Business Insider has done a piece on Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The article covers, in depth I might add, the details surrounding the movie that was supposed to resurrect the Star Wars franchise from the ashes, only to have it ruined by Jar Jar Binks and his floppy tongue.
The main focus of the BI piece, is the amazing fight scene between Darth Maul and Obi-Wan / Qui-Gon Jinn. If you’ll remember, Darth Maul and his wicked double bladed lightsaber, kept Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon at arms length for most of the fight, despite the two Jedi working in tandem to defeat the Sith.
"“One of the most difficult parts of this sequence was figuring out a way to separate Obi-Wan from Qui-Gon. I had to have a situation where Qui-Gon could get trapped and Obi-Wan would have to look and watch him get killed and not be able to do anything about it.”"
Watching that scene for the first time in the theaters, I audibly shouted “NOOOO”, and at that first screening, I wasn’t the only one. Once Obi-Wan gets through the elctro-field, he takes on his master’s killer, in a flurry of lightsaber and force power vengeance.
"“This was a fun sword fight between Ewan and Ray because they were really into it and they were very much out to prove who was the better swordsman. They were very much challenging each other, which made for a challenging shoot but very exciting. They finished this and their swords were almost bent in half they were hitting each other so hard.”"
You could tell that the two actors threw everything into that fight, and it really paid off, on screen. It still goes down as one of the greatest fights in Star Wars history. However, there is one caveat as to how that scene came about.
"“[Obi-Wan] falls over the ridge earlier [in the battle], falls over here. Copying kind of what happens in ‘Empire Strikes Back’ with Luke in the same kind of sword fight with a Sith and falling over the edge.”"
Here’s where it gets good. As Darth Maul is looming over the seemingly helpless Obi-Wan, the Jedi channels the Force and leaps back onto the platform, dealing a death blow to the sinister Sith.
"“When you have four endings basically you have to figure out which is the most important and save it for last and the most shocking. Which is Darth Maul being cut in half, and you make it the last one.”"
The scene required Ewan McGregor to spring up from the pit, but the first attempt was with a trampoline and it Lucas could tell it looked just like that.
"“A challenge making that sequence was finding a way for McGregor to leap back onto the catwalk in a “graceful, Jedi-like move…After the shot, Lucas came over to say that from his monitor “you can see that he’s bouncing on something.”"
Then, a stroke of genius hit the stunt team, and they used a simple wooden plank to throw him up onto the platform, making the scene seem as if he had in fact used the force.
"“This leads to a practical solution, but one that’s surprising to see on the set of a “Star Wars” film. The stunt team decided to lift McGregor up while he’s standing on a wooden plank.”"
In a movie that had a budget of $115million, a wooden plank saved what would become one of the greatest fight scenes in Star Wars movie history.