ARE YOU CHEWIE ON THE INSIDE; PAUL COLE Discovers Whether He Has Wookie, Jawa or Gungan Roots at the O2's Star Wars Identities Exhibition

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), July 22, 2017 | Go to article overview

ARE YOU CHEWIE ON THE INSIDE; PAUL COLE Discovers Whether He Has Wookie, Jawa or Gungan Roots at the O2's Star Wars Identities Exhibition


Byline: PAUL COLE

ALLOW me to introduce myself. I'm Senator Paul from Kashyyyk. Yes, you know. Kashyyyk, the planet in the south-western quadrant of the galaxy. Covered in wroshyr trees and homeworld of the wookies. The Empire knows it as G5-623.

Members of my community made their living building and selling catamarans.

All of which is, frankly, weird. Because I'm sure that when I walked in, I was travel writer Paul Cole. From the planet Earth. Perhaps Brexit went a tad too far during my lost two hours.

That's how long I spent, like a wide-eyed kid, in the Star Wars Identities exhibition running at London's 02.

That's the Millennium Dome in old money, lest there be any mistake. Set your sat-nav wrong and you could end up on Coruscant or Tattooine.

So, as we breathlessly await the next instalment in the Star Wars franchise at the cinema, what's it all about? I confess I had a good feeling about this one. Blessed by George Lucas, no less, it's a touring exhibition of more than 200 original costumes and props from all the movies.

Yet it's much more than that.

The Force is strong in this one. Lucas insisted that the exhibition, which is on a six-year world tour, should be educational - and that's where the Identities bit comes in.

"Since Star Wars takes place in a fantasy world, the characters need to be identifiable so that the audience can connect to them," he says.

"These larger-than-life characters come complete with friends, enemies, values and beliefs. This exhibition examines how the Star Wars characters are like us, what we may have in common, and what makes up our individual identities."

But don't get the idea that education has to be dull. This is a fun family attraction for all ages. And you don't have to be a Star Wars geek like me to enjoy it.

As you arrive, you're issued with an interactive wristband and headset. At 10 stations throughout the exhibits, you're asked about the sort of person you are. Audio commentary for various films about identity and relevant Star Wars excerpts are triggered automatically.

By the time you leave, an algorithm has been busily creating your own Star Wars character, which is beamed onto a giant video wall, and which you can download.

Hence Senator Paul from Kashyyyk. Did I mention I once won a podrace? But back to those costumes and props. They're all here. Luke, Han, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Leia, Yoda, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3P0, Padme, Lando, Mace... you can see the iconic costumes. Darth Vader's present, as are the Emperor, Darth Sidious and more Stormtroopers and droids than you can shake a lightsaber at. …

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