prop star

Laela French, di­rec­tor of Lu­cas­film’s Ar­chive Col­lec­tion, talks main­tain­ing arte­facts from a long time ago...

SFX - - Star wars identities -

There are some amaz­ing arte­facts on dis­play in Star Wars Iden­ti­ties, but how much Star Wars stuff do you have that fans haven’t seen yet?

There’s things that we’d love to be able to tour around the world, but they’re just too frag­ile to do so. We rely on a smaller sub­set of arte­facts – of­ten props and mod­els – that are more durable or more iconic. Then we have to bal­ance out the needs of the ca­sual mu­seum goer who will be more flex­i­ble about what they see, and the ded­i­cated Star Wars fans. so we’re al­ways try­ing to add in a few items that maybe are not seen very of­ten. With Iden­ti­ties we have a few things that have never been on the road be­fore.

Some of the stuff in the col­lec­tion is now 40 years old. What are the chal­lenges in main­tain­ing it all?

The most chal­leng­ing things are the la­tex masks – they get a lit­tle bit dry and wrinkly and start to peel – and we’ve been on a big con­ser­va­tion pro­gramme, to have those re­stored a lit­tle bit. The ship mod­els were beau­ti­fully done with great de­tail, but they weren’t de­signed to last for 40 years and tour the world. it’s amaz­ing how well they hold up gen­er­ally, but ev­ery now and then we find lit­tle joints or bits that fall off that we have to con­tin­u­ally re­pair.

How in­volved is the ar­chive with the new Star Wars movies?

Be­cause the new movies are be­ing made un­der the dis­ney um­brella, the props are be­ing main­tained by them. When we co­or­di­nate – like if we’ve got a [first Or­der] stormtrooper – we’re re­ally talk­ing to the pro­duc­tion team, say­ing, “What can we bor­row to show?” But we work with the new pro­duc­tion. di­rec­tors, writ­ers, oc­ca­sion­ally a set or cos­tume de­signer, will come to the ar­chive. i feel like it’s a pil­grim­age that they’re obliged to make, to come back to the orig­i­nal col­lec­tion and re­ally im­merse them­selves. There’s a patina to Star Wars that’s very unique, and i think when they come in, their eyes light up.

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