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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May 2005, 22:19 GMT 23:19 UK
Reporter's log: Star Wars marathon
By Darren Waters
BBC News entertainment reporter

Darren Waters (c) with Stormtroopers
Darren makes friends in the queue
To mark the UK premiere of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, London's Leicester Square has been holding a day-long celebration.

As part of the festivities, all six films are being shown back-to-back, kicking off at 0700 and culminating in the first chance for fans to see Revenge of the Sith.

The BBC's Darren Waters rose early to take his seat at the historic Star Wars marathon.

MONDAY 16 MAY - 2310 BST

The marathon Star Wars screenings in Leicester Square ended in sheer bedlam on Monday night.

As fans counted down the final seconds before seeing the sixth and final Star Wars film to end a day which had started 14 hours earlier, they were given the shock of their lives when George Lucas was introduced to the crowd.

Star Wars producer Rick McCallum entered the cinema first to wild applause, which got increasingly intense, as first actor Ian McDiarmid (Chancellor Palpatine), Hayden Christensen (Annakin Skywalker) and Lucas himself were paraded in front of the 1,300 fans.

"The reason we are all here. The Jedi master himself," said McCullum, introducing Lucas.

"Are you guys crazy or what," yelled Lucas, struggling to make himself heard over the noise of the crowd.

Lucas described London as the "home of Star Wars".

To chants of "three more films" he said: "This is the tragedy of Darth Vader.

"It starts when he is 9 years old and ends when he is dead. There is no more story."

A chorus of boos rang out around the cinema but Lucas quickly won the fans back over, saying: "I'm working on the next Indiana Jones."

Flanked by a garrison of stormtroopers it was a remarkable finale to a remarkable day - and the fans had yet to see Revenge of the Sith.

But two hours later and in a sense we were back where we started.

Darth Vader is born along with the Empire - and the Rebellion is about to begin.

Revenge of the Sith was given a huge reception by these fans who have enjoyed/suffered this Star Wars marathon.

Every opening drum roll, every start of every film shown and every major character has been given a giant roar - without fail - and after the day we have all had that was quite an achievement.

"It's a bitter sweet moment," said Mark Hedge, one of the 1,300 fans to sit through all the films.

"I grew up with these films and it's difficult to think there will be no more."

Another fan Stuart Sims said: "I'm glad this chapter is coming to an end. But it is hard because we know it ends so tragically."

But as the credits roll on the final ever Star Wars film one wonders what will these fans do now?

What will any of us do now?

MONDAY 16 MAY - 1945

The cinema erupts in what is the largest cheer of the night so far.

Jedi master Yoda has just started his duel with Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones.

Who would have thought that a 2ft tall green alien could incite such passion?

But this is uninhibited fandom - there are no critics, no detractors with snide comments, just unswervingly loyal fans.

Star Wars
The Star Wars movies are among the most popular in cinema history

Many have waited 28 years for the story to come full circle and are now just one film away.

Who knows how they will feel at the end of it all?

Disappointed? Joyful? Relieved?

One thing is certain - this audience of 1,300 who have sat though almost 12 hours of movies will be tired.

I have had my fill of fizzy drinks, popcorn and high caffeine drinks.

But I have one more episode left in me.

One more for the circle to complete.

MONDAY 16 MAY - 1655

The longer I spend in the cinema the more I realise how devoted the Star Wars fans are.

As The Phantom Menace began the catcalls started, quickly followed by rival cheers from some sections of the audience.

No-one believes Phantom is as good as the original movies but that still has not lessened people's love and affection for these films.

Not even Jar Jar Binks can dim their enthusiasm.

People have travelled from across Europe and beyond to make these screenings.

Some travelled merely in the hope of finding a ticket.

Rebecca Spence travelled down from Birmingham in the early hours of Monday because an acquaintance had promised her a ticket.

But come 0700 and there was no acquaintance and no ticket waiting for her.

"I was sobbing outside the cinema," she said.

But three members of the press team took pity on her and got hold of a precious ticket.

"I was in absolute pieces. I couldn't believe it."

And what does she make of it so far - four films down and two to go?

"I am loving it - I have never been to a cinema where people clap and cheer like this. The atmosphere is incredible."

