Saga The Phantom Menace VS. A New Hope

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by skyrimcat9416, Dec 8, 2013.

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  1. skyrimcat9416 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2013
    star 1
    Which film do you think is better?

    Both The Phantom Menace and A New Hope served as introductions to their particular trilogies. The Phantom Menace was the first chapter of the Prequel Trilogy, and A New Hope was the first chapter of the Original Trilogy.

    I honestly MUCH prefer The Phantom Menace. For one thing, TPM has always been favorite Star Wars Film.

    I also think TPM has the much better story. It also better action, better special effects, much better characters, its much more diverse, it has a fantastic score, and I just love the overall atmosphere of the film.

    A New Hope, I just find to be very dated and the film doesn't really add any depth and or story. It is very slow-paced and not much happens in the film except for Luke Skywalker destroying the Death Star. I've gotten to a point where I prefer Return of the Jedi to it, and it has become my least favorite film of the Original Trilogy. But that is just me. I still like the film.

    So which film do you prefer, The Phantom Menace or A New Hope?
    Last edited by skyrimcat9416, Dec 8, 2013
  2. Darkslayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2013
    star 4
    I like The Phantom Menace more personally, but you can't go wrong with either.
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  3. Samnz Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 3
    The Phantom Menace and A New Hope are so alike. It's really hard to choose.

    Personally, I prefer TPM because the film is more ambitious and better balanced.

    Both films revolve around the female main character and both films represent the first step of one of the Skywalkers. I think TPM did a better job of balancing those two stories. Leia is not much more than "bait" until the middle of the movie and when she is freed, she's still rather passive (expect when she's arguing with Han). With TPM, there was a strong focus on Padmé and the lesson she learns while Anakin was still given enough screentime. The roots are clearly laid.

    They simply don't achieve more with Luke in ANH, but rather less. As I said in another thread, I prefer the fact that Anakin had to make a real choice to Luke who was ultimately put into a situation where his decision was nothing more than a no-brainer. His conflict was resolved more by the circumstances and less by his choice. That's not bad. But if you look at Anakin, they could really use this very decision in the subsequent films to test and develop him.

    Additionally, TPM portrays a broader story. The movie was more challenging, I guess. It introduced us to the Senate, the Jedi-Order, the Trade Federation, the Sith....They also knew that this would be the first entry of a trilogy, so the movie feels less "redundant" in part (although others might argue here).

    I like them both. First chapters are great. TPM is just slightly ahead for me. I also love the mother/son dynamic in the film. It was really touching, Pernilla August was perfect cast and perhaps the best actress in the Saga.
    Last edited by Samnz, Dec 8, 2013
  4. squir1y Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 1, 2003
    star 2
    I guess A New Hope because it's the one that started it all and I liked the characters better. Nothing against the characters in TPM, in fact I like them, but I thought the originals had better story arcs. (And I'll take five Chewbacca's for every Jar Jar Binks) But both movies I think had better sequels. But that's because the first movies in each trilogy did what they were supposed to do: introduce the characters. Then the sequels really roll out the story. I think they both did that quite well.
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  5. Han Burgundy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2013
    star 3
    I like TPM, but as not just a SW fan but a cinephile in general, this isn't even a contest.

    ANH is the movie that changed movies. It is the Citizen Kane of blockbuster action cinema (in terms of its decades-long influence on the industry). The story may be simplistic compared to the rest of the saga, but that's part of its charm (and it's often overlooked how many nuances and complexities are worked into the story. Listen to the Imperial boardroom meeting or Obi Wan's talks more closely and you'll find the political groundwork for the prequels is largely already there). It's a timeless story of a boy who yearns for more in his life, and gets pulled by fate into an epic adventure.

    It's the only film in the saga that works as a stand-alone film. The way it introduces the viewer into the richly detailed universe of Star Wars is absolutely brilliant. In Luke and Han, George Lucas gave us two tethers to this alien world; one wide eyed and willing to soak it all in, and another one more jaded and cynical, winking at the audience and acknowledging how ridiculous it all is, thereby allowing the film to operate without pretense. The film contains probably the finest acting preformance in the saga with Alex Guiness, as he lays down so much exposition in a way that is not only compelling to watch, but leaves us wanting to know more about the world beyond the screen.

    And the story just flows. Does it slow down a smidge on Tatooine? Sure, but I'd argue less so than TPM visit to that planet. The film works it's character development and plot development simultaneously, rarely stopping, and as we leave tatooine the film just gets bigger and more intense. The Death Star espionage is probably the most direct bit of Flash-Gordon influenced fun in the saga, just a great piece of pulp entertainment.

