Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is a 1999 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. It is the fourth film in the Star Wars saga to be released, the first of a three-part prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy, and the first film in the story chronology. The film was Lucas' first production as a film director after a 22-year hiatus following the original Star Wars film, and his fourth film overall. The film's narrative follows the Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi. They escort and protect Queen Amidala, who is traveling from the planet Naboo to the planet Coruscant, hoping to find a peaceful end to a large-scale interplanetary trade dispute. The story also features a young Anakin Skywalker before he became a Jedi; he is introduced as a young slave boy who appears to have unusually strong nascent powers of the Force and must contend with the mysterious return of the Sith.