When the first trailer for #TheForceAwakens was released about two years ago I went absolutely nuts. I was in class when I found out that it had been released and I immediately stepped outside so that I could watch it. As #JohnWilliams' score played and I re-entered a universe I never thought would be on the big screen again I couldn't stop giggling, gasping and gawking at the incredible things that I was seeing on my phone screen. #StarWars was back!
That rush of energy wasn't something that I had with the prequels. #RevengeOfTheSith came out when I was in fifth grade, so while visually it's quite clear that the two trilogies were made at different times, in my experience they're both a part of my childhood. So seeing the first trailer for The Force Awakens was a moment of pure euphoria. It was a realization that this would be the first time that I would get to experience a Star Wars movie in theaters as someone with a (mostly) fully developed brain. Seeing The Force Awakens return fans to the Star Wars universe was a truly joyous moment.
But for many fans of Star Wars (ones who are older than me) they had already experienced this moment before. Fans that grew up with only the original trilogy were able to experience the exhilarating return to the world of Star Wars and its characters on this date 18 years ago, when LucasFilm debuted the first trailer for #ThePhantomMenace.
It might be difficult to hit play on the trailer below, given the legacy that the movie has cultivated in the time since its release, but if you can try to wipe those preconceived notions from your mind for two minutes just to watch this trailer without any conception of what The Phantom Menace was about to bring, boy can you see just how thrilling this must have been to watch for the first time:
The trailer opens slowly and confidently, giving fans a look back into the glorious settings and landscapes of the Star Wars universe, interspersed with prophetic text:
Every generation has a legend...
Every journey has a first step...
Every saga has a beginning...
After about 40 seconds of setting the stage, the trailer leaps into action. The remainder of the trailer's first minute consists of quick cuts that show off some of the film's biggest action beats, including the Boonta Eve Classic, traveling through Naboo's core, Padme retaking the Theed palace, and some lightsaber showmanship.
Though, fans probably should have been suspicious of the bizarrely placed shot of Jar Jar getting his tongue electrocuted by the pod racer. (I mean, how in the world did the editors feel like that was on par with the rest of that sequence?)
After that, the trailer transitions back out of the action and moves on to giving us an idea of what the plot will bring: An origin story for #AnakinSkywalker/#DarthVader. The trailer cuts between several moments that illustrate how Qui-Gon decides to take Anakin from Tatooine back to the Jedi council, and the emotional connection between Anakin and his mother. It gives us a look into where Anakin's story starts without revealing too much about the larger events of how Qui-Gon comes into contact with him or what will happen to the pair if/when the council accepts Anakin.
Things swing right back into action mode shortly after that as we're shown various cinematic moments from the movie's third act, and a younger version of #Yoda explains why allowing Anakin to join the ranks of the Jedi is a dangerous proposition.
Of course, included in that sequence is one of the film's defining shots — the opening of the lightsaber battle between #DarthMaul, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan. I can't even imagine trying to refute how badass that moment is, regardless of your thoughts on the movie as a whole.
Honestly, it's tough to look at this and not feel like you want to go back and give The Phantom Menace another shot. The trailer barely has any Jar Jar in it, Jake Lloyd doesn't have the opportunity to show off his lack of acting skills, we're not given a chance to see how flimsy the dialogue is, and there are no bizarre politics present here.
This trailer shows a return to the Star Wars universe, filled with Jedi, space combat, action, and the introduction to a story that promises to give us the origin of Star Wars' most iconic character. This trailer is brilliant. Unfortunately, it only makes the movie look good because it completely obscures so many aspects of what would actually be present in the film's final cut.
In retrospect, what do you think of the trailer? Is it deceptive about what the movie would be about? Is it as exciting as I think it is? Do you have memories of seeing this trailer for the first time, or were you too young at the time like me? Let us know in the comments how you feel about the first trailer for The Phantom Menace 18 years after its release!