'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' receives praise at 'mind-blowing' premiere

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

The new spin-off: Solo: A Star Wars Story

The latest film tells the story of a young Han Solo. Actor Alen Ehrenreich plays the renegade space pilot with humor and respect for the original character, portrayed by Harrison Ford. Taking place before Episode IV, the film explains how Solo got to know his Wookie pal Chewbacca.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

The dream team from the original trilogy

In 1977, the smuggler Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker appeared for the first time on the silver screen. The trio was central to episodes IV-VI, (Star Wars, 1977; The Empire Strikes Back, 1980; Return of the Jedi, 1983), and met again decades later in Episode VII - The Force Awakens, from 2015.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

Traveling in time

Since 1977, Star Wars enthusiasts have been regularly celebrating the release of a new episode. They don't mind the jumps in the timeline. A real Star Wars fan knows exactly "when" each episode is set. The events in Rogue One take place between Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV - A New Hope, the new title for the original Star Wars movie.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

The Jedi Knights

In the Star Wars universe, members of the Jedi Order use their power to do good. The Force gives them superhuman abilities. For example, they can move objects using their mind. Their strongest weapon is the lightsaber. The most famous Jedi Knights are Luke and Anakin Skywalker (the latter is shown right in the picture), Obi-Wan Kenobi (left) and Master Yoda.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

Grand master Yoda

Yoda is the most powerful Jedi Knight of all time; he knows how to use the Force like no other. For over 800 years, he has been training young disciples, known as Padawan learners, to become Jedi Knights. His language is strange; his words are wise. He is only 66 cm (26 inches) tall, but even his largest opponents know the Jedi Master should not be judged by his size.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

'Do or do not. There is no try.'

In Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda trains the young Luke Skywalker. Luke is very insecure and does not believe in his powers. Yoda teaches him the Jedi philosophy and new mental skills. He also warns him not to let negative feelings take over: "Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny."

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

The Sith

The Sith are an Order on the dark side of the Force. Sith are mostly former Jedi Knights who have left the light side hoping to obtain more power. Famous Siths include Darth Vader, Darth Maul and Darth Sidious. Pictured here is Darth Tyranus, who was known as Count Dooku when he was a Jedi.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

'Luke, I am your father'

Darth Vader used to be Jedi Anakin Skywalker. Wanting to save the life of his wife and unborn children, he was pulled into the dark force by the Galactic Emperor himself. Anakin then became Darth Vader, while his children Luke and Leia were rescued and hidden. Twenty years later, Luke and Vader met again in a climatic confrontation, where the son discovered that the grim figure was his father.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

Emperor of the Galactic Empire

He is actually a charismatic member of the Senate governing a large planetary republic. But secretly, Sheev Palpatine is a Sith Lord named Darth Sidious. He calls for an uprising against the Republic. He rises to the position of Supreme Chancellor and then Emperor, aiming to rule on the entire universe. He is responsible for the worst of all weapons...

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

The Death Star

The Death Star is the Imperial super-weapon. It's the size of the moon and is devastatingly destructive. Princess Leia witnessed a cruel demonstration of its power, as a blast from its superlaser destroyed her home planet, Alderaan. The Death Star had a weak point, allowing the rebels to strike back and destroy it — but the next Death Star was already under construction.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

The stormtroopers

Controlled by the dark side of the Force, hundreds of thousands of soldiers — the stormtroopers — are the main ground force of the Galactic Empire. They have always been loyal to the supreme commander, the Galactic Emperor, and follow their superiors — such as here, Kylo Ren — without questioning them. In Episode VII, stormtrooper Finn breaks with this tradition and joins the good guys.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

Jabba the Hutt

Along with humanoids, the Star Wars universe features a few inhuman creatures, such as the powerful criminal Jabba the Hutt, a disgusting monster who has unfinished business with the ex-smuggler Han Solo. In order to reinforce his demands, he enslaves Princess Leia. The bikini worn by actress Carrie Fischer in that scene has become legendary.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT)

The Imperial weapons' massive size alone is already meant to frighten opponents. The four-legged AT-AT walkers are combat vehicles that can move quickly on any terrain while transporting troops. Their heads contain tons of the destructive projectiles. A similarly evil combat device is the two-legged All Terrain Scout Transport, or AT-ST.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

