Posted by Liam on December 26, 2021 at 08:08 AM CST
Hey there, Rebelscum fans! This week on the site weíre diving into the iconic sequence Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace in which a nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker competes against notorious racers in the Boonta Eve Classic podrace. Weíll be diving into the history of one of the most beloved elements of the prequel saga today with ďExpand Your Mind,Ē but make sure to stay tuned later on this week for more articles, insights, video content, and merchandising spotlights.

Growing up in Modesto, California, George Lucas enjoyed engaging in drag races before a near fatal car accident landed him in the hospital. Lucas had long yearned to introduce some sort of racing element within the Star Wars franchise as an homage to his favorite youthful pastime, and The Phantom Menace finally gave him that opportunity. Returning to Tatooine, Lucas knew that he couldnít center the sequence on just any plain speeder.

The podrace has a critical importance within The Phantom Menace. Anakinís winnings from his victory not only grant him his freedom, but they pay off Qui-Gon Jinnís belief in his abilities. Qui-Gon knew that Anakin had untapped Force potential that would give him an advantage during the dangerous activity. While earlier drafts of The Phantom Menace featured a twelve-year-old Anakin in order to make him more convincing as an experienced racer, Lucas changed Anakinís age to nine in order to make his separation from his mother more heartbreaking.

The Phantom Menace utilized groundbreaking sequences of computer generated imagery that were a game changer within the film industry. It featured the most special effects shots of any feature film in history at the time, and the podracing sequence was one of the most complex to shoot. The sequence utilized miniature models of the podracing vehicle and stadium, but a majority of the sequence incorporated CGI. Itís a testament to the incredible work of John Knoll and ILM that the sequence still looks good today.

When The Phantom Menace was re-released in 3D theatrically in 2012, the podrace was at the center of the marketing campaign. The podrace itself was actually the first scene that Lucas tested out in CGI to test 3Dís possibilities within the Star Wars franchise. The re-release gave younger fans who hadnít gotten the chance to experience the film on the big screen a memorable experience.

The expanded universe has only further explored the history of podracing. Qui-Gon references the planet Malastare in The Phantom Menace, and the Star Wars: Republic comics fleshed out the world as having more upper class races than Tatooine. Ki-Adi Mundi has several adventures on Malastare, which is also the site of the Zillo Beast in The Clone Wars.

Although there havenít been many recent adventures featuring podracing, there was a plethora of The Phantom Menace tie-in material released in 1999 that fleshed out the other racers, Anakinís pod, and the importance of gambling within the Tatooine economy. Prequel fans still look back at the games with nostalgia.

What do you think, Rebelscum fans? Are you a podracing fan? Who is your favorite racer? Let us know in the forums, and as always may the Force be with you!
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