Star Wars, The Force Awakens, opened in Brighton in the early hours of this morning, with an 0:01 showing at The Duke Of York cinema. As a long-time fangirl, I snapped up my tickets as soon as they went on sale. This is one of the cinema events of the century.
We arrived shortly after 11.30pm at the cinema to find a crowd scattered with people in impressive cosplay gathered outside. There was a distinct air of anticipation and excitement. The reviews were out and overwhelmingly positive. The hype had been slowly building for months (years even). And I’m sure people were secretly wondering will the film be everything everyone has promised (although daren’t be a non-believer out loud)?
Many fans would still be nervous about this new Disney/ Lucasfilm, J. J. Abrams treatment of the franchise. Especially after George Lucas burned us with the prequel trilogy. Personally, I still think the underlying story of Episodes 1 to 3 was an acceptable segment of this space epic’s journey. The execution of said story is another matter. And maybe led to a little distrust of reignited stories from treasured entertainment shows. But after J. J. Abrams gave us Star Trek then attached his name to The Force Awakens and for Star Wars fans the possibility of an exceptional next instalment of the saga becomes a reality.
Director Kevin Smith visited the set in 2014 when he was in London. Although strictly gagged by Abrams, when we saw him at his Hollywood Babble-On show at the Hammersmith Apollo in July that year, he could barely contain his boyish endorsement for the project. He swore to us that the team in charge of this reboot will be making all our childhood Star Wars dreams come alive once more. I was sold at that point deciding to only watch two trailers and handful of news items to keep the experience as fresh as could be in an age where chatter is everywhere.
I’m not going to talk about the film at all. I just want to share the experience of being with a cinema full of true fans watching among the first UK screenings of The Force Awakens. Discussion was everywhere, fraught with geeky speculation on plots and characters. There was an abundance of mutual respect and admiration for costumes and memorabilia people wore without a hint of fan competition. People were there to be immersed in the next chapter of a beloved story with open hearts and arms.
Hopefully the Duke Of York’s neighbours will forgive the hubbub on the street after the screening. The unusually warm December evening meant we could comfortably linger and reflect on what we had seen. But at 3am and some of us heading for work in just over 4 hours, we had to dissolve the camaraderie and get back to normal life.
Until Saturday, when I go with the husband. At least after then, I’ll have someone to talk about the film with. May the force be with you, always.