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For Star Wars fans, the franchise never gets old

Last modified: 12/19/2015 12:40:16 AM
A long time of waiting for a movie far, far away is finally over.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is here. With it, at Smitty’s Cinema in Tilton on Thursday night, were over 100 fans in all forms: children, adults, senior citizens, a side-bun wearing Princess Leia and a lightsaber bearing Jedi, and even a man clad in fuzzy Yoda footie pajama.

Sitting in theater three an hour before the show, the Webster family of four – wearing matching Star Wars holiday sweaters – explained the franchise as a family tradition.

“It really started as a tradition with my mom – she took me every time a movie came out,” said David Webster, 44, of Campton. “I’ve personally loved it since then. They really allow your imagination to fly. And they make you feel like you’re part of the story.”

Pointing to his children Dylan, 9, Emma, 12, and his wife, Julie, 42, Webster added, “We collect everything possible and do a lot of lightsaber fights at the house. I want to share it with my family now.”

Dylan likes Star Wars legos and the lightsaber battles. Emma said she likes the droids, like R2-D2. “ ‘Cause they’re funny,” she said.

Julie, who said she isn’t necessarily a fan but supports her husband, still finds something for her taste, too. “I like Harrison Ford – and I’m excited to see him in the movie,” she said, grinning.

Stacy Collins, a 43-year-old Northfield resident, said Harrison Ford was a good feature of the new movie, too, though maybe for slightly different reasons.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the original cast,” she said. Collins was at the movie with her husband, Eric, 44, and her parents: Bob St. Jacques, 64, and his wife, Mary, 51, who both live in Franklin.

Stacy grew up watching the original Star Wars trilogy and dressing up as Chewbacca for Halloween (her brother was Darth Vader). Bob – who was wearing a shirt with M&M’s dressed as Star Wars characters – has loved the movies as long as his daughter has, and so has Mary.

“It’s a new frontier,” he said. “I grew up with the space program. I think someday, what they’re showing in these movies now is going to be true.”

“No dad,” Stacy said. “It’s in a galaxy far, far away – it’s already happened!”

Not too far away sat Marguerite Kennish, a 20-year-old Laconia resident and Princess Leia look-a-like. She was with Ryan Shurtleff, 30, of Belmont, who donned a Jedi cloak for the occasion and held a plastic lightsaber.

Kennish, who said her license plate features an abbreviated version of, “May the Force Be With You,” borrowed the original trilogy from the neighbors as a kid and held on to it for a long, long time.

“We just gave them back two years ago,” she said, smiling sheepishly.

When asked why she thought the movies – which now have seven installments since the first was released in 1977 – have such staying power, Kennish said she thought the classic story line never got old.

“It’s the classic fight between good and evil,” she said. That’s why Shurtleff, who isn’t necessarily a Star Wars fan but generally likes sci-fi, was in the theater Thursday night.

“I want find out who the new bad guy is,” he said.

For families – like Stacy Collins and her parents or the Websters – it’s a love that’s passed down from generation to generation.

“For the young kids it’s the parents – they watched it home on the video or DVD, and now the kids love Star Wars,” Stacy said. “I just think there’s something that appeals to everybody.”

That something may be hard to put a finger on, but Stacy said it was like this: “This is the nerd equivalent of all those people who like Tom Brady. These are the people they look up to and who are their heroes.”

She added, “If only they were real.”

They were for a couple of hours, at least, when everyone in the Smitty’s theater watched The Force Awakens Thursday night and saw Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo come back to life.

(Elodie Reed can be reached at 369-3306, ereed@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @elodie_reed.)


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