Countdown to Star Wars Celebration VI

Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in a still from 1977’s “Star Wars.” Credit: LucasFilm Ltd.

Back in May of 1977 I was just finishing high school and not yet eighteen. Punk music was all the rage, a gallon of gas cost 65 cents, and virtually no one had heard of Apple Computer because it hadn’t even been incorporated yet.

On that hot, muggy Memorial Day weekend, I talked my sister into seeing the new flick opening at our local movie house around the corner. Some quirky little space opera that I’d heard a few interesting rumors about was playing there. For about two dollars each (plus popcorn) we settled into our non-reclining, non-cupholder-enhanced wooden movie seats and waited for the lights to dim.

I used to have one of these original 1977 movie posters. Imagine what it would be worth today!

When “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” appeared in blue on the black screen and a rousing brass fanfare heralded the title, followed by a text crawl in the style of some old-fashioned “Flash Gordon” serial, my sister and I realized we were in for something completely different from the previous month’s showing of “Annie Hall.” How right we were.

Seven Oscars, two sequels, and three prequels (as well as countless toys, books, apparel, videogames, lunchboxes, linens, stickers and even PEZ dispensers, et al) later, the little movie that launched the “Star Wars” franchise remains an astounding pop culture icon. Part science fiction, part western, part romance, part adventure, part drama, “Star Wars” was, simply put, the ground-breaking film of its day.

And with the franchise having accumulated an estimated amazing $33 billion in total worldwide revenue to date, this planet’s love for everything “Star Wars” shows no sign of abating anytime soon.

My very own 1977 Ken Films licensed clip reel still plays pretty well today.

Even I have contributed to the “Star Wars” collecting mania in my own small way. My very first purchase was way back in late 1977: a copy of the Ken Films licensed 8mm 8-min “Star Wars” film clip reel to be played on our home movie projector.

You must remember that this was several years before VHS machines were common household items and 28 years before YouTube was invented! Being able to watch film clips of a current movie at home was a unique and very special experience for the average moviegoer.  And even 35 years later, albeit faded and a bit snowy, that little film still plays — and elicits much the same wide-eyed wonder from its owner.

Now if only I could find my original Kenner action figures! This set as shown sold for $600 in December of 2008.

I know I have a boxful of original Star Wars Kenner action figures residing in a shoebox in the back of a closet somewhere. Not realizing the value of the packaging at the time, they are all unfortunately un-carded, but still priceless as far as I’m concerned.

So I was surprised when I realized that in all my treks to various sci-fi conventions over the years I’d never yet been to a con that celebrates the very birth of my passion for that galaxy far, far away.

However, that changes later this week when I step foot into the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida for my first ever Star Wars con.

Star Wars Celebration VI bills itself as “the biggest party this side of the galaxy,” and promises to “deliver a landmark experience where memories are made, families brought together, old friends reunited, and new friendships formed — all in the setting of the ever-evolving Star Wars universe.”

Star Wars Celebration VI is being held August 23-26, 2012 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

The convention offers an array of exhibits, an interactive show floor, screenings, exclusive merchandise, celebrity guests, panels, autograph sessions, and fan-inspired activities such as costume contest and even a speed dating session (!), plus the opportunity to simply mix and mingle with 40,000 other like-minded “Star Wars” fans.

Special guests at this year’s event include actors Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), to name just a few, as well as a slew of sound designers and editors, visual effects supervisors, makeup artists, ILM model makers, FX artists, voice actors, authors and directors all instrumental in bringing pieces of the franchise to life. This is quite a lineup and certainly this longtime fan’s dream come true.

I’ll be snapping pics and reporting from Star Wars Celebration VI starting Friday, August 24. Check SciFi4Me.com (or back here) for more adventures in nostalgia and for updates on breaking Star Wars franchise news as it becomes available.

