This is just an idea for a fanedit, but I realized today that in many ways, it makes more sense for The Phantom Menace to be structured so that Coruscant comprises Act 1 of the film, Tatooine comprises Act 2, and Naboo comprises Act 3. The reasoning is that after the Jedi learn of the invasion army, it makes more sense for them to escape to Coruscant than for them to go to Naboo, where they will simply have to escape again, this time with more luggage. In this version, Amidala and Jar Jar are already on Coruscant, deep in negotiations related to the blockade. Here is a more detailed breakdown of how it could work with existing footage:
The Galactic Republic is dying.
a greedy Trade Federation,
in league with Republic officials,
is tightening its grip on the galaxy.
Feigning innocence, the Trade
Federation has surrounded the
peaceful planet of Naboo with
a blockade of deadly starships.
The noble chancellor Valorum,
in an effort to expose the Trade
Federation, has sent two Jedi
Knights to discover the truth…
A red-painted Republic ship lands in the docking bay of a Trade Federation cruiser orbiting Naboo. The Nemoidians assure the ambassadors that the contents of their ship are perfectly legal, and would be happy to admit them. The Jedi disembark and are taken to a council room, where they drink tea. While there, the ship is destroyed and the Jedi fight their way to the bridge, where they are rebuked by powerful battle droids. Escaping into a ventilation shaft, the Jedi soon make their way into a secret hangar where they find an invasion army. They decide they must contact chancellor Valorum. They then notice a sleek silver spaceship apparently just waiting for them to commandeer, and in the final shot of the scene this sleek silver ship escapes the docking bay, piloted by the Jedi. On the bridge of the Federation ship, the Nemoidians receive a transmission of Queen Amidala transmitting from Coruscant, and relays the information that the Chancellor’s ambassadors are with them and must reach settlement. The Nemoidians deny the existence of the ambassadors, and the transmission ends.
On Coruscant, Senator Palpatine paces back and forth in front of Amidala (who has presumably just finished her discussion with the Nemoidians), bemoaning the state of the galaxy. He suggests that the only possible action would be to call for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum. As this is happening, the silver ship lands on the landing platform on Coruscant, where only Valorum and his guards are waiting. The Jedi mention the complication of things with the Chancellor. They then say that they must speak to the Jedi council immediately. Later that day in the senate chamber, The blockade of Naboo is brought up, and the vote of no confidence in Valorum is called. The sun begins to set, and two Jedi walk along a parapet towards the sunset, having completed their business in the Jedi Council. Later, Palpatine returns victorious from the Senate, as he has been nominated to become the next Chancellor. However, Amidala decides to go back to Naboo in order to be with her people. The Jedi arrive at the starship, and inform the Queen that it is their pleasure to protect her. They leave the planet and go to light speed.
After entering Hyperspace, a bomb goes off on the starship, knocking out the hyperdrive. The ship reverts out of Hyperspace only for them to realize that there is a Federation ship nearby. It begins to attack them, and only a quick repair by R2-D2 saves their lives. They flee to Tatooine to repair the ship, and there they meet Anakin. The Nemoidians report to a cloaked figure on Coruscant that the ship has escaped destruction, and this cloaked figure orders his apprentice, Maul, to find the renegade starship. Back on Tatooine, Anakin becomes integral to the story. In order to acquire the parts to their ship they bet on his pod in a local podrace, and after a BRIEF race in which he kills his primary competitor Anakin is freed. Maul fights Qui-gon and then they all escape the planet.
The Nemoidians order the invasion of the planet to begin as the silver starship leaps out of hyperspace. In the confusion the ship is able to get through the blockade and land in the forest, whereupon the rest of the plot of the movie takes place much as it does in the Lucas version. The only major departure is that Anakin more quickly destroys the droid control ship without landing in the hangar.
I’m not convinced that this version would make the underlying plot of the film any more clear, since it was designed by Lucas to be opaque to reason, but at least the entire underwater city and fish chase scenes are excised, as well as much pointless slashing at battle droids with lightsabers in Naboo, and also any and all visual depictions of the Jedi Council. In this version, the action rises naturally from the expositional Coruscant scenes to the podrace and clash with Maul to the four final battles at the end.
So what do you think?
What a grand and intoxicating innocence. How could you be so naive? There is no escape. Come, lay down your weapons. It is not too late for my mercy.
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