The movie that captured the imagination of a generation
has been revealed in all its creative detail. The List flew
to Helsinki to feel the force of THE ART OF STAR WARS first hand. Words: Mark Robertson
0 you remember the first time? First kiss. first gig. first job. first
shag. first time being dumped? There are loads of first times that
have an emotional resonance. 29 June 1977 is a date forever ingrained on my memory although it denotes none of these events. It was the first time I saw Star Wars.
It was at the Paignton Picture House in Devon while on a family caravaning holiday. I was almost five. My mother recalls I walked in with a packet of Fruit Pastilles in hand and left the cinema two hours later. said confectionery untouched. my life insumiountably changed.
Like no other film before or since. it stirred something in me. Whether it was the inherent spirit of adventure or the becoming immersed in a fantastical world or maybe the scary baddies. swashbuckling goodies. rattling robots or the almost believable far-off lands. 1 don‘t know. What is apparent. however. is that other movies have been bigger. louder. faster. scarier. sillier and flashier but none have had the phenomenal inﬂuence that George Lucas’ originals have.
I still regarded myself as a healthy child. I would tell people I loved Star Wars. but my fascination with the films was not all encompassing. Like most kids of the day. I collected the toys and watched and re- watched the original trilogy on video (OK. maybe seeing one film 147 times is a little excessive). As so often in teen years. pursuits of a more rock'n‘roll nature took priority. be it music or girls. and slowly Star Wars faded to no more than a rosy pan of my past. That was. of course.
until 1999. The release of Star Wars Epismk’ 1" on that
The Phantmn Menat'e reignited a long
dormant flame in many a
twentysomething: myself included. Stormtrooper really just Doc Martens
Purists would argue that it never went away. remaining an omniscient force painted white?
(to coin a phrase) in popular culture throughout the 80s and 90s. Although it took a critical kicking. The Phantom Menace is still the third-highest grossing film ever. taking a nifty $922.8m at the box office worldwide.
To think all this originates from a flawed movie that was made on a shoestring (relative to Hollywood standards) by an idiosyncratic outsider who. despite doubts raised by his contemporaries (Coppola. Spielberg. De Palma). made a film that was branded of ‘limited appeal‘ by studio execs. This is reﬂected in the variety of exhibits on show in Helsinki and now at the City Art Centre.
In a continuing revitalisation of my interest in the movies I headed for the depths of the Scandinavian winter. braving well below freezing temperatures and two feet of snow for a glimpse of Princess Leia. And it was worth it.
This is Star Wars up close and personal: see the chipped gloss paint on the original R2-D2. mock the shoddy early models including a Six Million Dollar Man doll dressed up as Luke Skywalker and ask yourself: ‘Are the boots on that Stormtrooper really just Doc Martens painted white?‘ Compare this with the groundbreaking use of CG] technology depicted in exhibits from The Phantom Menaee and wonder: ‘Isn‘t that Russell Crowe dressed up as Qui-Gon Jinn (played by Liam Neeson) in that preliminary costume design sketch‘?‘
The crux of something like The Art ()fStar Wars is not just that it