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The Force is stronger with some

Shauna Farnell
Preston Utley/Vail DailyStar Wars fans watch part 2 at the Tap Room Wednsday night before going to the premiere screening for Star Wars 3.
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Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jung Il, serial killers, serial rapists … of all the real-life bad guys in the world, why is it that Darth Vader gets the cover of Time magazine this month, not to mention the cover of just about every other American publication, cereal and snack food box and has become the key marketing ploy for cellular phone companies and marketing campaigns throughout the Western world?”He could be any incarnation of evil that you could think of, whereas, Luke Skywalker could be any kind of incarnation of good,” said Sara Woody, who was one of hundreds of Eagle County Star Wars devotees to turn up for the midnight local premiere of “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” in Vail Wednesday night. Woody was explaining why the “Star Wars” series serves as such a powerful, well – force – in some people’s lives.”It boils down to the basic story of good versus evil,” Woody said. “‘Star Wars’ lays it out really simply. Nine out of 10 people in this country know about ‘Star Wars,’ whereas some people might not know, for example, about all the bad things happening in the Middle East. I would not say that Star Wars functions as any kind of religion for me, but there are Star Warsesque elements in life that you tend to pay more attention to when you live with a die-hard ‘Star Wars’ fan.”Travis Woody, who was furiously chomping popcorn and staring unblinkingly with darting eyes at the dark screen at Crossroads Theater in anticipation of “Revenge of the Sith,” was 13 years old when he saw “Star Wars” in 1977. He hasn’t been the same since.

“It was like nothing I’d ever seen before,” he said. “It just captured my imagination. You’re trying to read the text as it goes up, then you have that moment where the music is kind of like raining – you know the ‘DI-do-DI-DA-DA.’ Then, the Manta Force (small fighter ship) shoots onto the screen and The Devastator (big star cruiser) comes up behind her. As a kid to me, the smell in the theater that day – a mix between popcorn and Pine Sol – it’s always been the ‘Star Wars’ smell. When you see Luke Skywalker and he walks out and watches the sunset for the first time, he realizes that his life will never be the same. From that moment on, his life has changed irreversibly. As a boy, especially as a 13-year-old boy, you’re going through puberty. Your life is changing forever. You leave things behind. You put your toys away. You become a man.”Woody was hooked through “Return of the Jedi”s release in 1983. Then, he graduated from high school, became immersed in daily routine, work, family and children, but The Force has stayed with him all the while. “There were other things, other interests, but I guess it’s always been a part of my life,” he said. “I have two sons. Since they’ve been born, I’ve had a rekindled interest in the movies through their eyes. Whereas some kids learn the names of all the presidents, my 4-year-old can name just about every obscure character in the original.”The allure of The Darkside

Several fans at the premiere admitted they’ve had fantasies of possessing super powers similar to that of a Jedi knight. They’ve fantasized about using their deepest beliefs of good to save the universe. Of course, some also said that the primal tug towards temptations of The Darkside is something they also identify with.”I’m pretty evil myself,” said Ted Reitsma, who drove to Vail from Longmont for the premiere after his friend won tickets to “Episode III” on The Eagle.”I’ve been waiting for this for the past 20-some years. With all the rumors and stuff about how he (Anakin Skywalker) gets sucked in, I can’t wait to see it happen.”A world away

Princess Leia in 1977’s “Star Wars” was one of the first powerful women to mix with men on the big screen. Eagle resident Ann Olin was sporting the curled pig tails and gown Wednesday night to honor the films that her whole family knows like their own bloodline. This includes her husband, Randy, who was decked out as Obi-Wan Kenobi; and their 16-year-old son, Rudy, who has, she said, “gone through about 12 light sabers in his life, so far.””My son has been a Star Wars fanatic since he could watch T.V. and understand what he was looking at,” she said. “We have a 7-foot Darth Vader cutout and we have a Jango Fett cutout in his room. He’s got the ship hanging from his ceiling. When I first saw it (in 1977), ‘Star Wars’ was the coolest thing to hit the big screen. You’d watch it and watch it until your neck hurt. The whole landing on the moon and all the space exploration, to have somebody bring another world to life … it just moved you.”And, as much as we sometimes don’t acknowledge the forces of good and evil in our own world, “Star Wars” fans are drawn by similar elements in a world of fiction.”It’s the imaginative elements that people want,” said Ann Lassar, who said she was subjected to “Star Wars” from an early age via her older brother’s fixation, which went to the extent of “taking his Millennium Falcon toy and lighting it on fire with a lighter so it would look like it had battle wounds.””It’s always a different place where your interest lies,” she said. “It goes along the same lines as ‘Dungeons and Dragons.’ People fall into these other worlds because it’s just … easier.”

So, for some of us, the incarnation of evil comes with an image of two buildings collapsing. Or of John F. Kennedy’s head slumping forward in his convertible. But, for others, it’s the slow, rasping sound of Darth Vader’s breath, and the glossy white reflections on the eyes of his mask.””It gets you scared,” Reitsma said. “You don’t even think about it in terms of evil. Evil is just something you automatically know as this dark guy.”Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail Colorado


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