Flying duels

While the Death Star was still being built, the ships of the Imperial fleet were holding the fort. Pictured here is a gigantic Star Destroyer, flanked by small and maneuverable starfighters that combat the Rebels in their own rapid ships, leading to fast-paced duels. In 1977, Star Wars creator George Lucas established new standards in special effects with these spectacular scenes.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

The music

Composer John Williams wrote the soundtrack to all Star Wars films. The main theme and the dark march accompanying Darth Vader are world famous. The song "Cantina Song" from Episode IV also became instantly cult. It is played by the alien band Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes in the original 1977 film.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

Han Solo's sidekick: Chewbacca

Smuggling belongs to Han Solo's past by Episode VII, and his relation with Princess Leia is also over — even though they are married. After many years, they meet again, and once again, their goal is to fight against the Empire. They're all older — except Han Solo's loyal friend, the Wookie Chewbacca, who accompanies Han until the end. His growl is legendary.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

The droids

Already present in the first films, the golden know-it-all droid C3PO and his small beeping counterpart, R2D2, make up one of the most iconic twosome of film history. In Episode VII, another cute robot joined them: BB-8 (left). These three droids are loyal to the main characters and have already saved them from perilous situations.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

A new heroine

Introduced in Episode VII, Rey is a new heroine whose origin still hasn't been explained. Is she the daughter of Leia and Han Solo? Or Luke Skywalker's? No one knows what happened in the 30 years after Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. Rogue One invited audiences to go back in time to find out.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

Rogue One

This stand-alone spin-off movie is set in the period between Episode III and IV. The Empire is building its first Death Star and wants to test its destructive power. As Star Wars fans know, it can destroy a whole planet with a single blast. The Rebels want to steal the design plans for the weapon. The whole story runs parallel to the original Star Wars narrative.

Brief guide to the Star Wars universe

Rey's journey continues in Star Wars: The last Jedi

Just before Christmas 2017, the eighth part of the Star Wars saga was released. In Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, Rey tries to win over Jedi recluse Luke Skywalker and bring him back into the Resistance. Meanwhile, the "First Order" wants to completely annihilate the rebel army led by Leia Organa. Poe and Finn do their best to prevent this.

Attendees have praised the eighth installment of the space opera, with some describing the premiere as "mind-blowing." One actress said "Star Wars" has remained relevant due to its "foundational mythology."

The cast of the eighth installment of the Star Wars science fiction saga took to the red carpet on Saturday evening ahead of the world premiere of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."

"It's a 'Star Wars' movie, and the energy tonight is pretty amazing," said Andy Serkis, who played the arch villain Supreme Leader Snoke.

Read more: 'Star Wars': Disney announces new trilogy

The film is scheduled for release on Friday, with industry experts expecting it to open with a weekend total of some $220 million (186 million euros), just shy of the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" film that debuted in 2015 and raked in $248 million (210.8 million euros) on its opening weekend.

Director Rian Johnson introduced the film by offering an emotional tribute to Carrie Fisher, who played the iconic Leia Organa, a princess-turned-rebel general, after she passed away last year.

Kelly Marie Tran (center) plays Star Wars newcomer Resistance maintenance worker Rose Tico

'Human, dark, narcissistic'

Gwendoline Christie, who plays stormtrooper commander Captain Phasma and is widely-known for her role as Brienne of Tarth in the HBO series "Game of Thrones," said "Star Wars" remains relevant today due to "its foundational mythology of good versus evil."

"I think it's because the world we live in is a changing and evolving place that it retains the simplicity of those elements," Christie said. "But it really resonates with what it is to follow your own human, dark, narcissistic tendencies, and where that will take you."

Read more: Star Wars turns  40, but the Galactic Empire is far from over

Star Wars fans, followers and aficionados gave the film high-praise, but stopped short of offering a comprehensive review due to an embargo from Lucasfilm on all detailed analyses until 9 a.m. Los Angeles time (1700 UTC).

"There aren't enough words to express how much I loved Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It is mind-blowing! I'm in geek heaven," said Jenna Busch, editor-in-chief of LegionofLeia.com.

