Neither class nor job beats 'Star Wars'

February 01, 1997|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Things had been coming to a head at her Kinko's Copies job for some time. Diana Bradley figured the 10 a.m. screening of "Star Wars" at the Senator Theatre yesterday was as good a reason as any to quit. So she did.

There was Bradley in the second row, reading a book in the dim, pre-show light while waiting for the newly released special edition of the 1977 film to begin.

Bradley was among 400 or so "Star Wars" acolytes at the Senator yesterday morning for the film's first showing, most of them young adults who essentially grew up with Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and their licensed character merchandise.

"Star Wars" means a lot to me," said Bradley, 27, a Goddard College senior. With her black glasses and leather jacket, Bradley conjured up visions of the Beat generation. But instead of bowing at the foot of a Ginsberg or Kerouac, she was about to groove for the nth time on Harrison Ford, whom she adores.

This was the first time Bradley would see "Star Wars" in a movie theater. She watches it endlessly on tape, however.

"That turning point, when the story ends ... I want it to continue," she said, attempting to explain the allure of the film trilogy, which includes "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." "It's probably why I write."

Behind Bradley, a cozy group of six friends, students at Towson State, UMBC and Loyola, were trying to warm up after arriving at the theater at 6 a.m., just in case the show was a sellout. They had pulled an all-nighter playing "Star Wars" Monopoly and watching the original version on tape.

When the box office opened at 9: 15 a.m., Jim Keller flew the group's ticket money in to the cashier on his Landspeeder model, a la Luke. Amy Nowack, in pigtails, clutched a cuddly stuffed Wicket, a memento from "Jedi."

Some of these kids were born the same year "Star Wars" was released. Others have fuzzy memories of seeing it for the first time as toddlers. "It's the first movie I ever went to, right after 'Jungle Book,' " one student said.

"I'm a film major, particularly because of this movie," said Keller, who missed his first day of spring semester at Towson to be here.

T.J. Amendola awakened from a cat nap to contribute to the conversation. Movies "with all humans in it, that gets kind of boring," she said.

L "Star Wars" is great because it is "epic," the group agreed.

And no matter how many times they see it -- 25, 100 or more -- it never gets boring. "There's so much in them, so much that you notice every time," they explain.

The students scoffed at critics' charges that George Lucas' creation is primarily a licensing bonanza, that he is only in it for the money. "What screenwriter isn't?" Jenn Berger asked incredulously.

Has the "Star Wars" trilogy, as watched and worshipped as it is, become a religion?

Not really, the aficionados agreed. "We're not Trekkies," they said with disgust for that other breed of sci-fi fan.

The theater went black and the audience whooped. First, a vintage cartoon short, "Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 th Century," and finally, "Star Wars" nirvana.

Pub Date: 2/01/97

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