'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': 3 decades later, the Force is strong again in Pittsfield
Photo Gallery | 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' fans attend advanced screenings
PITTSFIELD — Thirty-eight years later, William Relation on Thursday found himself again attending a 'Star Wars' movie — this time half a world away from Honolulu, Hawaii, where a younger version of himself saw the first film.
"It still gives me a sense of hope," Relation said as dozens continued to pour into the Beacon Cinema. "The world is a total disaster, American politics is deadly, but, here, the light wins. It's good to come to a movie like this, leave the real world behind, and start to feel the hope."
Relation was in Hawaii with the Navy when he attended a premiere of the original film in 1977.
"Harrison Ford was my alter-ego until I grew up," Relation said.
A line ultimately built up to include more than 100 others, some dressed up like Star Wars characters for the occasion, all with high hopes that the blockbuster, which some are predicting could become the biggest movie of all time, would live up to the hype and glowing early reviews.
The $200 million film was shot in Iceland, England and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, among other places. Harrison Ford broke his ankle during the filming when a hydraulic door fell on him, pushing the schedule back two weeks.
The fans invariably expressed disappointment in George Lucas' prequel trilogy — released between 1999 and 2005 — and excitement and hope at the prospect of picking up the story of the original Star Wars trilogy characters, 30 years later.
"I didn't think I'd see this day," Gabe Greenwald of Pittsfield, a self-described "diehard fan," said. "I spent hours speculating as a kid whether or not they would go through with making any more movies."
Greenwald said he hoped the movie, directed by newcomer J.J. Abrams, "paid respectful homage" to the original trilogy without "pandering to nostalgia in a way that makes it feel washed-out and unoriginal."
"I want to see new worlds, new aliens, new guns, new ships — everything," Greenwald said.
Sean Spring, of Cheshire, came dressed as a Jedi, lightsaber and all.
"If my costume makes someone smile, then I'm happy," Spring said. "That's kind of the point."
Brandyn Lucido, of Pittsfield, came dressed as Luke Skywalker, and was looking forward to the "dark" possibilities of what may have happened to the characters in the interim.
"The first trilogy ended kind of like a fairy tale, but the fairy tale rarely plays out that way," Lucido said.
Moments later, cinema staff called out to the crowd: They could begin to enter the theater. A cheer went up, and the lot shuffled in to explore imagined worlds.