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Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

Iconic role: Princess Leia

This is how we knew her, and it's how we will always remember her - as Leia Organa, leader of the rebellion against the Empire. Fisher played the role for the first time when she was just 19. In six "Star Wars" segments (including "Rogue One") she filled the role of the courageous Princess with life.

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

Movie debut at 17

In "Shampoo" (1975) Fisher appeared on the big screen for the first time. In this comedy, she seduces Beverly Hills hairdresser George Roundy (played by Warren Beatty). "Shampoo" received one Academy Award along with several more Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Later, Fisher decried that Beatty had asked her to act in front of the camera without a bra.

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

A breakthrough: Star Wars

A mere two years later, Fisher plays Princess Leia for the first time. In "Star Wars episode IV: A New Hope" she and droid R2-D2 (pictured) try to neutralize the devastating Death Star (a moon-shaped space station). That film received a whopping six Oscars - and Carrie Fisher would be part of a highly successful ensemble cast from now on.

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

Famous siblings

Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill shared screentime in three "Star Wars" installments, playing twins Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker, respectively. Their last collaboration was "Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens" in 2015. Hamill has expressed deep sadness over the loss of his colleague.

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

A powerful trio: Han Solo, Leia, Luke Skywalker

Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) is not a volunteer but is rather dragged into the mission of saving the galaxy. However, Luke, Leia and the smuggler-turned-rebel leader develop into a powerful alliance. This "Star Wars" episode also marked Harrison Ford's breakthrough in Hollywood.

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher and Paul Simon

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Fisher had an on-and-off relationship with Paul Simon (of Simon & Garfunkel fame). They were even married for two years (1983-4). Simon's song "Hearts and Bones" is a tribute to his relationship with the actress.

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

New terrain

In 1980, Fisher switched from the "Star Wars" set to that of "Blues Brothers." In this legendary comedy, Fisher played the ex-girlfriend of protagonist Jake (John Belushi). She fires at him with an assault rifle for walking out on her. Allegedly, there was a cocaine bar on the set, and Fisher's job was to keep Belushi away from the drugs.

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

Return of the Jedi (1983)

In several "Star Wars" segments, the droid C-3PO - a human robot - acted as Princess Leia's companion - including her imprisonment as a slave to evil Jabba the Hutt. The talkative robot was brought to life by actor Anthony Daniels.

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

War against the Galactic Empire

Another member of the "Star Wars" combat team led by Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia was Chewbacca. The furry Chewie, a member of the Wookiee species, is played by Peter Mayhew, an actor who is 2,21m (over seven feet) tall. When Fisher had suffered her heart attack, Mayhew posted a tweet headlined, "Thoughts and prayers for our friend and everyone's favorite princess right now."

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

"When Harry Met Sally" (1989)

1989 saw Fisher appearing in another comedy: "When Harry Met Sally." She played Marie, the best friend of heroine Sally (Meg Ryan). In the movie, she has a brief relationship with Harry (Billy Crystal) before eventually marrying his friend Jess (Bruno Kirby).

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

"Episode VII: The Force Awakens" (2015)

Han Solo and Princess Leia have a son, Kylo Ren, who has deserted to the other side and become a dark warrior of the Force. She continues to lead the rebellion, including the one against the New Order. Fisher and Harrison Ford were not just close as film characters. In her autobiography, "The Princess Diarist" (2016) she mentions details of the affair they had during the 1976 filming.

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher as writer

In addition to her acting career, Fisher published a total of eight books, including five novels. Lately, she published her autobiography, "The Princess Diarist" - her third memoir after "Wishful Drinking" and "Shockaholic."

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

The fight against drugs

Suffering from a bipolar disorder and drug addiction herself, Fisher kept adressing psychic illnesses and addictions. In 2016 she received a Harvard University "Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism" for her public engagement. On 27 December, she passed away after complications arising from a massive heart attack.

Goodbye Princess Leia: A tribute to 'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher

Death of an Actress

Carrie Fisher passed away on the morning of 27 December, 2016, as a result of a severe heart attack suffered a few days before. She had collapsed on a long-distance flight from London prior to touchdown in Los Angeles and had received treatment at UCLA Medical Center. According to media reports she had just finished work on the British sitcom "Catastrophe."

ls/jlw (AFP, AP)