Science fact and science fiction come face-to-face at the "Cinema of George Lucas" and "Live the Adventure" exhibits currently at Space Center Houston. Comprised of the personal memorabilia of filmmaker George Lucas (much of it never seen before in public), and an interactive center, the exhibits have been drawing large crowds from their opening last week.
"It's interesting to meet astronauts and talk to them about how science fiction has inspired them in their careers," Jack Moore, the exhibits developer for Space Center Houston, tells Hair Balls. "Look at George Lucas's career...when he did Star Wars they literally had to invent new technology to fit his vision and that's a parallel to NASA. They both have these big ideas, these big dreams. People would tell them, 'You can't do that because it's impossible,' and they would say, 'It's not impossible because I'm going to invent the technologies to make it happen.' It's that spirit of innovation that we're celebrating with these exhibits."
The exhibit includes props -- R2D2 and 3CPO are featured stars -- and costumes from a variety of Lucas films, as well as his handwritten notes when he first outlined the Star Wars series. "To be able to have the [documents] from when he first put pen to paper to create the story, is really incredible," says Moore. "You can see where his handwriting gets a little sloppy when he gets excited and see where he scratched through something."
Noting that many of the ideas and characters from Star Wars permeate pop culture, Moore wonders, "What if what he scratched through had come to pass? How different would our culture be?"
Along with the "Cinema of George Lucas" artifacts there is "Live the Adventure," an interactive, multimedia center that allows visitors to join in on the action. "This is your opportunity to live your favorite moments from your favorite films," Moore says.
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Set in a movie studio back lot, "Live the Adventure" opens with a projection of movie scenes on to a fog curtain (a very technical Hollywood term). When a visitor stands in front of it, it seems as if they're in the scene. There's also the Indiana Jones Rope Course from the Temple of Doom. "We all remember when Indiana Jones is on that rope bridge and he's got baddies coming at him from both directions so he chops the bridge in half," says Moore. "We don't go to that extreme, but we do have an Indiana Jones rope course so visitors can experience that for themselves. They go up, almost 12 feet off the ground." There's also a cargo net to climb and an I-beam to cross.
Other attractions include a laser maze visitors can attempt to cross and an authentic 1948 Tucker Sedan, from Lucas's film Tucker: The Man and His Dream about the innovative car maker. "We've had a surprising response to it. When we were putting up the exhibit that was the one thing, aside from R2D2 and 3CPO, that people were trying to sneak in and see. We would tell them the exhibit wasn't open yet, and they would say, 'I just want to see the Tucker!'" Moore laughs.
"The Cinema of George Lucas" and "Live the Adventure" are scheduled to run through Labor Day, but that may be extended if visitors keep coming in the current numbers. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Space Center Houston, 1601 NASA Parkway. For more information, call 281-244-2100 or visit www.spacecenter.org. $14.95 to $19.95.
(Here's an insider tip: For just $3 over regular admission, you get a year's pass to Space Center Houston and all of its attractions, including "The Cinema of George Lucas" and "Live the Adventure." )