Jedi

The Lost Jedi: Part One

On May 4th 2007, the Star Wars Exhibition in London opened at the County Hall in Westminster, overlooking the Thames and the Houses of Parliament. With marble staircases and pillars, wood panelled hallways and shiny floors you could be mistaken for thinking you were walking the halls of Naboo (if you were a fan boy). Assembled at the opening were a group of actors who had associated themselves with Star Wars at Chessington. They were Tom Jordan, Seb Morgan, Alan Mandel Butler, Sydnee Howard and Jack Gavin. Also present was Marcus Sinclair, a man who had overcome considerable resistance from Lucasarts to become the Emperor in the Exhibition. 2 weeks later they took on myself and a number of actors to represent Jedi. Nicknamed on my first day the ‘Landlord Jedi’ by Alistair Reith (another actor), I managed to find a niche as Taaka Dahl (a Red Dwarf gag), Rebel Trooper.

It was made clear by Lucasarts that we couldn’t use existing character names and had to develop our own. While mine never developed beyond Sergeant in the rebel army (occassionally busted up to Jedi Master and in a particularly cool moment, a Tie Fighter Commander called Count Nefar the audiences never really got on board with). In the main hall, a high domed chamber like a grand circular court room the hourly (half hourly) show took place to the excitement of pretty much every kid (and adult). The Jedi School followed a rushed teaching of the way of the force to chosen Padawan (kids) in order to defend them from the newly apparent Sith. The Emperor would appear and threaten the Jedi Master and his Padawan as well as the assembled kids before the great set piece.

The Main Chamber - County Hall, Westminster

The lights would go out leaving only the flickering lightsabres at the centre of the room visible and three mechanical breaths would steadily sound. With the beginning of the Imperial March, the assembled characters, Padawans and visitors were presented with a familiar silhouette in the high vaulted doorway. Darth Vader would descend doiwn the steps with the music, the Jedi Master calling out orders to everyone assembled pointlessly over the noise and chaos. Some kid must have wet themselves with excitement at the sight of the seven foot giant striding slowly down the steps towards the Padawans. It was clear to me whenever I saw it that this was the stuff straight out of the movies. The divide between the two was seamless. We saw US versions with chubby American accented Obi Wan look a likes playing at Star Wars but the combination of the chamber and the lighting rig, the music, the english accents, the quality of the costumes (by Stephen Du Toit – mate to the Bunker), the master cast versions of the lightsabres that swooshed and lit up accurately, the real 7 foot Vader (played by official giant Daniel Vivien) and the atmosphere combined into something more real and engaging than I saw anywhere else. It gave me ideas….

FIRST PAGE OF ISSUE 1 OF LOST JEDI. DESIGNED BY ME IN 2009.

In the Star Wars movies the one point in which there are Padawans and Sith is at the end of Part III: Revenge of the Sith. This is always the most interesting part of the story and at the time the one that Lucasarts had missed. That of the decimation of the Jedi and the New Empires pursuit of those that were left. Perfect conditions for a great story, Jedis as rebels and the early formed Empire doing all it can to hunt them down. In the same period all the actors had developed their own characters, each with characteristics very different to all others. The proud and confident Padawan Man El Perio (played by Alan Mandel Butler) stood beside the stern and irrascible Rial Shif (played by Alistiar Reith). As the Exhibition came to its end it seemed to me that the best way to celebrate my time there was to bring the characters to life in the only way available to me. Over the next few months, artworks were produced of every member of the cast with the addition of side characters and enemies. Each carried its own name and steadily built into a story that may never be told anywhere else.

Its a tale of Jedi on the run and a desperate attempt to circumvent the terrible fate of an entire galaxy by brave souls in difficult stuff. I’m convinced if it ever saw the light of day it’d be enormous but short of a phone call to/from George Lucas this is the only place you’ll be able to see it. The entire story exists and much of it will be realised with the introduction of the characters but the spoilers have been kept to an absolute minimum. All you’ll find here is the character art and their starting points in the tale. If you want to see more, call George Lucas and give him my number.

Cheers.

A long time ago, in a Galaxy far, far away….: BTB enters the Star Wars Universe!!

Welcome to the new Beyond the Bunker Star Wars zone. Every Wednesday there will be something from the enormously expansive Star Wars Universe. Be it from the core films I-III or the classic IV-VI, the expanded universe – Clone Wars, Droids, Ewoks – even the Holiday Special if we can find it. And the funnies too.

Interspersed among the existing material will be my little fanboy creation. The Lost Jedi was a title I developed in a fanboy fever while serving as a Jedi/Rebel Trooper at the Star Wars Exhibition in London. Working with a host of exceptional actors, performers, fight trainers and technicians we performed 8 or more Jedi Schools in the central chamber of County Hall, Westminster, in the heart of London. Still the greatest job I’ve ever done – I spent the day training younglings to fight like a Jedi, die like a Rebel Trooper. In my time there, surrounded by the sights and sounds of Lucas and John Williams it was difficult not to be completely overwhelmed by it all.

In a central chamber lay the shining corvette, spitfiresque frame of a Naboo Fighter. To the side of that Wookee costumes and a speeder like that which was ridden by the Skywalkers on Endor. In a darkened room at the back of the exhibition stood a solitary figure. A 7 foot tall goliath in a glass cage. Darth Vader’s suit loomed in the darkness and captured everyone’s imagination that entered. There was never noise in that room, only an eerie and awed hush as tourists stood and basked in a character that is now utterly synonomous with evil and tragedy. And cool.

Expanding so much further beyond mere cinema, Star Wars is an ideology nowadays. A universe that has influenced popular and scientific culture. Star Wars, perhaps more than any other cultural phenomenon of the late twentieth century has the capacity to move into historical lore and take a place in mythology. At its most challenging and insistent, the material developed by the films (even with the less impressive prequels) the cultural and ideological impact of Star Wars gives us insight into the breeding of myths of Gods and Monsters from ancient times. A modern day Odyssey perhaps, it shows us the way religious texts expand and are embraced, whether originally intended by their creators or not. If anything it shows how once a cultural phenomenon is formed it can be expanded upon and used to generate enormous monies for the creator.

Naboo N1-Fighter, parked in landing bay 1, Westminster, 2007

Offering ideologies, an alternative global religion (?!), expansion in gaming, cinema and digital technologies – both in sound and light (and magic), universal themes and characters and having been embraced by effectively billions globally noone should underestimate the width of influence a Dark Lord of the Sith might have.

Jedis unite. For Star Wars has arrived on Beyond the Bunker. Featuring articles, fan films, reviews and the Lost Jedi fan material we are planning to fill the next six months with insight and delight associated with the Star Wars Universe. I’ve got a bad feeling about this….

Next Week: The Lost Jedi. Part One.

Brand New Star Wars: The Old Republic Trailer! – “Return”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzdCdRPESps&w=560&h=349]

This just went live on the SWTOR main site. Here’s the official blurb:

Protected by the legendary Jedi Order, the Galactic Republic stood as a bastion of peace in the galaxy for a thousand generations. Several centuries ago, the greatest threat the galaxy has ever known emerged in the form of the dark Sith Empire. After a volatile war, the Republic emerged victorious and the Sith were assumed to be extinct. Nonetheless, the Jedi have maintained a constant vigil over the ancient Sith homeworld, to protect the galaxy from the darkness that still resides in the planet’s tombs.

Interest in Bioware’s Star Wars MMO continues to go up and down like a pogo stick, but the one thing everyone can agree on is that the trailers are freaking amazing. I wanna play a Han Solo ripoff, cowboy, smuggler in the worst way!

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