Fans’ first glimpse of Star Wars: The Force Awakens: ‘A sacred experience’

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cozy yule log video features Darth Vader’s burning body.

As the clock struck one minute past midnight, tens of thousands of fans who had queued to be among the first in the world to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens were glued to their seats. Overnight she’s become a global star — a gorgeous young British actress who enjoyed a private education at a Home Counties boarding school and up until now thought getting a small part in Casualty on the BBC was hitting the big time.A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away — well, Shropshire — my father took me to the cinema to see a film I’d been pestering him about for weeks. Odeon cinemas said they had sold 60,000 tickets for the 113 midnight screenings, and over 700,000 tickets overall, for the long-awaited film’s opening weekend.

Mr Obama is the first US president to have grown up in the 1970s, and was just 16 when the first Star Wars movie captured imaginations around the globe. I am not even going there,” said the 37-year-old public policy consultant, one of more than 200 Star Wars fans to have crossed the Atlantic to see the film two days before its official release in the United States. ‘Most expensive movie ticket in history’: One #StarWars fan spent “several thousand dollars” to fly to Paris to see #TheForceAwakens two days before its official release in the United States. And as the villainous Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer roared into view, laser guns blazing at its prey, I thought I would expire on the spot from sheer excitement. The trio of heroes who appeared in the first of the blockbusters in 1977 — smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), leader of the rebel alliance, and her twin brother Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) — are all back and played by the actors that Star Wars first made famous. If you had told us then that the Star Wars saga would still dominate the world’s imagination nearly 40 years later, we would have rolled our eyes in disbelief.

At the Imax screening in London, the capital’s biggest midnight showing of the film, Nicholas Ravery, 26, said he had made sure he got tickets to a midnight screening to ensure he avoided spoilers. “I’ve been off Facebook and the internet for three days to make sure this film is a complete surprise,” he said. “I’ve watched Star Wars since I was a kid. It was the first movie I ever saw.” Ravery said he was confident that the franchise was in safe hands with director JJ Abrams, and said he couldn’t remember the last time he had been so excited to watch a film. “They were also very smart to hide all the important plot point, which never happens. Despite the millions of people who seem to be addicted to this story, despite the billions of dollars hoovered up at the box office, these films are so superficial it makes one despair for our poor, febrile civilisation.

I realise, of course, that the universe has more than its fair share of Star Wars sceptics, who must already be sick to death of hearing about the new film. Indeed, the first film, released in 1977, is among the most influential motion pictures in history, since it revolutionised Hollywood’s approach to cinema and ushered in the age of the summer blockbuster. It’s received wisdom that the first three films were better than the next three, but all feature a numbing repetition of spaceship battles, duels with light sabres, and mass slaughter by-and-of stormtroopers in white, completely useless, plastic armour. Lois and David Tom, who are both in their sixties and who had also made the 9,000-kilometre journey from the Californian city, were beginning to feel the pace.

When we’re not watching those typical Hollywood brawls in which a handful of Our Heroes massacre hundreds of incompetent enemies, we’re savouring a galaxy of rubber-faced or furry-faced aliens that look as if they were designed by Patricia Piccinini, with the same cloying mixture of cuteness and ugliness. Both were hoping they wouldn’t fall asleep during the two-and-a-quarter-hour epic. “That would be a real pity given the price we have paid,” they laughed. She plays Rey (right), a role that could well do for her what the original did for Carrie Fisher I doubt I am alone in finding myself surprisingly moved by the courage of Tim Peake, the former test pilot who is proudly flying the Union Jack in the far reaches of space. And his feat is a reminder that stories of adventure and exploration — whether in fact or fiction — invariably bring out the wide-eyed little boy in all of us. It was awful.’ To prepare for the movie Daisy worked out for five hours a day, five days a week, and dropped carbs from her diet, instead favouring ‘fish, legumes and spirulina shakes’.

The school specialises in music, musical theatre and drama and counts Downton stars Lily James, Jessica Brown Findlay and X Factor’s Ella Henderson among its most recent alumnae. Star Wars emerged from the fractured landscape of mid-Seventies America, haunted by humiliating defeat in Vietnam and the pervasive stench of the Watergate scandal. Everybody seems to communicate in English, or to understand every other language, including the growlings of the Wookiee​, and the beeps and pops of the mini-robots. But George Lucas, a shy, geeky young man from the obscure suburban town of Modesto, California, dreamed of something different, as he later explained: a ‘real Errol Flynn, John Wayne kind of adventure’ that would ‘introduce a kind of basic morality’ and recapture the spirit of the old-fashioned comic book. Under the name ‘Demonchild Daisy’, she posted a picture of herself draped around a man with the words ‘Made in England’ written on her body in lipstick.

In particular, Lucas wanted to revive the West’s faith in itself. ‘We all know, as every movie in the last ten years has pointed out, how terrible we are, how wrong we were in Vietnam, how we have ruined the world, what schmucks we are and how rotten everything is,’ he said in 1977. ‘It had become depressing to go to the movies. Daisy has been dating public school-educated actor Charlie Hamblett, who played Mickey Yates in the television mini series Babylon in 2014, for several years. Even the first episode of 1977 starts with the Princess Leia’s ship being raided by Darth Vader and his minions long before we know anything about these characters or the worlds they inhabit. It’s hard to date once you’re a big Star Wars star because you don’t want to give people the ability to say: “I had sex with Princess Leia.”’

Precisely as Lucas had intended, they hark back to a more earnest, innocent age, mercifully devoid of the mocking cynicism that so often dominates our modern culture. This has entailed getting rid of some of the more pointless characters (there is nothing as irritating as Jar Jar Binks​), bringing back old favourites, and unearthing new talent.

Indeed, not only did President Reagan borrow the phrase ‘an evil empire’ to describe the Soviet Union, but his controversial Strategic Defence Initiative, which envisaged building laser weapons in space to shoot down the Kremlin’s missiles, even acquired the nickname Star Wars. In a calculated echo of the opening scenes of the 1977 film, Resistance pilot Poe Dameron​ (Oscar Isaac) conceals the map in a midget droid, BB-8, who avoids capture. And when you strip away the Destroyers and Death Stars, the robots and lightsabers, what you have left are the two basic themes in all literature — God and family. If you doubt it, just watch the rousing final battle sequence in the original film, when, flying his little fighter into the heart of the Death Star, Luke Skywalker turns off his computer and relies instead on his faith in the Force. The tragic irony is that Kylo Ren is actually the son of Han Solo and Princess – now General – Leia​ (Carrie Fisher), even though he is devoted to the Dark Side.

Indeed, for all its futuristic sheen, Star Wars is at heart a remarkably conservative vision of the world, presenting us with a universe in which there is no moral doubt and no self-hatred, faith trumps technology, and duty always gets its reward. In line with the enlightened times in which we live, it seems that a young woman and a black man will be the ones to carry that baton forward into chapters VIII and IX. With box office in excess of $US200 million ($278 million) for its opening weekend, nothing can derail this juggernaut, which will probably become the highest-grossing movie of all time.

Abrams and Michael Arndt​, based on characters by George Lucas; starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Andy Serkis​, Lupita Nyong’o​.

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