For the majority of the fans the prize is now tantalisingly close - a first screening of Revenge of the Sith.

Not even the presence of George Lucas and his Star Wars stars just a few hundred yards away across Leicester Square will prise people from their cinema seats.

Luckily for them, the premiere will be broadcast live to the cinema.

And how am I holding up? Ten hours into the marathon and I too have succumbed to the high-caffeine drinks.

I'm bloody but unbowed - bring on the Clones and the Sith.

MONDAY 16 MAY - 1400

Half-way there. We have just emerged blinking into the light of Leicester Square having seen the final Star Wars film.

Not the most recent, but the last of George Lucas' original trilogy - Return of the Jedi.

The Royal Philharmonic are in full cry on the stage, playing excerpts from John Williams' epic scores.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Leicester Square
Waiting fans listen to John Williams' famous Star Wars score

A crowd of several thousands are watching on, listening to what have become instantly-recognisable movements.

The mood of the cinema audience remains extremely positive.

"I'm not as tired as I thought I'd be," said Gary Cotton, from Bath.

"It's really great seeing the films again on the big screen," he added.

He is right - all three films retain a real freshness on the big screen, despite being at least 22 years old.

Fancy digital effects may adorn the new trilogy, but no amount of CGI can match the sheer exuberance and brilliance of the first three films.

Even the Ewoks were cheered in Return of the Jedi.

And so we come to The Phantom Menace, the episode every fan loves to hate. It will be interesting to see if some fans choose to stay away for this one.

There were a few freshly-empty seats during Return of the Jedi, as some people begin to tire.

"Rebel scum," as an Imperial stormtrooper might say.

Now we go back in time to the prequels, and ever closer to Revenge of the Sith where the circle will complete.

MONDAY 16 MAY - 1135

And so the Empire has struck back: four hours in and spirits remain high among the faithful 1,300 in the cinema.

Already a camaraderie has emerged between fans.

Star Wars fans at marathon screening
Fans wielding lightsabers have proved useful inside the cinema
There's no grumbling when people have to inevitably get up and make toilet trips or grab some food. We are all in it together.

The light sabers are proving their worth too - friends navigate back to their seats thanks to their glow, while fans wave them in the air at the film's best moments.

Quite a few fans are already swigging from high caffeine drinks - we all know it is going to be a long day.

Cheers erupt whenever a major character makes their debut, such as Yoda, while the classic lines are greeted with a roar.

"Luke, I am your father," from The Empire Strikes Back has had the loudest cheer so far.

We all know it is a pivotal moment in the series and it is relished as if heard for the first time.

Outside the cinema storm troopers are patrolling and posing for pictures with tourists, passers by and Star Wars fans who have already begun to gather for tonight's premiere.

The whole of Leicester Square has a carnival feel - with all four cinemas in the square showing Star Wars movies and a stage erected for performances of the movies' scores by the London Symphony Orchestra later in the day.

film fans
Lightsabers help guide film fans to and from their cinema seats

It must have been similar outside Mann's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles back in 1977 when Star Wars mania took hold.

Thirty years ago, Star Wars was a nervous release by Fox with nobody certain it would do well at the box office.

But it became the first genuine blockbuster and that effect is still felt today - you only have to look at the faces of the fans in the Empire cinema.

From 10 years old up to people in their 40s and 50s - Star Wars has spanned the generation gap.

Chris Falzon, who runs a Star Wars fan club, told me: "It's one thing seeing all the films at once, but it's great that all the fans are together.

"I'm a 1970s child and remember Star Wars the first time around - for me the circle will be complete when the final film is shown."

But he is not so sure that Revenge of the Sith is really the end.

"For 15 years George Lucas told people he would never make another Star Wars film and then changed his mind.

"I would not be surprised if he changed his mind again."

MONDAY 16 MAY - 0910

The lights went down, fluorescent light sabers lit up the auditorium and the familiar 20th Century Fox drum roll began - followed by spontaneous roars from the audience.

The epic saga has begun. We have all been given a travel bag - containing a facial spritzer and mints among other assortments - which gives an idea of the long-distance flight of an experience that awaits us all.

Every one of the 1,300 people in the audience is a fan and they are not afraid to display their loyalties.

