When you think of Star Wars, psychological analysis is probably not the first thing that pops into your head, but for Star Wars Identities, a sprawling exhibition of props and sketches from both the original and prequel series (As this is a Lucasarts exhibitions, the new-fangled Disney editions don’t get much of a look in) the various motivations and formative experiences of Obi-Wan Kenobi are as important as his lightsabre.
As an unusual amalgam of a genuinely impressive selection of relatively obscure production materials (early concept sketches of Yoda looking like a refugee from Snow White’s Seven Dwarves have to be seen to be believed) and an educational exhibition musing on the importance of nature vs nurture as applied to galactic bounty hunters, Star Wars Identities sounds like a rather odd proposition on paper. However whilst actually walking through its pleasantly futuristic corridors the conceit comes together far better than one might assume.
On entering the exhibition you are presented with a rubber wristband and the now almost-ubiquitous range sensitive headphones that provide info depending on where you stand (future generations may one day scoff in disbelief that exhibitions without such headphones ever existed, in a galaxy far far away or otherwise). The rubber band is tied into to some more of the inspired aspects of the ‘psychological’ aspect of Star Wars Identities, where you are able to construct your very own Star Wars character from scratch at various terminals throughout the exhibition, where you make choices about their background and upbringing which dictates their overall personality which you can review at the end. I got oddly invested in my Bith (for those of you who were not relentlessly bullied in school: A Bith is one of the alien jazz musicians from the cantina scene in A New Hope.) merchant and found myself genuinely trying to pick answers from the various quizzes and multiple choice options (such as whether your parents were strict or permissive) that would evolve him into a caring capitalist rather than Tatooine’s answer to Donald Trump (they already have Jabba The Hutt after all).
The children in the exhibit were notably captivated by these (admittedly impressive) bells and whistles, an important success considering that much of the props exhibition rewards close inspection; which might be difficult if parents were having to shepherd children with a low attention span. This is a godsend, as some of the costumes (and in particular the concept art) is basically worth the (fairly pricey) price of admission all by itself. Whilst there is a focus on fan unfavourites such as Anakin Skywalker and Jar Jar Binks (who, rather alarmingly, is described as one of Lucas’s first central ideas for the prequel series) the sheer quality (and quantity) of the material will have more than enough to delight anyone with even the most cursory interest in Star Wars. If you have some aspiring young Jedi in your charge (or even if you don’t) the force is strong with this one.