The Opening of Episode One Where it Really Matters-
by Courtney Knopf
Iím not a Star Wars fanatic by any means. You will never see me dressed
up in a gold Princess Leia bikini or one of those Queen Amidala getups.
I didnít even see the first three installments until they were
re-released into theatres two years ago. That was due mostly in part to
my mother, who wouldnít let me see them when I was a kid because she
thought Iíd be scared of the Ewoks.
Yeah. The Ewoks. The furry teddy bear-like moppets. Cause you know, I
definitely wouldnít be scared of Darth Vader or the Storm Troopers or
Jabba. Iíd be scared by the Ewoks. But moving right alongÖ
Yet despite these roadblocks to fanaticism, I somehow managed to see
Episode One: The Phantom Menace on opening day at Mannís Chinese
in Hollywood. I mean, itís not that big a deal because I live
here in Los Angeles. Itís not like I came all the way from
Australia like the guy in the front of the line who had been
there for five weeks. Because that would be excessive. Just to give you
a frame of reference as to exactly why people were so set on seeing it
at this particular theatre: Mannís Chinese Theatre is one of the last
grand movie palaces. Itís the one where all of the stars have their
hand and foot prints in cement out in front and also tends to be the
location for a lot of bigger Hollywood movie premieres. There is also a
balcony upstairs reserved for celebrities who often sit and watch their
movies on opening night with the general public.
I go to the same film school that George Lucas went to, and therefore
Iím surrounded by people who worship him like a god. Iíve even known a
few people who make a ritual sacrifice to him every now and then. So I
suppose itís natural that a good deal of my friends are fanatical about
Star Wars. So fanatical in fact that on May 12th, when advance tickets
went on sale for Episode One, they stood in line for twelve
to procure their tickets for opening day. Really, I think they just
should have used Moviephone. 777-FILM is what itís all about, if you ask
me. I can imagine it now; "Hello, and welcome to Moviephone. If youíre a
Star Wars Geek, press One now for advance tickets to Episode One:
Phantom Menace." I dunno, that just seems a lot easier than
line for a whole day. But hey, thanks to their fervor, I ended up with a
ticket to the 10:30 p.m. showing on opening day.
Even though the movie started at 10:30 and wouldnít be letting in for
seating until around 9:45, my friends were in line at 2:30 in the
afternoon. And even getting there so early, they were still behind about
75 people. But considering that the Chinese Theatre has seating for
2000, this was not much of a setback.
Waiting in line was like going to a reunion of sorts. So many people we
knew walked past and stopped to chat with us, that we came to the
conclusion that the entire auditorium would be comprised of USC students
and then a few other random people. And thatís how it seemed Ė once we
were inside, I was almost surprised not to hear the oh-so-grating SoCal
Shout Out that is supposedly some show of school spirit and solidarity.
Itís a good thing too, because I would have jumped out of my seat and
laid the smack down on whoever started it, because really, itís more a
show of idiocracy than anything else.
But back to that whole waiting in line thing. At random intervals,
there were people coming by handing out free drinks Ė big ass bottles of
SoBe and YooHoo Ė and there were also some genuises handing out bendy
frisbees that had the declaration "I Am Sci-Fi" on them. Oh yes, yes you
are sci fi. But surprisingly, most of the people in line were
not sickly pale Star Wars dorks who do nothing but sit in front of
countingdown.com all day waiting with rabid anticipation for the counter
to hit zero. I figured all of those people had already seen it at
12:01 the night before. Whoo, am I glad I wasnít there to endure the
smell of the unwashed masses who had been in line for a month. Though
there were quite a few scary individuals who had on the full Darth Maul
makeup or were dressed like Obi-Wan Kenobi or Queen Amidala. Though
thankfully, no one was enough of a moron to dress up like Jar Jar.
Once we were finally let in the theater, it was an absolute free for
all. Yet amazingly, we were able to get our usual row (either 11 or 12,
a topic of much debate among my friends). And thatís when I
decided that those geniuses handing out the frisbees in line should have
been drug out into the street and shot. Just imagine it; youíre in an
immense theatre with 2000 antsy people whoíve been waiting 17 years for
this movie. Add in flying objects and what do you get? Beaned in the
head, thatís what. All at once someone decided it was a good idea to
start tossing the frisbees, and within seconds there were about 500
frisbees airborne, cutting arcs through the theatre. Can you say duck
and cover? I can.
Then people started chanting. STAR. WARS. STAR. WARS. This fervor, I
just cannot understand. But hey, it makes them happy. Even the two
German guys sitting in front of us got into it.
When the lights finally went down, Iím convinced that the cheer which
erupted from the crowd left me with permanent ear damage. Surprisingly
though, the audience was almost reverently silent throughout most of the
movie, only applauding and shouting when somebody used the Force or when
Yoda or R2D2 & C3PO came on screen.
I must admit I wasnít all impressed with the movie itself, and that damn
Jar Jar Binks character needs to be erased out of his computer generated
existence. But really, I didnít go on opening night for the movie
itself, I just went to see the freaks. But it really was a hell of a
lot of fun, even if I got hit with about 47 frisbees. Now If youíll
excuse me, I have to go deliver some food to my friends. Theyíre already
queued up in the line for tickets to Episode Two.