Star Wars Identities: Much More Than An Ordinary Exhibit

If you grew up in the world of Star Wars who would you be?

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While on my most recent business trip to Edmonton Canada I was told that there was a Star Wars exhibit in town at the Telus World of Science Center. I have to admit right away that I am and was a Star Wars fan while growing up, but I was never a die hard fan by any standards. Nevertheless with my childhood nostalgia still intact, and my admittedly perking interest in what this exhibit had to offer I couldn't resist. But what I found after I got there was much more than I could have anticipated. 

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For those that are unaware I have grown up a native Washingtonian all my life visiting the Smithsonian Institutes my entire life. For any Washingtonian the concept of paying to go into a museum is somewhat of a foreign one. So the entry fee to this exhibit alone was over twenty seven dollars. It was at this point I considered turning back for a moment, but then I thought to myself "what else am I going to do tonight?" And the answer to my question was a resounding nothing. So I paid somewhat begrudgingly  and entered the exhibit.

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What I didn't know at the time is that this was no ordinary exhibit. In fact it will only stop in twelve cities in a six year world wide tour. I was informed that people have literally traveled the globe to experience the exhibit I was about to begin. Luckily for me I was the last person admitted that night so I didn't have to deal with any large groups of people. I mostly had the entire exhibit to myself. I was immediately instructed to grab a wet wrist band that I was assured was a cleaning agent, and not child drool and a wireless headset. Next step was a video room.

This is where the journey began, and I was immediately brought back into this universe, my childhood, and what this exhibit had to offer.    

Two heroes.

They share the same genes. They come from the same planet. So what makes them so different?

Follow Luke and Anakin Skywalker, cinema’s preeminent father and son duo, from their origins on Tatooine, to the friends and mentors they meet during adolescence, through the choices they make that will define them as adults.

Right away I could tell that this was going to be much more than a normal exhibit. This was a fully interactive exhibit based on sciences such as: psychology and sociology, and the forces that formed characters in this universe that we have all come to know and love. What was really cool about the exhibit was that you also got to form yourself as a character in this universe as well.

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When the exhibit first starts you are treated to large display of the droids that are seen throughout the Star Wars movies. And who else would be better to greet me than none other than C-3P0 and R2-D2. Right from the beginning I liked that I was treated to two very familiar faces, as well as a bunch of the other droids. These were both used in the original film, and throughout the entire exhibit I loved the little bits of movie trivia that were shared. Like C-3P0 actor Anthony Daniels had such difficulty moving in the costume that an upright board was brought him for him to lean on. The exhibit was full of this type of information, and I soaked it all up loving every minute of it!

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Of the 200 items on display I found the original art work particularly interesting. The art provided great insight into the creative mindset and design of each character and set pieces. In the original movie movie goers experienced for the first time aliens living there everyday life. This included them quite simply having a drink at the bar, where humans are the outsiders. This simple concept at the time was a ground breaking moment in cinema.

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien

Cantina Alien Models

Cantina Alien Models

I also found it quite interesting to see the concepts of each character evolve over time. Such as George Lucas's early ideas of possibly having a female lead character. A lot of the original artwork showed him toying with this idea. Ultimately he decided to have both Luke and Leia Skywalker in the film. But there were originally cousins as well until he decided them to be twins with Darth Vadar as their father.

Early Luke and Leia sketches

Early Luke and Leia sketches

Early concepts with Luke as a female.

Early concepts with Luke as a female.

Throughout my journey through the exhibit I learned about the life experiences that drove the development of both Luke and Anakin Skywalker. I thought that it was really fascinating how the exhibit intertwined the creation of ourselves in the Star Wars universe, along with the development of these two central characters. It was an extremely interactive experience mixed with the feel of a traditional museum all at once. Of the three main categories of our Origins, Influences, and Choices; there were ten stations to develop our character: 

  1. Origins
    • Species
    • Genes
    • Parents
    • Culture
  2. Influences
    • Mentors
    • Friends
    • Events
  3. Choices
    • Occupation
    • Personality
    • Values
Decisions...Decisions

Decisions...Decisions

As for my decision, well my character's details are listed at the end of this post. I will have to admit that when I first walked into the exhibit I was really impressed by the size and scale of the outfits and props that were present. I have always heard that actors were short and small, but not the actors cast for the Star Wars movies. Mace Windu, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, and Darth Vadar were much taller then I expected to just name a few.

Han Solo played by Harrison Ford

Han Solo played by Harrison Ford

Mace Windu played by Samuel Jackson

Mace Windu played by Samuel Jackson

Chewbacca played by Peter Mayhew 7 ft 3 in

Chewbacca played by Peter Mayhew 7 ft 3 in

Boba Fett played by Jeremy Bulloch

Boba Fett played by Jeremy Bulloch

It was also very impressive to see the model ships used in the filming of the movies. I was blown away at the detail present in these models. Most especially in the Star Destroyer. The detail present in this model in particular was outstanding. On the flip side I was also surprised to see how almost cheap and plastic looking some of the blasters, props, and outfits were. Even the newer movies blasters looked like cheap plastic when up close. It goes to show how the visual and special effects make the objects so much more believable when on screen.  

Side view of Star Destroyer

Side view of Star Destroyer

Back of Star Destroyer

Back of Star Destroyer

Close up of the Y-Wing

Close up of the Y-Wing

 Millennium Falcon

 Millennium Falcon

Storm Trooper helmet. Almost looked comical when up close, but don't tell anyone I said so!

Storm Trooper helmet. Almost looked comical when up close, but don't tell anyone I said so!

Some of my other favorite experiences included learning about Yoda's evolution from a almost dwarf looking character to the little green puppet that ended up on screen. I also learned that art director Joe Johnston modeled Yoda to be the wisest person in the universe. So what did he do, while he modeled Yoda's eyes after the most intelligent person he knew of...Albert Einstein. 

Early concept of Yoda known as Minch at the time

Early concept of Yoda known as Minch at the time

Yoda with those familiar eyes of Albert Einstein!

Yoda with those familiar eyes of Albert Einstein!

Yoda model used in the latest Star Wars movie

Yoda model used in the latest Star Wars movie

Towards the end of the exhibit I had had a great time learning about the characters, the places, seeing the props, models, and all the art work. It was a experience I recommend to anyone that is not only a fan of Star Wars, but of great museum experiences as well. And for those wondering what my favorite item in the exhibit, well it was a little piece of art work that showed the speeds and maneuverability of each spaceship on a chart. I guess the Millennium Falcon is not the fastest ship in the universe!

Relative Speed/Maneuverability Chart

Relative Speed/Maneuverability Chart

And to sum it all up I had a great time, great experience, and I also learned a great deal about the Star Wars universe and even myself. I didn't quite know what to expect at first, but I came out of the Star Wars Identities exhibit with a new appreciation and understanding of the development that went into this universe. It was apparent that it was truly a labor of love that George Lucas put into creating one of the most beloved fantasy universes of all time.

My full photo gallery of the day can be seen here:

Oh and for my Identity the full profile can be found by clicking here:

My Star Wars Identity

My Star Wars Identity