No, I haven't come to praise the whole of the movie Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Mind you, I think its failings, such as they are more complex than most reviewers and fans have quite captured in their rants, but that's the exact reason I won't be dealing with that lengthy subject today.
Today, I merely want to make a note of the title, "The Phantom Menace".
There was quite a storm of absurd vitriol when the title was announced. Most fans, it seems, did not really understand the pulp and movie serial tradition from which George Lucas was drawing at all and many of the rest didn't quite grasp that he's clearly well beyond the kind of surface fan that so many modern writers, artists and directors are, using some bits and pieces of the look but not wholly buying into the tradition, lock, stock and barrel.
That, however, is a larger subject: "George Lucas and the love of pulp", which would explain some of my unholy love Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the pulpiest of that series, thus answering the call given to me by Greg Ferrara in the But How Strange the Change From Major to Minor comments, and perhaps in conjunction with The Indiana Jones Blog-a-thon or at least my eventual thoughts on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
But more important than the pulp/serial tradition from which the style of the title comes is the story.
Does anyone have a better name for that story? Forget your opinion of whether the movie itself told the story successfully. Frankly, the title pretty much is a nice distillation of a very important element of that story, and would seem appropriate to any telling of it, at least assuming an audience understands the various shades of meaning the word phantom carries with it, a place where Lucas may have actually overestimated his audience.