Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Costumes Out in Force

My Denver-based readers may want to think about a trip to the Denver Art Museum in the coming weeks. I went last weekend to check out the touring exhibit Star Wars and the Power of Costume, a collection of costumes, design sketches, and props from the seven episodic Star Wars movies.

I've seen a few of exhibits of movie memorabilia before, and it's always fascinating to see just how much you're being fooled by what you think you see on screen. Even in this age of high definition cameras and projection and televisions, things don't necessarily look as high quality or as realistic as you think they do. Weird tricks of lighting and camera placement complete an illusion of which the costumes and props are just one part.

I'm sort of starting at the end of the exhibit here, but nowhere was this more apparent than the Darth Vader costume used for the end of Episode III. My husband commented that if you saw someone show up to a costume party in it, you might think to yourself that it's a shame that they didn't quite get it right having gone to so much trouble.

It's not quite as tall as you'd imagine (though neither is Hayden Christensen, I suppose), the silver stripes on the shoulder piece seem off, the readouts and switches on the chest piece don't seem fully integrated... plenty of little things that a Star Wars super fan will notice. For some people, I suppose this might "ruin your childhood" or something, but I found it a quite interesting affirmation of movie magic. On screen, you believe it completely. If anything, it gave me more respect for the artists who knew exactly what the final effect of their work would be.

In any case, plenty of other costumes were just as lavish in person as you'd imagine. At least one-third of the entire collection was outfits worn by Amidala throughout the prequel trilogy. Whereas many characters would wear the same costumes for an entire movie, Amidala would have new clothes for almost every scene -- and the detailed work that went into them was staggering. Rich fabrics, insane detailing, and rare accessories were on display everywhere.

If the classic trilogy was more your speed, then you could focus on the slave Leia outfit, Boba Fett, Chewbacca with Han Solo, and even an actual Yoda puppet.

The Force Awakens was represented too, with side-by-side comparisons of stormtroopers and Rebels from the classic trilogy and Episode VII, plus the outfits of Rey and Finn (complete with Poe's jacket).

We spent over two hours carefully strolling through the collection and taking it all in. If movies in general are your thing, or Star Wars in particular (and I believe this describes most of my readers perfectly), then you should consider checking it out in the coming weeks before the exhibit rolls along to a new city. (Or look for it to come to your city in the future.)

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