‘Star Wars Episode I’: What went wrong?

Wide Screen

"Jar Jar is the key to all this," declares director George Lucas in a behind-the-scenes video filmed during the production of "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace."

Of course, anyone who remembers that night in May 1999 when the hapless Gungan goofball Jar Jar Binks nearly ruined the "Star Wars" franchise would probably disagree with Lucas' assessment of the now-reviled alien character. Lucas' hilarious Jar Jar declaration is just one of the many moments captured in the behind-the-scenes montage that now look like terrible mistakes in hindsight.

The footage also features Lucas and producers auditioning several child actors for the pivotal role of young Anakin Skywalker -- another fateful decision that would ultimately divide fans when the sci-fi prequel was released. Lucas ended up choosing "Jingle All the Way" actor Jake Lloyd as the future Darth Vader after seeing him screen test opposite the already-cast Natalie Portman. Between the awful "Are you an angel?" dialogue and Portman's irritated expression, it's hard to believe that Lloyd actually got the part. But George Lucas apparently saw something in the youngster that others -- including most fans -- didn't.  It's quite sad, really, and certainly not young Lloyd's fault. No one should be subjected to such terrible writing at such a very young age.

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But it's not just the Jar Jar and Lloyd snippets that stand out in the video. There are countless cringe-worthy moments where Lucas admits to the cast and crew that he has doubts about what he's doing -- and not a single one of them agrees or challenges him on a single thing. When a billionaire director says "I may have gone too far," you either explain to them why they haven't or show them how they did. The video captures the sort of film-making environment that made "The Phantom Menace" doomed to be a bad movie from the start.

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The producers of Disney's upcoming "Star Wars" sequels would be advised to watch this "What went wrong?" video as a lesson in what not to do for "Episode VII." The fans will thank you.