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"Black Angel"
February 7, 2014 6:24 PM   Subscribe

As a thank you gift for his work on "Star Wars", George Lucas gave art director Roger Christian 25,000 pounds in 1979 to make a short film. Christian used the money to shoot a 25 minute medieval fantasy titled "Black Angel". Lucas liked the film so much that he had it precede theatrical showings of "Empire Strikes Back" in the UK, Australia and Scandinavia. In the intervening years, the film was thought lost until a negative was discovered at Universal Studios in 2011. The film was restored and given a premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival in Marin County last October. It will be shown again later this month at the Glasgow Film Festival and will eventually find its way to a streaming services like Netflix later this year. The BBC recently talked to Christian about the film and its rediscovery.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (19 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Roger Christian of "Battlefield Earth" infamy.
posted by zardoz at 6:34 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Roger Christian of "Battlefield Earth" infamy.

True, but this short film has zero cavemen flying jets, so I remain hopeful.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:45 PM on February 7


They should bring back shorts before movies. I'd love to see cinematic works of around 25 minutes or so before a feature film. Maybe they could show Black Angel before the new Star Wars movie being made.

I'm sure there are issues of maximizing the number of time slots in movie theaters to justify not doing it, but it would still be cool.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:48 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


My favorite scene in Excalibur was lifted from this in a friendly manner. I've been waiting for to see the original for a long time.
posted by codswallop at 7:19 PM on February 7


They should bring back shorts before movies.

as long as it replaced the 30 min of ads before the previews, i'm game
posted by Dr. Twist at 7:25 PM on February 7 [13 favorites]


Pixar still has the right idea, at least.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:15 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


From the BBC article:

It was the first time Black Angel had been shown to the public in the US. In the audience watching it was Guy Veale, a fan from Scotland.

Christian said: "Guy was five years old and living on Shetland when his dad took him to the cinema to see The Empire Strikes Back.

"He saw Black Angel but was never quite sure if what he saw was a film, or something he had imagined. He got some funds together and went to the Mill Valley Film Festival to confirm what he had seen."



Bloody hell. Guy is one of my closest friends, who I've known for 15 years. He flew out to the Mill Valley festival specifically to see this film, and met up with Roger Christian when he was there. This subsequently resulted in him delaying his flight home because Christian asked if he wanted to come on a private tour of the Skywalker Ranch and its film facilities. Apparently – from what Guy said – one of the main reasons that Lucas gave Roger Christian the £25k to make Black Angel in the first place was that Christian was one of the few crew members on Empire who didn't treat Lucas with utter straight-to-his-face contempt.
posted by Len at 8:37 PM on February 7 [20 favorites]


Sorry, that should have said "one of the few crew members on Star Wars and Empire who didn't treat Lucas with utter straight-to-his-face contempt."
posted by Len at 8:47 PM on February 7


I have known about this short for a while and I am just surprised that a movie for which many hundreds of prints were made only a few decades ago could have been thought to be lost entirely. This is not a 1913 one-reeler, for Bog's sake.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:53 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


This is so interesting. Now I am trying to figure out if I could have seen this play before Empire at the drive-in in Marin County, 1980. I wonder how widely it was screened.
posted by steinsaltz at 9:26 PM on February 7


Roger Christian of "Battlefield Earth" infamy.

MASTERMINDS, DON'T FORGET MASTERMINDS
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:40 PM on February 7


Ha. I remember seeing this at the cinema. I'm afraid as an eight year old my reaction was, "Enough with the knight, already. Bring on Darth Vader."
posted by rhymer at 12:18 AM on February 8


I also remember seeing it. It was aesthetically very good, but I recall parts of it getting slight giggles from the audience; the beckoning ragged old guy the knight followed was far too Monty Python.
posted by raygirvan at 5:31 AM on February 8


Ha! So chuffed to see this on the blue - I know Guy in a roundabout way (via my partner - so Len, you and I may hang out in similar places) and have heard about the process of bringing Black Angel back on screen.
posted by kariebookish at 8:39 AM on February 8


Python has totally spooked the early medieval/Arthurian epic movie genre. It is now impossible to watch anything involving men in heraldic armour on horseback without the quotes rising unbidden to front and centre.

It's only a model.
posted by Devonian at 10:03 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


zardoz: "Roger Christian of "Battlefield Earth" infamy."

But also art director for Alien.
posted by octothorpe at 10:07 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I have known about this short for a while and I am just surprised that a movie for which many hundreds of prints were made only a few decades ago could have been thought to be lost entirely. This is not a 1913 one-reeler, for Bog's sake.

Yes, this was my first thought as well. It really makes you realize how ephemeral movies can be.
posted by immlass at 10:24 PM on February 8


But also art director for Alien.

And Battlefield Earth was doomed from the start.

I never saw this as a kid. I wish they'd release it on YouTube or put it before Star Wars 7 (or Willow 2).
posted by Mezentian at 11:54 PM on February 8


kariebookish: Ha! So chuffed to see this on the blue - I know Guy in a roundabout way (via my partner - so Len, you and I may hang out in similar places) and have heard about the process of bringing Black Angel back on screen.

This is what happens when you live (or lived, in my case, since I'm elsewhere these days) in Glasgow – everyone knows everyone else. Now I'm trying to figure out if we've met or not! Glad to see that the legend of Guy Veale And The Black Angel is already spreading, though ;)
posted by Len at 6:50 AM on February 9


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