We all cheered at the Lucasfilm logo, booed when Darth Vader first made an appearance and laughed at the jokes in the film.

Yes - 28 years after the film was first shown, and despite having seen Star Wars countless times we still laugh at all the jokes.

And when the Death Star was destroyed - we all clapped and whistled.

One down and five more to go.

Some of the films are clearly more anticipated than others.

When the film roll call was read out before the start we all went mad for Empire Strikes Back and booed and hissed at The Phantom Menace.

We have 20 minutes between each film - to stretch our legs, get something to eat, but mainly to chat about our mutual obsession.

Will we still be clapping and cheering in 12 hours' time?

MONDAY 16 MAY - 0600

It is pandemonium outside the Empire cinema. There is a whole garrison of stormtroopers patrolling Leicester Square and plenty of people who have made the effort to dress up in costumes.

The first one to catch my eye is the giant Chewbacca. Camerun Wolf Dale arrived in London from Germany four hours ago and he is already hot inside his costume.

Chewbacca
Chewbacca lookalike Camerun Wolf Dale is already feeling the heat

I was beginning to fear he would be sat in front of me but he assured me he would be taking off his costume when the films start.

"Revenge of the Sith is a Wookie movie," explaining his decision to dress up as a 7ft ape-like creature.

"I can't wait to see the new movie. This is one of the most exciting moments of my life."

I have to admit my excitement levels are rising - that is despite the 0500 start to my day - but perhaps are not yet at the level of Mr Dale.

The Star Wars jokes are crackling between the 30 or so fans who have turned up especially early to make sure they are at the head of the queue.

"These aren't the droids you are looking for," is clearly an early morning favourite - mimicking the line spoken famously by Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi.

The first film starts in an hour.

With more than 12 hours of films ahead of movie - I'm wondering if it would be impolite of me to take my shoes off in the cinema.

EPISODE I

It is, quite simply, a galactic undertaking - viewing all six Star Wars films back-to-back in one sitting at the Empire cinema in London's Leicester Square.

Along with hundreds of other slavering Star Wars fans I will watch every Ewok, every Jedi, every lightsaber battle and every droid in an epic display of fandom.

I don't want to stick out at the screenings so let me establish my credentials - Star Wars was the first film I ever saw at the cinema.

As I sat there aged five and watched that fabled opening scene of an endless spaceship passing overhead in the stars I knew then that I wanted to be... not a director, or actor or visual effects wizard...but a geek.

And 28 years later I can proudly say I have achieved my dream - thank you George Lucas.

Of course I've seen all of the films countless times - at the cinema at least four times, on TV every Christmas and bank holiday, on video so often the tape wore out and most recently on DVD.

I may not be able to recite every line of alien dialogue but I know my banthas and my sith.

Stormtroopers
Stormtroopers in Leicester Square prepare for the mission ahead

In fact I've always judged people on whether they were born Before Star Wars or After Star Wars - it just seems like there are lots of the latter around these days.

The films will be shown in the order they were made, rather than the order they are set historically. So we start with the 1977 classic Star Wars: A New Hope and end with the final and highly-anticipated Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

There is a simple reason for this ordering - the organisers know we would all desert the cinema in droves after seeing Revenge of the Sith.

So to keep us all glued to the seat - assuming that 12 hours of nacho and cheese sauce does not do that for us - we have to have our tickets stamped at the start of each film.

Only those of us with the endurance of a Wookie and with all five stamps will get the chance to see the new, and final, film.

So we will start with Hope and end with Revenge.

My brother-in-law, who saw the first three Star Wars films back-to-back when aged 15, has advised me to avoid drinking fizzy drinks.

A friend of mine who runs marathons and does triathlons always applies liberal amounts of Vaseline to his body but I'm thinking that won't be necessary.

I will be doing a few Jedi mind-calming exercises before going in and making good use of the toilets in between screenings.

I will also be updating this log in between films with updates on my Star Wars experience.

May the force be with me because I have a bad feeling about this...


What are your thoughts on the Stars Wars movie marathon taking place in London? Are you there? Or have you been to a similar event or seen some of the Star Wars movies back-to-back in the past? What was it like? Share your views below.

