May 5, 2005. Members of Team Rebelscum attended various press screenings of Revenge of the Sith all over North America and in Great Britain. So enough with the bragging, you want to know what everyone thought! Well click on any of the Rebelscum Team Members names below to read their take on the final installment in the Star Wars Saga. All reviews should be spoiler free except where indicated. Really, what else is there to say, except "How long 'til May 19th?"
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On May 16th, 2005 my wife, Rachel, and I experienced the opportunity of a lifetime at the British premiere of Revenge of the Sith in Leicester Square, in the West End of London. As guests of Lucasfilm, thanks to Steve Sansweet, Rachel and I got to walk the red carpet and see the closure of the Star Wars story. After nearly 30 years of Star Wars this was the ultimate "coming of age" ceremony that a fan could wish for.
I had done a recce of Leicester Square earlier that day, and had noted that the crowds along the area cordoned off for the arrival of the celebrities were already beginning to build up. But even armed with that knowledge I wasn't prepared for the vast numbers of fans and the curious who would fill the square by the time the doors of the Odeon opened at 7:00pm.
By the time we arrived, my wife all dolled up in a silk Karen Millen dress and myself suited and booted in a grey 50's-style mohair suite adorned with a Star Wars Is Forever pin, given out by Rebelscum.com at Celebration III (though these were available at the London's Star Wars Celebration Day in limited quantities from Steve Sansweet), there were thousands filling Leicester Square. While my eyes were dazzled by hundreds of camera flashes, my ears were assaulted by a cacophony of shouts, chants and clapping.
Not being one of the famous I wasn't stopped by anybody, nor asked for my autograph, but that was fine because as soon as I got my foot on that most famous of rugs I walked into Jeremy and Maureen Bulloch. Recognising each other straight away we had a brief chat in front of the assembled masses, much to the chagrin of the fans who were desperate to get his autograph.
While we were chatting the volume of the crowd picked up and so I turned to see what was creating such a furore. The focus of the crowd's attention was none other than George Lucas who was pressing flesh with the fans.
As we stood back to marvel at the spectacle, absorb the atmosphere and watch the gas torches (which had been installed onto the front of the Odeon) erupt every few seconds we found ourselves being drawn into the cinema (actually we were being moved a few feet forward every few seconds by ushers who were continually trying to get the audience inside).
Just before we slipped through the doors I turned to see Ian McDiarmid doing an interview. Sadly my excitement got the better of me and my hands began to shake as I took the picture. And so we turned to step through the door way, but with all the distractions I failed to notice a certain Sith Lord bearing down on me and I had to hastily step out of the way of Christopher Lee who was heanding outside to conduct his own meet and greet. He was the first Sith Lord I was to have a brush with that night.
Inside the cinema we were directed to our seats in the Circle, where the cast, crew, favoured friends and other celebrities were seated. Around me I could see Ewan MacGregor, Hayden Christensen, Jeremy Bulloch, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Silas Carson, Oliver Ford Davies, Gavin Bocquet, and Nick Gillard as well as Leigh Francis (aka Avid Merrion from Bo'Selecta), John Culshaw (from Dead Ringers), David Walliams (from Little Britain), Trinny Woodall (from What Not To Wear), Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Sir Cliff Richards, the goons from McFly and a bunch of other notable personalities who I couldn't identify in the low lighting.
And then the curtain went back, revealing twenty-something stormtroopers (supplied by the UK Garrison of the 501st), and out strolled Rick McCallum to have a word before the show. My biggest dread was that the crowd would be as flat and lifeless as the press preview I saw the week before but I couldn't have been further from the truth. Where I was expecting polite and sedate clapping the audience exploded with cheers. Rick called for George Lucas, who received a tumultuous reception. After a brief speech in which George declared that "London was the home of Star Wars" and commented on how apt it was that the city that was the location where the first and last scenes of the Saga were shot should be the place to hold the best Revenge of the Sith opening ceremonies anywhere in the world.
Rick then then brought on the assembled Star Wars guests - and to my enjoyment it was like being at a pantomime. The crowd reacted differently for each of the actors: Ian McDiarmid was hissed and booed at and Kenny Baker got the biggest cheer when he tried to run across the stage to shake George’s hand. George then looked across the group of actors and said that it was had been an honour to work with them all, and then commented that he wanted to keep the group together so that they could all work on a few more films as a group. Hmmmm!
Once the stage was clear (the guy who ran out to remove the microphone got a cheer and a clap to which he waved and gave a bow) the curtains went up, the lights went down and we were in. No trailers, no ads, no anti-priracy warnings or reminders to turn off mobile phones. It was straight to the Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox logos which got loud cheers, and then the text crawl. The audience went crazy and gave the fanboys over in the Empire a run for their money!
At this point you will know how the film goes and so the only thing to say is "This is where the fun begins!"
When the credits rolled the applause was warm and, I think, tinged with a little bit of regret. Here was over a thousand people applauding the end of Star Wars. It was like standing at an open grave and clapping as the minister read the deceased's eulogy. I'm sure that many people realised that childhood was officially over - I could certainly hear some sniffing and quiet sobbing - and I know I shed a tear when it dawned on me that I would never again visit a cinema to see a first showing of a new Star Wars movie.
The audience began to slowly filter out while the credits were still running. Normally I would stay to read the names of all those that were involved in the film, but not this time. I heard a voice in my head say "If you don't see the end of the credits then Star Wars will never end" and so I turned my back on the screen and walked out. For all I know they might still be rolling at the Odeon in Leicester Square, which would mean I could stay in Neverland for a little longer.
Back in the upper lobby my mood became more upbeat and so I wandered over to have a chat with Warwick Davies and his friend Oli about the after-show party. While deep in conversation I felt someone bump into me and heard a young man apologise. Lifting my head up I realised I was looking into the face of the Dark Lord of the Sith, Hayden Christensen. Twice that night I had rubbed shoulders with the Sith and Famous. Unfortunately Ian McDiarmid had already left the building so I couldn't complete the hat-trick. The night was capped off with another meeting with Hayden who graciously signed my premiere ticket for me.
With the cinema empty and the management keen to get everyone back outside, we stepped out into the dark and rainy night with the knowledge that the tale of the Skywalkers ended on a high note. Outside the crowds had thinned out dramatically but there were still some persistent fans clamouring for autographs and a last glimpse at George, Rick and Hayden who had stayed until the last. With one last final goodbye to make I crossed over to Steve to thank him for my ticket and promise to catch up with him after his whistle-stop tour of Europe has come to an end.
And just like with the closing credits, I now feel that if I don't stop writing this review of the premiere then Star Wars will never be over. But life goes on and I cling to the sentiment that Star Wars Is Forever.