A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away"¦
Well, last weekend, anyway, at the Harkins Bricktown Cinemas. It was the opening of George Lucas' latest addition to the saga that began in 1977 with what was then known as "Star Wars," aka "Star Wars: Episode IV " A New Hope." (If you think Lucas' dialogue is clunky, just try running through those titles as fast as you can.)
In the Harkins lobby, a few dozen people of all ages milled about, all dressed in costumes. They were not paid performers sent out by Lucasfilm Ltd. or Warner Bros., the distributor of the new animated film, "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Many of them were members of the JediOKC, an organization that is part fan club, part way of life.
"I've been a fan of 'Star Wars' since I was 11," said a young man dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi. "I saw 'Return of the Jedi' for the first time in 1983, and no, I couldn't tell you how often I've seen it since then, but I can tell you I saw it more than once then. I snuck in to see it several times."
The costume looked good on him. "Star Wars" costumers are not quite cosplay, a Japanese term made from the English words "costume" and "play," and referring mainly to folks who dress up like anime and manga characters. As in cosplay, the "Star Wars" costumes are as authentic as time and finances can make them.
My Obi-Wan was Bryan Harmons. He works in security and I asked him why he wasn't attracted to a role of an Imperial Stormtrooper.
"That's just my day job," he said, smiling.
As we continued to chat, I had my eye on a kid who also came dressed as a favorite character. He was waving his lightsaber over his head as he threatened to take down a JediOKC member in villainous garb. His enemy responded with a lightsaber of his own, but then backed off and ducked his head, allowing his young opponent to get the better of him. The little Jedi beamed.
An attractive young woman, red from head to toe and dressed like a dancer in the palace of Jabba the Hutt, posed for a picture with another young Padawan. She's Nichole Delk, who made the trip up from Fort Worth, Texas. She stood with James Blevins, an X-wing fighter pilot. He'd arrived from San Antonio, Texas, and had been a fan for about 10 years.
"We're not having anything like this in Fort Worth," Delk said.
"We heard that (JediOKC) was looking for some help with the two-day event," Blevins said, "and here we are."
"So," I asked each of them, "what are your expectations for the movie? High? Low?"
Delk and Blevins unhesitatingly replied, "High!"
Harmons paused for a split second before saying, "High."
Come on, you can tell me the truth.
"Hey," he said, as if trying to explain a basic law of nature to a particularly dim alien, "it's 'Star Wars.'" "Doug Bentin