Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is unique among the epic film saga for many reasons. It pushed the bounds of computer generated characters to new heights. It introduced a new era of Star Wars storytelling. It boldly assumed audiences were interested in twenty minutes of space chariot racing, including the flag parade, starting grid, and other assorted pageantry, with a fart joke for good measure. I was seven when I first saw the film, so objectively, all of that was awesome.
On top of all of this, The Phantom Menace framed its story around one planet and its culture more than any other Star Wars movie had done before or has done since. Naboo remains one of the most developed settings in the Star Wars canon, with countless content devoted to its citizenry, its history, and its government. As a child of the 90s with access to more video games than social situations, I am more familiar with the sociopolitical makeup and ecology of Naboo than any state in which I have resided, and I am not interested in changing that. I am instead interested in delving even further into Nabooology. I will hazard the guess that you are too, considering you are elbow-deep in this breakdown of the uniforms worn by the various silly-hatted Naboo military divisions in The Phantom Menace, for which no one asked. Amid the spectacular outfits of the Queen and the striking complimentary attire of her handmaidens, these brave guardians of the planet’s peace are often overshadowed. No more, we say.
Let’s do this.
This uniform is the most prominent in The Phantom Menace, and it represents the highest ranking officers. At the time of the invasion of Naboo, these officers wore a slick burgundy leather jerkin over a blue frock coat. Their gauntlets are a fantastic expression of the Naboo aesthetic, shared by the Naboo pilots in Attack of the Clones. The sharp black equestrian boots are unique to these personnel among the Naboo Royal Security Force, but are reminiscent of the officers of the Republic and the Empire. All of this is, of course, incomplete without a fabulous hat to cap this outfit off. (They still allow me one pun per article.) The spacious crown of the headgear could potentially serve as convenient storage for Captain Panaka’s opinions about Palpatine as well as other trash. Panaka is the most famous person to wear this ensemble, of course, and it is astounding that he can be so dour while looking so dapper.
A different but no less striking jerkin adorns these specialized protectors of Theed Palace, the monarch, and other notable Naboo citizens. Dressed in crimson, their military discipline reflects their off world training as much as their spectacular metallic helmets reflect everything else. I don’t have a lot to say about these guys, but that helmet led to them receiving a more prominent role in my action figure playtime as a child than they ever had in the film.
These yellow boiler suit-clad protectors keep the peace on Naboo’s streets and in its villages. Their humble role calls for a stripped-down version of the security officer hat. What they lack in back-of-neck sunburn protection, though, they regain in actual protection, wearing more armor than any other Naboo personnel. In the climactic battle for the fate of Naboo, these folks are seen piloting both the heavy Gian speeder and the swift Flash speeder. You would think that this would be their highest honor in the film, because these vehicles are cool, but you would be wrong.
Fans with an interest in sound design esoterica always keep a keen ear open for the Wilhelm scream. This classic Western sound effect was something of a signature for Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt, who managed to work it into most of his projects through his decades-long career. There were four takes of the Wilhelm scream recorded in 1951, and two of them are used in The Phantom Menace. When the Queen and her posse storm the Naboo hangar at the end of the film, both Wilhelm variants are yelped out by Naboo security guards killed in the line of duty.
If you’re going to die in a Star Wars film, the Wilhelm scream is the way to go out.