    And then, it all builds towards the Battle of Yavin. What a transformative moment in the history of film. Though subsequent battles in the saga went larger and more complex, there is so much to be said about the way this action is so singular in its focus, not giving the audience an opportunity for distraction from anything other than speeding ships and high stakes. The use of rollercoaster-like imagery to pull the view in is fantastic, and the small number of rebels means we feel it in our gut when each x-wing falls, lowering the chances significantly that our heroes might succeed. But Luke stays alive, and, with the help of some advice from the spirit of his mentor and the last minute intervention of a redeemed Han, he shoots his torpedoes into the belly of the beast, and we wait. The thrusting staccato of John Williams matches our heart beat as we see the heroes fly away, the Death Star operators priming the station's gun, one final look at a pensive Tarkin, and BOOM.

    I honestly can't imagine what it would have been like to be in the theater, in 1977, and seeing the Death Star explode, the greatest exclamation mark in the history of cinema. But I've heard the stories.

    I think TPM is a good film. It might (maybe) even be a better Star Wars film than A New Hope. But there's a reason ANH is considered a classic, not just in the fantasy genre but in cinema as a whole. If ANH hadn't ambushed the imaginations and hearts of the world with the vigor that it did, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. It's a film that absolutely mesmerized me when I saw it back in 1997 as a toddler, and it's stuck with me since in a way no other film has.
    Last edited by Han Burgundy, Dec 8, 2013
  6. Team Padme Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 4
    TPM is more of an entertaining movie...but if I had to say I think I'd go with ANH. Love them both though!
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  7. Count Yubnub Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 2012
    star 4
    Yeah.... sure TPM is great, and sure ANH has dated bits (pacing, sideburns).... but, the Death Star trench run is just such an incredibly brilliant piece of filmmaking.

    So, ANH.
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  8. Force Smuggler Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    ANH by miles. Watched it I think last weekend and it was so enjoyable. The characters, the plot, the aliens, everything. Only way to start the saga imo. Learning about the Force and the mystery of Luke's father. The lightsaber duel might not be the best but it works. The Battle of Yavin is the best space fight in the saga. I also like the datedness and corniness of the movie.
    This movie created the saga. It was the most simple so start there and go to ESB and let the complexities begin.
  9. Carbon1985 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2013
    star 3
    I don't know about ANH, but I loved and still love that movie that came out in 1977 called Star Wars that was a standalone movie that had a beginning, middle and ending where nobody was related. I agree that the updated version called ANH is pretty bad.
    Last edited by Carbon1985, Dec 8, 2013
  10. Han Burgundy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2013
    star 3
    Here's the thing... as someone who grew up with the Special Editions, I think the strength of ANH as a film is so, so much bigger than whether or not there's an extra CGI alien in the background, a ring of energy pulsing from the exploding Death Star, or if a certain someone shot first or second. I watched the ANH for the first time with all that extra stuff put in, and I still consider it to be one of the greatest films ever made, a work of near-perfection within its genre, alongside Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Godfather. If that stuff, or even the "appalling" idea that the story might continue beyond a singular film, and that those films would retrospectively add new layers to the story, is enough to degrade your view of the film, than I suggest you take a less superficial look on your next viewing.
  11. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    I do like TPM. But the dialogue, banter, and charisma of the characters of ANH bury TPM.
  12. Legolas Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 6
  13. Frank T. Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    The first half of Star Wars beats TPM badly for my money. The second half of Star Wars loses to TPM.
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  14. Carbon1985 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2013
    star 3
    Why would you assume I don't enjoy all 6 SW movies? I enjoy all of them in the context that I have seen them and been doing that since 1977. SW'77 works best for me as a standalone movie, while ESB/ROTJ works best as a 1-2 story arc where a lot of major plot points have changed from the original. The PT works for me as nice back story to the OT. I am eagerly awaiting the ST too. It works for me this way, so I don't know why anyone would have a problem with it.
  15. Han Burgundy Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2013
    star 3
    Sorry, i didn't intend to come off as combative as I did. It just sounded from your post as though you viewed all changes to 1977 Star Wars, including the Special Editions as well as the sequels and prequels, as things that detract from the quality of the original film. That's something I disagree with. But now I see that wasn't really the point you were making, so cheers.
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  16. Cryogenic Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 5
    The Phantom Menace.