As a wise individual once said "You will go home and re-think you life".
Alastair Cooper, Stockport, UK

Well Done All You Faithful Jedi On Being At This Excellent Event! May The Force Be With You...Always!
Nigel Goymer, Thatcham, Berkshire

It's half way that it will become a challenge...but stay strong, may the 4th, 5th and 6th be with you.....
chris, Reigate Surrey

In response to all those who are moaning about the order, in my opinion 4,5,6,1,2,3 is the only way to watch them. Although it's not chronological its the way the story is supposed to be revealed to the viewer. Where's the drama of 'I am your father' if you already saw it in an earlier film? And as for complaining about not getting tickets for the marathon on the phone - there were more than enough people queuing at the cinema for tickets, who obviously get priority over phone callers.
Andrew, York

Luckily for mankind some of us still go to work !
Phil the fluter, Belfast, N Ireland

I am unimpressed by the lack of respect given to the fans. The word fans is taken from the word fanatics, and they are living up to the dictionary definition. Some people never miss a game of football, where a white ball is kicked from end to end of a giant area of grass, fans punch each other if the result is bad! Starwars fans come together in friendship and leave in friendship. George Lucas for the Nobel peace prize I say!
Daniel James, Norwich Norfolk

Why is it that the first comments on this article, and a regular smattering throughout, are describing the whole thing as sad? What I find sad is people who are so insecure that they need to make such superior and patronising comments about others enjoying a harmless hobby. If you don't like the films, fine don't watch them, but why do people need to be so unpleasant about other who do enjoy them?
Ian Dudley, London

Being an ex-pat overseas, its not hard to see what all the fuss is about! We, at least, get Episode 3 a full 11 hours before London. Believe me, the hype down here is just as palpable!
Jim Shiret, Auckland, New Zealand

I am so gutted, I actually work really close to Leicester Square but haven't gone into work today so I can't even enjoy the atmosphere... I really hope they do this again! Plus I lent my copies of Eps I and II to someone and won't get them back before next week and I'm going to see Ep III this Sunday (Royal circle at Odeon, West End!!)... guess I'll have to buy them again!
Eman Zaman, Surrey

The atmosphere sounds fantastic - true Star Wars fans all together in one place! I wish I could have gone, but I am planning on holding my own Star Wars fancy dress party at Christmas with the music on in the background and the films playing on a screen and Star Wars type food and drink etc.....To my friend who said 'That marathon was our only hope', I said 'no, there is another'
Lou, Lowestoft

How come the cinema didn't sell NAMED tickets, requiring proof of ID for the main ticket-holder and everyone else to be with them? That would have wiped out those money grabbers who sold tickets on the auction sites.
Tim Cooke, Blyth, Northumberland, UK

Am so jealous would love to be there, even just to in Leicester sq for the atmosphere, so looking forward to seeing ROTS, the craving for adventure excitement is building now..
Frank Kiernan, Dublin Ireland

Looking at the pictures not many viewers took their girlfriends, Oh I forgot, most of them don't have girlfriends.
Andrew, Essex, UK

And they said I was sad for staying up and watching the election results!!!!!
Alan Butchers, Barrow, Cumbria

To be perfectly honest I think they are all a bit sad. Admittedly I do have all of the released Star Wars films, but I don't think I am as much of a diehard fan as some of the fans who live with their parents and dress up as Luke Skywalker. Oh how I wish I was.
Anon

I have a friend who is at the marathon. Although he likes Star Wars, I wouldn't go anywhere near describing him as a die-hard fan (who wouldn't have complained so much about having to watch all the other films first!). As much as I'm happy for him, it is a shame that the ticket that he secured through 'friends in high places' didn't go to someone who would have truly appreciated it.
Tweets, UK

We're hosting our own star wars marathon party this weekend - in chronological order though. Starting at 11 am with Episode I, off to the cinema for Revenge of the Sith at around 16:30 and on with the original trilogy in the evening, with Return of the Jedi finishing at about 1.30 am... I can't wait :)
Chris Jones, Sutton, Surrey

Soon as I finish work I'm heading up to Leicester square, went to Ep.2 premiere was pretty good with the orchestra and all, don't think i could sit through all 6 - maybe Episodes 3,4,5 and 6 but think I can hold out til Thursday morning to see the film.
Noel, London

