April 6-7, 2024
Who are you? Where did you come from? Life is full of questions, and the answers ultimately shape our identity. The Star Wars Identities exhibition arrived on Sydney’s shores last week, with a limited residency until June 2019.
The exhibition is far more than just a collection of memorabilia from the franchise though, using experts in fields such as neuropsychology and biology to lead fans through a personal identity quest in the Star Wars universe. With over 200 original artefacts, costumes, and props, the interactive exhibit poses questions about your upbringing, introducing you to the character that best defines who you are!
Whether you’re a noble Jedi Knight, a turncoat who accepted the Emperor’s offer to follow the Dark Side or a simple visitor of Tosche station looking to “pick up some power converters!”, you still play a pivotal role in the galaxy far, far away.
Prior to the official opening of the exhibit, we spoke with Laela French, Director of Archives for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.
Like most of us, French’s Star Wars story began a long time ago (in this galaxy), but at the time she had no idea that her connection with the films would become far more personal.
“In sixth grade, I broke my arm and one of the guys drew a Boba Fett on my cast and I became curious, as I didn’t remember him from the film,” she says. “I actually saw Star Wars in 1977 as a kid in Hollywood at the Grauman’s Chinese [Theatre]. My dad loved lining up for those big films”.
Though most children at the time became obsessed with the film, French was a late bloomer. “I didn’t really think about Star Wars for a while. I went off and studied art history and all of a sudden this job opportunity came up at Skywalker Ranch and my husband encouraged me to apply. That’s where I really got roped into working with the archives.”
As a global phenomenon, the exhibition has toured the world under several different themes, exposing fans both new and old to the magic behind the film. Identities, the newest theme in a long line for French, features a unique insight into the characters and their respected journeys.
“I’ve been with the collection for a while now and we have been doing a number of different things with it,” French explains. “Our goal has always firstly been education, we wanted to do something that had a strong educational focus, instead of ‘here is a bunch of Star Wars props, go and have fun’.
“We never want to repeat ourselves, so by the time we worked on Identities, we had already exhibited Mythology, Costuming, and the overall science of Star Wars. With this franchise the sky really is the limit, so you have a lot of leniency with where it can go. One of the pitches was the science of human identity told through the lives of Anakin and Luke Skywalker, and it immediately gave us goosebumps.”
Featuring up-close and personal looks at BB-8, R2-D2, the Millennium Falcon, Darth Vader and more, it’s hard to choose a favourite item. “My answer changes every year because you fall in love with a different piece every time you showcase it. I would have to say the Star Destroyer. I was down in Darling Harbour and they have a WW2 Destroyer down on the waterfront. And so you put it into perspective, a Star Destroyer is based on the WW2 concept of a Destroyer, and that’s because George Lucas is a major history buff. So you look at the two and you can really piece together the similarities,” French says.
“The most iconic moment for me would have to be getting a phone call telling me that they wanted to send something from Star Wars on a NASA Space Shuttle, questioning me what it should be. I said Luke’s lightsaber. It’s a bit of a different answer others would give you, but you can’t deny that it’s memorable,” she says.
So, have you ever been curious to discover your identity in the Star Wars galaxy? Well, if the answer’s yes, trust in the Force, and follow your own path! Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition is open now at the Powerhouse Museum.