Star Wars Celebration, Day One
Well, it’s not every day you get to be in the same room with some of your biggest cinematic heroes.
For me, today was that day.
Being in Orlando, I had a rare opportunity to both A) cover the convention of Star Wars Celebration on behalf of Flickchart, and B) be a fan along with so, so many others in celebrating one of the most beloved film franchises of all-time.
On Thursday, the opening ceremonies kicked off with franchise actor Warwick Davis hosting a panel to spotlight the 40th anniversary of Star Wars that included many surprise guests.
First introduced was Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy who presented an opening montage video looking at vintage footage from the original film’s release, all the way through to today. She was quickly upstaged however by the creator himself – and probably the most unexpected person on stage – George Lucas.
Lucas talked a bit about the actual original genesis of the idea of Star Wars, and then was joined by Clone Wars / Rebels director Dave Filoni as they discussed the core values and messages of Star Wars.
Then Warwick brought out Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid to talk about their favorite scene together (the opera from Revenge of the Sith) and what Star Wars means to them.
After that, the crowd was given a chance to hear from C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), Lando (Billy Dee Williams), and Chewie (Peter Mayhew) all discussing some various side-stories from their time in the saga.
That might have been enough as it was, but then the room erupted for both Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford who seemed to run out of ways to say thank you for all the love the fans have given them over forty years.
The show then moved to a touching tribute to the late Carrie Fisher, with words from the cast, Lucas, Kennedy, a short video that well-captured her unique personality and charisma, and then an appearance by her daughter, Billie Lourd.
My personal favorite moment was the finale, which was the completely unexpected performance of the legend John Williams conducting “Leia’s Theme”, the “Main Title Overture”, and the fan-favorite “Imperial March” as played by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Empire Strikes Back is my number one movie on Flickchart, and Star Wars and Return of the Jedi are close behind in my top 10. These movies mean a lot to me, and to the tens of thousands of other people who descended on the Orlando Convention Center. There were people crying, shouting, laughing, and enjoying every second of seeing and hearing from these luminaries. Getting to see it with my own eyes in person was a treat and a privilege.
We’ll be looking forward to what will inevitably be a big first reveal of The Last Jedi tomorrow morning.