Science

Gizmag joins the Rebellion at the Star Wars Identities exhibit

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The Yoda puppet, as operated by Frank Oz in The Phantom Menace
The Yoda puppet, as operated by Frank Oz in The Phantom Menace
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The Boba Fett costume, as worn by actor Jeremy Bulloch in Return of the Jedi – the character was originally intended to be part of an elite band of stormtroopers, so the first costume was initially all-white
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The Boba Fett costume, as worn by actor Jeremy Bulloch in Return of the Jedi – the character was originally intended to be part of an elite band of stormtroopers, so the first costume was initially all-white
A stormtrooper costume, along with helmets from each of the first three films
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A stormtrooper costume, along with helmets from each of the first three films
Stormtrooper helmets from (top to bottom) A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi
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Stormtrooper helmets from (top to bottom) A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi
The mouse droid from A New Hope
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The mouse droid from A New Hope
The surprisingly junky-looking R2-D2 costume as worn by Kenny Baker in A New Hope
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The surprisingly junky-looking R2-D2 costume as worn by Kenny Baker in A New Hope
The C-3PO costume as worn by Anthony Daniels in Revenge of the Sith and the R2-D2 costume as worn by Kenny Baker in A New Hope
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The C-3PO costume as worn by Anthony Daniels in Revenge of the Sith and the R2-D2 costume as worn by Kenny Baker in A New Hope
A full-size mock-up of Anakin Skywalker's pod racer, used for close-ups in The Phantom Menace
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A full-size mock-up of Anakin Skywalker's pod racer, used for close-ups in The Phantom Menace
A full-size mock-up of Anakin Skywalker's pod racer, used for close-ups in The Phantom Menace
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A full-size mock-up of Anakin Skywalker's pod racer, used for close-ups in The Phantom Menace
A full-size mock-up of Anakin Skywalker's pod racer, used for close-ups in The Phantom Menace
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A full-size mock-up of Anakin Skywalker's pod racer, used for close-ups in The Phantom Menace
A Tusken Raider costume from Attack of the Clones, and a Jawa costume from A New Hope
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A Tusken Raider costume from Attack of the Clones, and a Jawa costume from A New Hope
Han Solo frozen in carbonite, from The Empire Strikes Back
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Han Solo frozen in carbonite, from The Empire Strikes Back
Han Solo frozen in carbonite, from The Empire Strikes Back
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Han Solo frozen in carbonite, from The Empire Strikes Back
One of the exhibit's interactive character development stations
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One of the exhibit's interactive character development stations
An Imperial AT-AT Walker, from The Empire Strikes Back
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An Imperial AT-AT Walker, from The Empire Strikes Back
A Snowspeeder, from The Empire Strikes Back
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A Snowspeeder, from The Empire Strikes Back
Some of the spaceship models on display
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Some of the spaceship models on display
Darth Vader's custom TIE fighter
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Darth Vader's custom TIE fighter
An early sketch of Yoda – he ended up changing a bit
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An early sketch of Yoda – he ended up changing a bit
The Yoda puppet, as operated by Frank Oz in The Phantom Menace
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The Yoda puppet, as operated by Frank Oz in The Phantom Menace
The Yoda puppet, as operated by Frank Oz in The Phantom Menace
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The Yoda puppet, as operated by Frank Oz in The Phantom Menace
The Chewbacca costume, as worn by Peter Mayhew in Revenge of the Sith
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The Chewbacca costume, as worn by Peter Mayhew in Revenge of the Sith
An Imperial Destroyer model, seen from the rear
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An Imperial Destroyer model, seen from the rear
A model TIE fighter
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A model TIE fighter
A model Imperial Shuttle
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A model Imperial Shuttle
A model Y-wing fighter
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A model Y-wing fighter
A model X-wing fighter
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A model X-wing fighter
A variety of Rebel pilot helmets – the visors were tinted yellow to hide the actors' running makeup
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A variety of Rebel pilot helmets – the visors were tinted yellow to hide the actors' running makeup
A variety of Rebel pilot helmets
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A variety of Rebel pilot helmets
Luke's Rebel pilot costume, as worn by Mark Hamill in A New Hope
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Luke's Rebel pilot costume, as worn by Mark Hamill in A New Hope
Luke's Rebel pilot costume, as worn by Mark Hamill in A New Hope
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Luke's Rebel pilot costume, as worn by Mark Hamill in A New Hope
One of the interactive touchscreens
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One of the interactive touchscreens
Owen Lar's Swoop Bike, as used by Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones
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Owen Lar's Swoop Bike, as used by Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones
A character analysis of Anakin Skywalker
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A character analysis of Anakin Skywalker
Darth Maul and friends
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Darth Maul and friends
An early sketch of Darth Vader
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An early sketch of Darth Vader
The Darth Vader costume, as worn by David Prowse in Return of the Jedi
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The Darth Vader costume, as worn by David Prowse in Return of the Jedi
My Star Wars Identities character, Fuzzy the Wookiee
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My Star Wars Identities character, Fuzzy the Wookiee
Edmonton's TELUS World of Science
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Edmonton's TELUS World of Science