    It's much more imaginative, in my opinion, and powerfully builds on the preceding movies, and various bits-n-pieces that Lucas tried out and abandoned in the development of the ANH, or squiggled in some notepad somewhere and forgot about it, and comes bursting forth rich in colour and detail. There barely seems to be a leaf or a speck of sand, real or digital, not tended to and thought over in TPM.

    I also think the themes and the characters are quite a lot deeper, in many ways, in TPM. Which isn't to say that the characters in ANH are shabby -- some of them, of course, are characters introduced (or re-introduced) in TPM, so they're clearly experiencing an arc, and one can appreciate the full trajectory and/or any one part of it. But the characters in TPM, right from the start, seem to be embedded in a larger galaxy and have something more closely approximating an internal life, in my opinion. The fact that they are often shown holding their emotions in check and implied to be obeying certain codes of etiquette, or even in Jar Jar's case, speaking a particular from of "Basic", distinct from the other English-speaking citizens of the galaxy, yet still perfectly well able to interact with them, kinda gives the TPM crew an "edge" over the characters that appear in ANH. Of course, Han, Luke, and Leia have very luminous personalities, and they're very fun to be around, so I certainly like them just fine, but the direction seems (purposefully) less guarded in ANH. Indeed, the "loose goose" quality of ANH and the energy of its three leads is part of the picture's immense charm, but it's not as emotionally or intellectually satisfying, I don't think, as the way Lucas went about things in TPM. When he returned to the SW galaxy with Episode I, he choose to evoke an incredible contrast.

    Now, the Campbellian motif of leaving home is plenty powerful in ANH, but Anakin's own departure and the issues surrounding it, or the issues it brings up, if only peripherally here, to be developed later -- another great aspect of TPM I love is its preliminary nature -- are, in many ways, a great deal more stirring, I think. As another poster put it in a great post I simply can't find right now (try as I might, I can't locate it; even though I was reading it just the other night), Luke really has little choice but to leave home, while Anakin is much more of a wanderlust, with an unsettling mix of naivete and ego concerning his place in the universe. As he tells Qui-Gon, gazing at the stars, "I wanna be the first one to see 'em all". He, Anakin Skywalker -- "I'm a person and my name is Anakin" -- desired to get their first and leave his mark on the universe. Luke's reasons for leaving home and what he dreams of seem much tamer in comparison, despite the brutality of his foster parents' murders. Anakin, in contrast, has lots of little taints and foibles that will bring pain to himself and the galaxy, before he is eventually able to draw on that same reserve and, through Luke's own faith in him, effect a change for good. And Anakin doesn't actually *have* to leave in TPM. His existence is somewhat rather comfortable, despite the servitude he finds himself under. And that whole slavery angle -- brilliant. This is what I meant when I mentioned characters and themes in the last paragraph: they're very strongly intertwined in TPM. It's an involving story with an interesting mix of wide-eyed optimism and a much more discreet sense of aching melancholy and dark foreboding. To get a slight handle on what I mean there, consider the juxtaposition of scenes in the same span of narrative time between Anakin and his maternal handlers: Shmi and Padme. These are directed with perfect poignancy by Lucas and then he just as quickly darts away and fills the sad void with regal music and heralds. Listen to the version of the Force Theme that plays as Anakin walks away from his mother without (for now) looking back. And then listen to the music announcing our heroes' arrival at Coruscant right after Padme comforts Anakin onboard the queen's ship. There is a beautiful blending of character, theme, and tone.

    I always ramble about this movie, TPM. I don't always want to, but I can never seem to help it. It has a certain power and restraint, or, at least, a sensitivity and awareness, not shown in the other five. It's doing something different. Another facet that impresses me about the film is how, at times, Lucas is able to frame the story from the point-of-view of a child. For example, there's a brief moment when we see the world through Threepio's eyes, as we see him watching Anakin walk to and fro, from a high (and confused) angle. This is mirrored a few scenes later by Anakin looking up at Palpatine and Valorum and gazing at Padme for reassurance who lends him a warm smile, newly arrived on Coruscant, the two future lovers sharing a touching form of communication dimmed or not available to the souls of others in this GFFA. The OT brought much to the table, but it never quite achieved this subtle rewiring of our senses through the POV of "lesser"/"innocent" characters. There is so much to take in in TPM. These little moments might almost serve as perspective-enhancing parables: a brief visual nod to the broader tapestry at work -- a delicate conceit by the artist that this trilogy is bigger and more complicated. It can help, at times, to reduce the world to a dutch angle, or to knowingly give over some screen time to a goofy orange frog in bell-bottom trousers who almost everyone else -- inside and the film and outside of it -- thinks ridiculous. Except Padme, of course. And that also speaks to the film's peculiar richness. Their are special bonds forged here which will resonate down the saga. They serve also to highlight the specialness of the spark of consciousness which we all have. History can seemingly go a billion ways based on the smallest of perturbations. TPM is a very observational, deeply conceived, powerfully reflective film, especially when resolved into a larger whole.

