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By Ben Challoner and Daryl Bär.
Ben Challoner: The essential premise of Star Wars Identities is to immerse yourself in the cultures and the different races within that most famous of galaxies far far away to ultimately find out who you would be if you were lucky enough to exist within the Star Wars universe. Armed with a directional piece of electronic equipment and an earpiece you make your way around the extensive collection of props, models, costumes and illustrative scenes from the first six movies both learning about the ideas behind these characters and also answering questions about how you would deal with certain situations if you were to find yourself confronted by them.
Daryl Bär: Star Wars held an almost mythological ideal in my formative years. Too young to catch the original trilogy at the cinema I made do with hand-me-down toys and well-worn VHS tapes. At 16 when The Phantom Menace finally arrived with its subsequent sequels I learned a valuable lesson in how Star Wars is appreciated by each generation in different ways. What Identities does well is balance the tangible works of props, costumes and artwork which will be uniquely admired by younger and older fans.
BC: Although these interactive elements are a lot of fun and often left me pondering which way I would in fact go with my Identity, what worked most for me was the actual props from the movies themselves. On show are some truly nostalgia inducing costumes from the films that hit cinemas between 1977 and 1983, including the giant, furry outfit worn by Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, Carrie Fisher’s infamous bikini worn when she was captured and enslaved by Jabba the Hut, and Darth Vader’s ominous and iconic black body armour and cape. We also get a fascinating (and decidedly hilarious) look at Lucas’s original prototypes for Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, Han Solo and Luke. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone but seeing how Yoda initially resembled one of Santa’s Christmas elves was quite the eye opener. These are probably worth the price of admission alone however there really is so much more to enjoy here.
DB: The craftsmanship behind the pieces on display is mind blowing. From barely visible signatures hidden among the intricacies of the Millennium Falcon model to the colour and textures on Padme’s costumes and detailing on Anakin’s speeder bike, there’s a wealth of world-building to appreciate. For younger fans, the Identities aspect allows you to explore what makes us unique, and what choices in life can lead down darker paths. The prequel era items won’t appeal to the sniffier, older fans but there’s a generation of kids who’ve grown up with The Clone Wars cartoon who will get a huge kick out of seeing the likes of Kit Fisto, Darth Maul and early designs of Jar Jar Binks.
BC: Also there is precious little on show from last year’s wonderful The Force Awakens (other than a very welcome life-size model of new droid BB-8), Gareth Edwards incredible Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This can be forgiven though as I’m sure they are currently being put to good use elsewhere in the various upcoming productions.
DB: Star Wars Identities is a great celebration of both the original and prequel trilogies and no matter what level of fandom you find yourself in there is at least a little something for everyone. If you’re in the city with the family and a couple of hours to kill we thoroughly recommend you spend some time interacting with the displays, admiring the ornate craftwork and revelling in a galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars Identities is at the O2, London, from 18 November to 3 September 2017
Ben and Daryl have a fortnightly film podcast called Sudden Double Deep: The Triple Bill Title Podcast which is available from all good pod-catchers.
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