Here at Gizmag, we like to focus on the very latest developments in science and technology. That said, when I had the chance to cover the new Star Wars Identities exhibition today, well ... it was an opportunity too good to pass up. The show features approximately 200 original props, costumes and models used in all six films, many of which have never been displayed in public before. Using interactive technology, however, it also teaches us how our own identities are formed, using the Star Wars characters as examples.

Star Wars Identities was put together by Montreal-based X3 Productions, in collaboration with the folks at Lucasfilm. It first opened in Montreal in April, where it played for five months. It then moved on to the Canadian city of Edmonton, its only other North American stop, where it opened on October 26th – that’s where I caught up with it. Over the next five years, plans call for it to travel through Europe, Asia and Latin America.

“The megafans are totally excited about seeing all these props – some of them have never been seen,” X3’s Sophie Desbiens told me. “The regular people and non-fans discover what’s behind the famous saga. They are surprised by how much they learn about themselves as well.”

The C-3PO costume as worn by Anthony Daniels in Revenge of the Sith and the R2-D2 costume as worn by Kenny Baker in A New Hope
The C-3PO costume as worn by Anthony Daniels in Revenge of the Sith and the R2-D2 costume as worn by Kenny Baker in A New Hope

That learning process begins with attendees putting on a rubber RFID (radio frequency identification) bracelet, like the one I donned upon entering the exhibit. I then proceeded to wind my way through the numerous displays of Star Wars historical artifacts, while also learning about the forces that shaped the identities of the various characters – what sort of parenting they had, who they chose to associate with, what values they developed, that sort of thing.

Interspersed with the displays were interactive touchscreen-based stations that allowed me to progressively develop a Star Wars-universe character. This wasn’t an existing character from any of the movies, but a one-of-a-kind character that was the unique result of the selections I made – and the personal information I provided – at each of the stations. The exhibit’s software is able to keep track of the various characters-in-progress as they move from station to station, via scans of the bracelets.

My Star Wars Identities character, Fuzzy the Wookiee
My Star Wars Identities character, Fuzzy the Wookiee

By the time I was done, the program had completed my alter-ego, which it presented to me on-site and also by email. It turns out that I’m a Wookiee Jedi Knight from the forest planet of Kashyyyk, who goes by the name of Fuzzy – that name was my choice, by the way, it wasn’t assigned to me. You’ll also doubtless be glad to know that when the Emperor of the Dark Side offered me limitless power in exchange for my allegiance, I turned him down.

Some of the spaceship models on display
Some of the spaceship models on display

Of course, the big attraction is simply all the stuff from the movies. I particularly liked the giant case full of spaceship models – the very models that appeared on camera in the films. It was also neat to see the original Yoda puppet, along with costumes for characters such as Boba Fett, Darth Vader, C-3PO and R2-D2 ... interestingly enough, the R2-D2 costume from the first film actually looks kind of cheap and home-made in real life.

All in all, it was a good time.

Han Solo frozen in carbonite, from The Empire Strikes Back
Han Solo frozen in carbonite, from The Empire Strikes Back

“Most people come out if their experience with a big smile on their face” said Sophie. “I think it brings out the 10 year old kid in all of us, and this is what I like the most about this exhibition. You get to learn, yes, but all the while you had fun.”

Star Wars Identities plays at Edmonton’s TELUS World of Science until April 1st. If you can’t make it, at least be sure to check out the photo gallery of my visit.

1 comment
Stephen N Russell
Now that Disney owns Star Wars one should expect to see: o Updated Star Tours ride o X wing ride o Tanttoie bar from Star Wars 1 1977 debut o Imperial Hqs setting o Rebel Hqs setting o Old Republic lightsaber stunt show. o Tour Yodas home world. o Landspeeder CGI 3D ride exp. & more from Disney for both parks.