    The whole galactic setting of TPM is quite a bit more exciting, too, for me. I love the giganticism of the world design on display. It's wonderfully baroque: an attractive mix of vintage sci-fi thrills, storybook visuals, and Visconti-esque castles ... their pristine, lonely corridors so suggestive of Padme herself: a world within a world which imprisons Padme and which she, ironically, or not, is determined to defend, even violently, than see given over to her enemies. This, combined with the rush of sleek, chrome starships, Gungan bubble cities, a mushroom-like senate chamber with a vortex interior, and a stunning assortment of podracer machines -- like a futurist exhibition from the 19th Century -- presided over by a sultan slug with a booming voice, this is what makes TPM so memorably outrageous. It's a tour-de-force (pun intended) of light and sound. The mimetic aspects inspire awe, too. If you look at the creature design, and I mean really look at it, what Lucas and his artists achieved, especially with 1990s computer technology, is simply astonishing. Watto, Jar Jar, Sebulba. Three amazing characters, brilliantly realized in every detail. And that's not counting, say, the underwater baddies that triangulate in an epic dance of nature as three other, feebler bioforms rove through dangerous sea caverns to reach their destination (a rather striking allusion to the "Duel of the Fates" lightsaber vignette), or Jabba, or Yoda (as he now exists), or the battle droids, or the other podracers, or the beasts stampeding on Naboo and the ones used by the Gungans when they march to war, etc. This volume of high-quality CG creature creation remains a revelation. I'm still amazed at how much subtlety there is in the animation of Watto and Jar Jar -- still. I only recently noticed that in the podracer hangar, for example, Jar Jar takes two sets of steps behind Qui-Gon, at subtly different speeds: the second set of steps are slightly faster than the first after he flags behind and clearly desires Qui-Gon's father-like protection. Or have you ever noticed Jar Jar very slightly flinching when Obi-Wan turns to him momentarily when they're sneaking around Theed? Or how this is reprised at the dinner table on Tatooine when Qui-Gon leans forward and says: "Is there anyone friendly to the Republic that might help us?" Such incredibly fine-grained stuff, but it's there if you pay close attention. It all suggests a level of precision barely imaginable when Lucas was crafting ANH in the mid/late 70s. Here, his imagination is untethered, and it's so inspiring to watch the way it plays out.

    I'm very taken with all the ritualized elements at work in TPM, as well. Y'know, that Asian aesthetic, and everything else. The world design is a big part of that: and the way the world is revealed. But there are dozens of other layers, like the way Lucas suggests both kabuki and older fire-dancing rituals with the blazing-red makeup of Darth Maul, and the way he portrays him as a figure on the outskirts of civilization, only just conceivably a part of this universe. And I love the evil of Maul attacking Qui-Gon out in the desert, when he's been running and at his weakest, while Maul rode all the way there on his bike: a young panther picking off an older, sick animal. Their brief duel is shot immaculately, all light beams and fanning robes. And the way Obi-Wan calmly tells Ric Olie to take off (this was actually Qui-Gon's last instruction to Anakin -- "Tell them to take off!" -- so it's pretty ominous that Anakin was apparently unable to honour it). And when Qui-Gon is retrieved, he is now really out of breath, though he quickly recovers. Maul watches, defeated, but one can sort of read into Maul's emotions: he know he has worn down his prey and will strike again soon, next time to make the kill. That is pretty sinister stuff. In TPM, Lucas pays homage to nature in a number of ways, and he doesn't shy from encoding, with wonderful abstraction, how flucked-up nature can be. Again, I think this is one many aspects that gives TPM something over ANH.

    It's so frustrating because I've always got so much to say.

