looks cool in that it looks very organic it follows something that the Gungans a people who are in symbiosis with nature would actually use it's a lot more distinctive and something like in Des Moines ships in fact the Nimoy daeun ships could have looked more like the land ships ships used by the droids look almost like they were built by the droids themselves because we're so separate from annoyed Ian's be hangar ships show just how much they rely on machinery and industrialism and these tanks are pretty rad actually love vehicles with both designs it's one of my weaknesses makes me think of Dragonball the star fighter on the other hand is I I hate I hate this ship it's the military equivalent of a buggy car it's like at the enemy sabotage trash ships meant for stealth operations by painting it bright yellow and no one noticed it's like if someone had to design a spaceship but all they had for reference was a basket of fruit podracers ooh now I would have maybe gun for more variety with a lot of these ships looking completely different from each other this would have given an indication that these were built by a bunch of lesser society people scrambling together to make the shamble of the ship only to then risk our lives racing it for the sake of getting rich instead everyone's using the same kind of ship design which shows a lot more organization and rules behind this thing but sure it isn't that big of an issue it makes sense but given enough time something that maybe started off as a race between scrappers would become more organized and get more rules I actually particularly like Anakin's podracer I can see a lot of kids looking at this and going oh boy I wish I could have that one me included I don't mind been demorgan's that much I have nothing against mr. sighn it's just about they kind of you seem like the alien variant of humans nothing special about them in verse silhouette not too big or small they look kind of ugly that's her thing speaking of ugly Watto is disgusting and looking at him makes me sick so he's perfect he perfectly suits his own character I even like the little wings we used to add a bit of silliness this thing was just walking around coming towards me I would be horrified Sebulba is very different than someone with a very distinctly odd body it really separates him from everyone else and makes him seem important which turns out he's not really but I think there's a larger issue here where maybe too many aliens take a lot of inspiration from the same places speaking of which Jar Jar Oh Jar Jar actually know what these Gungans don't look too bad if your introduction to them have been this stuff it would have been completely different or a distinct alien society with a lot of detail going into our environment and however society looks and works but instead our introduction to them is through Jar Jar who ruins it because of his personality but there are bigger crimes when Jar Jar like this thing why did someone make this thing why did someone make Humpty Dumpty into a Star Wars character when George Lucas was stamping the approval papers and someone slip this in as a joke did George Lucas been standed as a joke did have a 3d animator then go along with a gag and forgot to replace him did you know that his name is ben quadinaros he's Italian sometimes the aliens in this movie look really odd but I wouldn't give it too much fun most of these are background characters and sure some really great designs in Star Wars came from background characters but in the end they're essentially decoration if things get too detailed in the background but it's gonna draw too much attention so yeah your entire job as a species is to be background decore that's life I love Naboo simply because who would not want to live in Naboo it's like a mixture of the most beautiful places on earth with a very heavy Venetian influence but it does seem empty I get that it's under siege but it also seems like there's not a lot going on and that they have very strict architecture regulations Tatooine is perfect because it's so imperfect that it seems real although there might be a bit much at Anakin's place for being slaves these people seem pretty well-off in fact I even remember seeing this scene as a kid and thinking oh I guess slaver isn't that bad the environments are their own distinctive characters with their own charm and personality and they are probably the most memorable things above his movie even Coruscant is pretty cool for now it only gets sillier in later films for now it's this duality between a dark city planet and a bright capital with a promising future Coruscant is two sides it's the Republic and V Empire in fact even the ship interiors are pretty cool or pristine but with enough differentiation to not look like an iPad auto shop is cold just for right amount of scraps and order I do wish V Jedi Order seemed more mystical though it kind of seems like being a Jedi's is spending a lot of time in conference rooms I would go as far as to say but greatest art to come out of this movie is Envy environments I talked about the Gungans before but it really looks like an underwater civilization and it's not about whether it's believable or not in terms of technology because it's not it looks believable because it's a environment with people decoration number daily lives [Music] these soldiers look pretty neat like an improved version of the rebellion soldiers in the original trilogy four very distinct and they give a nice silhouette but everything else takes a lot more liberty the Neimoidia costumes are pretty badass but clearly show a distinct alien culture but it's still very Queen Amidala has a lot of varied outfits and they all look very striking and beautiful the only issue is that it doesn't really suit her character Queen Amidala and her room impostor could have the same outfit the entire movie because Amidala seems like someone who's very booth drawn and isolated she doesn't really seem like a person who wants to be flashy or show herself off alternatively the difference in outfits could also be something that suggests to be audience but one of them is fake and a