GW at the millennium: GW feels the force

At GW, far, far away from the likes of Tatooine, Degobah and the Death Star, students jump into hyperdrive when they talk about Star Wars.

It has a unique appeal that transcends time, said 1999 GW graduate Omar Refai, who is the proud owner of a chair that looks like Darth Maul, a villain in the most recent Star Wars movie. They really make you believe you’re in a galaxy far, far away.

Refai saw the epic’s latest release, Episode One: The Phantom Menace, which debuted in May, four times.

The fight sequences (in The Phantom Menace) were much better than the original episodes, he said.

When it comes to comparing the first three movies – Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi – to the new release, Refai said it can’t be done.

It’s like saying what part of history you like better, he said.

Senior Dan Uriano agrees the different episodes can’t be looked at separately.

I view all the episodes as one big film, he said.

Both Star Wars fans said their interest in the force began during childhood. Refai said he saw The Empire Strikes Back with his father when it first came out in the theaters. He said he vividly remembers walking out after the credits rolled and feeling shocked and intrigued. His father thought the movie was stupid, he said.

After seeing the movie, many kids in the early 1980s wanted to be a Jedi Master, fighting Darth Vader with their own lightsabers.

All of us grew up with Star Wars, Uriano said. All the girls wanted to be Princess Leia, all the guys wanted to be Luke Skywalker. Watching the movie, you get the same feeling as when you were young.

Another draw to the film is George Lucas’s skill as a filmmaker, Refai said.

Lucas pays so much attention to detail, he’s not just some schmuck who decided to make a movie, he said.

In a world of Wookies, 500-year-old Jedi Masters and desert planets, the story, at times, can seem far-fetched. But that’s the secret of Star Wars. The movies aren’t made for 25-year-olds — the action trilogy was made for kids. Uriano said he hated the animated and sometimes annoying character Jar-Jar Binks at first, but after seeing Episode One again, he realized the character was comic relief, like the C-3PO character, the droid from the original trilogy.

But the movies aren’t just for pre-teens. The appeal of Star Wars is that it’s an adventure with spiritual and universal themes. It seems at first like the classic tale of good versus evil. But it’s more about how people grapple with the light side and dark side of the force within themselves.

The next two episodes, which are expected to be released in 2002 and 2005, will follow the life of Anakin Skywalker, who is nine at the end of The Phantom Menace, and explain his transformation from Jedi Master to Darth Vader. Uriano said he wants to find out what makes Anakin go to the dark side.

But Refai said he doesn’t have any expectations for the upcoming episodes.

I’m not going to think about it, he said. A lot of people were upset and jaded (with The Phantom Menace). Don’t bog yourself down with expectations. They know what they’re doing. I trust them.

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