We've got tickets for the 00:35 showing here, and will definitely be slotting it into a correctly-ordered marathon. Six films is nothing, I will also be doing this between two university exams, so suck on my commitment! Or stupidity.
Martin, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Marathon? SW? LOTR? ST? Child's play! James Bond 007, men from boys sort, it will. (Or Carry On ... oh let's not go there)
Jedi Master Ernst Stavro Blofeld, The Shire, Planet Vulcan

Too many people with very little to do!
,

The only fair thing to do would be to repeat the same thing again, as soon as possible so that genuine Star War fans get the chance of seeing them all in one go as well. And why not - demand is certainly there.
Mario, London

My Wife and I sat through the first 3 films at a special 'one off' event at Elstree Studios in 1995. We didn't think we would see them on the big screen again! Thing is, we sat on rickety wooden chairs and by the time the Ewoks came I couldn't feel anything below my neck! My Wife had just about recovered to see Episode 1 at midnight and we are about to do it all again this Wednesday night. These are not just films, and we are not geeks - George Lucas IS the Michelangelo of our generation - he deserves our respect.
Steve, Scarborough

Oooh the thought of all that junk food sends shivers down my spine, coupled with the fact that you can't move more than a couple of inches either way on your seat! Even still it would be a memorable experience all the same....
Steve Jordan, Cardiff, South Wales

I would love to be there. Marathon movie watching is great - my personal record is watching the first three series of Buffy back to back. Good luck to the reporter!
Noel Thomas, Guiseley

Four of us spent 45 minutes using two phones each to try and get one allocation of four tickets. Overall, we all got through - 15 times - but the line kept cutting off so we all failed to get one single ticket. That night, there they were on eBay changing hands for 500+ a piece. That raises two questions 1: Why did these idiots who bought the internet auction tickets pay so much when it was obvious robbery, and 2: Will the Empire be taking legal action against the sellers? When you phoned the booking line, it clearly stated that they were for personal use and not for re-sale. If I was running the Empire Cinema, I would have contacted eBay to have all the auctions officially withdrawn - that would have been one in the eye for the carpet-baggers!
Russel, Wooburn Green, UK

It just goes to show what sad people there are around.
Eric, Cardiff

I have been an avid fan since seeing the original film in Leicester Square when I was six. I am gutted I could not get tickets for today's marathon, but I have got tickets for Friday morning in Leicester Square for the digital presentation, so at least I will still be one of the first to see it. However, I have a big problem! Well actually two little problems! My two sons (6yrs and 4yrs) are Star Wars mad, and now that the Sith is a 12A, and George Lucas is saying how dark it is, how can I tell them they cannot see it, or that they will have to wait until October for the DVD release? Not sure what to do about that one!!
Gerry Ish, Ashford, London.

I would gladly sit and watch the originals but the new breed is pap. I saw Jar Jar and realised that it had all gone to Ewoksville. Wake me up when it's over.
Ben Davolls, London

If you were to watch all Lord of the Rings extended versions on DVD, they'd last the same time, but you'd only get two toilet breaks! That would require some stamina.
Duncan, Hemel Hempstead, Herts

The sad part about the Star Wars Marathon of films was that people purchased tickets and then sold them off through various auction sites, thus stopping true fans from purchasing the tickets in the first place at the genuine price and not over-inflated prices!!!
Nick Roach, Harlow, Essex

I think I'll wait until George Lucas remakes the recent series so that it is as appealing to people over 14 years old as it is to those under. The first three movies were classics, the last two were exploitation of the franchise to leverage merchandising opportunities for children.
Jason, La Linea Spain

Would love to be there!! But it sold out so fast! So I'm doing it myself, from episode 1-6, excluding 3 obviously, which I'll se at the midnight screening on Wednesday night in Dublin!! It's the end of an era!
Neil Douglas, Dublin, Ireland

Thanks - rub it in for those of us who couldn't get tickets and wouldn't pay the extortionate eBay prices.
Gareth, Macclesfield

I just had to give away my tickets for the opening night in Bedford because of work commitments! So I am gutted!!! Bring on the marathon from 1-6 and I'm there. At least it will end with some of the best films rather than these more recent over-computerised lesser films.
Eve, Bedford, UK

