“Oh my God! Look! It’s Han Solo. Frozen in carbonite!”
I think it was 20 years ago. Maybe more. I honestly can’t remember the exact year, but the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium at the Marin Civic Center was hosting a massive exhibition of props, models, sketches, costumes and scenery pieces from the archives of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic. It was, I seem to recall, one of the most anticipated and exciting events of the year, enhanced by the fact that, of course, Marin County was the home of George Lucas, and headquarters (then, anyway) of his movie empire.
I attended the exhibition with friends.
Together, we all inched along, as thousands of gawkers walked the maze-like pathway, with little more than a rope separating us from an array of modern wonders sprung from the brain of George Lucas. There were X-Wings and TIE fighters, miniatures used in staging the stunning space battles in the original Star Wars. There were posed-in-action AT-ATs, the massive four-legged battle machines that fought the rebels on the ice planet Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. There were actual Ewok costumes, looking only slightly less alive than when they appeared in the forest of Endor in Return of the Jedi.
Slowly, we snaked our way past a Lucasfilm wonderland of marvels, feeling no less awe than when we’d visited an exhibition of treasures from the tomb of King Tut. Then we turned a corner.
There, on the wall in front of us, was, for me, the holy grail of all Star Wars artifacts. Han Solo. Frozen in carbonite.
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