Killer fashion arrives at the ‘Star Wars’ London premiere

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Fans fly across globe to be first to see Star Wars.

In preparation for the new Star Wars movie, I planned to work my way through the six previous instalments in this never-ending saga. With the world abuzz over the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens yesterday (Dec 16), even the White House spokesman was asked if President Barack Obama would be catching the well-reviewed installment of the space saga. “I don’t know if he’s had the opportunity to see it yet.

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.From ‘storming’ the Great Wall with 500 troopers, and endorsing Chinese designers for a Star Wars clothing line and bag series, marketers did all they could to grab eyeballs.

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. Evidence of this can be found in orders for Star Wars merchandise in China, which Shanghai movie and comic merchandise retailer Wang Kai said makes up only about 10 per cent of that for movies featuring Marvel or DC heroes. “Star Wars may not generate as much interest in toy collectors compared to Marvel’s Avengers, DC’s Batman, these hero-related movies, They’ve been more successful because the characters have a deeper human interest appeal,” he said. “The Chinese are probably one of the most forward looking and open minded looking people as consumers. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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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