decoy like a tiny difference but you don't exactly pick up on but it's fair sure she could look striking and beautiful because she's the queen and a queen has to adhere to tradition but if all she ever wore was this and also her commoner clothing that would be fine it would have been more in line with her character still bees costumes look great so not a lot to complain about this is the film were of a standard Jedi outfit is first introduced and it feels kind of wasted Jedi have no real reason for wearing these brown robes it just seems like a mindless reference to what obi-wan wore but from a design perspective Jedi can a loose we appeal of wearing robes and looking mystical because everyone in this movie wears a god damn robe it doesn't stick out at all and this would have been a perfect opportunity to show something different or a more variety yet I could have been more at place wearing something similar to the black clothing that Luke wears in episode six it's very minimalistic and the black color would not suggest evil but something very simple and elegance Jedi could go great with that please avoid me line of fashion maybe qui-gon is wearing robes showing his status as a master and obi-wan could be you know more young and brash but no they dress the same no matter what but you could also argue Bissel was done intentionally to show that this is a time when addition has made be Jedi Order dysfunctional and later out of the ashes comes something like Luke but personally I would have us prefer to be other way well I told you this video would get subjective the final battle between stupid and stupider but you know despite the fact there's three different battles going on this land warfare is pretty entertaining simply because of these people are so distinct and different and all that is being utilized in verges I to show how they fight and how they would utilize war machines it's entertaining because it seemed to completely different alien civilizations fighting each other it's like seeing a bug fight Phantom Menace is unique in that despite the hardships would come across in the film like slavery evil taxation theft it is the most positive and serene look we've had into the Star Wars universe after a phantom menace the entire world was building up to war then evil one and the entire galaxy was in shambles with constant oppression and war and after that nothing changed the galaxy is perpetual at war and it will never end and it's before tsa's fault because the movies have to keep going so it's a binding force that will eternally make people hunger for power and warfare it will allow itself to be manipulated and Heavy's people murder billions and the only logical conclusion in the Star Wars universe to end the suffering in the world would be to kill the force and end all life within the universe what was I talking about again oh yeah all these criticisms aside there's actually a lot to like in this movie I'm not in love with how this movie looks and I wouldn't necessarily emulate a lot of it but this movie sticks out as with strangest-looking Star Wars film doesn't always stick out in the best ways but it took huge risks to be different which is something we're probably not gonna see in Star Wars for a long time and that while their sense of fantasy is something that I can admire I think George Lucas specifically wanted to show a completely different sides of Star Wars but more fantasy side of Star Wars the world we never got to witness before and it shows this movie embraces the term fantasy more than a lot of other fantasy genre media at the very least it doesn't have elves dwarves and orcs in space it's going wild and crazy part of the thrill of ista science is that you don't know what you'll see next or what to expect but just if it's a movie to look like Star Wars not necessarily it's very understandable why a lot of people would hate this movie for its art design compared to the rest of it franchise a lot of these designs look out of place in fact if we removed any designs from the original trilogy this could have been a completely different sci-fi fantasy series it is possible to find a balance between new and old but it's hard and at the very least this movie did not play too safe the thing about reviewing a movie for it's art direction is that things are going to get highly subjective I'm trying my best to remove story from art but it's not simple because these things are very much in line with one another movies use are to visualize with storytelling and if something is out of line it's going to affect a lot of things but to me that's always going to be a lot more interesting than trying to act objective because what would an objective look on all of us even be their sexual a lot of value in subjectivity we can learn about not just how things should matter but how we matter to ourselves and how they compare to others so yes I am subjective you are subjective let's not be afraid to get subjective even if we were to boil things down to the most perfect design odds are we would get a grand F big adventure in space it looks like the interior of an office that's right you would get Mass Effect nothing is ever going to be perfect and it's very easy for me to sit high and mighty in a computer chair and criticize things for two years of effort and that happened a long time ago but nonetheless these are my thoughts on a very strange movie but played a role in my childhood and I hope you all understand that just what I think but why if there is something you agree or disagree with or anything else but completely stuck out to you that I missed then feel free to share it down below in the comments also if you liked this video and feel free to subscribe like it and suggest other films and games I might check them out see y'all



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Thought it would be fun to talk about the art direction in some films and games, but before I talk about anything else I wanted to talk about Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. ►Buy me a coffee!: https://ko-fi.com/mattiaspilhede

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