Top 6 Parallels Between Star Wars Episodes 1 and 4
The Star Wars Prequels
As any enthusiast of the galaxy far far away knows, the prequel trilogy heavily divided fans. Some loved it, some hated it, and many were somewhere in-between. With a new cast and fresh setting, the impossibly high standards of the first three movies may have paved the path for an inevitable backlash of the prequels.
Regardless of your take on Episodes 1-3, they offer several fun nods to their predecessors, interesting correlations that likely zoom over the causal viewer's perception. So, here are the top six parallels between the first film of each trilogy: The Phantom Menace (Episode 1) and A New Hope (Episode 4)!
6. Both Have Similar Names
Noun being described
Rather than examine plot similarities, let's begin with the shared naming pattern. As the above table shows, both titles have three words and begin with an article, utilize an adjective next, and end with the noun being described.
Taking it even further, each name sets the tone for its saga. A New Hope has an optimistic title, but the the movie begins in darkness. We see how the nefarious Empire reigns, yet throughout the trilogy, good slowly conquers evil and the Empire falls.
Contrastingly, The Phantom Menace has an ominous title but begins in relative peace. Here, the universe is a moderately stable place, free of large-scale war, and Jedi help protect the diplomatic galaxy. However, things crumble throughout the trilogy as wars break out and the Jedi dwindle.
5. Both Princesses Must Transfer Information
In Episode 4: Princess Leia is captured by the ruthless Empire, but not before hiding the technical readout for the planet-destroying Death Star in R2-D2. Leia must provide this information to the Rebellion, and is eventually freed with the help of a Jedi (Obi-Wan) and a Skywalker (Luke).
In Episode 1: Padme's a queen, not princess, but close enough. She is captured by the ruthless Trade Federation, and must provide the news of the Federation's blockade to the Republic. Padme is freed with the help of Jedi (Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon) and aided in her quest by a Skywalker (Anakin).
Further similarities: Each woman meets and befriends her future husband (Han and Anakin), but the romance doesn't blossom until the following movie. Additionally, both utilize deception to further their goals: Leia lies about not being a Rebellion agent, and claims the Rebels are on Dantooine, while Padme uses a decoy bodyguard to conceal her status as queen.
4. Both Skywalkers Lose Their Family
In Episode 4: Luke sulks as he's forced to help his uncle farm on Tatooine. Thanks to Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke escapes the desert planet, but only after his uncle and aunt are killed.
In Episode 1: Anakin sulks as he's forced to work as a slave for Watto on Tatooine. Thanks to Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin escapes the desert planet, but is unable to free his mother and take her with him (she also dies, but not until Episode 2).
Further similarities: Both father and son are presented as earnest yet naive, and possess incredible potential with the Force but are unable to harness it. Anakin and Luke are also abnormally skilled at piloting. Speaking of which..
3. Both Skywalkers Destroy a Space Station
In Episode 4: In the climax of the film, Luke flies into the trenches of the Death Star and fires two torpedoes to destroy it. This saves the Rebels from being wiped out by the station's laser.
In Episode 1: In the climax of the film, Anakin flies into the innards of the Trade Federation's space station and fires two torpedoes to destroy it. This saves the Gungans from being wiped out by the Battle Droids the station controlled.
Further similarities: Both Luke and Anakin were accompanied by R2 during their run, and were new additions to their respective flying units.
2. Both End with a Victory Celebration
In Episode 4: With the Death Star destroyed, the protagonists celebrate as Princess Leia presents Luke and Han with medals for their aid (poor Chewie got shafted). Leia smiles at Luke as R2 happily chirps.
In Episode 1: With the Federation's command ship destroyed, the protagonists celebrate as Queen Amidala presents Boss Nass with a Globe of Peace for his aid. Padme smiles at Anakin as R2 happily chirps.
Further similarities: Both films end on a triumphant note, only soured by the fact that...
1. Both Jedi Mentors Die
In Episode 4: Obi-Wan, Luke's Jedi mentor, confronts Darth Vader in a lightsaber battle. Vader kills Obi-Wan by slicing him through the middle.
In Episode 1: Qui-Gon, Anakin's Jedi mentor, confronts Darth Maul in a lightsaber battle. Maul kills Qui-Gon by impaling him through the middle.
Further similarities: Both Jedi perish in front of friends (Luke sees Obi-Wan die, and Obi-Wan sees Qui-Gon) and both had faced their opponent before. Obi-Wan fought Vader on Mustafar in Episode 3, and Qui-Gon dueled Maul briefly on Tatooine earlier in Episode 1.
Which movie do you prefer?
Bonus: Both Movies Feature Greedo
In Episode 4: Greedo, a Rodian bounty hunter, confronts Han Solo but is shot and killed.
In Episode 1: Greedo, a Rodian youth, confronts Anakin Skywalker but is pummeled and beaten. This scene was deleted from the film, but can still be found on YouTube or in DVD extras.
After his scuffle with Anakin, Greedo's family hilariously caution him to be careful or he'll end up dead. Oh, the irony.
Future of Star Wars
Though far from perfect, I'll forever enjoy the Easter Eggs and references Star Wars inserts within its films. With two separate timelines as well as new movies still releasing, the future looks bright for the galaxy far far away.
Feel free to vote for your favorite film and I'll see you at our next countdown!