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The Road To Episode VII: STAR WARS AND THE POWER OF COSTUME EXHIBITION (review)

The ardent fan inside of me was cautiously excited when I handed in my VIP ticket at the box office to enter the grand opening of the latest exhibition to be branded with the Star Wars logo. Would the experience instill a deeper appreciation for this dynamic and classic story, or would my $49.50 give me nothing more than a birds eye view of “cool stuff” from the movies?

A hologram of Princess Leia’s iconic distress call to Obi-Wan Kenobi suddenly appears in midair, right before the Death Star’s blast doors open up to admit patrons into the newest exhibit at Discovery Times Square in New York City.

Star Wars and The Power of Costume
takes a deep dive into the vastly creative aesthetics that help define the classic characters who occupy a galaxy far, far away.

The presence of George Lucas is felt throughout the exhibition with stirring quotes from the famed creator touching on creativity, hard work and personal experiences.

While the imagination of Lucas is undeniable, it was great to see the names of various creators and collaborators, such as costume designer John Mollo, cited when looking at one of the most infamous designs in pop culture: The screen-used Darth Vader suit from Revenge of the Sith.

Seeing Vader’s distinctive face, armor, and chest plate evokes a certain emotion and appreciation that can only be felt by seeing it in person.

 Television screens and photographs don’t convey the scale and craftsmanship of the costume.

There are plenty of items from the original trilogy for anyone to sink their teeth into. The prequel trilogy, however, has a pronounced presence. This might make some jump to light-speed in less than twelve parcecs, due to the highly debated quality of the films.

One thing that can’t be debated, however, is the quality and detail that was put into the tailored and distinctive fashions shown in the movies. Senatorial robes such as the one worn by Bail Organa displays a flowing sophistication while the velvet and blood-red hooded robe of Emperor Palpatine exudes a satanic vibe that subtlety suggests there is more to this politician than just legislative candor.

The lavish royal gowns of Queen Amidala would make the savviest cosplayer shed a wave of humble tears.

Padmé’s vast wardrobe knows no limits, thanks to award winning costume designer Trisha Briggar, as no creative expense was spared in making the courageous leader look elegant no matter the situation. Some ensembles required a little more work from actress Natalie Portman than others.

Her throne room costume, seen in the beginning of The Phantom Menace, required her to stand over a car battery being used to power the yellow stones ingrained into the bottom hem of the dress.

Padmé’s funeral chariot filled with flowers and lit with a translucent blue and yellow lighting was simply gorgeous.

The irony of death being beautiful could easily be lost on some, but easily makes sense here as she was a stunning presence is every aspect of her life, so it’s only fitting that she appears just as much during her final goodbye.

The exhibit allows groups of 40 to 50 people in at a time and while most get a good, quick gaze and move on to the next show room, there are those who stay behind a lot longer.

The passion for this franchise compels one to take extra pictures, read every write up posted next to each display, and examine every inch of clothing, costume, weapon, and vehicle to be viewed. It was a nice feeling not to be rushed out of a particular area by the ushers. There is a lot to look at including some hidden gems that might have been missed otherwise.

As I overheard from a staffer that John Boyega and Anthony Daniels were there days earlier for a private showing, I found myself in a green-lit room illuminated by a massive LED screen highlighting a certain Jedi Master.

After passing by some Stormtroopers, taking selfies with Boba Fett, drooling over Count Dooku’s lightsaber, and watching others drool over the infamous Slave Leia Bikini, the voice of an eager teenager signaled the end of my journey as he stated with such excitement, “Whoa! The new movie!”

The exhibition concludes with a preview of a new beginning for the Star Wars franchise as items representing the two opposing factions: The First Order and The Resistance represent the two opposing side for the upcoming film, The Force Awakens.

Plus, there is a digital interactive treat for all ages that will get you moving around like some of your favorite characters.

The gift shop at the exit offers a wide array of merchandise including books, t-shirts, board games, and black series action figures. My wife and I had to battle the tyranny of the Empire (customer service) to score our posters commemorating the exhibition’s grand opening, which was a little frustrating since we were entitled to them.

Besides that hiccup, the overall experience was well worth the price of admission. Casual fans and hardcore devotees of the Star Wars saga will walk away impressed by this elaborate exhibit.

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