You can also follow my convention tweets on Twitter: @SeshatTravels

Advertisements

Sci-fi and fantasy flicks come alive at London Film Museum

Ray Harryhausen looks at his original models from the 1963 film ‘Jason And The Argonauts’ at the The Myths And Legends Exhibition at The London Film Museum in June, 2010. Source: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe Source: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe

When a movie critic friend of mine recently popped over to London for the Queen’s Jubilee, he also managed to make time to view one of the newer and more intriguing showcases for movie-lovers: the London Film Museum. Film buff that I am, I was pea green with envy and bursting with questions about the exhibits upon his return! To help quell my insatiable curiosity, he graciously agreed to pen a brief review about his visit, which I have shared below. Much thanks, Cameron!

+++++++++++++++

Medusa lives! Pinhead spotted in England!

by Cameron Meier

Pinhead from Clive Barker’s ‘Hellraiser’ at the London Film Museum. © 2012 Cameron Meier / London Film Museum

No, these aren’t the latest bad horror/sci-fi mash-ups. They are real observations from my trip earlier this month to London. I traveled there for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee but was also pleased to find a sort of diamond in the rough – two of the capital’s best-kept secrets: the London Film Museums.

Both museums can be viewed together in a single afternoon, and they are relatively close to one another, just a short Tube jaunt or cab ride away. I tackled the Covent Garden one first. It’s the smaller and newer of the two, so inconspicuous that I had trouble finding it.

Housed snugly in the same block as the famed London Transport Museum, the displays are nevertheless impressive and particularly fascinating for fans of the early days of film and photography. From old movie cameras to insight into the technology that birthed the medium, the cinema enthusiast will find many treats. Chief among them are projections of some of George Méliès’s fantastical works and the Lumière Brothers’ short films that launched cinema. No, today’s museum-goers don’t shriek at the locomotive in Train Arriving in the Station, as members of the original 1895 Paris audience did, but the film still holds a certain power, evidenced by the popularity of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo.

Original costume from 1968’s ‘Planet of the Apes.’ © 2012 Cameron Meier / London Film Museum

The main attraction is “Magnum on Set,” which tells the stories of several great films, including Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight, Orson Welles’ The Trial and Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause, through the on-set photographs of the legendary agency Magnum Photos. Interspersed throughout the photographic displays are other artifacts, including a drool-worthy trinket for sci-fi buffs: costumes from the first Planet of the Apes.

If the Covent Garden branch is the brains of the Film Museums, the South Bank one is its heart – and offers the real treat for lovers of sci-fi, horror and fantasy. Opened in 2008 as the Movieum and located next to the giant London Eye Ferris wheel, inside the County Hall building (across the river from the Houses of Parliament), this museum can, surprisingly, be a tad tough to find as well. But after locating the entrance and paying the admission – yes, this one charges, unfortunately – you’ll be surprised at the exhibits’ size and sprawl.

Ray Harryhausen poses with a model of Medusa from his 1981 film ‘Clash Of The Titans’ at the The Myths and Legends Exhibition at The London Film Museum in 2010. Source: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe

Pegasus and Bubo models from the 1963 film ‘Jason And The Argonauts’ © 2012 Cameron Meier / London Film Museum

“Charlie Chaplin: The Great Londoner” is well worth your time, but the real treat is “Ray Harryhausen: Myths and Legends,” an exceedingly cool homage to the master of stop-motion animation, including original props and some great insights into the history of the art form, from the groundbreaking days of Edwin S. Porter to Harryhausen’s last film, Clash of the Titans, in 1981. Also don’t miss the sci-fi and horror rooms, especially the Harry Potter props and costumes, and the disgustingly realistic creations from Hellraiser and other assorted gore fests.

John Huston once said, “The directing of a picture involves coming out of your individual loneliness and taking a controlling part in putting together a small world.” The London Film Museums allow you to step briefly into that world.

+++++++++++++++

Cameron Meier is a freelance movie, art and theatre critic, and former editor-in-chief of Sunshine Artist Magazine. His reviews have appeared in The Orlando Weekly and on www.metromix.com, among other sites. His previous articles and movie ratings can be found at www.meiermovies.com

%d bloggers like this: