Star Wars identities is an interactive exhibition currently at The O2 in London showcasing props, models and concept art from everyone’s favourite space opera. Alongside the many items on show, there are interactive and educational elements around how different experiences (or forces) help shape our psychological and social makeup and how this influences the different paths we go down throughout our life.
At the start of the experience you are given a headset and a wrist band, which is used with the various interactive elements throughout the exhibition. In a nutshell, when you walk toward specific exhibits there is a commentary which plays through the headset providing you with interesting information on what you are looking at. It is also used when viewing some of the many video screens throughout the exhibition. The wrist band is used in conjunction with some of the interactive elements and stores information on the choices you make. This information is used to create your own personalised Star Wars identity, which you get to see at the end of exhibition. This technology was faultless throughout the time we spent in the exhibition and it really added another level of detail to the experience.
As a big fan of the Star Wars saga (especially the original trilogy) the main draw for me was the 200+ props on show which were predominantly from the first six films with a few items from The Force Awakens. The collection is seriously impressive with costumes from all your favourite (and not so favourite) characters including Luke, Han, Chewie, R2D2 and of course the imposing Darth Vader. The exhibition is well lit which adds to the experience. For me the most notable display was the spacecraft models which were displayed in a long glass cabinet with lights to represent laser guns with sound effects. It was fascinating looking at the shear amount of detail on each model whether it’s be an X-Wing, Tie Fighter or Star Destroyer. It made me mourn the fact that these are now created in a computer rather than the handy worker of a master craftsman.
The concept art on display provides a fascinating look at the evolution of characters from sketch to the final film. For example, Jabba the Hutt started life as a space pirate and early sketches of Yoda are more akin to a garden gnome than the green skinned Jedi master we have come to love. I also enjoyed looking at the art work created by Ralph McQuarrie and would loved to have purchased some prints of some of art on display.
The interactive and educational elements add some welcome depth beyond the props on display. They cleverly use Anakin and Luke’s stories to compare how different or similar experiences influence and shape our identity, and the decisions we make in life. You are asked to make your own choices throughout the exhibition and at the end you are presented with your own character biography and a nice image of what you would like as a part of the Star Wars saga. I was delighted to be a lightsaber wielding Wookie Jedi! Whilst I found this very interesting and applaud the overall message about celebrating our differences (and we really do need to reinforce this message these days) I did find some of the educational style videos a little dull near the end of the exhibition having watched a large number of them.
The experience took around 90 minutes to complete, but you could probably spend longer if you were to study every item. Given the sheer amount of objects on display, I cannot imagine any Star Wars fan coming away disappointed. I particularly enjoyed looking at the concept art on display and the models. You really appreciate the amount of creativity and artistry that goes into making a film like Star Wars and indeed the Star Wars universe as a whole. Whilst I still think the props are the main attraction, the interactive elements are thought provoking enough and you leave with a positive message that whether you are from Tatooine, Hoth, Endor or indeed Earth, our differences are something we should embrace and celebrate rather than fear. To quote Master Yoda ‘Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering’.
Star Wars Identities is at the O2, London until 3rd September 2017