To mark the birthday of my long-time friend JP, on May 22nd, 2013 we spent the afternoon geeking out at the super-awesome Star Wars: Identities exhibit which took place (appropriately) at the Canadian Aviation & Space Museum in the east end of Ottawa.
We had lucked out and arrived in between the ubiquitous school field trips and pretty much had the place to ourselves. The exhibit took up most of the enormous secondary hanger that usually houses the ‘extra’ latter half of the Aviation Museum’s collection.
Which is to say the place was huge, and it was packed top to bottom with everything Star Wars; information displays, interactive games, and tons of actual memorabilia from the films. We ran around like a couple of wide-eyed (albeit grey-bearded) children sprung loose on a vast playground of nostalgia without a chaperone in sight.
You’d think we were celebrating JP’s eleventh birthday.
The angle of the exhibit was to examine the history and legend of the Star Wars universe by encouraging patrons to make personal choices based on Lucasian scenarios presented through an endless series of games, info panels, and short video trailers; choices which would culminate in each visitor ultimately creating their own individual Star Wars identity. I think I ended up being a Wookie with a bend towards the Dark Side.
All that was well and good, but the drool factor lay in the more than two hundred artifacts from the movies themselves. There were lots of costumes and weapons, an original R2-D2 and BB-8 (still a very new character at the time), and the pieces of resistance: the ship models.
Oh, the ship models (swoon)!
They had a snowspeeder from the Battle of Hoth, a couple of x-wing fighters and so much more, including an absolutely breathtaking Imperial Star Destroyer. Oh, how I lingered over that Star Destroyer! Such incredible detail, such detailed creativity, such creative coolness…
One of my favourite displays was a collection of Stormtrooper masks selected from each of the films. It’s interesting to see the subtle differences between the helmets, tiny tweaks that are only really noticeable when you see them all side-by-each like that.
We didn’t leave until we left nothing untouched. It took a couple of hours for the two of us to get through the whole exhibit and every minute brought another joyous, childlike pang of nostalgic longing to my heart.
The world may have turned on you George Lucas, but not I. In my eyes sir, you have done the world no wrongs* and given us so, so much good, and for all that: I thank you.
*Except Jar Jar Binks of course. A curse forever upon your soul for creating that misguided blemish on the otherwise pure Star Wars franchise. And we all know that Han shot first. Your Orwellian attempt to clear his name more than a decade after the fact has done nothing to change this, you backwards-thinking, revisionist fool.