Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition, presented by Lucasfilm and produced by X3 Productions, focuses on the origins, influences, and choices of Star Wars characters. A delegation from TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars fanclub, drove on Monday, March 24, to La Cité du Cinéma in Paris to pay it a visit…
The traveling exhibit has found a new home in France, and will remain in Paris until the end of June 2014. The entrance is beautifully decorated by six different awesome posters that show main characters from Star Wars, whose portraits consist of many tiny elements that you can only recognize properly when you have a closer look. Queen Amidala is made of vehicles, locations, and ships that were seen on Naboo and Boba Fett is made of different pieces of Mandalorian equipment and weaponry.
Identities is an interactive experience, and you receive two accessories. The first is an audio device you can use in certain marked places at the expo. There you will hear (in French or English) information about the development of characters or info. The second accessory is a plastic bracelet that will allow you to create your own character in the Star Wars galaxy. At 10 scanning stations situated throughout the rooms, you’ll make decisions by using the same components that are being explored at the exposition. You will have to choose your species (from 15 different options), what genes you have inherited, what planet you’re from, your best abilities, your profession, and much more. The combination of your choices will finally result in a unique character. You’ll be able to receive your Star Wars alter ego by e-mail — and surprisingly fast, as we had already received our characters when we got home. There are a lot of original costumes, props, and models on display. Each hall and passageway is richly decorated with production paintings, concept art, and sketches from the classics, prequels, and even Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
The first room introduces a general array of characters, including Boba Fett, a Stormtrooper, and a lot of droids. The droids include EV-9D9 (Kenner was right — she is really tall), 8D8, and 3B6-RA-7, the silvery RA-7 Protocol Droid seen at the Jawa Sandcrawler. Favorites such as C-3PO, R2-D2, a B1 battle droid, and the MSE-6 “Mouse” Droid are also present. What caught my attention were three conceptual drawings of Ron Cobb for cantina aliens, just as the famous sketch of John Mollo that roughly describes a lot of the cantina residents. The mask of Ponda Baba (Walrus Man) is the Jogan Fruit on the cake. It has suffered from age, but it’s amazing to see, especially for fans of the Cantina scene.
The second part of the room shows art and conceptual models for Jar Jar Binks and several Podracer pilots. The puppets of Dud Bolt and Mars Guo are accompanied by a model of Sebulba’s head and by a lot of the smaller podracer models, seen in certain books. I was amazed at the details of these models and it must have been a weird sight when I was taking photos of the buttocks of the Podracers. Their backsides are rarely documented, so it seemed like an opportunity to gain additional information regarding the physiology of their species.
The second room takes you to Tatooine, the home planet of the two central Star Wars heroes: Anakin and Luke Skywalker. Anakin’s full scale Podracer is the centerpiece of this room. A lesser common object is the Meson Taloscope, used by Obi-Wan to examine the amount of Anakin’s midi-chlorians. An even scarcer object is a sketch by Ralph McQuarrie of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru that, as far as I know, hasn’t publicly been seen until now. A prequel Tusken Raider, a Jawa, Leia’s slave outfit, and Han in carbonite complete the room. On the walls you’ll see many paintings that Ralph McQuarrie created for the classics, but also art that he developed for later projects, such as a the brilliant book The Illustrated Star Wars Universe. Be sure to check out the concept art of Jabba’s barbeque, the original Max Rebo (with no arms), and BG-J38 playing one of the slot machines in Jabba’s Palace. A smaller passage shows sketches for Jabba the Hutt, a model of the Hutt used for Episode I, and the eyes of Jabba used in Return of the Jedi.
A third section is all about Star Wars mentors. The Jedi Master can be seen in a Dagobah environment, accompanied by lots of conceptual artwork. A neat addition are the models of Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano used for The Clone Wars. The exposition also includes sketches of characters that made an appearance in The Clone Wars, such as Jabba, Yoda, and Palpatine.
The next hall focuses on friends and events. It might be pretty safe to assume that this will be a favorite of many fans. A grand display dominates the room. It includes a lot of famous ships and vehicles from the Galactic Civil War, such as an Imperial-class II Star Destroyer, different TIE fighters, the Tydirium, the Liberty, and Rebel Alliance starfighters. One side of the room features artwork from Bespin’s Cloud City and has costumes of Chewbacca, Han (Episode V), Leia Hoth, and Lando as general. The Millennium Falcon is seen in a separate display, as is Luke Skywalker’s X-wing attire and five different helmets of Rebel pilots (including the one of Dorovio Bold).
The next two passageways (‘profession’ and ‘behavior’) are a bit smaller. They feature costumes from Padmé (one from each movie), Anakin’s outfit from Revenge of the Sith and Owen’s Zephyr-G Swoop used by Anakin to find Shmi in Attack of the Clones.
The final room is all about values and the balance between light and dark. It shows costumes of Jedi (Plo Koon, Obi-Wan, Luke, Mace Windu, and Kit Fisto) and Sith (Maul, Sidious, and Vader). Darth Vader awaits your arrival ominously. A really interesting prop in this room is the Sith mural, known as the Massassi Frieze, which was seen in Revenge of the Sith in Palpatine’s Office. Darth Sidious will have the final word at Identities and he will try to lure your character to the dark side. In the last room you can finally see what your own character looks like. The exposition concludes with the classic gift shop that has a fair amount of apparel, posters, magnets, and much more. Identities has a beautiful English (and French) catalog that shows every item from the exposition.
Star Wars Identities is a wonderful experience for fans who love the characters from Star Wars and the decisions that influenced their lives. The audio information is interesting and relates to the decisions you’ll have to make in order to create your own character. And don’t worry about the exposition taking place in France; everything (audio and text) is also available in English. If you plan to visit the exposition, don’t forget to order your ticket(s) in advance, since the interactivity only allows a limited amount of people to enter the expo simultaneously. Star Wars Identities will be presented in 12 world-class exhibition venues over the next six years. After visiting Europe, it will also travel to Asia, Latin America and the Pacific region.
Special thanks to Frederique Torres and the friendly staff of Star Wars Identities!
Tim Veekhoven (Sompeetalay) from Belgium is president and co founder of TeeKay-421, the Belgian Star Wars Fanclub. He’s a contributor to Star Wars Insider (Rogues Gallery), an administrator for Yodapedia, and has written four character back stories in “What’s the Story?”.
Photos by Steven Jaspers from TeeKay-421.