Fun times at the ‘Star Wars Identities’ exhibition

If, like me, you’re a Star Wars geek, then you mustn’t miss the ‘Star Wars Identities’ exhibition currently showing at The O2. Confession time: ‘Star Wars’ holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of the first films that I remember being taken to see as a child – and to this day I remember the sheer terror that Darth Vader and his storm troopers induced in me. And don’t get me started on my Panini sticker album – I never did quite manage to collect the full set of stickers.

This exhibition excels in two ways. The first is the range and amount of paraphernalia on display – over 200 original costumes, props, models and pieces of original artwork, some of which have never been displayed before. Indeed, some of the artwork dates back to 1975, when the first SW film was just a twinkle in George Lucas’s eye, and provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight into how films are made.

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The second is its novel approach, i.e. the way in which the exhibition unfolds, via the respective journeys of father and son duo Luke and Anakin Skywalker. You join them on Tatooine, where they were both born, meet their friends & mentors and watch as the choices they make come to define them. Just fabulous.

Oh, and did I mention that you get to design your own Star Wars hero? I won’t reveal too much; suffice to say that this is an interactive experience of a most unique kind and that you get to decide which forces, be they good or bad, shape you – and to deal with the consequences. Gulp.

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I enjoyed every moment of this exhibition, but most of all I loved the anecdotal asides. Did you know, for example, that the reason the visors of the rebel fighter pilots were tinted yellow is because filming conditions were so hot that the actors’ make-up ran and had to be disguised accordingly? Or that Luke Skywalker was originally going to be a girl – Leia was to have a sister, rather than a twin brother?

Nope – me neither. If that’s the kind of information that enthrals you (and I accept that I may be in a minority here) then get yourself along to The O2, pronto.

A final word, about The O2 itself, which provides a great backdrop for the exhibition. It seems strange, looking back 17 years, that this place was once derided as The Millenium Dome. I never thought the Dome was all that bad – seem to remember having quite a fun day out there – although, as I recall, the main criticism levelled at it was the amount of money it had taken to build. What a transformation: it is now (deservedly) the most successful music venue in Europe and additionally plays host to all sorts of interesting activities: temporary exhibitions like this Star Wars one and also the Nissan Innovation Station, which is high on my list of places to visit, but also Sky Backstage, indigo O2 and Up at the O2. I’m planning on booking my tickets for the Twilight Climb very soon…

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