The force is back

by Staff

Once in a while, without anyone even knowing it, events take place that end up shaping and defining a generation. Similar to people reminiscing over the first time they saw a man walk on the moon, this generation is all about “Star Wars.” How many times have you told the story about the first time you saw “Star Wars” (probably with your mom and dad), or what action figures you played with or how you always pretended to be Princess Leia or Han Solo when you played with your friends?

Now that George Lucas has decided to celebrate 20 years of “Star Wars” by re-releasing the trilogy (“Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi”) with restored prints, enhanced and new visual effects and a remastered soundtrack, the question begging to be asked is, “Is all this hoopla worth it?”

The first clue indicating that “Star Wars” is much more than just a movie is the sheer volume of people going to see it. Close to 20 theaters across San Diego have been sold out daily since the special edition release on Friday, Jan. 31. The 990 seats at the Cinema 21 in Hotel Circle have been sold out six times daily with no end in sight. Extra employees have been hired to help with line management, and one parking attendant from the adjacent hotel, The Handlery, is fed up with the “obnoxious, mouthy college students” trying to park in the hotel’s lot.

Another indication that this movie is worth all the hubbub is the way all kinds of people love “Star Wars.”

“The people showing up are basically a mixed group, from little kids to older people,” said Rose Baquiran, 18, an extra called in to help with line management. “The only thing the same about them is how excited everybody is.”

Becky Greene, 44, remembers standing in line to see “Star Wars” with her husband 20 years ago. Today she stands in line with her husband and her 7- and 14-year-old children.

“Me and my husband stood in line 20 years ago at Valley Circle not knowing anything about the movie, and we were absolutely blown away,” Greene said. “Now my family owns the trilogy on video, but I wanted the kids to see it on the big screen.

“I think the movie is such a classic and remains timeless because the theme of the whole series is the force, and everyone is looking for a force in their life.”

Greene’s 14-year-old son, Bud, said he is looking forward to seeing the new effects and “the Jawas and Luke.” Bud said Luke is his favorite “because he is the hero.”

Not wanting to be “the only kid on the block who hasn’t seen it” is why John O’Brien, 24, came to see the special edition.

“The Jawas are my favorite because my two brothers and I dressed up like them for Halloween one year. So they hold a special place in my heart,” O’Brien said. “‘Star Wars’ is a classic because you get a chance to reminisce about your childhood.”

After seeing “Star Wars” approximately 45 times over his lifetime (he and his roommate own a copy), Dustin Davis, 23, a recent SDSU graduate came to see it on the big screen.

“I think the religious concept behind ‘Star Wars’ is kind of trippy,” Davis said. “The Jedi as a religious clan comparable to the Roman Empire, the whole ‘good vs. evil’ thing.”

Davis also came to check out the new special effects.

“It is sick!” he said. “It is so rad with all the new computer animation. Especially the Jabba part.”

Whether people are standing in line for childhood memories, religious iconry, cool special effects or a secret crush on Han Solo or Princess Leia, “Star Wars” has obtained well-deserved legendary status. It’s a connecting force in our culture and just a damn fine movie. So go forth, little Jawas, see the special edition, and may the force be with you.

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