It is hard to believe that on May 19, 2014, The Phantom Menace was released (in the US) fifteen years ago. I didn’t remember the exact date, because contrary to the next two installments in the prequel trilogy, we had a horrible delay for the French release. We only got the movie on October 13! I remember being very annoyed with this! I was so relieved they did much better with Episodes II and III.
The Phantom Menace wasn’t just Star Wars coming back to the big screen to me, but also what got me into reading English at a fluent level. I could already read decently enough in English back then at age 14, but I remember my mother bringing me the novelization of The Phantom Menace (with the Amidala cover!) by Terry Brooks, from the English bookshop in Paris where she (we) often shopped. I was so excited about it that I devoured it and understood it without needing a dictionary.
I still had to wait to see the movie on the big screen, but it was better than nothing and I remember loving so much of the merchandising (including some of the gorgeous Amidala dolls that were created).
On October 13, I went to see the movie with a childhood friend I had “converted” to Star Wars a few years before, and one of her classmates too. I loved it and I couldn’t believe I was seeing Star Wars at the movies (as I had missed the Special Edition of the original trilogy re-releases in 1997). I still have goosebumps from the first time I also heard Duel of the Fates by John Williams.
And believe it or not, Jar-Jar in French is absolutely hilarious (funnier than in English in my view). I ended seeing The Phantom Menace five times at different theaters, the fourth time in original version. I don’t find the prequels perfect, but I certainly love them to pieces and am grateful that we got them!