Heart of an Empire (2007)
A very visible, but misunderstood group dressed as Star Wars Stormtroopers do charity work worldwide. The story comes full circle when the amputee founder's own daughter is diagnosed with cancer and this surrogate family he created comes to his aid. We follow their public and private worlds in this documentary.- Written by Jay Thompson
In 1997, Albin Johnson of South Carolina founded a small club for fans of the Star Wars Trilogy who owned authentic costumes of the film's Imperial forces. Consisting of icons like Stormtroopers and Darth Vader, he called it the Fighting 501st Legion. Little did he know that this initially small group of people would soon grow to encompass individuals of all walks of life, ages, social backgrounds, nationalities and cultures. Within only 5 years, the club increased to 2000 members and added another 2500 to its roster by 2006. Albin has led the group to become not only an icon in the Sci-Fi scene and among Star Wars fans throughout the world, but also a high profile media sensation. Through it all, the entire group managed to focus much of its attention and energy toward charity, all this while the founder endured weathering enormous personal hardships and tragedies. "Heart of an Empire" follows Albin and many of the members of the 501st as they participate in events like the Walk of Life, visit children's hospitals, and run the New York City Marathon in full regalia to raise money for charity. Fully immersing themselves in their hobby, the documentary attempts to explore the reasons why these adults choose to dress up in costumes of science-fiction characters. What do they get out of it? How does the general public perceive them? What is the social impact? We hear from the club's members, representatives of Lucasfilm Ltd., actors of the original trilogy, and a Professor of Psychology who try to shed light on the phenomenon. Finally, we bare witness to an incredibly ironic twist of fate that will reveal what really lies at the Heart of an Empire.- Written by Jay Thompson
"Heart Of An Empire" is a documentary about the global Star Wars fan group and Stormtrooper costume enthusiasts known as the "501st".- Written by Matt Myers
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