Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Adventures of Gub Wootini

At long last, the girls and I finally took advantage of the Star Wars: Identities exhibit at the Telus World of Science.  It is a world class bit of curation and edutainment, and I strongly suggest checking out before it moves on in early April.

In addition to hosting a plethora of original props, maquettes and artwork dating all the way back to production of the first film in 1975, the exhibit also takes attendees on an exploration of identity, the various elements of our heritage and environment that help to determine who we are.

There are numerous comparisons between the prequel's main character, Anakin Skywalker, and his son Luke from the original trilogy (which made me feel a little bad for not having watched them at all with Glory).  Despite similarities in their genetic makeup, sharing the same homeworld, and both losing family members at a young age, Luke and Anakin couldn't be more different.

As you proceed through the exhibit, you are actually given the opportunity to create your own denizen of the Star Wars universe, which, despite my continued apprehensions about the prequels, continues to be a colourful and fascinating place to explore and inhabit.  You choose everything from race and gender, to the parenting style you were raised with and culture of your homeworld, through friends and mentors, and on to a randomly determined event, like having your home planet destroyed (as happened to my Mon Calamari,  Dubb Steffra ), or winning a city in a game of chance (which happened to Fenya's Nautolan, Nallah).  Glory's Ewok, Gub Wootini, ended up chained to the belly of a crimelord, but managed to throttle him and escape.  Good thing she saw Return of the Jedi recently, eh?

At each stage, there is a short video, which had a lot of neat insights into current thinking as to how our culture, occupation, personality and values factor into the decisions we make, which in turn are so intrinsic in determining who we are.  The audioguides you wear automatically pick up the appropriate soundtrack for each station, and a bracelet records all the choices you make for your creation.  At the end, you are given the choice of joining or rejecting the Emperor, and can then see your character and their story projected onto a large display screen.  They also provide links so you can view them at home or share them with friends.  I find myself thinking that this process would be a great mechanic for creating characters for a tabletop role-playing game, as opposed to optimizing dice roles and crafting a background to fit.

The exhibits are very well presented and include not only props and costumes and such, but also some interesting insights into the challenges of creating the movies, some of which I had never heard before, despite having been interested in the topic since I was 9 years old.  There is a bit of a thrill seeing one of the original Han Solo in carbonite props, or Jabba the Hutt's eyes.  Being able to closely examine Boba Fett's bandolier, or a Stormtrooper's armour can bring back a lot of the wonder that drew me into George Lucas's universe to being with.

We watched the original trilogy last week in preparation of the visit, and the girls enjoyed seeing firsthand how much work goes into creating a cinematic setting as diverse and visually original as this one, but my favourite part was how many talking points the identity portion of the exhibit presented.  Why are our friends important to us?  How do the values we profess affect our choices?  Why do similar people react so differently to the same situation?

Following the destruction of his home planet, I decided Dubb Steffra should choose to dedicate himself to the preservation of its culture.  I couldn't tell you why I didn't choose the more adventurous path of joining the alliance and overthrowing the despot responsible, but at the time I had to choose, the notion of a planetary identity being completely extinguished, even a fictional one, seemed impossibly tragic.  Surely if that could be prevented, the despot could never truly accomplish his genocidal mission, could he?

For myself, the exhibits' narrator asserting that the difference between a mentor and an educator is the fact that a mentor educates through example and not just lessons should not have been a revelation, but it kind of was.  Who around us are we mentoring to and we don't even know it?

The exhibit's program asks us to consider 'what forces shape us?'  Star Wars is a fascinating filter to examine this question through, and anyone looking for insights into how both movies and people are made will find it worth spending an hour or two at this exhibition.


  1. What, no links to your full identity?

  2. Oh wait, there it is. I was expecting them on the pictures and somehow missed them in the text.

  3. Hey, I was not able to have 2 friends (pictured in the background) I could only register one (which replaced the others). How did you do that?

  4. Darned if I know; the girls saw a school group doing it and suggested we follow suit.