A lost film that was supposed to run before “The Empire Strikes Back” in theatres 35 years ago has been recovered and released on YouTube.
“Black Angel”, which runs for around 25 minutes, was written and directed by “Star Wars” and “Alien” art director Roger Christian.
Christian among other things, was responsible for creating Luke Skywalker’s original lightsaber and redesigning the interior of the Millennium Falcon with bits of scrapped aeroplanes. He won an Academy Award for set design on A New Hope.
(He also later directed “Battlefield Earth”…)
Christian tells the story of how Lucas wanted a short film to go out alongside “The Empire Strikes Back”.
“He read my story and commissioned it on the spot,” Christian says.
Lucas gave him 25,000 pounds and Christian assembled a nine-person, two-horse crew for a shoot in the Scottish Highlands.
“Black Angel” made it to 400 cinemas in the UK and Scandinavia. It also ran in a few cinemas in Australia, but never in the US.
And it seems like “Black Angel” had some influence. Christian claims John Boorman showed it to his entire crew when he made “Excalibur”.
“George liked the way I’d step-printed my fights to slow them down, so he used the same technique on one of the scenes in Empire Strikes Back,” he says.
Here’s the technique Christian’s talking about:
And it looks a lot like the same technique used to film the iconic scene in which Luke Skywalker cuts down “Darth Vader” on Yoda’s home planet Dagobah:
The negative for “Black Angel” got lost when Rank Laboratories went bankrupt, but 30 years later, it turned up in the archives of Universal Studios. The fully restored print was shown in October 2013 at the Mill Valley Film Festival in California and the Glasgow Film Festival in February last year.
As of yesterday, it’s now available for everyone to watch on YouTube. And here it is:
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