China's mixed goodbye to the Star Wars saga

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 20, 2019
A fight scene between Rey and Kylo Ren from the latest Star Wars film "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." [Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios]

Imperial stormtroopers paraded through the Walt Disney Grand Theatre at the Shanghai Disney Resort on Wednesday night, where the Chinese premiere of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" was screened.

Amid cheering fans, the Sinostage dance crew presented a performance inspired by Star Wars and three guests were invited to stage to share their stories. The main cast and crew were visibly absent, most likely due to scheduling conflicts. Many of them needed to attend the world premiere of the film in Los Angeles. The main cast sent a greeting video instead.

Nevertheless, audiences still cheered when the greeting video was played and guests took the stage. Then it was time for the extravaganza of the night: the first advance screening of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." Fans seemed excited to watch a new installment, but were sad to bid farewell to the beloved triple trilogy, the 42-year-old 9-episode "Skywalker saga" built on the stories of Luke Skywalker's extended family and friends.

"I was overwhelmed by the nostalgic tributes to the former two trilogies of Star Wars," a longtime Star Wars fan Dio told after the screening. Dio is also the commanding officer of the Rebel Legion Chinese Base and the executive officer of the 501st Legion Chinese Garrison -- two Star Wars cosplay fan clubs which regularly organize fan events and charity events. 

"Basically, from the very beginning of the film, my body and soul went directly back to my childhood. I cried, I laughed, not just because of the storyline of the film, but rather, because it was something like a retrospective projection of my memories and experiences of the past decades. Then, as the film came to a close, it felt Iike my youth also came to an end," Dio said.

The latest installment of the Star Wars saga is overloaded with information, nostalgic elements as well as twists and turns. When the true identity of Rey was revealed, or when Sheev Palpatine, the dark lord of the Sith and former emperor of the galaxy, reappeared, there were gasps and screams from the audience in the theater. There were also warm responses from the audience when the old friends— Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian— all played by the original cast reappeared. The lightsaber duels and spaceship battle scenes were also epic and terrific, involving stunning visuals and sustained flashing light sequences which led Disney to issue an unprecedented warning that they could affect those with photosensitive epilepsy.

Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion Chinese Garrison pose in front of the audience at the Chinese premiere of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" in Shanghai on Dec. 18, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Studios]

The actors also clearly gave their best. "Adam Driver, who played Kylo Ren, was so obsessed with the fight scenes and practiced lightsaber moves for four hours every day without rest," fight coordinator Yang Liang shared. "Daisy Ridley has better flexibility and coordination because she was a dancer. But ever since 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' the lightsaber effects were not just produced by CGI computers. The directors wanted the real lightsaber, so a prop was made out of LED lights with multi-layered organic glass. Though they were heavy for actors and posed a challenge for Daisy, she never gave up."

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