A young teen with a mop of brown hair peeking out of his grey hoodie slices the air with an invisible lightsaber.
A younger brother ducks out of the way, barely avoiding the weapon’s energy field. The father is unaware of the epic duel between the two siblings: his camera is locked on a replica of the massive wookiee Chewbacca, his mind is lost on a galaxy far, far away…
The scene takes place inside a giant movie studio in the Cité du Cinéma on the outskirts of Paris, which until June 2014 will host the exhibition Star Wars IDENTITIES. It is the latest incarnation of the galactic adventure created by George Lucas that has been captivating audiences for more than 35 years, and the show’s first stop in Europe.
The last movie instalment of the collection, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, hit movie theatres across the globe in 2005, and the new exhibition has brought out legions of fans who have been craving for anther dose of Darth Vader ever since then.
Florence Charpantier, 41, drove her whole family from nearby Essone to enjoy the event. “It’s part of our family culture,” says the mother of four who was a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy long before she married. “Now, it brings all six of us together.”
While families with young children make up the majority of visitors, there are also young couples without children and older fans snapping away photos of Stormtroopers, Jedi Knights and Siths.
Stepping into space boots
The exhibition brings together a massive array of the films’ costumes, storyboards, spaceship models and other memorabilia. The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum has provided Anakin Skywalker’s podracer used during filming in Tunisia, the carbonite-frozen Han Solo and the android R2-D2, among other treasures.
However, the highlight of the exhibition is an interactive game that allows visitors to gradually build a personal Star Wars character based on their physical preferences, preferred habitats, and one’s own personality.
The task of creating one’s own “identity” within the adventure is in fact an invitation to meet the series’ numerous characters and immerse oneself in their distinct but always connected worlds.
Multimedia galleries offer information on the evolution of technology and the shaping of human personality that flies over the heads of kids more attuned to space monsters, but which keeps older visitors engaged throughout the tour.
Fabrice, 44, said the exhibitions’ emphasis on characters was a good way to bring visitors closer to the films. “The strength of Star Wars is its richness of characters and worlds, but also their unity. Anyone can identify with someone in the story, that’s why Star Wars is popular everywhere,” he says.
At his side, Fabrice’s son is tugging on his polo shirt. He wants to know if they can buy something at the museum shop. But the father seems reluctant to step through the last doorway of the exhibition, lest the fantastic adventure come suddenly to an end.
Star Wars IDENTITIES is open to visitors until June 30, 2014 at the Cité du Cinéma in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. Metro 13: Carrefour Pleyel.
Date created : 2014-02-26