Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition
STAR WARS™ IDENTITIES: THE EXHIBITION
At O2 CENTRE, LONDON
A long time ago (40 years to be precise) in a galaxy far, far away (Leeds in Yorkshire) I was a teenager seeking inspiration and hope. Manchester United had just beaten Liverpool in the FA Cup Final, the country was preparing itself for street parties due to the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and the UK, as hosts, had just finished second in the Eurovision Song Contest with Lyndsey de Paul & Mike Moran’s Rock Bottom. What more could I possibly need?
Then I went to the cinema and I fell in love with the genius of George Lucas. It’s an on-off affair I have had ever since. I’m a fan, but not one that goes to conventions or buys the gadgets, posters, figurines, etc. No. Just a fan who simply doesn’t mind Jar-Jar Binks, quite likes the Ewoks and is level-headed enough not to claim my religion as ‘Jedi’.
[The infamous logo]
Yet the film and its sequels and prequels have always given me a slight flutter of excitement. I ask a few people what Star Wars brought to them - off the top of their heads - and they say Darth Vader, Millennium Falcon, the Death Star, scrolling text, lightsabers, music. Ah, the music. My one true hobby. The scores of John Williams have entranced me ever since.
All these things are iconic. Lucas not only changed film-making, raising the bar for others around him, but the world. He introduced us to concepts previously unheard of - not just loveable droids and Wookies, but global merchandising and the feeling of being a part of something new and important.
[The ultimate bad-guy, Darth Vader]
Every generation has had (and will have) their own version - in terms of escapist entertainment it is currently Game Of Thrones. But franchises today owe so much to Luke and Vader, to C-3PO and R2-D2, to catchphrases like 'May the Force be with you', 'I am your Father' and 'The Force is strong with this one'.
The stories, although simple good versus evil, reach out and we can empathise with the heroes in their search for identity, love and peace. The creator Lucas himself said “Since Star Wars takes place in a fantasy world, the characters need to be identifiable so that the audience can connect to them. These larger-than-life characters come complete with friends, enemies, values and beliefs.”
[The evil Empire’s stormtroopers]
I’ve just visited the magnificent O2 and STAR WARS™ Identities: The Exhibition, which is now open.
Produced by X3 Productions and made possible by Lucasfilm Ltd., the exhibition is on a world tour visiting 12 cities in all. It is an exploration of the nature of human identity through the magic of the Star Wars™ universe and its legendary characters. As Lucas confirms, “This exhibition examines how the Star Wars characters are like us, what we may have in common, and what makes up our individual identities.”
[Son vs Father, good vs evil with the iconic lightsabers]
I was given a wristband that must be activated by touching various panels throughout the exhibition. From this I can create my own universal character, either keeping it real or going into fantasy. Amidst all the costumes any objects from the films, I learn what it is to be human, based on the latest scientific research.
STAR WARS Identities has divided its study of human identity into three major themes, each presented in a separate zone within the exhibition: my character's origins, the influences that shaped them, and the personal choices that altered my life. Within these three themes, ten components of human identity are explored: species, origins, parents, culture, mentors, friends, occupation, marking events, personality and values. Science-based video clips explain how each component influences my identity. Here I am…
I even got a full biography of my creature - my alternate ‘human’ identity. Interesting stuff.
The idea behind this is quite serious and amidst the fun of the franchise, there is quite a lot to think about. The exhibition itself was quiet, perhaps a midweek evening is a good time to go to avoid the crowds. I would imagine it’s mayhem at weekends and bank holidays. Certainly a good laugh to go with your friends.
For complete schedule and box office information, visit www.theo2.co.uk/starwars.
Open until September 3rd 2017.
Visitors can begin their adventure in the world of identity at: starwarsidentities.com.