Fans out in force at Europe's Star Wars convention

The Force is strong in the east London docklands as Star Wars fans flock to the second day of the giant European convention Saturday celebrating 30 years of the epic sci-fi saga.

Fans out in force at Europe's Star Wars convention
Security is more visible in the British capital these days but commuters could be forgiven their bemused double takes at seeing Imperial stormtroopers riding the London Underground.

An estimated 50,000 fans are expected to attend the three-day Star Wars Celebration Europe at the ExCeL exhibition centre, which at times resembles Mos Eisley spaceport given the intergalactic species milling about and the background hum of swishing lightsabres.

A wealth of actors, props, memorabilia, merchandise and exhibits lie in wait for those descending on the fifth official giant convention, the first to be held outside the United States.

One of the most well-loved film series ever, George Lucas's six-film space fantasy revolutionised the way movies are marketed and is still evidently cherished by legions of fans happy to lose themselves in the shy Californian's alternative, ever-expanding galaxy.

Fans came to team up Friday with fellow Star Wars nuts, many dressed as characters from the movies, such as Jedi knights, stormtroopers, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and even a near-naked Princess Leia.

"It makes children happy, that's why I do it," one Darth Vader told AFP through his breath mask as he menacingly patrolled the exhibition centre.

"I do scare some of the smaller children though -- and some of the ladies," admitted the black-clad villain.

"It's fantastic to be here and be part of it," said the Dark Lord of the Sith, who is otherwise Belgian soft drinks firm worker Clint van Maerke, 36.

There were giant queues in the autograph hall, with Mark Hamill, who played the central character Luke Skywalker, proving the most popular despite the 85-pound (173-dollar, 125-euro) price tag for his signature.

Hamill, who starred in the original trilogy, later gave an hour-long talk to thrilled fans in the packed 2,000-seat theatre. He said he had only seen the three newer "prequel" films once and had gone "cold turkey" on any twists in his character's story in the myriad of spin-off novels and comics.

Fans flocked to recreations of space ship interiors and played on the computer games as they wandered between the stalls of collectibles and X-wing fighters, speeder bikes and snowspeeder vehicles.

Saturday's special events include talks with Anthony Daniels, who played the prissy, golden protocol droid C-3PO, and the actors who played the cult figure Boba Fett, the shadowy bounty hunter, plus the producer of the three "prequel" films.

There is also a chance to hear from the original crew, see a one-man show acting out the original film trilogy, a costume pageant competition and a battle of the bands featuring music acts in the films.

Meanwhile the R2-D2 Builders Club are on hand to teach people how to put together their own astromech droids just like the chirpy little robot in the movies.

The day ends with a giant outdoor Star Wars party.

Steve Sansweet, Lucasfilm's head of fan relations and director of content management, said the Star Wars saga would develop on smaller screens.

"George has made it very clear that he will not be making any more Star Wars movies. He will also not let anyone else make a Star Wars movie," he said.

"Has George ever changed his mind? Yes," he added.

"George has told the story he wants to tell on the big screen. He really wants to move on to other things. But those things involve Star Wars."

Fans will get to see footage from those forthcoming projects: a computer-animated television series entitled "The Clone Wars", and "The Force Unleashed", a video game featuring new characters and storylines.

Tickets cost 23 pounds (47 dollars, 34 euros) per day.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Temmuz 2007, 17:46