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A Week of Movie Posters, V: The Phantom Menace

February 13th, 2008 | Jonathan Gray

Star Wars: Phantom Menace poster

This is a fantastic teaser poster. First off, though, let’s realize the odd context surrounding its release. The world had many Star Wars fans, who had been living without Star Wars on film since 1983. We’d grown older and watched the originals again and again, often raising them to the status of religious texts. So, running with that analogy, a new trilogy evoked mixed feelings, as if you were told a new book of a religious text was about to be written—on one hand, there was the excitement and anticipation, and on the other the fear of blasphemy and sacrilege. So the poster needed to appeal to the former impulse while also giving some evidence that the sacred text had not been profaned. And succeed this one did. It’s remarkably simple, not too busy (as are most Star Wars posters, by contrast), and uses the icon that is Darth Vader wonderfully. Return of the Jedi’s ewoks had already concerned some of the faithful about the degree to which Lucas had gone all kiddy (and boy would Jar-Jar later prove them right!), but the idea of the Vader within the boy is dark and interesting, not at all kiddy. And, as an added bonus, we’ve clearly returned to Tatooine, and what Star Wars fan didn’t imagine themselves fighting stormtroopers, Jaba, Boba Fett, and others in the sands of Tatooine? Young Anakin’s home also looks somewhat moon-like (“that’s no moon, it’s a space station”), nicely merging Anakin’s first and last homes.

For this poster simply not to suck was an achievement, but to be this good was, as Vader might say, impressive, most impressive.

Tomorrow: King Kong

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  1. February 13th, 2008 at 19:33 | #1

    Not to mention that this poster was far and away the best thing about The Phantom Menace. Maybe Lucas should go into business as a poster designer?

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