As Star Wars fans we like our celebrations. Not only the Celebrations that rock convention centers worldwide every few years, but anniversaries like the 30th anniversary of Star Wars in 2007, Empire in 2010 and Return of the Jedi this year. One of the things that accompanied these 30th anniversary events was the release of the three Making of books by Lucas Books executive editor Jonathan Rinzler and on Saturday, October 5, Star Wars fans here in the UK had the chance to not only celebrate the release of the magnificent Making of Return of the Jedi but also a unique opportunity to look back three decades to the film at the very heart of this years celebrations (and Celebration as well), Return of the Jedi.
My journey down to London started on the 12:12 p.m. train from Trent Valley down to Watford Junction, on to the 142 bus to Edgware Station. James met me there and together we rode the Northern Line tube to Leicester Square for a 4:00 p.m. cocktail party on the 5th floor of Waterstones Bookshop, with its amazing view of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. There we broke bread with the guys from the excellent Star Wars Aficionado staff from Aurum, Ian Freer from the world’s biggest and best movie magazine Empire, and Boba Fett and his wife, our Caravan of the Force traveling buddies Maureen and Jeremy Bulloch. It also afforded us the chance to chat not only with Jeremy, Maureen, and Ian but also with the man of the moment Jonathan, who I’d spoken to the week before in the States. After five interviews ranging back to 2007 and the Making of Star Wars, it was a treat — and a lot of fun — to shake hands and chat face-to-face with Jonathan.
Munchies eaten and celebratory vino drunk, we trotted the short distance from Waterstones Picadilly across an always busy Leicester Square to the Prince Charles Cinema. Jonathan and Jeremy would be holding a Q&A moderated by Ian Freer and doing a book signing after a special showing of Return of the Jedi in the UK. The 501st welcomed fans and passers by, Jeremy and Jonathan generously posed for photos with kids of all ages and soon, arms packed with popcorn, sweets, and pop, we sat and lost ourselves for 136 minutes as the 2011 Blu-ray version of Jedi roared across the screen.
A quick straw poll showed that there were around five folks out of the 285 present who hadn’t seen Jedi and one lucky person who had never seen a Star Wars film — what a first screening to attend!
Film complete and raucous crowd satisfied, we enjoyed the Q&A with Rinzler and Bulloch, expertly led by Mr. Freer. Jonathan clearly enjoyed the British banter and Jeremy delighted the crowd as he always does, telling tales and stories from his time on the film and having spent five days driving to Celebration Europe with Jeremy and Maureen — we know he’s great company all the time. The signing started soon after, snaking a queue right around the cinema and giving us the chance to chat with friends who’d traveled down from as far as Newcastle and Scotland.
Thanks must go out to: the brilliant Prince Charles Cinema, one of the most welcoming and friendly cinemas I’ve ever visited; Aurum Press, who couldn’t do enough and were kind enough to invite us to the event; Ian Freer for being such a stellar fella; and to Jonathan Rinzler for opening the dusty files in the Lucasfilm Archives, pulling interviews, notes, and papers old and new together and giving us the most complete look at the making of Episode VI there’ll likely ever be.