    Anyway, some of TPM's better qualities have already been mentioned, like the mother-son relationship between Anakin and Shmi, and what a wonderful actress Pernilla August is. She definitely gives a very fine performance here: a true saga highlight. Her scenes with Liam Neeson are equally delightful: a second saga highlight. But talking of that word, let me say one more thing about TPM that I think is worth noting. I find it a bit fatuous, actually, looking back, that the original trilogy was being referred to as "The Star Wars Saga" once upon a time. It's not really a saga because it's a mere three movies following a single generation of characters. Of course, you can have a different interpretation, but I find the word a bit of a stretch in that limited context. However, with TPM charting a brand new panoply of characters, and a greatly-expanded world -- NOW you have a saga on your hands. That, in itself, is a key contribution TPM makes to the other films and this thing we call "Star Wars". The original trilogy is vividly recast as part of an epic chronicle: the fluctuating fortunes of a very big canvas of characters and the social and cultural institutions and fabrics to which they tentatively belong. The OT is really too contained and too small of a story to truly do that. But TPM is sufficiently estranged from the originals, while deepening their earlier characters and themes, as to actually lend an enormous and genuine sense of scope -- a true mythological sweep -- to everything one is both watching and about to watch (or could, in theory, watch). I find it quite potent in stimulating both the heart and mind.

    And what else may be found in TPM that might not be found, or not nearly so much, in ANH? Well, try a fountain of youth. This amazing "Garden Of Eden" feel gives one something to return to for multiple purifications. TPM is so lush and so surreal in this regard that it truly becomes a work of art unto itself. It is a complete thing: warm, full of charm, bright-and-bushy-tailed in its worldview, cleverly constructed to have a coiling narrative tail (unlike the other SW movies, it starts and ends on the same planet -- references to circles abound in this film), and many of the touches seem that little bit more inspired given the steeped nature of the original films, safe, untouchable, allowing Lucas, and giving him the gumption, to try something new. An example of this concerns the last sound of the film: the unmistakeable breath of Darth Vader. The ghost in the machine? Yes. And also Lucas breathing a sigh of relief that the first film in the saga, and in many ways, the most critical, had been completed. And that, more importantly, he, George Lucas, had returned to the world of Star Wars and gone back to complete something approaching a life-long dream. It is the authentic mark of the maker: the artist's signature. All those clever little stitches and then that final one. Find me that great sense of completion and satisfaction in the other five. TPM lays a wonderful fresh foundation and is also a fitting capstone to the original film that germinated it. It's knowing that -- that these other films are already out there and can also be enjoyed -- that makes me like TPM all the more. It is all the more flooring because it treats the originals, and even the film that inspired those (Kubrick's "2001") as found objects (there's even a "pod" -- geddit? -- in Watto's junkyard). That is, not merely "other films in a series", but kind of trinkets from another place, another time, as if serving as commentary on them much as a film on an historical figure also functions as a meditation of changing cultural values: a slice of history in animate form. Or, in Lucas' words, a "jazz riff". And, in my opinion, a very transporting one at that.
    Last edited by Cryogenic, Dec 8, 2013
  17. Rachel_In_Red Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2013
    star 3
    ANH. This shouldn't even be a question.
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  18. skyrimcat9416 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 1, 2013
    star 1
    I'm guessing you are a another PT hater???
    Last edited by skyrimcat9416, Dec 8, 2013
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  19. Force Smuggler Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 6
    Who says she hates TPM or the PT? She might like ANH more than TPM and the PT but still really enjoy TPM. Or maybe she likes AOTC and ROTS. Doesn't make her a PT hater.
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  20. Rachel_In_Red Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2013
    star 3
    Bingo. :)
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  21. Darkslayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2013
    star 4
    There's no movie called "Star Wars" what the heck are thinking. And did you miss the parts where Luke is talking to his AUNT and UNCLE, and also where he meets his sister and sees his father for the first time?

    There is:
    Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
    Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones
    Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
    Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope
    Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
    Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

    I don't see any movie called plain old Star Wars.
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  22. Darkslayer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2013
    star 4
    Oh and to put things in perspective I view the OT as an expansion of the PT.
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  23. Jarren_Lee-Saber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 16, 2008
    star 4
    It does if she says "it shouldn't even be a question". That sentence in a single swipe dismisses all other opinions and designates them as worthless and not even worth hearing or discussing.
    And if you're wondering why it SHOULD be a question, read Cryogenic's beautiful post immediately above.

    TPM for me. Exactly the same as the OP said, ANH has now been relegated to my least liked SW film, while TPM is easily my favorite.
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  24. Rachel_In_Red Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2013
    star 3
    Because I said "It shouldn't even be a question" doesn't mean I meant it literally. Lighten up a bit. :)
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  25. Jarren_Lee-Saber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 16, 2008
    star 4
    This is the internet! We are all inwardly seething with nerd rage! :p [:D]
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