Christmas brought many amazing gifts this year including tickets to the 'Star Wars Identities' exhibition. I was thrilled for two reasons, the first being that I had heard about this exhibition from people at work and secondly, I love Star Wars!
Two tickets, one for me and one for my girlfriend Helena. Now before I go any further, I must get something out of the way early. Helena has yet to see a Star Wars movie but before all hell breaks loose, by the end of this exhibit she did seem to be one step closer to the force. More so than I was, but I'll get to that later.
Before reading on I will say that this blog will document what happens inside the 'Star Wars Identities' Exhibition, so if you want to experience it like I did with no pre-conceptions, then make sure you come back to the blog after visiting. The exhibit is currently housed at the 02 in London. I'd never been before and so I was amazed by the sheer scale of it. I was also very happy to finally see the venue that James Bond (Pierce Brosnan Stunt Double) dropped onto in the pre title sequence of 'The World is Not Enough'.
At the start of the exhibit we were given ear pieces and wristbands. The wristbands would be used to create our very own personas in the Star Wars universe. The earpieces allow you to listen to videos and to 'making of' audio when standing in front of some of the props/costumes/models. The sound at the start of the exhibit kept dropping in and out and we couldn't explain why. Eventually we realised that we didn't have the signal pack facing the screen where the video was being played. Be sure to face the screen or designated items in order to get the best audio. The only other problem I had with my ear piece was that the battery ran out quite close to the end. I spoke to someone working at the exhibition and I very easily swapped it. The staff were very helpful and it didn't affect my time there.
I've talked about the videos you can watch, these videos are in each section of the exhibit and they look into the lives of two members of the same family. The Skywalkers, Anakin and Luke. Through the videos we take a deeper look into why Anakin turned to the dark side and why Luke remained with the Jedi. We look into their similarities and their differences. We see how their upbringing, surroundings, hobbies, friends and ambitions forge their paths.
Alongside this, we were creating our own characters. Like I said earlier, we had wristbands. In each section there is a station to develop your character. We simply tapped our wristbands and away we went. The first decision, what kind of race? I thought Human was way too predictable so I decided to be a Zabrak.
When it came to picking my name, I struggled for a couple of minutes until I just decided to move the letters around in my own name to make 'Mertyan Lebl. Helena became 'Ha Ha Hels', inspired by Jar Jar Binks. It's not often you put the word 'inspired' next to the name Jar Jar Binks. After naming your identity you choose your home planet, how you were raised, abilities you'd like to develop, how you handled a major event in your life (Such as being held captive by Jabba The Hut), occupation, characteristics and what means the most to you in life. Finally to round off your character, you have to answer the important question. Do I accept the dark side or refuse it?
Helena was strong and refused to let herself be persuaded by the dark side of the Force. However after choosing Hedonism as my characters main outlook on life, I couldn't resist. I saw many proving themselves to be weak, all thinking like me that it was way cooler to join the Emperor.
At the end of the tour we placed our wristbands on the final wall. 'Martyan Lebl' and 'Ha Ha Hels' emerged fully formed. A cool feature is that you can put in your email and they will send you the full story behind your character along with an image.
Besides the interactive element, there were over two hundred original costumes, props, models and pieces of art work to be astounded by. We were instantly greeted by Storm Troopers, Boba Fett, R2-D2, C3P0 and those terribly useless Battle Droids "Roger, Roger".
The part that really floored me was the section that had all of the miniature model ships on show. They were beautifully hand crafted and displayed complete with sound effects. I made sure I took close up photos of each one before I left.
It was only a few days after the passing of Carrie Fisher and her presence was everywhere, in the storyboards, costumes and film footage. She is such an integral part of the Star Wars Universe and when faced with a wall decorated with her face, I made sure I took a few moments to reflect and quietly say "Thank you" before moving on.
The exhibition is running until September 3rd 2017. It is a must see for all Star Wars fans. On the other hand if you're not a Star Wars fan then Helena will tell you, you can enjoy it too.
If you've been to 'Star Wars Identities' then let me know who you created and the path you took.
May the force be with you.