Friday, May 15, 2015

Watch the Long-Lost Short That Ran with 'The Empire Strikes Back'

While George Lucas was at work on The Empire Strikes Back, he had a brain wave very in  line with his classic-Hollywood approach to movie making: he decided to commission a short film to run before his Star Wars sequel in the UK, Australia, and Scandinavia. Roger Christian, the set decorator of the first Star Wars film, stepped forward with a story that Lucas dug, and the big dog gave Christian the go ahead to make "Black Angel". The resulting 25-minute sword-and-sorcery tale wasn't exactly rich in plot or action, but Christian crafted his sketchy concept beautifully. "Black Angel" is a work of art in terms of atmosphere and cinematography. Special mention must also go to the haunting score from Trevor Jones, who went on to a long career that included scores for The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and Arachnophobia. One must also give Lucas credit for allowing a film that requires a good deal of patience to screen before a movie on which he had so much riding. 
"Black Angel" was instantly influential, inspiring effects in a scene in Empire, as well as the look and feel of John Boorman's Excalibur (also scored by Jones). Sadly, Christian's film's influence did not have a far reach, since it never received home video release and the negative apparently disappeared for 31 years. After being rediscovered in 2011, "Black Angel" screened to much acclaim in 2013, and was supposedly available to stream for a time on Netflix last year and is still available to purchase on iTunes. However Christian has quite thoughtfully uploaded his movie to You Tube free-of-cost with a newly filmed introduction in anticipation of some sort of "Black Angel"-related announcement coming on June 2. Watch it now here:

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