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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 May, 2005, 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK
Star Wars receives world premiere
By Caroline Briggs
BBC News entertainment reporter in Cannes

Natalie Portman and George Lucas
Natalie Portman and George Lucas reunited for Revenge of the Sith
The final instalment in the Star Wars saga has received its world premiere as the stars of the movie flocked to the Cannes Film Festival.

Director George Lucas and his cast, including Natalie Portman and Samuel L Jackson, turned out for the gala.

Thousands of fans greeted the guests as Stormtroopers lined the red carpet.

Earlier Lucas admitted his films have distinct sets of fans - the over 25s loyal to the first three films and the under 25s who adored the two prequels.

"They are always at each others throats about it," he told a press conference at the festival.

Earlier he was honoured with the Festival Prize to mark his enduring career at a ceremony aboard the Queen Mary II cruise ship.

Among guests at the premiere were US actresses Sharon Stone and Eva Longoria, of Desperate Housewives fame, and Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia.

They are almost the same guy, but one of them is loud and the other one is not
Samuel L Jackson

At the earlier press conference, Lucas responded to criticism of the last two films - The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones - saying they had found their own following.

"The older ones are loyal to the first three films I made, and they are the ones in control of the media.

"The films that these people don't like - which are the first two prequels - are fanatically adored by the under 25s."

Lots of freedom

Samuel L Jackson was also at the press conference to support the movie, in which he plays Jedi Mace Windu.

He likened Lucas to Quentin Tarantino, who directed him in previous Palme d'Or winner Pulp Fiction.

Samuel L Jackson and George Lucas
Samuel L Jackson praised his director George Lucas

He said: "They both give me a lot of freedom to do what I want to do.

"They know I'm going to come with a lot of things to do the best job I can.

"They are both guys who know exactly what they want to do, and how they want it done, and explain that very clearly.

He added: "They are almost the same guy, but one of them is loud and the other one is not."

Revenge of the Sith completes the second trilogy in the Star Wars saga, which began 28 years ago with the ground-breaking original film.

It is the prequel to the original 1977 Star Wars and completes the story of how Anakin Skywalker was drawn to the dark side of The Force.

Lucas said he never intended for there to be six films.

Back story

"The other sequels were the result of an over-anxious press," he said.

"The original intention was to make three, and that was really the end of it.

Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid
Stars of the movie Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid were in Cannes

"It was not until 10 years after the first that I thought of doing a back story."

The franchise has been one of the biggest in cinematic history, with the first five films taking in excess of 1.8bn.

The film has its UK premiere in London on Monday, before going on general release worldwide on 19 May.

See the stars attending the Star Wars premiere in Cannes


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