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Star Wars villain - and cinema's most famous helmet wearer - appears on billboards in major cities...

Star Wars villain Darth Vader – perhaps the best-known helmet-wearer in cinematic history –  is being used by the German government in an initiative aimed at getting more people to wear one while riding a bike.

The campaign sees the character, who made his debut in the original Star Wars film in 1977, appear on billboards in Berlin, Cologne and Munich, reports the International Business Times.

Permission was secured to use his image free of charge from Disney Film, Disney International and LucasFilm International, it adds.

Launched in a year when the first sequel to the original three films in the franchise is scheduled for release, the posters carry the strapline: "The saga continues: Thanks to the helmet. Applies in each galaxy. And on the bike."

Germany’s transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, said he wanted to see more people on bikes sporting the protective headgear. "The helmet is part of promoting safe cycling," he added.

According to 2014 research cited by the government, while 69 per cent of German children aged between six and 10 wear a helmet while cycling, that falls to just 7 per cent of those aged 17 to 30.

It’s not the first time there has been a connection between Darth Vader and a road safety campaign.

Bristol-born Dave Prowse was the man inside the iconic black costume for the original Star Wars trilogy, although the part was voiced by the American actor James Earl Jones, and when his face was eventually revealed, that scene was played by Britain’s Sebastian Shaw.

Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, later revealed that Prowse’s West Country accent led to him being nicknamed ‘Darth Farmer’ by the cast and crew of the films, which were released between 1977 and 1983.

During the same period, the weightlifter-turned-actor also appeared on British television in a series of public information films as the Green Cross Code man, teaching children how to cross the road safely – his involvement with the campaign leading to him being awarded an MBE.

The 79-year-old, who has severe arthritis and has overcome prostate cancer, reprised that role last year for Road Safety Week in a campaign aimed at adults distracted while crossing the road due to listening to music or using their smartphones.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

20 comments

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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I foresee the comments section on this story becoming an even greater saga than Star Wars.

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ChairRDRF [367 posts] 2 years ago
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German cyclists have reacted: See @wegeheld and this photo

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Simon_MacMichael [2503 posts] 2 years ago
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Haha that is brilliant.

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LondonDynaslow [264 posts] 2 years ago
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ChairRDRF wrote:

German cyclists have reacted: See @wegeheld and this photo

take away your hands and see if it stays there...  36

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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In the new Star Wars film, Darth Vader is knocked off his speeder bike by an AT-AT. He survives but his helmet looks like this afterwards.

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CygnusX1 [698 posts] 2 years ago
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Helmets - no protection against fatal injury from Sith lightning  35

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congokid [327 posts] 2 years ago
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Great - another way to dehumanise people on the basis of their chosen mode of transport...

Also seems there has been a sea-change in the German psyche regarding discussing 'war'. About 20 years ago my client used a Star Wars theme for the launch of its new product, and I produced a magazine all about the campaign aimed at its European network of dealers (in six different languages, so quite a challenge).

The campaign poster and other related graphics, already in use worldwide, featured on the front cover, but the German marketing bod nearly had a fit when she saw the proofs. 'It's all about war - you can't discuss things like this!' was her response. I tried to argue that the Star Wars franchise was probably as popular in Germany as it was in the rest of the world. She was of Austrian descent, so that might have made a difference.

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brooksby [2792 posts] 2 years ago
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CygnusX1 wrote:

Helmets - no protection against fatal injury from Sith lightning  35

I have never encountered Sith lightning on my commute. Mind you, I've seen a few bus drivers who looked like the Emperor (sans hooded cloak, obviously), so maybe I've just been very lucky...  3

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hylozoist [66 posts] 2 years ago
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Those cyclists in that Dave Prowse video were not wearing helmets. I am shocked. Shocked.

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bikebot [2118 posts] 2 years ago
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Let's give that a test...

//i408.photobucket.com/albums/pp170/johnvon28/thththspaceballs2.gif)

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Simon_MacMichael [2503 posts] 2 years ago
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congokid wrote:

Also seems there has been a sea-change in the German psyche regarding discussing 'war'.

Guess they must have moved on if the government is happy for the poster boy of one of its campaigns to be a genocidal megalomaniac who commands legions of stormtroopers.

 39

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velodinho [106 posts] 2 years ago
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The Germans have even had helmuts at the head of government (Kohl) and national football squad (Schoen).

They are way ahead of us.

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kitkat [481 posts] 2 years ago
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Lets hope they turn from the darkside

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a.jumper [850 posts] 2 years ago
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So the message is that only villains wear helmets?

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fukawitribe [2085 posts] 2 years ago
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a.jumper wrote:

So the message is that only villains wear helmets?

Clearly it means helmet wearers have cooler space ships.

--
"That's no moon - it's a Giro Aeron"

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tommytwoparrots [38 posts] 2 years ago
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hm i shall now hum.... dum dum dum dumdy dum dumdy dum when im riding with my giro aero helmet and shield..  21

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Beatnik69 [401 posts] 2 years ago
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I sound like Lord Vader when cycling up hills.

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jollygoodvelo [1685 posts] 2 years ago
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Beatnik69 wrote:

I sound like Lord Vader when cycling up hills.

Get a TUE and use an inhaler  3

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Wolfshade [205 posts] 2 years ago
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Why has no-one used this yet.

"This sounds a load of Sith to me"

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brooksby [2792 posts] 2 years ago
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Or, "I have a bad feeling about this..."  3