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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 00:19 GMT 01:19 UK
Resident aliens come out in force
Star Wars fans
Some fans came straight from school
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Alex Webb
By Alex Webb
BBC News Online entertainment staff

The familiar setting of London's Leicester Square had a distinctly futuristic look on Tuesday evening as Star Wars fans gathered for the gala première of the latest in the series, Attack of the Clones.

The good-natured crowd was made up of every age group and nationality - and a sprinkling of other life-forms, taking advantage of the improving weather in this part of the planet.

Star Wars fan as Darth Maul
Darth Maul made his own double-ended sabre
Yoda masks were popular with the children, but the men tended to go for something fiercer.

Darth Maul, wielding a double-ended light sabre, turned out to be Londoner Christopher, a fan since the first Star Wars film 25 years ago.

"When I was young back in the 70s, me and my sister went to see the first film and I just loved it from then.

"I just love the villains - villains have the best of everything, like this double-sided light sabre.

"I've made this myself, you know, put some high-powered lights on it and painted it red.

Star Wars fans
The crowd was entertained with screen trailers and music
"And I made this mask myself, and painted it - took me three days to do, " he added.

His son Jamal was a fan, too. Star Wars, he said, is "Cool, wicked and very, very good".

Iria Lopez and her two friends had dome to Leicester Square straight from school in Finchley, north London.

"I think it's going to be really good, the reviews have been really good," said Ms Lopez.

"It's obviously going to be better than the first one," she added, referring to Phantom Menace's poor critical reception.

Star Wars fans
There was frequent fraternisation between different life-forms
While the fans gathered in the square - eventually numbering some 3,000 - they were entertained by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, playing John William's famous Star Wars theme.

One French fan certainly approved.

Celine, 22, from Montpellier, said: "I love the music, the special effects, the characters, the scripts.

"I've seen all of them and I've read the book. The best one is the sixth, Return Of The Jedi."

Star Wars fans
Light sabres were an essential accessory
There were cheers when the stars began to arrive, but one sensed that for the die-hard fans in their costumes, the best moment had passed.

No-one was looking at them any more.

And one couldn't help feeling that the celebrities' arrival in flashy cars was, well, a bit earthbound - for a film full of jetpacks and space rockets.

But if the crowd's mood is anything to go by, Attack of the Clones is set to replicate its predecessors' box office success.


Londoner Tony, a fan and hospital orderly, put it neatly: "It's fantasy, isn't it. And if you didn't have fantasy, life would be - just life."

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