Watching Star Wars Episode III: An Adventure in Geekdom

The phone call seemed almost too good to be true. Out of potentially hundreds of people in Cardiff who must have called in to get guestlisted for the advance Star Wars screening, our names had been selected. It was pure chance that we'd even entered: a friend had happened to see the Richard & Judy episode where they'd announced the screening and had passed on the telephone number; Jo called; we didn't expect to win.

Monday was thus spent scouring the shops for Star Wars t-shirts. Marks and Spencer's boyswear department proved to be our salvation: ignoring the dirty looks of M&S tillbitches, we acquired the coolest kiddie shirts ever and thereby secured permanent "awesome" status for ourselves.

Getting to sleep on Monday night was difficult. I felt like a child at Christmas, waking up every half an hour with a stomach full of butterflies. Finally, at 7:30am, I got up, showered, and danced around in my Vader shirt till it was time to go. Photographs and lightsaber fighting later, Jo and I set off for the cinema, filled with nervous anticipation and haunted by constant terror that our names wouldn't really be on the guestlist. On reaching the cinema, it seemed our fears had been confirmed: at 9:15am, the box office was locked up with its shutters down. Emboldened by the fact that I used to work at the cinema and therefore know full well that its staff lack the necessary organisational (not to mention interpersonal) skills, we ventured up the escalators. The only member of staff we could locate was a young popcorn scooper, who condescendingly informed us that there was no Star Wars screening that morning. I wasn't to be put off that easily, however, and sent him scuttling off to get confirmation from someone who knew what they were doing.

Some ten minutes later, the Cactus production crew showed up. A young, nervous-looking guy (called, I think, Jeff) helped us sign away our rights, lives and souls, and gave us some questions to think about during the movie. Our fears were partially confirmed when it turned out that Jo's name wasn't on the guestlist, but that was easily remedied with the quick application of a Biro. More people gradually filtered in, and, rather crushingly, they all looked utterly normal. Not a Star Wars shirt, Jedi robe or lightsaber between the lot of them, which, in my opinion, is a pretty poor show. There should've been some "Who shot first?" style test; realistically, I suppose it's in the best interests of the programme to get a range of people to the screening to provide a range of mostly unbiased opinions, but I still can't help feeling nerds should've been given some kind of advantage here.

The tension as we took our seats was almost unbearable, though that was at least partially due to our "don't look at the camera, whatever you do" instructions. The audience included people who'd seen A New Hope at the cinema the first time around as well as people who'd never seen a Star Wars movie before in their lives; some scantily-clad fake blondes even turned up an incredible ten minutes into the movie. Silence descended as the lights dimmed and the titles rolled. My eyeballs burned as I tried to take in every inch of the enormous screen in front of me, attempting to blink as little as humanly possible. One hundred and forty minutes have never passed so quickly before in my life.

Before I knew it, the end credits were rolling. The movie far surpassed my expectations, and even my wildest hopes; I adored every second. We didn't get long to bask in the afterglow, though, because it was interview time. Everyone at the screening was given the opportunity to offer their opinion -- sadly, I wasn't offered the opportunity to slap them around the head for it. Even more sadly, under the pressured gaze of a camera, with a light shining in my face and the director looking expectantly at me, I crumbled. I couldn't form a coherent thought and I stuttered horribly. I'll regret that for a good long while, because the people with the loudest voices were offering the most stupid opinions.

I'm trying to resist the urge to rant (in spite of the fact that ranting about trivial, pointless things is my most favourite pastime ever), but if you've never seen a Star Wars movie before in your life, you're not qualified or indeed entitled to point out what you think are "mistakes". If you'd bothered to watch Episode II: Attack of the Clones, you'd know it's not unusual for Yoda to rise to the occasion and kick everyone's ass; if you'd seen the original trilogy, you'd even be able to accept that because, y'know, he's a JEDI MASTER. The other prequels had also established the fact that Padme is a member of the Galactic Senate, and a formidable woman in her own right -- certainly not someone who "just submitted to Anakin's dominance." As for those people who advocated going to see Episode III as a "great day out for all the family" -- what movie were you watching? It might only have been rated a 12A, but Revenge of the Sith is anything but a children's movie.

It's fortunate that I've never been trained in the ways of the Force, because some of those people would have found themselves with crushed windpipes that day. The "fun" of television continued as we were made to walk in and out of the screen, up and down escalators, and in and out of the cinema's front doors, presumably for "padding". No doubt none of us will be recognisable in those shots -- but I'll be the girl in the red Vader shirt with the Darth Maul backpack, just on the offchance anyone sees it. The obligatory "Thank you, Richard and Judy, it was a great movie!" chorus served as a delightful exercise in frustration -- getting thirty people to say ten words in unison is harder than you'd think. At one point, the director looked ready to hurt us. Apparently, giving Richard the thumbs up "might seem cool, but it makes you look like an idiot." Where I come from, them's fighting words, but we did manage to get through the afternoon without anyone actually coming to blows.

Jo and I spent Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning feeling pretty darned pleased with ourselves. On Wednesday afternoon, my housemate Andrew and I went to see Ong-Bak. When the film let out at half past eight, we decided, on a whim, to check if there were any tickets left for the midnight showing of Star Wars. There were. We booked, then giggled insanely to ourselves, and decided to hang around the cinema to wait.

Sitting in the bar drinking Tiger beer passed an hour. Other Star Wars fans were slowly showing up, one wielding a red lightsaber. No-one was in costume. Andrew and I ducked out to find a newsagents to buy something to read to pass the time. Another hour crawled painfully past. People were filing suspiciously up the escalators towards the screen, and we followed. Our tickets were for Screen 9, so when we found everyone going into Screen 12, we assumed they must be going to see something else. I availed myself of Pick 'N' Mix, because I am a child and must be kept entertained. Andrew, meanwhile, wandered over to talk to the cinema manager.

Five minutes later, at approximately 10:30pm, we were in a staff screening of Star Wars, feeling unbelievably smug. By 1pm GMT on May 19th, I'd seen Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith twice. Definitive proof, if proof were needed, that not only does God exist, but that he loves me.

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