Saturday 26th June 1999 I visited The Power of Myth exhibition in Manchester which was in the early days of its tour around Europe. Visiting Ireland, UK, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy and France, it promised visitors
“a once-in-a lifetime chance for half a million visitors across Europe to experience the magic of Star Wars and the power of the myth first hand,”
“It will provide an exciting and educational insight into the inspiration behind the Star Wars movies and provide unrivalled entertainment for all ages.” creative director Mary Aitken
I recall getting the train from Newcastle to Manchester, with my then girlfriend and 3 year old daughter, and being quite annoyed at the price of the ticket. It was to be almost another month before The Phantom Menace opened in UK cinemas so this was a chance to see Episode 1 costumes and props for the first time and an opportunity I couldn’t miss. It was based at the then Manchester Evening News arena and I’m delighted to have found these photographs recently for Stephen Danleys excellent Star Wars at the Movies podcast – be sure to check out his latest episode focusing on The Phantom Menace.
Apologies for the poor photographs, some of these are damaged and I certainly know one or two are missing.
Set against one wall was a painted backdrop, which you can see here. A short 5 or 10 minutes from memory segment involved Stormtroopers and Darth Vader acting out to prerecorded lines from the movies. It was much derided at the time and I remember many fans laughing at the out of time movements but I really enjoyed seeing the quality costumes and my daughter loved it.
The Naboo starfighter. This was probably a highlight for me because…wait for it… it went up and down on a beam. Certainly no Disney quality animatronics for sure but we all crowded around it to see the flashing lights and for it to rise to the ceiling. Building up hype for The Phantom Menace.
I took some photographs of the exhibits and as you can see it was nearly all OT props that got me excited. These should need no commentary but I wish I took more photographs of the backgrounds.
I wonder if this was the helmet which sold for £180,000 a few years back?
And finally the daughter and I. I doubt she’ll ever see this posted online 😉 I do have a photograph of her glaring at a Stormtrooper but not sure where it is.
As far as merchandising goes I remember having a carrier bag which is long gone but I also picked up this book. More recently I have found that these are fairly rare as they don’t have a barcode on the reverse.
The book complemented the exhibition well as it goes into depth on the inspiration behind George’s universe. It focuses on journeys, costumes, storylines and much more. It is well worth picking up a copy.
Photos (c) Richard Hutchinson