I too watched the original trilogy back to back in the eighties, and subsequently sat through 7 Star Trek movies when ST: Generations was released. Twice. Oh happy day.
Steven, Glasgow, Scotland

If all six are watched in order, at least you have the knowledge, while drooling through the "gamboling-in-meadows" scenes in Episode II, that it can only get better.
Kay, Newcastle, UK

I've just sat through the Ring Cycle (Jackson's not Wagner's) in one sitting, which took nearly 12 hours. A day in a quiet, darkened room to recover and I'd be game for a "sixer".
Gordon, Burry Port, Wales

Film marathons are great... It's just like reading a big book, they are all supposed to go together.. 6 Star Wars films back-top-back ? Easy... I did the first 7 Star Trek movies back-to-back, came out of the cinema, 14 hours later, to 4 inches of snow... and they are not as good as Star Wars. At least Star Wars is 6 movies in that sort of time frame, not 3, like LOTR... now that is definitely a worthwhile sit-in.
MacGyver, Oxford

As someone who once attended a Star Trek all night movie marathon back in 1996 I can sympathise with how sore Darren is going to be at the end of the 6 movies...however I hope this marathon doesn't do what the Star Trek one did to me - I haven't been able to watch a full episode or movie of the show since!! Not something I can foresee happening with Star Wars though and I shall be repeating the marathon (obviously minus Episode 3) prior to Thursday's release...just from the comfort of my sofa!
Sy, Reading, UK

How i wish i could have got tickets but although I tried, I failed. Yoda wouldn't have been impressed. I'm going to spend the day in Leicester Square anyway, can't wait to see the London Philharmonic and the Question and Answer sessions, plus I'm going to watch Empire Strike Back, then see the Stars arrive! I did manage to get tickets for the charity screening tomorrow introduced by Anthony Daniels. I'm probably the most excited and the most nervous I've been since The Phantom Menace!
Nick Page, London, UK

Given that this is a chronological sextolet I see no purpose to watching them in anything other than the story's internal order, rather than the order of 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3. The downside of doing that of course is how it will put into sharp relief the obvious continuity failures between the prequels and the original trilogy.
John, Oxford, UK

I remember watching all 3 of the original trilogy in one afternoon during a half-term break. It was fabulous. I would love to sit down and watch all 6 back to back. Guess I'll have to wait until the box-set comes out!
Steve Bees, Truro, UK

Joined the dark side you people have. Lies, deceit, creating mistrust are your ways now. What's is with all the negativity! I think it's absolutely amazing and I'm truly gutted to my core that I was unable to get tickets myself! I'm booked in for the official release on Thursday and hope to see it countless times at the cinema before buying it on DVD. Simply can't wait and will make a trip to Leicester Square all the same today. You will pay the price for your lack of vision!
Jedi Master Peter, London

I would loved to have attended the marathon but tickets sold out in minutes. Unfortunately, some people were buying up tickets in blocks of six at a time and selling them on eBay. One auction I saw was up to over ?1000. Perhaps if the Empire cinema had restricted buyers to two tickets each it would have been fairer.
Jonathan, London, UK

I'm gutted! I wish I could be there.
Simon, UK

Oh to have the time off to go see all six movies in a row. It would be nice, but in all honesty could anyone sit through all six? It would take the guts of 24 hours, giving a 30 min break between each for food and toilet breaks. Only the most die-hard fans would do that, and those kind of fans are slightly frightening to me. That being said I have my ticket for the first showing in both Ireland and the UK, it's at 00:05 on Thursday morning, so I am just as frightening I guess.
Robb Dunphy, Dublin, Ireland

I watched the original trilogy back-to-back at a London cinema in about 1984. I distinctly recall there were NO breaks between films - a major challenge for one's backside and bowel control. The first trilogy was good enough to make it all worthwhile, but the second, sadly, is not.
Jay, London UK

I think I'll wait for a marathon where they show them in the correct order....
David Nisbet, Kirkintilloch, UK

The best hangover cure for me on a Sunday is to watch all three original star wars movies back to back - it's just the kind of fun and action-packed films your brain needs after a pint or 5! Guess I'll need a whole weekend to watch all six movies!
Malcolm, Irvine, Scotland




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